Optimizing home delivery: It takes more than planning
For organizations with their own delivery fleets, using software that optimizes routes can reduce costs and make next-day delivery more effective.
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For organizations with their own delivery fleets, using software that optimizes routes can reduce costs and make next-day delivery more effective. Planning the routes so vehicles take fewer left turns and make stops in the quickest sequence squeezes more delivery capacity from the fleet and can reduce mileage.
Additionally, some execution and order management capabilities complement route planning, says Will Salter, president and CEO of Paragon Software Systems, a provider of truck routing and scheduling software. When it comes to home deliveries, software that quickly re-optimizes fleet schedules as it drops in new orders is key to being able to give a customer a precise, feasible delivery window, Salter says.
“The way [our] system works is that routes are put together as orders are placed, and this has a knock-down effect on how good the deliveries are going to be the next day,” says Salter. “The system will do some real routing in the background and report a delivery time back to customers in a live fashion. So what the customer gets back is a time window based on some real routing that goes on in the background.”
In effect, Paragon’s HDX solution links order fulfillment functions with route planning and scheduling. This capability has attracted users such as Argos, a major U.K. retailer that is rolling out HDX for home delivery management, says Salter.
Other useful home delivery functions include skills resource management and execution functions such as proof of delivery and allowing customers to request delivery time changes. With home delivery often involving consumer goods such as flat screen TVs, treadmills or refrigerators that require installation, the cycle time and skills needed for these tasks should be ingrained in the home delivery system, says Salter. “You might on only have a certain number of white glove delivery specialists able to do some of these installations, so your system needs to account for these skill levels,” he explains.
Paragon offers an Android app that delivery personnel can use to verify what was delivered, which on some deliveries can involve multiple items. The app can also use a phone’s camera to take images of product damage or item condition upon delivery.
Home delivery solutions, Salter concludes, blend planning and execution functions to save costs and improve the customer experience.“The ability to hit those time windows and be accurate in everything you do are big factors in being able to retain customers,” he says.
Roberto Michel, an editor at large for Modern Materials Handling (MMH), has covered manufacturing and supply chain management trends since 1986, mainly as a former staff editor and former contributor at Manufacturing Business Technology. He has been a contributor to MMH since 2004. He has worked on numerous show dailies, including at ProMat, the North American Material Handling Logistics show, and National Manufacturing Week. He can be reached at [email protected]