Route Optimization with Algorithms Saves Valuable Resources

24.8.2022

Planning and maintaining efficient routes is a complex challenge. The planning pain can be lessened with route optimization, and we have seen driving times reduced by up to 30%.

Companies in fields with complex routing planning – such as recycling, home care, and parcel delivery – may have hundreds or even thousands of unique routes to plan and maintain. The list of pickup or delivery locations to be served may change daily, and the changes may be temporary or permanent. Route optimization is the solution to improve efficiency in both driving the routes as well as in the planning process itself. Route optimization is a way to automate planning and improve plan and data quality.

A route optimized with algorithms in capital area of Helsinki
A route optimized with algorithms

Route Optimization is Fast and Efficient

There are two kinds of businesses in the context of routing pace. Fast-paced ones absolutely need to be able to adjust a large amount of their routes in minutes. These include companies that do home delivery of food. Slow-paced ones may need to make some snap decisions but mostly can plan their routes well in advance and may have mostly static routes. These include companies that collect recycled materials from households.

For fast-paced companies, route optimization based on a mathematical algorithm is necessary. It quickly becomes impossible to meet the customer orders without this kind of automatic routing. Many slow-paced companies, on the other hand, have been able to manage without it. By meticulously planning the routes they have achieved good efficiency for their driving operations. This may take many days of work, but the results can be good.

However, since such an approach does not provide a possibility to quickly adjust the big picture of the plan, these companies will work with hotfixes. For example, new pickup locations are added to the closest route without altering any other routes. As these changes build up, the efficiency of the routes quickly deteriorates. With route optimization, it is possible to optimize all the routes in a few minutes.

Relevant Input Data is Necessary

To create the optimal plan automatically, one needs to have the relevant input data. This includes a list of the vehicles, the tasks to be completed, their mutual compatibilities, time windows, etc. The route optimization algorithms can then divide the locations to be visited into optimal routes and order the locations of each route in the optimal driving order.

Different Approaches to Route Optimization

Concerning the optimal driving order, for some companies this may be the most valuable part of route optimization. It is a way to get the vehicles to the right place at the right time with the minimal total driving time (or distance).

For others, dividing the visited locations for different routes can be the main benefit. This is a process that is very laborious if done manually and the quality of the solution is nearly impossible to validate in advance without an algorithmic approach. This is also a way to improve equality for the drivers as all routes can be kept equally time-consuming.

The person responsible for the planning can create different scenarios by simply copying the input data and making small adjustments. They can then compare the optimized results between the scenarios. The plans and comparisons are presented visually. Manual edits are also possible at all stages of the process for those unusual cases that no one expected could occur. After all, real-world problems are messy, and the goal of route optimization is to help us rather than limit us.

If you would like to learn more about our advanced analytics and optimization solutions, check out the solution page.

Visa Linkiö
Data Scientist