Dispatching, execution of planning, and monitoring of trucks all fall into a similar process: after planning, making sure that the execution runs smoothly. Where it doesn’t run smoothly, use the information as input to improve planning or fix processes. This is the main purpose of monitoring. It is also the most important part of after-sales for many companies, because it exists to make sure the actual physical delivery happens.
1983: GPS access released, a revolution in location services
When in 1983, the US military released the access to GPS to the public, a revolution in location services started. First tracking planes, then also less expensive assets, but for our industry more importantly, the ability to know where our truck and trailer are and what actually happens after all the careful planning. This was amazing, we found out that John always had lunch with his mother, Pete had a lover on the side, and Dagobert secretly delivered some of our goods to the wrong customer, leading to partial deliveries. This discovery allowed for a massive improvement in service and planning quality, using the feedback loop of this information.
The size and scope of monitoring for different businesses varies a lot, but everyone uses it to know what the GPS position of the truck is at that exact moment. The next step is having the driver confirm delivery and using geo-fences to make sure he actually delivered at the right customer. All of this can be done in an app, some apps even include photos and bar code scanners for this process. When we take it to the next level, where we have on board devices, we can monitor temperature, breaking, sharp turns. Even more interesting, we can allow offloading only within the geo-fence of the next customer in planning, not the one next door and in some cases the onboard device is even linked to a security system that locks down the car when odd pre-defined patterns (that look like robbery or hijacking) happen.
Real-time route optimization delivers more efficiency
Many companies use the monitoring information to control drivers, less to improve their planning and very very few to be able to take the best action in realtime given the orders, the new information and the planning. The ones that do, use the optimized proposal functionality of their VRP, which allows them to reduce even more kilometers and improve their service levels.
Re-optimizing planning in real-time is in the very near future. Some companies already do this, but to be generally available, a bit more processing power is needed. The idea here is to take orders that come in during the day and try to fit them into the planning that is being executed, to be able to do this we need to take GPS signals into account. What already happens today is using optimized proposal functionality where the planner adds one to 10 urgent orders a day in the perfect spot to the plan. When having half of your orders only show up on the same day often with 2 hours to execute it’s a whole different ballgame. Which is really the next step in monitoring and optimization especially for companies that have this type of business, like cash in transit and the emerging same hour ecommerce, where half or more of their orders only show up during the actual execution day.
Monitoring is an integral part of planning and execution in transport. Used only to control drivers initially, now being used in real-time decision support planning. Promising soon to allow even more urgent orders to be delivered in an economically viable way and allowing for increased service at same or less cost for everyone, but especially necessary for businesses like cash in transit and ecommerce where this is common day to day.