One of the most powerful and valuable features of high quality route optimizations (other than efficiency and lower costs) is the ability to know whether a certain delivery schedule is possible given constraints on time and number of vehicles.
For example, a growing business might plan to increase their fleet size in order to keep up with demand. Running route optimizations to streamline deliveries and cut down on time and distance on the road might prove they are able to fulfill orders without requiring the purchase of additional vehicles.
Route optimizations for same day deliveries are vital for keeping fleet costs to a minimum.
Single Vehicle Route Optimization for Same Day Deliveries
Consider the following example of a single vehicle that needs to make deliveries to 15 locations around London.
In this case, Blue Pickup I has 8 hours to deliver to 15 locations and return to the depot. Before route optimization it is not clear if this is even possible. Either another vehicle must be made available, or clients and customers must be notified that they may (or may not) receive their deliveries today.
Optimizing the delivery schedule yields the following result.
As you can see, the vehicle managed to complete all deliveries in the allotted 8 hours, taking 7 hours and 11 minutes in total. It traveled 125.28 km at a cost of $197.25 based on the distance cost of $1/km (i.e. fuel, insurance and wear and tear) and time cost of $10/hour (i.e. driver salary).
Those costs are obviously flexible based on the real-world requirements of any vehicle that forms part of a route optimization schedule.
Great. We know that it is possible to make all these deliveries on the same day with one vehicle. Or is it?
Single Vehicle Route Optimization for Same Day Deliveries (with Capacities)
Technically, we haven't catered for the vehicle's carrying capacity. That might change things if it can't carry everything it needs from the depot in one go.
Let's adapt the problem to include delivery capacity constraints.
Assume, for example, the vehicle can carry 10 Boxes (it is possible to define any capacity type to suit your real world needs) and there are 12 out of the 15 locations requiring a box to be delivered from the depot.
We know that the vehicle must return to the depot in order to pick up at least 2 boxes at some point in the delivery schedule. We also know that the fastest it can deliver everything in one day is just over 7 hours - so there's not much time left for a trip back to the depot to reload.
Is it time to organize another vehicle, or push some deliveries to tomorrow?
Here's the result.
Turns out that even with a return to the depot to reload (the stripey red and white stop in the vehicle's linear timeline, shown above), our optimized route schedule is able to deliver everything on the same day. Naturally, the optimal route took a bit more time and distance leading to an increase in cost to approximately $215.
An $18 increase is far more cost effective than having to rent (or purchase) an additional vehicle, or disappoint customers and clients by delivering on the following day.
Multi Vehicle Route Optimizations for Same Day Deliveries
Most delivery and logistics companies tend to have more than one vehicle in their fleet. Route optimizations are actually fleet optimizations in the real world because even modest size companies can have tens of vehicles operating on any given day.
We can move to a much larger daily delivery schedule using 5 vehicles and 100 locations, as follows.
We know that one vehicle could only just manage to squeeze in 15 locations in 8 hours. With 5 vehicles it may be reasonable to hope that we could deliver to around 75 locations on the same day.
With 100 deliveries in the schedule, it's likely that we're going to need more vehicles or shift some deliveries to the following day. Optimizing the new schedule gives us the following result.
Not only is it possible to perform all 100 deliveries on the same day, it's actually possible to do it with only 4 vehicles. One vehicle was not used at all, while all other vehicles were utilized to their maximum allowed time - most returning to the depot with only minutes to spare.
An interesting result that shows how delivery planning and route optimizations can drastically lower costs and streamline deliveries - including packing and warehousing - while using existing resources extremely efficiently.
For businesses that rely on punctual same day deliveries, real-world route optimizations that can ensure optimal routes and travel times while still catering to real-world business constraints are vital.