December 27, 2013
Planning Routes for Large Delivery or Service Areas
If your customers are spread across a large geographical area, and you are operating only a small fleet/workforce, it might not be efficient or even possible to serve customers across the whole area on any given day.
Depending on your business, it might be possible to group your customers into geographical areas that will be served once, twice or three times per week. That way your delivery/service locations for a specific day will be closer to one another, meaning you will spend less time traveling and will be able to perform more stops.
While preparing such a plan you should ask yourself:
- How often do you need to visit your customers? Daily? Bi-weekly? Weekly?
- Would your customers agree to being served only on specific days of the week?
- Do you have VIP customers that need to be visited more often?
- Do you have customers that are placing significantly more orders than others?
- Are there areas with significantly more customers?
- Do you want to provide better quality service in certain areas?
After considering all the points above, divide your service area into smaller areas. Here is one possible schedule for our large delivery area example:
- Monday – Blue area (center) and Light blue area (south)
- Tuesday – Red area (north) and Yellow area (north west)
- Wednesday – Blue area (center) and Purple area (north east)
- Thursday – Green area (south west) and Light blue area (south)
- Friday – Blue area (center) and Yellow area (north west)
We split our large service area into six smaller color-coded areas. We do not have that many customers in the northeast (Purple area), so we only deliver there Wednesdays. A large portion of our customers cluster in the Blue downtown area, so we decided to service the blue area three times a week.
After we have defined the areas and have agreed the schedule with our customers we can proceed to daily route planning. We will collect all the orders for the following day and import them to Optimo Route. The automatic routing process will plan the most efficient routes taking in consideration constraints like distance, travel time, driver work time, time windows, skills and vehicle load capacity.
For more information on how to get started with planning daily routes check out our getting started tutorial.