This is the first of a 5-part series on driving operational efficiencies in fuels, lubricants and chemicals distribution, based on our 15 years of work in the logistics industry.
Are your dispatchers building efficient routes?
Routing using paper tickets or outdated routing solutions presents significant challenges.
Experience a 12-20% reduction in total transportation costs with multi-compartment, multi-vehicle routing.
Bulk Routing Solution
Bulk routing is different than a package or courier-type system. A bulk routing system has many advantages that can be tailored for your company’s specific needs:
When relying on paper-based routing, the dispatchers have to manually calculate product quantities per product to determine compartment levels and ensure compatibility. This labor-intensive process can lead to errors. Using paper tickets, dispatchers have no easy way of knowing how many miles or how many hours a route should take. Therefore, the routes are often times inefficient.
The Importance of Route Optimization in Bulk Delivery Logistics
At a minimum, a bulk routing solution should allow you to filter by product type and visualize them on a map. Then it will enable you to drag and drop orders from the map to a route, carefully sequencing them. The solution must display the total quantity per product with bulk items so dispatchers avoid overloading compartments.
When you transition to a multi-compartment, multi-vehicle routing solution, dispatchers can select a group of orders and trucks, relying on the routing engine to determine the most optimal assignment of orders to trucks. This process aims to create optimized routes that use the least number of trucks while maximizing the truck compartments’ capacity.
Many routing systems fall short when confronted with soft exceptions and fail to construct fully optimized routes. A soft exception may occur when two orders call for 505 gallons, but the tank wagon compartment can only hold 500 gallons. In such cases, the routing engine should account for these combinations and offer the dispatcher an opportunity to override the system based on their knowledge.
Best-in-class routing solutions enable you to set requirements or capabilities on trucks, drivers, and customers. For example, you can designate that only drivers with certain safety certifications should service particular customers, like mines or high-security facilities. Also, you should always consider trucks with a higher pumping volume first for a given customer.
Additionally, setting customer delivery windows is essential to avoid inconveniences. For example, you don’t want to deliver to a lubes dealer during their peak window. By configuring the system to recognize specific time frames, such as 8 am to 6 pm or more complex schedules like M-F 9 am-11 am and 1 pm-6 pm, Sat 8 am-10 am, the routing solution ensures deliveries align with the customer’s availability.
The First Step Towards Efficiency: Route Optimization
Implementing a routing solution is the first step to best-in-class bulk logistics. By optimizing routes, you pave the way for improved efficiency, enabling the other components in our 5-part series to help you drive logistics efficiency and customer service:
- Part 1: Route optimization – better routes, centralized dispatch
- Part 2: Driver delivery app – paperless, route compliance, driver efficiency, consistent workflows
- Part 3: Tank forecasting – order generation for ALL tanks (monitored and non-monitored)
- Part 4: Inventory control and visibility – track truck inventory, prevent cross fills
- Part 5: Customer service – email advanced ship notifications, proof of delivery, driver on the way
In order to improve your delivery efficiency, you need tools to make data-driven logistics decisions.