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The differences between routing planning and scheduling

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The differences between routing planning and scheduling. Image: Unsplash
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If you manage delivery operations or oversee a mobile workforce of service or maintenance professionals, chances are you’re already using some sort of route planning and scheduling. But understanding the unique advantages of each of these tools could make you more effective, increase your business’s delivery or service capacity, and generate a lot more revenue.

Executing scheduling and route planning without first understanding their respective purposes is kind of like trying to eat a bowl of soup with chopsticks. In this article, we’ll show you precisely what each tool is designed for, the advantages they offer, and why you need to do both well.

How Is Route Planning Different From Scheduling?

Scheduling is the who, what, and when of field operations planning. Route planning is the where and the how.

Scheduling involves taking orders or service requests, determining how many employees you need to have working to cover those orders, and assigning workers to orders during specific times. To execute seamless field operations, you almost always need to do scheduling first.

Route planning is the process of taking your schedule and mapping out precise routes for delivery drivers or service professionals. Route planning is used to optimize routes, while scheduling is used to optimize workloads and workforce availability.

Routing and Scheduling: A Complementary Duo for Deliveries

Together, scheduling and routing help you increase your bottom line, handle more orders, and scale successfully. Like the peanut butter and jelly in a lunchtime classic, routing and scheduling are good on their own, but they’re even better together. Here are just some of the benefits you can get from perfecting your scheduling and route planning processes.

Increased revenue

Scheduling ensures you have enough, but not too many, employees working to fulfill orders. That means you’ll be able to meet demand while reducing wasted spend. If your scheduling is haphazard or ineffective, you could be paying workers to sit around.

Once you have a solid schedule in place, you can optimize your route planning. In a case study conducted in conjunction with an Asian logistics company, McKinsey found that algorithmic route optimization increased profits by 16% without diminishing quality. Using a software to quickly and efficiently calculate the best routes cuts down on planning time, increases driver capacity, and reduces miles driven.

Increased efficiency

Scheduling and route planning have the power to increase revenue, in part because they also increase efficiency. After all, wasted work hours are most commonly a result of inefficiencies. 

Great scheduling ensures that you meet deadlines. Great route planning reduces fuel costs, cuts down on drive times, and enables managers to schedule breaks for mobile workers who have the lowest impact on a service route. Telgian’s planning became 82% more efficient after using route-optimization software, reducing the number of work hours required for planning from 312 to just 56. Using a software, Telgian was able to rapidly calculate the most efficient routes for their safety inspectors’ multi-day journeys and easily see where additional appointments could be accommodated. 

Increased productivity

Research has shown that happy employees are, on average, 13% more productive than unhappy ones. And a great way to keep your team happy is with good planning.

Truly exceptional scheduling and route planning allow you to give employees and delivery teams their work schedules further in advance, which means those employees have more flexibility to plan time with their families or find coverage if they want to do something like attend a child’s sports game.

Gallup analyzed data from 49 publicly traded companies and discovered that businesses with a ratio of 9.3 engaged employees for every one actively disengaged employee earned 147% more per share than their competition. Employee engagement and productivity have a large impact on the overall success of a company.

Ability to scale your business

Mastering scheduling and route planning will help you adapt when you need to scale your business. This is true for sustained overall scaling (like opening a new location or expanding your delivery territory) and short-term scaling to meet a seasonal demand increase.

Optimize Your Planning and Scheduling Before It’s Too Late

Scheduling and vehicle routing, just like any other business process or product, can become outdated if you don’t regularly assess them. If your competitor can deliver in half the time you can, you’re going to lose customers. With logistics powerhouses like Amazon making fast and free shipping widely available, consumer expectations have shifted. In a 2019 global survey conducted by BigCommerce, 77% of consumers said they had backed out of an ecommerce purchase because of what they felt were “unsatisfactory shipping options.”

Manually scheduling and planning routes is extremely inefficient, and, worse yet, if a customer cancels or makes last-minute changes to an order or if a driver calls out sick, you basically need to start over. Staying competitive amid evolving technology doesn’t have to be stressful, though. Telgian, Hardie’s Fresh Foods, and The Little Posy Co. have achieved success in three very different industries by improving their planning and scheduling with routing software.

The Secret to Routing and Scheduling Success

The secret to achieving high-performing field operations is capitalizing on their unique advantages and then harnessing the power of modern technology. 

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Maritime

Intellian C700 Iridium Certus® maritime terminal launched

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Intellian C700 Iridium Certus® maritime terminal launched. Image: Intellian
Intellian C700 Iridium Certus® maritime terminal launched. Image: Intellian
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Intellian C700 Iridium Certus® maritime terminal has now been launched and is expected to quickly secure a reputation as the most powerful and technically advanced Iridium Certus® terminal on the market.

With its best-in-class RF performance, the C700 can deliver out-of-the-box uplink speeds of 352kbps and downlink speeds of 704kbps by default, with equally impressive low-elevation-angle RF efficiency thanks to its unique 12-patch phased array antenna technology.

It will support three high-quality, low-latency phone lines simultaneously; and as a solid-state antenna with no moving parts inside, the C700 is especially robust, requiring no scheduled maintenance over its lifetime.

The advanced performance of the C700 provides customers across all markets with the flexibility to deploy it as the primary communication antenna or as a companion to a VSAT system for seamless redundancy.

For primary communications, the Below Deck Unit (BDU) incorporates key features which make it ready to deploy without additional cost, including firewall, IP PBX, WAN port and built-in Wi-Fi. Hardware and software functions such as these, incorporated into the system, make the C700 the most powerful, feature-rich L-band solution on the market, delivering best in class performance and functionality.

The innate stability and reliable connectivity afforded by the C700 also make it an ideal platform for future safety services, including the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

The C700 delivers installation efficiency both through the product design and the commissioning process. The BDU, weighing approximately 1.2kg, is available as a standalone bulkhead mount system or a 19” all-in-one rack-mount version.

With its small, lightweight and space-saving form factor, the C700 can be carried on board by just one technician or crew member for rapid and low-cost installation. Once the C700 is installed, the built-in, user-friendly AptusLX software enhances the commissioning and setup experience of customers and partners.

Wouter Deknopper, Vice President and General Manager of Maritime, Iridium, observes: Many vessel owners and operators may decide against VSAT for budgetary reasons, lack of deck space or the absence of adequate coverage on their voyage routes, so Iridium Certus is ideal as a primary means of communication, supported by the ease of upgrading to the C700 from an existing system.

“Iridium Certus also excels as a VSAT companion, combining the benefits of LEO with GEO, and L-band with Ku-band. VSAT can suffer from certain degradations and also isn’t global. That’s where you need a strong hybrid system, and Intellian of course is a highly respected manufacturer of maritime VSAT antennas and the new C700, so it is in a strong position to offer a very competitive turnkey hybrid package on the market. The flexibility of the airtime packages Iridium and our partners offer for Intellian customers is also an essential consideration in such uncertain times for the shipping industry and beyond.”

L-band is particularly resistant to rain fade and other forms of atmospheric interference, and the C700’s 12-element antenna arrangement is designed to supply rapid and efficient tracking performance, leading to optimal high-speed data and voice connections. Troels Christensen, Product Manager, EMEA, Intellian, explains: “The signal stability is exceptional even on fast boats or smaller vessels in rough seas, where you may experience heavy pitch and roll.”

An attractive proposition for crew communications with its multiple high-quality voice lines, the C700 is also protected with Intellian’s international support and service network infrastructure, and comes with a three-year warranty for parts and labor.

“The fact that it can be retrofitted by reusing a vessel’s old mast mount, cables and power supply saves additional time and money,” adds Mr. Christensen. “There’s no need for extra boxes, there are no hidden costs, and Iridium Certus provides truly global coverage, even at the poles, so the C700 is an L-band innovation that pays ample dividends not just for smaller vessels, but right across the board.”

Eric Sung, CEO, Intellian Technologies, concludes: “We’re delighted to partner with Iridium and believe our C700 is a great addition to our innovative maritime product portfolio. The new C700 antenna is a great choice for multiple customer segments, delivering an affordable solution which leads the market in speed and functionality.”

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Ro-Ro

HySHIP project secures EUR 8M funding award

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HySHIP project secures EUR 8M funding award. Image: Wilhelmsen
HySHIP project secures EUR 8M funding award. Image: Wilhelmsen
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The revolutionary HySHIP project embraces 14 European partners collaborating on the design and construction of a new ro-ro demonstration vessel running on liquid green hydrogen (LH2), as well as the establishment of a viable LH2 supply chain and bunkering platform. The ship will be operated by Norwegian maritime industry group Wilhelmsen and will distribute LH2 to hydrogen hubs along the Norwegian coast. It is slated to be operational from 2024.

The project aims to lower the development and operational cost of a wider move to LH2 for ship propulsion throughout Europe. The EUR 8m funding from the EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH2 JU) is subject to the signing of a grant agreement by the HySHIP partners by the end of this year.

‘Two-in-one’ solution

Going under the concept name “Topeka”, the vessel will be the first of its kind to enter commercial service. Providing a two-in-one solution, it will sail on a fixed schedule carrying both coastwise customer cargo and containerized LH2 to the bunkering hubs. Norway’s west coast is dotted with bases serving the offshore industries, with base-to-base transport representing a heavy-duty transport route eminently suited to LH2. HySHIP will be a large-scale validation of both the ship, its innovative power system, and the distribution network. The bunkering hubs will in the future supply LH2-powered vessels including ferries and seagoing tonnage.

“Hydrogen as a fuel enables opportunities for low, or zero-emission shipping. Topeka will be our first step towards scalable LH2 fuelled maritime operations. We shall create a full LH2 infrastructure and commercial ecosystem, while at the same time removing yearly some 25,000 trucks from the roads”, says VP of special projects Per Brinchmann at Wilhelmsen, which is also coordinating the project.

Frida Eklöf Monstad, Vice President Logistics and emergency response in Equinor said: “A hydrogen driven coast-liner that has a regular frequency is very promising transportation alternative for Equinor’s bases on the west coast of Norway. This zero-emission vessel service will also be a valuable demonstrator of the technology development supporting Equinor’s ambitions to move cargo from road to sea and to halve emissions from our maritime activities in Norway by 2030.”

“Maritime is a large contributor of global GHG emissions and thus a priority sector to decarbonize. Hydrogen and fuel cells have the potential to propel vessels in a zero-emission fashion and various ship types are starting to integrate them. HySHIP will be a worldwide forerunner innovation project due to its use of liquid hydrogen, the size of the fuel cell and the concept for the LH2 distribution” adds Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director at FCH2 JU.

Ensuring durability

The Topeka vessel will be built for zero emission through a combination of 1,000 kWh battery capacity and a three-megawatt PEM (proton exchange membrane) hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen will be sourced from the new LH2 production plant planned at Mongstad outside Bergen by BKK, Equinor and Air Liquide.

HySHIP will also conduct three replicator studies, including a smaller, 1MW tanker barge for use on inland waterways, a 3MW fast ferry and a scaling-up study on a larger, 20MW energy system for deepsea vessels using a capesize bulk carrier as the replicator.

World-class partners

The HySHIP consortium partners alongside project leader Wilhelmsen include Kongsberg Maritime (NO), LMG Marin (NO & FR), Equinor (NO), Norled (NO), PersEE (FR), Diana Shipping (GR), Stolt-Nielsen Inland Tanker Service BV (NL), Air Liquide (FR), NCE Maritime CleanTech (NO), DNV GL, ETH Zürich (CH), Strathclyde University (UK) and Demokritos (GR).

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Logistics & Supply Chain

Dachser and Fraunhofer IML extended digital research partnership

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Dachser and Fraunhofer IML continue research partnership on new technologies. Image: Dachser
Dachser and Fraunhofer IML continue research partnership on new technologies. Image: Dachser
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Dachser and Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML are extending their collaboration in the DACHSER Enterprise Lab for a further three years. Their partnership will continue to focus on research and development projects with practical application benefits for the Dachser network. These include digital technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence (AI), real-time locating systems (RTLS), 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, and adaptive warehouse systems.

“The first step in our joint research work in the DACHSER Enterprise Lab is to gain a detailed understanding of new technologies and their potential for logistics. Then we build on that to develop prototypes and concepts that add tangible value for Dachser and our customers, turning them into innovations,” explains Stefan Hohm, Corporate Director Corporate Solutions, Research & Development at Dachser, who will head the new IT & Development executive unit as of January 1, 2021. “So far, the work we’ve done together has proven that we can transform research results from the DACHSER Enterprise Lab into new processes and services throughout the entire logistics network,” Hohm says.

“We’re delighted that Dachser is continuing its collaboration with Fraunhofer IML. Our research results up to now and our new research contracts show just how important applied research is for logistics and supply chain management,” says Prof. Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML. “We’re particularly proud that the lab teams have continued to work effectively despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, technical aids such as video conferences and collaboration tools have been a great help. But above all, it’s the extraordinary commitment and motivation of everyone working at the DACHSER Enterprise Lab that is key to successful research in challenging times,” ten Hompel says.

In the DACHSER Enterprise Lab, Dachser logistics experts and scientists from Fraunhofer IML work in mixed lab teams on various research and development assignments. The partnership between the logistics service provider and the research institute was launched in October 2017 and will now run until October 2023.

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