Track & Trace - to measure is to know

Posted by Louis D'hondt on 18/08/2017

We all know garbage in equals garbage out. This rule also applies to optimization packages. It is crucial to feed planning software with clean data if you aim for good results. Therefore, if only garbage is at hand, the necessary steps must be taken to clean that dirty data. This usually requires time and effort. 
Spending resources on cleaning dirty data feels like a short-term solution when you know there are better, long term alternatives.

garbage in equals garbage out

Tuning an application to handle complex logical structures is one thing but filling it with tons of exceptions to deal with incorrect data is not a best practice. The resources spent on the transformation of wrong input better be invested in obtaining the right input. One way to achieve this, is by using Track & Trace. Track & trace provides reliable information and valuable insights. It's a better, long term alternative. 

  • Accurate and precise geographical coordinates 

First, an address can be incorrect, typically because of a human mistake or carelessness. An incorrect address can disorganize an entire planning. This comes with a cost. If it's not for the driver missing other orders, it's for the planner having to reshuffle the planning, which takes time and effort.  

Secondly, addresses can be correct but inaccurate, which is often the case in rural or industrial areas. Thirdly, an address can again be correct but not precise. E.g. 'Industry park 1' can be a huge site with 20 entrances. Distinct entrances have distinct geocoordinates.  

The result of track & trace for geocoding is crystal-clear, reliable, accurate and precise.  Never say never but the risk of incorrect information plummets. 

  • Stop times 

Reliable stop times are valuable and will boost the quality of your planning. Even the smallest increase in quality results in treasured cost-savings. 

Planning to spend 20 minutes at a location but staying for 30 minutes can be costly when following a tight schedule. Better to stay for 10 instead of the planned 20 you might think, but an accumulation of opportunity costs becomes nonnegligible.   

The stop time of a location is the time needed for a driver to enter a location, find the right person, make some registrations etc. This factor is independent from the volume of the order but varies from location to location.  In planning and route optimizations, an average stop time over all locations is often used or might be slightly differentiated across groups based on characteristics of the locations. Distinct stop times for each individual location would be exceptional. Again, this can be achieved through track & trace data. 

A smart track & trace system, featuring geofencing, delivers more reliable stop times for every single location. Smart systems are self-learning as the longer you perform track & trace, the more data gets gathered and the more trustworthy the result will be.  

  • Driver efficiency 

A driver's efficiency varies from place to place. When he (or she) works in an area he knows by heart, it will take him much less time to do his job compared with areas where he has no experience. Hence, everyone has a custom efficiency factor for each area. Just like with stop times, driver efficiencies are commonly based on estimates. Guessing these factors based on common sense and knowledge of the drivers is a good start but there's room for improvement.  
Nevertheless, without proper measurement, the full potential of differentiated efficiency factors cannot be obtained.  

As mentioned before, even the smallest increase in quality of a planning results in a treasured cost-saving. 

Aside from the higher knowledge of driver efficiencies, the performances itself will increase. Knowing that your performance is being monitored is an enormous incentive to do your utmost best. Knowingly taking a little detour to meet a friend, waiting to drive one after another, having a chat or drinking a coffee after picking up a package… these are events that do occur. The odds of that happening will decrease significantly and driver efficiency will grow. 

  • Traffic and Strategic insights 

Needless to say that traffic is a pain in the ass for all companies where transportation is an important component. Obtaining the right traffic statistics is no piece of cake. Track & trace offers a fitting solution to this problem, provided that enough data is collected. In addition to the traditional traffic statistics, other less obvious insights will be discovered. E.g. which areas to serve at what time of the day. Based on these insights the impact of rush hours can be minimized 

As the amount of data available grows over time, the insights become more reliable. More strategic improvements like 'where to put the new DC' or 'how many new vehicles of what type to purchase' will be backed by numbers. The numbers tell the tale. 

Taking all advantages into consideration, you would wonder why not every transport-related firm has a track and trace system at its disposal. It's simple and effective. It will save you money and you'll be prepared for the future as the importance of data will increase 
Never ignore the low hanging fruit.

Topics: Route optimization, Mobile App, track and trace

Louis D'hondt

Written by Louis D'hondt