Optimizing Vehicle Routing: Efficient Use of Trucks

route_trucks

Context

A business uses multiple trucks to provide service to customers.  Currently, the office manager “eyeballs” the best assignment of trucks to routes to accomplish providing service to all customers.  The business would like to apply an analytic approach to routing trucks that will save wear and tear on the trucks, allow the business to collect valid data on fuel use and mileage, and reduce the amount of time that the office manager has to spend on routing.

Question

How can we route our service trucks to wear and tear on the trucks, collect valid data on fuel use and mileage, and increase the efficiency of the routing process?

Results

Research Communiqué discovered an accessible online service (RouteXL) that was easy to use and cost-effective.  Finding an accessible, cost-effective solution was important because routing is an example of the “Traveling Salesman” mathematical problem, which mathematicians consider to be a “hard problem” that is complex and difficult to solve.

Research Communiqué performed preliminary testing of the RouteXL service to discern how to set up the calculations to best suit the business’s needs.  By doing this, Research Communiqué discovered that the free account level was appropriate for the business’s needs.  Then, Research Communiqué created and configured the business’s RouteXL account and taught the office manager how to use RouteXL to plan routes.

Applying the Route XL process reduced the time that the office manager spent on routing to less than 30 minutes per day from the previous task time of 1 or more hours per day.  RouteXL allowed the office manager to export routes, including GPS directions, to the truck drivers.  In addition to improving the efficiency of the office manager’s job, the business saved 15.3 miles per day in accrued mileage on their fleet and $3.82 per day on fuel costs.

Insights

Annually, as the result of using routing, the business will save approximately 3500 miles in accrued mileage and $8700 in fuel costs.  The business was pleased to discover that they were reducing their carbon footprint by 15% per day, as well.

Recommendations

Applying RouteXL, a free online service, to the business’s”Traveling Salesmen” problem allowed the business to route service trucks, extend the lifespan of the trucks, and improve the efficiency with which their employees can do their jobs.  This solution has the benefit of being easy to use and cost-effective.