7 min. reading time
23 April 2021 ·
or modern route planning, intelligent IT is a must. The hightened popularity of search terms such as real-time, dynamic, as an app or cloud-based route planning reinforce the market's movement. However trendy the descriptions are, they all make it clear how relevant digitisation is in this discipline across companies of all sectors.
Google Maps for online route planning has become a standard application on smartphones and desktop PCs today. In addition to classic navigation devices in vehicles, apps like Waze are a convenient way to calculate routes to be taken from A to B and to be rerouted when traffic jams occur. Things get complicated when various intermediate destinations are to be reached at certain times along the way. This scenario occurs comparatively often in field service, with service technicians, assembly orders, or deliveries. Here, not just one major destination is planned, but several customers and/or depots.
This is precisely where the difference lies between route planning or navigation and tour planning. Route planning describes a planning process in which orders are grouped into tours and the order in which they are to be approached is determined. The person and/or the vehicle returns to its starting position after completing the last order. The route, on the other hand, usually leads from a starting point to a specific destination, i.e. it tends to represent transport from A to B. The following 11 points show when it's time to invest in software-supported, professional route planning.
YOU ARE CHALLENGED TO SCHEDULE 10+ JOBS A DAY
A software-based, professional route planning system like FLS VISITOUR takes this task off your hands. Designing the best tours for your employees can otherwise become an exhausting and time-consuming activity. With as few as 10 orders, there are more than 3.6 million possibilities for driving to them with just one vehicle. With the help of route planning software, and thanks to high-performance algorithms such as PowerOpt, you can obtain efficient planning in less than a second, taking into account all of the restrictions you have specified. For example, vehicle type restrictions such as size and weight may impose additional complication on which roads and access routes can be used.
YOU WANT TO SAVE MILES AND COSTS
If you leave itinerary determination to simple driving/map apps, you will usually end up with solutions that look good on the map but in reality cost time and money. Suboptimal scheduling can quickly cause additional costs to skyrocket with a large fleet and complex restrictions to consider. Only with many years of experience may you succeed in determining good tours, in line with your preferences. But even this process ties up a lot of time in scheduling. Using a route planning software with road-accurate optimisation such as FLS VISITOUR allows you to save up to 52% in miles (read the Case Study by Seco). In terms of 'Green IT', the software also helps you to improve your eco-balance by reducing CO2 emissions.
YOU NEED TO INCREASE YOUR VISIT FREQUENCY
Do your field staff often find themselves in front of closed doors or having to wait for customers? With professional route planning, you can not only reduce travel times, but also avoid unnecessary wait times. In addition, a mobile connection between your field staff via apps such as FLS MOBILE decisively reduces annoying additional work on site. Document management can be fully automated and visit reports can be filled out and sent immediately without tedious paperwork, through templates. Overall, this leaves more time for customer appointments.
YOU WANT TO SAVE YOUR EMPLOYEES OVERTIME
To stay efficient and alert on the road, your employees need adequate breaks. Overtime should be avoided. All this is taken into account in professional route planning. Online route planners, on the other hand, put addresses in an order, but they do not know that your employees' working day ends at 6p.m. and that a lunch break must be scheduled. A suitable tour planning software such as FLS VISITOUR permanently optimises the order and allocation of appointments, even if it takes a little longer. It also directly schedules return travel times to home or the company location.
YOUR EMPLOYEES HAVE DIFFERENT SKILLS
Does your organisation offer different job/work types for which certain employee qualifications are required? Professional route planning takes this into account. In FLS VISITOUR, you can assign different skills to your employees and record which skills are needed when an order is received. The software then automatically searches for the most efficient solution with the employees who have the required skills, training, or certification.
YOU WANT TO DIGITALISE YOUR PROCESSES
Digital transformation affects almost all processes, products and business models. This creates new opportunities! Put an end to paperwork by digitising your route planning and document management through software. With FLS MOBILE, you can handle visit reports and returns management conveniently and paperlessly via an app that immediately transfers the documents to head office staff or your ERP system. The field service remains connected to you via the app. So no more reports getting lost in a black hole. At the same time, the field service benefits from viewable appointments, tours, and customer data directly in their app.
YOU BATTLE UNSYCHRONISED AND DUPLICATED DATA
An order usually includes a whole battery of customer master data that can be relevant for route planning and execution of the order. Professional software such as FLS VISITOUR automatically transfers appointments to a tour and carries over the customer data. When combined with a field service app such as FLS MOBILE, employees on site can view additional important information about the object/asset, agreed service levels and contact persons on their smartphone or tablet without manual effort. Interfaces to your ERP/CRM system ensure that duplicate data maintenance is a thing of the past.
REALITY IS CHANGING ALL THE TIME AND YOU MUST REACT IN REAL TIME
Do you have emergency appointments coming in all the time? Your employees are already out on the road? Everyday events like these can quickly throw your original planning out. In such cases, it is important that you can react to them in real time. Without professional tour planning software, this would mean that you would have to manually move appointments back and forth and then inform both your customers and your field staff (if you can reach them).
Software solutions such as FLS VISITOUR and DISPATCH NOW take care of this task for you. By using real-time traffic data, route planning is adjusted in real time in the event of unforeseen disruptions in road traffic and the customer is informed fully automatically in the event of delays.
With a field service app like FLS MOBILE, changes to your route plan are automatically communicated to your field staff via push notifications. Since all systems involved exchange information directly and in real time, tours can be optimised and constantly planned in a cost-efficient manner, even for appointments at short notice.
YOU WANT TO KEEP PROCESSES AND COSTS TRANSPARENT
Frequently, knowledge silos form in organisations among dispatchers & process owners. Experience develops from consciously and unconsciously collected information, which is lost again as soon as the employee leaves the company or is absent for an extended period of time.
What mileage was done this month? How much will it cost me to accommodate that one emergency appointment? All of this data is collected in professional tour planning and made transparent in a KPI dashboard. This allows real-time evaluation and immediate intervention in the planning of tours. With the help of a tour planning software such as DISPATCH NOW, tracking & tracing of goods, confirmation of the order or delivery as well as returns management can be recorded and displayed in real time. Your end customers can also track the status of a delivery at any time via a web link.
TIMEKEEPING IS CRITICAL TO YOU
In addition to real-time traffic data, professional route planning software also uses historical traffic data such as road-specific speed profiles, which provide information on how fast people can drive on average at certain times of the day on the affected road sections. Predictive analysis methods thus allow the required journey times to be specified more precisely and taken into account accordingly in the planning. The delta between planning and reality becomes smaller and smaller. Real-time optimisation also ensures that, in the event of delays, rescheduling is carried out to meet the deadlines according to your prioritisation. You are therefore assured of a high degree of adherence to deadlines.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IS A TOP PRIORITY
Customer satisfaction is considered the key to success in any business. The move to professional route planning helps you to reach new heights of customer satisfaction. It gives your employees more time to concentrate on their job and the customer. A connected online appointment portal such as FLS PORTAL enables your customers to choose their preferred appointment time for the job, themselves. Supported by a mobile field service app such as FLS MOBILE, you'll instil the use of checklists to ensure that no sub-steps of the order/works are forgotten and that all actions are documented for the next contact or billing.
With an automatic notification to the customer about the exact arrival time of your field service employee, you eliminate annoying waiting times for your customers. Therefore, processes are optimised for customer satisfaction throughout the entire customer journey.
PROFESSIONAL ROUTE PLANNING IS OPTIMISED TOUR PLANNING
All in all, the advantages of professional route planning become evident when used in field service, for planning customer appointments, and goods deliveries. Online tools such as Google Maps and conventional navigation devices are sufficient for private use and for use on single routes, but quickly fail in more complex conditions. Tour planning software such as FLS VISITOUR or DISPATCH NOW, on the other hand, not only reduces your planning effort, but cuts real costs while increasing staff and customer satisfaction.