There is a military saying that has been used in various forms for centuries – “Even the best designed plan is only valid until the first shot is fired.” When it comes to a company’s transportation operations that principle still holds true, although hopefully without the gunfire! Perhaps a more appropriate saying would be “Even the best route planning is only valid until the trucks leave the depot.”
This is not to say that planning isn’t important. It most certainly is, whether done for the next day or the next quarter. But every vehicle router and dispatcher knows that it’s extremely rare to execute a routing plan without some sort of adjustment being required.
To make such changes easier to deal with, here are a few key points to help you. Given the breadth of industries, fleet sizes, and business models Roadnet Technologies has encountered over our 28+ years of providing routing software to the transportation industry, these 4 points always seem to apply.
- Accept that routing plans will sometimes need to change – It is tough to believe but there are still some routers/dispatchers that don’t recognize Murphy’s Law and become unglued when a truck breaks down, a driver calls out sick or a customer places an unanticipated emergency order for this afternoon. No one like surprises but things happen that are out of our control – so just accept it. Part of such panic may be because there was no anticipation of a monkey wrench being thrown into the works. That leads to the next point.
- Be proactive in exploring “What-if..?” – Only the most optimistic person assumes fleet vehicles run forever, employees are immune to injury/sickness, and customers always know what they need. The more pragmatic among us know these things are not true. So if you know that already, why not take the time to do some proactive thinking before those events happen? Many of our fleet routing software customers have developed contingency plans to handle the routine disruptions that can and will happen from time to time. Some actually have a written emergency response notebook in the dispatcher’s office!
- Use hard data as the foundation for changes – Part of making plan adjustments effectively and with confidence is to base them on factual information, not a hunch or by rubbing a rabbit’s foot. The Roadnet Transportation Suite has multiple fleet routing tools and features which allow our customers to make informed decisions. For example, a customer places an emergency order in the middle of the day. Instead of guessing who should handle it, isn’t it better to see at a glance where your vehicles are actually located based upon real-time GPS data? You can have the system calculate which vehicle can handle it so that delivering that order has the least cost impact.
- Have the right tools to execute changes – The key to having such hard data is having the right routing software tools to help you proactively plan for contingencies and react to those scenarios for which there might not be a contingency option. Whether it is our Territory Planner software calculating a situation where you have one less truck available than usual or our Suggest Route feature calculating who can best handle that emergency order, having the right tools to help you adjust after your plan begins makes all the difference.
The goal for the next time something happens which wasn’t planned is to shrug and think “I can handle that – no big deal”. A tall order in transportation operations perhaps, but one in which we are always happy and capable to help you with – email us to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org.