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EFFICIENT ROUTE AND TOUR PLANNING – WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?



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  9 Feb 2021  ·   Jonas Hansen



W hen is a tour actually considered optimally planned? And what are the advantages of using professional tour planning software to manage my field staff or technicians? These are questions that every dispatcher has probably already asked themselves. In this blog article, we show why companies should rely on a software solution from as few as 10 orders per day and what other benefits they will gain from it.

Finding the best tours for your employees is quite an exhausting and time-consuming task. Even with 10 orders, there are more than 3.6 million (in numbers: 3,600,000) possibilities with just one vehicle. By way of comparison, the probability of getting 5 correct numbers plus a super number in the lottery is 1 in 542,008. Determining the optimal order of the jobs to be completed is therefore tantamount to a game of chance.

But that's not all. Very few companies with a field service only have the requirement to determine and complete the best possible combination of orders. Limitations such as vehicle type restrictions like size and weight, different employees with different skills and needs, or which roads and routes can be used for the tour, do not make this task any easier.

"INTUITION" – A SOURCE OF ERROR

Even in initial discussions, concrete starting points often emerge that can be addressed by professional tour planning software. When asked about the status quo of planning, "We rely on the intuition of our dispatchers" or "Our planning results usually look good on the map, but we have very high costs and are often pressed for time" are among the standard answers. This is often due to the necessity to manually intervene in the planning. With the above-mentioned conditions, manual scheduling can quickly increase additional costs immeasurably.

The goal for the software solution should be to take the planning task completely off your hands and, thanks to high-performance algorithms, create an efficient schedule in less than a second, taking all restrictions into account and also reacting immediately to spontaneous, unforeseeable situations. Nightly batch runs or manual rescheduling are no longer an option. This is clearly illustrated by the example of scheduling appointments via a call centre. By using a tour planning software, a call centre agent can make optimised appointment suggestions within seconds. If the appointments are scheduled manually, white spaces in the appointment calendar are filled - but no optimisation. If a nightly batch run takes place after the appointments have been allocated, rescheduling is often necessary. This means additional organisational effort for the call centre.


FOCUS ON BUSINESS GOALS

In addition to quick and targeted planning, the focus is naturally also on achieving corporate goals, such as cost reduction, resource conservation and increased efficiency. Mileage savings of up to 52% through optimised planning or an increase in orders through a 42% reduction in throughput time are advantages that quickly make themselves felt in the reduction of costs. In addition, improving the eco-balance by reducing CO₂ emissions is another factor that cannot be ignored these days. No matter what goals are pursued and prioritised, the right software helps to achieve them.

Employee and customer satisfaction are considered to be the keys to success in any business. The satisfaction of your team will also have an impact on the quality of work and thus on your customers. In order to address different employee needs, "simple" planning models very quickly reach their limits. For example, your employees have different qualifications and skills and are preferably assigned to certain types of jobs, or you schedule employees with different working time models and from variable start and end points. In each tour, you need to ensure that employees receive adequate breaks and that overtime is avoided, thus ensuring a healthy work-life balance. By eliminating manual scheduling with software support, dispatchers and call centre staff can focus on special cases, taking your escalation management to a new level. Your field service fleet will find it easier to meet SLAs, missed trips will be reduced and waiting times at the customer's premises will be kept to a minimum. Increased adherence to schedules and the best first-time-fix rate will then convince even the last critics.


SINGLE ADVANTAGE THROUGH OPTIMALLY PLANNED RESOURCES

So it can be stated: Professional route planning should do more than just optimise the sequence of appointments based on the road network. The consideration and fulfilment of many different, complex aspects, brings your company decisive advantages. The use of the right software-based route planning is a must from as few as 10 orders per day. A technologically leading software such as FLS VISITOUR provides companies with a unique competitive advantage, supports them in achieving individual company goals, and at the same time increases employee and customer satisfaction, thereby contributing to the company's success in the long term.

Do you have any questions or would you like to arrange a live demonstration of our software? Then don't hesitate to contact us.

To find out how quickly our PowerOpt algorithm plans and reacts to changes, click here.

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