Is fleet optimisation right for your business?

01 March 2017

Solutions like Route Monkey deliver savings by analysing your entire fleet operations, rather than just planning the best route for a vehicle. We look at your business objectives, customer requirements, and assets. By utilising unique algorithms, we can calculate how you can meet your objectives using the fewest vehicles, and in the lowest cumulative mileage. Typically, our scheduling software can deliver overall savings of up to 20% compared to working without fleet scheduling.

With such attractive savings on offer, it begs the question as to why more fleets don’t already use route planning software, or at least explore it as an option? In our experience, the main psychological barrier is that fleet managers fear that route optimisation is too complex and difficult.

It is a different way of working, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to benefit from route scheduling software, as the algorithms do the heavy lifting for you. A good fleet optimisation system should be user-friendly and straightforward, where you can import jobs and hit the Optimise button – the software should do all the rest.

Another common misconception is that optimisation will only work if you’re already using fleet management software. The reality is that most of our customers manually planned their transport operations before investing in our fleet scheduling solutions. Most fleets we encounter still use spreadsheets rather than software. This is not a problem - our analysts are experts in extracting data from spreadsheets in order to run benchmarking exercises.

Benchmarking is where our analysts take historical data and run it through optimisation algorithms to calculate what savings you could make by using our scheduling software. Route Monkey offers free benchmarking as a way of allaying concerns over ROI. This de-risks investment decisions and helps fleet managers build the business case with their procurement departments.

For example, Armitage Transport operates a fleet of 100 HGVs, delivering palletised goods to warehouses. Armitage supplies Route Monkey with some spreadsheets showing all fleet activity over the past 10 days, where it has made 3,500 deliveries and collections. Route Monkey inputs all the data into its optimisation software, which recalculates the most efficient way to complete all of those collections and deliveries. It identifies that, by using Route Monkey, Armitage could have saved 10% on its fuel bill. This saving far outweighs the cost of buying Route Monkey, making it a no-brainer for the transport manager.

Check Suitability

In order to calculate whether your fleet would benefit from route optimisation software, there are several key factors to consider. These include the number of vehicles and - more importantly - the total fleet mileage per annum. The savings might not stack up if your fleet only covers 100,000 miles a year rather than 1 million. Fleet scheduling shouldn’t come with a high price tag – in many instances, Route Monkey can provide savings for customers with less than 20 vehicles.

The use case is also critical. Vehicles visiting multiple locations every day stand to benefit more from a multi-stop route planner than those making basic A to B trips. A good solutions provider should be able to optimise even highly complex operational demands like time-sensitive deliveries, sites that only allow in certain types of vehicles, and driver working hours.

Furthermore, if you do already use back office systems like enterprise resource planning, fleet management software, or telematics, then always ask about integration. The best providers will have already developed middleware to seamlessly integrate fleet optimisation with your existing software.

If you manually plan, then switching to automated scheduling can substantially cut the daily resource required for transport planning, freeing up the fleet team to focus on other issues.

The final factors worth assessing are payment and hosting. Some optimisation providers sell licences requiring you to pay the full amount up front and expect you to host the technology on your own servers. A better solution can often be a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, where you pay a monthly fee and the system is hosted securely on the Cloud. This enables remote access, meaning fleet managers don’t have to be in the office in order to log in.

Time to Talk

Fleet managers increasingly find themselves tasked to do more with less - and the twin targets of cutting costs and fleet GHG emissions are ever present. Optimisation offers a solution that is easy to use and delivers measurable savings. Even if you still have reservations about whether it’s right for your fleet, it’s definitely worth starting the conversation.