Last mile delivery

How Vehicle Routing and Scheduling Work in Logistics

How Vehicle Routing and Scheduling Work in Logistics

Today, we’ll be discussing delivery logistics.

Specifically, how vehicle routing and scheduling work as part of supply and delivery chain logistics.

You’ll find out:

  • Logistics operations that are key for your delivery operations
  • How routing and scheduling fit into delivery logistics
  • What is delivery logistics software and how you can use it
  • The benefits of using software to route and schedule vehicles

So if you want to get a deeper understanding of the logistics involved in delivery, you’ll enjoy this article.

Let’s start.

What Are Delivery Logistics?

Delivery logistics represent the flow of operations from sourcing products and managing the supply chain at the first mile of delivery to delivering those products to customers at the last mile of delivery (and everything in-between).

Every business that ships products to customers need a logistics system in order to ensure that the product gets to the right place.

Delivery logistics services include all comings and goings of products to businesses (B2B) and customers (B2C).

Still, we’re talking about a pretty broad term, here.

So, we’ll need to dive deeper into the logistics of delivery…

Forward Logistics

In general, forward logistics deals with the forward movement of goods, from sourcing raw materials and manufacturing them into products, through their procurement, storage, and sales, to transportation and last-mile delivery to consumers.

The product gains value as it passes through each stage on its route to the consumer.

In some cases, raw materials are sold and delivered in their raw form. While others pass through several stages before reaching the final consumer.

And while you can find some and deliver raw materials only in a few places on the planet, manufactured goods reach consumers all over the world.

That’s why customer demand as part of supply chain management dictates the rate of forward logistics.

So what are forward logistics in delivery, then?

Forward delivery logistics are operations that move products forward along the supply and delivery chains until they reach the end-user.

But that’s not the only type of logistical operations out there…

Reverse Logistics

Reverse logistics is the process in delivery operations that controls the return movement of products from their final destination. The main goal is to capture value or properly dispose of failed deliveries.

In more simple words, it’s a logistical operation that covers a company’s return policy.

In a case that product is damaged, lost, or the customer rejects the delivery, reverse logistics are responsible for returning the item and making sure the customer remains satisfied.

In recent years, it has become an essential part of delivery service operations.

Even though it can seem costly, it increases the value of the company in many ways. Chief of which is meeting customer expectations.

7 Aspects of Delivery Logistics

There are 7 aspects of delivery logistics, every business should be built on:

#1 The Right Product

You need to think about the product you are selling in terms of quality: does it add value to customers, and is it appropriate and safe for selling and distribution.

#2 The Right Quantity

It’s important to think about optimal production or procurement levels and whether your last-mile delivery can meet demand when it exceeds your capacity.

#3 The Right Condition

Can you deliver the perfect condition to your customers?

#4 The Right Place

It’s necessary to think about how easily you can deliver your products to the right place.

#5 The Right Time

Here we are talking about last-mile delivery logistics. Can you meet the increasingly high demand for fast delivery? Can you deliver orders on time?

#6 The Right Customer

Identifying the right customers is crucial if you want to sell your products and services to them.

#7 The Right Price

With all of these aspects combined, you need to think about how much the delivery is going to cost based on operational expenditure, and whether or not you want to transfer that cost to the customer.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management deals with the logistics of product procurement. It’s what helps you to source and order products from suppliers, transport them to single or multi-depot locations, store them, and prepare them for delivery.

The supply chain is closely related to the delivery chain.

Technically, without supplies, you can’t sell or deliver products to customers. And without the supply chain, you can’t procure those goods.

So like forward and reverse logistics, supply chain management is a separate, yet essential part of your delivery operations.

And it includes all the activities, people, data, organizations, and resources required to meet customers' needs.

But in this scenario, your company is the customer.

KPIs in Logistics

Calculating and tracking key performance metrics in delivery logistics is the only way to determine the success of your delivery operations.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are both practical and objective measurements of progress towards an already planned goal or against a required standard of performance.

While there are a lot of delivery logistics KPIs you can measure, the top seven metrics include:

  • Number of deliveries
  • On-time delivery
  • Order accuracy
  • Time to destination
  • Available vs. used vehicle capacity
  • Time per delivery
  • Avg. cost per delivery

Staying on top of these delivery KPIs will help you to plan better routes and schedules.

And that’s the next topic we need to discuss.

Vehicle Routing and Scheduling in Logistics

Why are routing and scheduling important for delivery logistics?

At its core, logistics is the movement of goods.

To move goods across the supply chain, you need to transport them.

So instead of randomly moving goods from one place to another, routing organizes that process.

Likewise, goods have to arrive at each destination by a specific date and time.

Vehicle scheduling organizes those delivery times and ensures that supplies and orders reach their destinations on time.

Together, routing and scheduling are what delivery logistics operate on.

But planning, managing, and optimizing routes and schedules is vital for the bottom line, customer experience, and sustainability of any delivery operation.

At the same time, they’re often one of the most overlooked processes in delivery logistics.

That’s why in this part of the article, we explain the basics of routing and scheduling.

And what makes them important for your organization.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Delivery Routing?

Routing represents the entire process of planning delivery routes for the vehicles in a fleet.

The goal is to create the most cost-effective route by minimizing the distance and traveled time necessary to reach a set of planned stops.

Routing is a crucial process of logistics systems, especially in today’s world, due to the high competition and increased customer demand.

Delivery routing, route planning, and route optimization are all critical processes for creating reliable and cost-effective routes.

Route Planning

Route planning is closely connected with route sequencing or route mapping.

Route planning is the process of creating routes for various destinations on the map and ordering them in the most logical and practical way.

Each destination is based on a service or delivery order and represents the customer’s home or office address.

Typically the orders are put on a list and imported into a route planner, or route planning software.

Route Optimization

Even though both terms, route planning, and route optimization sound similar, they are actually not the same.

Route optimization is a better way to plan, manage, and map routes. It helps you to create the most efficient routes based on other factors and constraints besides distance.

Route optimization plays a double role when raising the performance of your delivery or field service.

Why Is Routing Important for Delivery Logistics?

Delivery routing is important for logistics because it organizes how you transport goods across the supply chain.

Route planning and optimization help you to identify the most efficient and cost-effective ways of doing that.

It also means your operations become structured and quantifiable.

Which makes it easier to track performance and output from the first to the last mile of delivery.

While at the same time, raising customer satisfaction by delivering products and services on time without any errors.

What Is Delivery Scheduling?

Delivery scheduling is the process of planning deliveries for multiple locations, routes, and drivers based on time so that you can perform key tasks and fulfill every order in the time you have available.

A good delivery scheduling system requires both a logical and creative approach.

You need to have a clear understanding of all factors that can impact your delivery operation, including:

  • Other deliveries;
  • Specified date and time (deadline to fulfill the order);
  • Destination (distance to the drop-off location);
  • Depot locations (distance to and from inventory sites);
  • Geography (the landscape of the delivery area);
  • And many others;

It still requires creativity to set priorities and make complex schedules that meet all these conditions without affecting key objectives.

Why Is Scheduling Important for Delivery Logistics?

A great schedule guarantees that every step in a logistics process is moving at just the right speed to get a job done on time.

Balance is key because it results in both less overhead and fewer stockouts.

Good logistics scheduling ensures that you’re planning which results in on-time delivery, happy customers, and of course better last-mile delivery logistics.

Is There a Better Way to Route and Schedule Deliveries?

Yes. There is. More and more companies across different industries use tools like delivery logistics software to handle their scheduling and routing,

Businesses that invest in this kind of delivery schedule software experience a boost in productivity.

But it also helps to save time, money, and other resources that go straight into strengthening the bottom line.

What Is Delivery Logistics Software?

Delivery management software or delivery logistics software is a digital logistics tool used for planning, managing, optimizing, and executing delivery activities.

Delivery logistics software is an innovation that is transforming and revolutionizing delivery.

It’s a centralized system of communication that lets everyone involved in the life cycle of a delivery connect via one platform.

It integrates previously separate features like route optimization, customer support, reverse logistics, or ePOD into one comprehensive system.

Types of Delivery Logistics Software

There are many different types of delivery logistics software, such as:

  • Fleet Management Software
  • Field Service Management Software
  • Route Optimization Software
  • Supply Chain Management Software
  • Transportation Management Software
  • Order Management systems
  • Warehouse Management systems

Even though many companies use different types of logistics software, it’s important to say that they don’t come close to the functionality of delivery management solutions.

Especially, when dealing with last-mile delivery challenges.

But there are other benefits of using software to route and schedule deliveries.

Benefits of Using Software to Route Vehicles

The main features of many end-to-end software solutions is route planning and optimization.

Tools like delivery management software enable you to automatically plan routes and optimize routes based on a variety of parameters.

And that means you raise the overall efficiency of each delivery route. While simultaneously cutting down costs by reducing waste.

In fact, using routing software can raise cost-effectiveness by 50%.

But beyond cost, there are other benefits of vehicle route optimization software.

Let’s see what else you can achieve by using software to route vehicles:

Faster route planning and optimization

First of all, the software automates how you plan delivery routes.

That means you’ll spend less time planning routes. And even less time optimizing them.

If you manually plan routes, then you know this can take hours and days to do.

By automating the process, it takes minutes to plan routes with multiple stops for each vehicle in your fleet.

All you have to do is input a list of orders into the dashboard and the system divides them among your vehicles and calculates the optimal route for each one in just a few minutes.

The software factors in all of the relevant factors for every route and every driver, so you can easily plan your routes every single day.

Better use of talent and employee potential

Speeding up how you plan routes frees up a lot of time for your staff.

You also don’t have to rely on professional route planners.

And that means your teams can shift their focus to other areas of your business.

For example, they can spend more time building trust with your customers.

Or applying delivery tactics to grow your operations.

Real-time visibility over the entire operation

Once your drivers start their routes you lose control over where they are, or what they are doing.

This basically means two things:

  1. You can’t track and monitor the performance and progress of your drivers
  2. You can’t assign new tasks, pick-ups, or drop-offs on the go

Route optimization software allows you to adopt a cloud-first approach to delivery logistics.

That lets you keep track of all drivers in real-time, either by tracking their phones or the telematics in their vehicles.

Divers also have access to these routes via the delivery driver app on their phones.

This means they can immediately see any changes that you make to their route or schedule.

This makes it possible to assign supply pick-ups, deliveries, and service visits as the orders for them arrive.

And this real-time capability is what can help you to build an agile delivery operation.

Benefits of Using Software to Schedule Deliveries

A good schedule is all about getting the right people to do the right task at the right place and at the right time.

Using logistics management software enables you to plan better delivery schedules.

How?

By automating the scheduling process.

And that means…

Faster Fulfilment and More Completed Deliveries

Scheduling and route optimization software take a granular approach to how you manage delivery logistics.

That means you can go into as much detail as you want when planning your delivery schedules.

For example, besides setting the date and time of each delivery, you can set its service time.

This means you have control over how much drivers spend with the customer.

But you can also add driver shifts, lunch breaks, or refueling stops.

Plus, the software calculates the time in transit.

So you’ll have access to more accurate estimated times of arrival (ETAs).

All of that means more accurate schedules, which means you can plan a lot more deliveries.

This allows you to maximize output while reducing idle times. And raising the speed of your delivery.

Less Missed Deliveries

The software doesn’t just enable you to handle more deliveries. Or increase your delivery offer.

It helps you to maintain the quality of your delivery service as you raise order volumes.

Specifically, you can adjust schedules in case something unexpected happens.

For example, if one of your vehicles breaks down, you can schedule a replacement delivery with another driver.

That means you’ll minimize the risk of failed or missed deliveries.

So whatever happens, you can maintain fulfillment quality and keep your customers happy.

Better Customer Experience

High service quality is one of the best ways to boost customer experience and satisfaction.

With the help of the software, you will simply offer a better delivery.

And a better delivery will entice more people to order more products from you.

Which, at the end of the day, has a positive impact on your margins and revenue.

So…

Are you ready to improve how you handle delivery logistics?

If you are, then we can help you.

Here are the nine free guides that will show you exactly what we do to optimize the last mile and dominate delivery logistics.

1. Delivery Management Software for Small Businesses

2. How delivery management software cuts costs and saves you a LOT of money

3. Must-Read Books About Last-Mile Delivery and Why You Need to Read Them

4. How to boost experience by building trust with your customers through delivery

5. Biggest mistakes in delivery management and planning (and how to solve them)

6. To centralize or not to centralize delivery: What’s the best approach?

7. A Definitive Guide to Last-Mile Delivery

8. Driver Route Planning Software: Everything you need to know

9. How to achieve last-mile e-commerce delivery success

Try it out for FREE

eLogii is an end-to-end delivery management platform that operates on the cloud. Our powerful solution can overcome all the challenges of modern delivery including route optimization.

BOOK A DEMO or START A FREE 14-DAY TRIAL (with a step-by-step guided setup) right now to learn more. No questions asked except one:

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