Transporting and delivering cargo is a complex business with—literally and figuratively—many moving parts. Trucking software helps keep information organized and automates a variety of necessary processes to reduce stress for employees.
Some tasks are handled with no human involvement, such as inputting and presenting data. Other responsibilities may still require the help of an experienced employee for final changes, such as driver scheduling.
What Is a Driver Scheduler?
A driver schedule is a comprehensive list that includes information about available drivers, such as their experience, availability, past deliveries, and more. This information is then used to schedule drivers onto specific routes in the most intelligent and efficient manner.
Why Is a Truck Driver Schedule Important?
Keeping an organized record of which truck drivers are taking routes at what times can improve overall efficiency by providing insight into available resources. Some drivers prefer to drive certain routes because they are familiar with the roads or customers. In some cases, you may have more experienced drivers who you want to send on more difficult routes.
Delivery driver schedule software provides a holistic view of when and where your drivers can go.
Factors to Consider When Scheduling Drivers
Building a truck driver schedule gets more complicated as you receive more clients, drivers, and orders. There are a few key considerations that should be taken into account by the scheduler or scheduling software for the best possible results. Availability of drivers, planned routes, traffic patterns, and other scheduling challenges can have a direct impact on driver schedules.
One of the most important—and difficult—components of a driver scheduling software is tracking driver availability. A scheduler cannot make informed decisions if they do not have accurate information. The problem is that drivers do not always input all the necessary information. If they forget to mention even the smallest details, it could result in the entire schedule being thrown out.
Additionally, driver availability may change on the day of a scheduled route. If a driver wakes up sick and needs to call in, the schedule must be updated; this sometimes requires a complete rework.
Informed Route Planning
You want to make sure the driver you put on each route is a sensible choice for that route. This could involve scheduling more physically-able drivers on deliveries which need to be unloaded faster, sending drivers to customers they have a good rapport with, or ensuring inexperienced drivers don’t have to drive difficult routes.
There are a variety of obstacles that influence a truck driver’s route beyond their own capability and the miles they have to travel. Speed limits, other vehicles, one-way streets, construction zones, and more can affect the time of a route. Delivery schedules allow you to effectively plan around these obstacles and build the most efficient routes possible.
When building a driver schedule, there are multiple obstacles to consider. The potential of last-minute changes, the risk of missing key information, and difficulties communicating with truck drivers can make scheduling harder. Having a scheduling system or template setup that allows you to quickly substitute information makes the entire process easier on you, your drivers, and your clients.
Scheduling Delivery Drivers
The actual task of creating a driver schedule typically falls to an experienced employee. Even if a software handles the initial route assignment, a driver canceling at the last minute can swiftly ruin the predetermined plan.
Driver scheduling can be a stressful job that often comes as a responsibility on top of other expectations. You cannot prepare ahead of time for every possible schedule change. Even so, there are some positive features to a comprehensive driver scheduling system, including organization and route flexibility.
If you have 10 drivers that must all deliver to 10 different locations in a 500-mile radius, there are many potential routes. Chances are extremely high that driver shifts would be inconsistent, less effective, and more expensive. Trucks might end up driving back-and-forth across town or delivering to a client whose cargo is packed beneath another client’s cargo.
In combination with route planning software, delivery driver scheduling software helps to create a consolidated plan for daily deliveries that factors in the optimized routes with driver schedules. Especially when scheduling becomes complicated, it’s good to have a system in place that helps to keep track of driver availability and experience.
Adapt to Changing Routes
A truck’s speed, fuel usage, location, and route are monitored during deliveries. This information is stored in an onboard computing system. Upon the truck’s return, the data can be used to alter existing routes in the future. If one part of the route took longer than expected, it may be exchanged for a different path.
Delivery driver scheduling software can help keep track of whether or not the changing route times were the result of the driver or external influences. If a driver is repeatedly making decisions that negatively affect your company’s bottom line, you will be able to confront them with evidence.
Benefits of Driver Management Software
National regulations limit the number of hours truck drivers can drive. The larger your company gets, the more drivers it will need. To fulfill such a wide range of potential orders to different customers/locations, you will need to properly organize your drivers and vehicles. A driver scheduling software can help you do all this and more.
Simplify Driver Payroll
Not all driver scheduling software offers driver payroll management, but they can make it easier to track driver hours and performance. Whether your drivers are paid hourly or make a salary, It’s still important to make a detailed record of their work history. The ability to simplify driver schedules to compare how long a driver should’ve taken with how long they did take is also a necessary feature of driver scheduling software.
Disorganization results in wasted time and money. When trying to run the most efficient operation possible, knowing which driver is taking which route makes all the difference. If a driver has a clear understanding of their schedule and the truck router sets clear expectations, the driver will be more likely to follow the planned route.
Driver schedulers also spend a lot of time trying to work out the perfect situation for everyone involved. A driver management software helps by providing a more fleshed-out starting point, meaning driver schedulers will have a good framework to modify into the perfect plan.
Increase Driver Satisfaction
As in any industry, the “boots-on-the-ground” part of your team must be well-equipped to handle their duty. In trucking, the truck drivers are the touchpoint for customers and are often solely responsible for transporting and unloading expensive goods. Creating a strong driver team is more than just hiring and training, it’s also about management.
Drivers should feel like they are being cared for and given attention. Driver scheduling helps to reflect that by creating an optimized route with no wasted time. Give your drivers accurate time estimates for their routes so they can continue to understand and perform their duties.
Drivers also enjoy having a set schedule to follow so any issues or complications will not fall back on them. If something ends up being less efficient than it could’ve been, the driver can blame it on the premade schedule—assuming they followed it correctly.
Delivery Driver Scheduling Challenges
Driver scheduling will always be one of the most difficult aspects of planning a delivery operation because of how impactful unforeseen changes can be. If a truck is routed to 10 stops, and one of those customers cancels, the driver can still ride the route for the other nine stops with a minor change.
If a truck is routed to 10 stops, and the driver has to take a sick day, all of those stops must be covered or picked up by another driver. If there is not an extra driver readily available to cover these stops, then a lot of switching must be done. And since people often call in on the day of their shift, it’s always a scramble to repair the affected schedule.
Additionally, real-world schedules are much more sporadic than theoretical ones. Different drivers may have scattered appointments, family engagements, or other plans at random times throughout the year. If these events are not recorded in an organized manner, drivers may experience schedule conflicts. This could lead to driver no-shows or dissatisfied employees.
Syntelic’s Customizable Software Can Help Manage Drivers
Syntelic has resource management software that relies heavily on driver reporting. If one driver does not input schedule conflicts or updates as soon as they come up, the software will not be able to make the most informed schedule.
Our Route Planning software, on the other hand, does not rely on employee information to help optimize routes. Our route optimization algorithm uses time, distance, drivers, stops, and a variety of other factors to develop the best possible delivery plan. Syntelic prides itself on having one of the most reliable and efficient softwares on the market. If you’re wondering what the implementation process would look like, how Route Planning can supplement driver scheduling software, or what our other products do, contact us today to learn more.