As a result of our extensive experience, The Logistics Consultants have developed a robust and efficient approach to optimising route plans and depot networks.
These are some of the key questions we have helped clients answer.
- What is the optimum fleet size and vehicle mix?
- How many drivers are required, and what are the optimal shift patterns?
- How many depots/cross-docks should we have?
- Where should they be located?
- Which customers should each depot service?
- How should deliveries be scheduled?
- What are the appropriate delivery frequencies?
Our consultants have optimised networks and have prepared route plans for a wide range of clients across many sectors. In particular, we have developed solutions involving deliveries into retail, food service, licenced premises, newsagents, pharmacies, etc.
The routing software can be used to model all sorts of activity, including deliveries and collections of parcels, pallets, kegs, fuel, etc., and we relish any challenge.
We have also optimised route plans for sales reps and for other service providers.
Key elements of our approach include the following:
- Developing a detailed understanding of the client’s business model – in particular, their distribution system and customer service requirements.
- Using specialised distribution planning software with features including:
- Detailed digitised maps, with adjustable driving speeds table,
- Fleet and driver details including vehicle capacities, driver’s hours, loading and unloading time, etc., all of which can be tailored to the project,
- Earliest/latest arrival times for orders
- Delivery windows and restrictions for individual delivery points (e.g. opening times, parking restrictions; etc.),
- Adjustable call durations for individual deliveries based on delivery quantities, site characteristics, etc.
- Building a model of the clients current distribution operation, This involves:
- Locating all customer sites on a digitised map,
- Validating the base case model, i.e. comparing the model’s KPI’s such as miles per route, driving speeds, delivery times and capacity utilisation, with actuals,
- Analysing the current routes to establish driver activity, vehicle capacity utilisation, service elements (delivery frequency/ABC analysis), cost to serve, etc., to help identify improvement opportunities.
- Using the distribution planning system to evaluate the improvement opportunities including an initial “optimisation” of the current network to identify existing inefficiencies.
- Opportunities might include varying call frequencies for some/all customers, introducing minimum order quantities, identifying alternative depots/cross-docks locations, reducing fleet size, varying driver’s hours, etc.
- Using the results of the evaluation to agree a strategic direction and operational changes with the client. Here it is vital that the client objectively considers the ‘non-negotiables’ which cannot, for good business reasons, be changed, and the ‘sacred cows’, which need to be challenged.
- Developing operational routes based on the agreed strategic direction for review and sign off by the client.