Route Optimization is Being Revolutionized Thanks to AI

Route Optimization

Route optimization is one of the most critical aspects of transportation planning as it ensures that deliveries always arrive on time and do so with the lowest possible cost and energy expenditure. But there are a lot of variables that go into route optimization, and all of them must be in working order and reliable if they are to be of any real use.

This is especially true during a capacity crunch!

When dealing with heavy road congestion and an influx of e-commerce orders, you need to be able to face it all head on to make sure you give your customer a speedy delivery.

Luckily, this is where artificial intelligence really shines!

AI machine learning and cloud data is changing the game of route optimization. AI is continually retrieving data, learning from it, and analyzing new methods to ensure drivers are taking the most optimized route—down to the minute in real time.

Let's take a look at a few of the ways that route optimization benefits the supply chain and how it is being revolutionized by artificial intelligence...

Route optimization can minimize lost time

A 2016 report of the Cost of Congestion to the Trucking Industry found that traffic congestion added $74.5 billion to the trucking industry’s overall operational cost. In total, that equated to 1.2 billion hours of lost productivity—which is the equivalent of 425,533 truck drivers sitting idle in traffic for an entire year. Congestion alone costs nearly $6,500 per truck per year.

That was three years ago. Since then, e-commerce has exploded, and more companies are offering next or same day delivery options. Plus, nearly a third of all goods are returned, which is essentially “wasting” 30% of road time. E-commerce is putting more trucks on the road with tighter timelines, worsening traffic even more.

Route planning systems are the best (and only) way to avoid lost time and fuel due to congestion. Route optimization ensures that truckers are using the most evident roads with the least idle time, and it also helps organize truck schedules to avoid peak rush hour times and cramped loading dock times.

Ensures faster delivery times

If you’re a company looking to compete with Amazon and other big brands, you’re looking to offer fast shipping options. Route optimization is critical to ensuring that goods are delivered with the most efficiency. If your online business wants to compete, your shipping needs to be swift and cost-effective.

Optimizing routes helps to ensure that you’re spending the least amount of time on the road, making a fast delivery an option for customers.

Reveals new potential routes

Constant route optimization ensures that companies are utilizing all available resources. A lot of fleets are still using truck routes that were set up years ago. But roads are different now—and the way people are driving on those roads is also different. It’s not enough to update your routing every decade, every year, or even every month. Route optimization only works if it happens on a consistent, near-daily basis.

Saves time, and more importantly... money

Less time spent on the road means less fuel expenditure, fewer driver paid hours and less demand on trucks. Even a one-hour reduction on the road can save hundreds of dollars every week.


How does AI impact route optimization?

These benefits are doubled when you add in the advantages of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Thanks to technology, route optimization is simpler and more effective than ever. Artificial intelligence software collects and learns from data to consistently analyze the best routes for drivers.

Here’s how it works. Drivers can send in reports and ELD devices can track and account hours logged. Distribution centers can report their capacity data, the number of trucks at the dock, and time for loading and unloading. The AI can then accurately determine how long service would require for delivery of a volume at the given docking center.

These AI devices are also getting information from servers about traffic reports. These are fairly similar to (but more advanced than) what the everyday consumer could find on Google maps. AI can also look at historical traffic data down to the week, day, and time of day to predict when a driver should go out on the road. It can look at the truck’s current geo-coordinates to determine precisely where the vehicle is along the route. This data can then be used for determining where changes could be made to optimize the route.

It can even alert drivers where to refuel, rest, eat, or park based on their route, or other criteria set by the driver. No more searching around for rest stops, which can eat up time spent on the road.

Better yet, these AI devices aren’t just tracking and analyzing data. They’re always learning from the data in order to make more predictive recommendations and strategies. So, it can look at previous routes, previous traffic data, current traffic notices, customer locations, and even the particular driver and truck info to determine—down to the very minute—how the truck should move from point A to B.

Artificial intelligence is optimizing every part of the trucking route, both on and off the road.


Bottom line

Route optimization is about finding the most efficient, fastest order for stops while minimizing drive time and mileage. Artificial intelligence is always evolving, and with it, route optimization is becoming a streamlined process. With this ability at your fingertips, you can consistently ensure the most advanced routes and procedures are being utilized.

As e-commerce expands, the capacity crunch shrinks and populations shift, supply chain innovation is a necessity. We’re excited to see how artificial intelligence will continue to improve and streamline how the transportation industry overcomes these hurdles in the near future.

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