How to Use Syntelic Software to Optimize Delivery Time

By Scott Balthaser | October 8, 2023

Did you know that every day, your trucking operation faces a problem that thousands of researchers have studied for decades?

You have a fleet of vehicles that need to deliver goods within specified delivery windows to multiple locations spread across a wide geographic area—and in the most efficient manner possible.

Scholars within the field of combinatorial mathematics use the generic term Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) to refer to all variations of this same basic conundrum. While their worries are theoretical, yours are practical.

The Vehicle Routing Problem—whether it’s handled in academia or in your front offices—is an optimization problem: You need to balance minimizing route miles and time while controlling for an array of variables and operating according to an assortment of constraints:

  • With U.S. diesel prices averaging over $4.50 per gallon, shaving route miles—even just a few per day—can add up to major annual savings.
  • Saving a few minutes here and there can translate into the capacity for more deliveries—and more revenue.
  • Variables add complexity. For example:
  • Number of trucks
  • Number of stops per truck
  • Order of stops
  • Routes
  • Delivery time windows
  • Delivery time
  • Vehicle capacity
  • But things get exponentially more complicated when you factor in constraints like driver schedules, Department of Transportation (DOT) service hours, and wild cards like traffic and weather conditions.

With a truckload of mathematicians and computer scientists busy writing algorithms to solve various forms of VRP, we sure hope you’re not planning routes for your transportation operation with a pen and paper.

At Syntelic, we brought together savvy computer programming and a background in trucking to create our eminently practical Route Planning software that takes the guesswork out of optimizing your truck routes.

Although Route Planning does a lot on its own, you can get more out of the software if you pair it with Syntelic’s Load Planning and Transportation Analytics applications, which help you optimize loading and delivery times.

We will cover using these two programs to track and minimize delivery time.

What Is Delivery Time?

Delivery time is the total time a driver spends on a particular delivery. Delivery time is base time plus unloading time.

  • Base time includes factors that are largely constant from one delivery to the next, such as:
    • Backing in the truck
    • Getting out and opening the truck
    • Filling out paperwork
    • Interacting with customers
  • Unloading time varies more from delivery to delivery, primarily depending on the quantity of goods a driver is unloading. Unloading speed is usually calculated in cases or pallets per hour.

If you don’t already have a metric for tracking unloading speed, it’s a good idea to select one and keep tabs on how your drivers measure up.

Why Delivery Time Estimates Matter

Delivery time estimates are a major variable in trucking route optimization.

Suppose you use Syntelic Route Planning to set up 10 cost-optimized routes to handle 100 deliveries, balancing driving time and distance. In theory, all the deliveries should go off without a hitch—until you factor in your estimated delivery times.

Let’s consider what happens if you underestimate delivery time. Suppose you estimate that the delivery at Stop 1 will take 15 minutes, but it actually takes 45. Before the driver leaves for Stop 2, they’re already 30 minutes late. If the delivery time estimate is off again at Stop 2, the effect compounds. So, underestimation leads to:

  • Late deliveries
  • Missed deliveries
  • DOT hours of service violations
  • Disgruntled customers

Now, let’s consider what happens if you overestimate delivery time. Suppose you estimate that the delivery at Stop 1 will take 45 minutes, but it actually takes 15. Consequently, your driver is 30 minutes early to Stop 2. Although it might not upset your customers if their products arrive early, there are still consequences to overestimation—lost opportunities to fit in additional stops and earn more money.

For Syntelic Route Planning to churn out optimized routes for your vehicles, it needs accurate delivery time estimations—and that’s where our Load Planning and Transportation Analytics applications come into play.

Syntelic Software: Tools for Tracking and Optimizing Delivery Time

Syntelic produces a software triumvirate that supplies you with all the tools you need to streamline your transportation operation:

  1. Route Planning, as we’ve discussed, provides optimized truck routes. It also includes modules for handling driver scheduling and dispatch.
  2. Load Planning boosts efficiency at the warehouse by generating loading plans that account for trailer capacity, distribute loads properly across axles, and avoid costly overweight violations. Since warehouse staff can trust the load plans, they can work with confidence and speed, saving time. But Load Planning helps reduce delivery time, too, because it also accounts for unloading. For example:
    • Products for later stops don’t block the driver from unloading products for earlier stops.
    • Frozen, refrigerated, bulk, and other goods with special requirements are handled properly.
    • Over, short, and damaged (OS&D) incidents are kept to a minimum.
  3. Transportation Analytics gathers near real-time data from OBD and GPS systems so you can meticulously track each driver’s base and unloading time for every delivery and accurately estimate delivery time. You can calculate average unloading rates across your whole organization, driver by driver, or for specific delivery locations.

Syntelic’s applications are full-featured on their own, but when you use them in combination, they’re truly powerful.

Syntelic Software: Solving Your Transportation Management Problems

The Vehicle Routing Problem may be intimidating, but with Syntelic software at your fingertips, you’re equipped to solve your real-world VRP day after day:

  • Use Load Planning to minimize delivery time.
  • Use Transportation Analytics to track delivery time.
  • Feed accurate delivery time estimates to Route Planning for truly optimized routes.

At Syntelic, we know that every transportation operation is unique, so we don’t create one-size-fits-all software. We tailor every implementation of our programs to meet a company’s individual needs.

To learn more about how Syntelic software can make your transportation company more efficient, contact us today.

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