Why Your Vehicle Route Optimization Software Is Only as Good as Your Geofencing

fleet productivity

If you’re in the market for vehicle route optimization software and think your next platform will help you optimize your operations, you’re only half right.

Yes, the right software can do a lot to help your drivers stick to route plans and trim the waste from each route. But even the best platform won’t be of much use if your geofencing is inaccurate.

We’re not saying good geofencing is easy. But we’re saying it’s absolutely essential to everything else you do to try to increase your profitability as a distribution company.

Are Your Geofences Dropping the Ball?

In many ways, implementing vehicle route optimization software is the easy part. You implement once and it should run well for five or 10 years, provided you maintain it appropriately.

Maintaining accurate geofences, on the other hand, takes time and resources. Most distribution companies are so lean, they just don’t have a lot of extra staff time to spare—or processes in place to capture changes as they occur.

Consider this common scenario: XYZ Distribution sets up an initial geofence for its customer, ABC Grocery. The geofence has the driver stopping just inside the front gate of ABC’s facility to make a delivery. But what’s actually happening is that the driver has to pull around to the very back of the warehouse to make the delivery. This adds on an extra three minutes before the driver can even stop the truck.

Not only that, but it’s crowded back there behind the warehouse. On any given delivery day, there could be three or four other trucks there waiting to drop off their loads. So, XYZ’s driver may be waiting 10 to 15 minutes or more before pulling up to the dock.

Once the delivery is done, XYZ’s driver must leave ABC’s facility through a designated exit half a mile away from the entrance. He then must continue driving another block on a street with a median before finding an intersection that will allow him to make a U-turn and get back to the highway.

Unfortunately, these details aren’t captured in the geofence, which was built with the assumption that the driver could simply go out the same way he came in. And so for every delivery at ABC’s warehouse, there’s extra mileage and time that goes unaccounted for.

In other words, that driver looks like he’s doing a sloppy job and wasting mileage. What he really needs is for XYZ to update its geofence, allow for extra mileage on this route, and build extra time into the schedule so that he can make his subsequent deliveries without racing.

This is just one example of how bad geofencing can undermine your efforts to optimize operations. Notice we haven’t even mentioned XYZ’s vehicle route optimization software yet. When the geofencing data is this bad, the software becomes a footnote.

Don’t Just Blame Your Vehicle Route Optimization Software!

Within a typical distribution company, it’s one person’s job to keep the geofences accurate. But the job is often confusing and overwhelming—especially since that employee has many other duties as well.

And so that employee fights the good fight for a while before letting things slide. They sometimes update the geofence when a customer moves across town. But they’ll seldom take the time to make tweaks based on which warehouse bay a driver typically uses or how long of a delay he typically encounters as he’s waiting to drop his load.

Vehicle route optimization software then pulls inaccurate data from these faulty geofences and provides decision-makers with an unreliable picture of how things are. From there, any attempt to optimize operations is little better than guesswork.

The moral of this story is in the title of this article: your vehicle route optimization software is only as effective as your geofences. If you don’t like the numbers that are coming out of the former, work on optimizing the latter.

Gridline is here to help. We carefully carve out geofences based on the reality of your deliveries, and we continuously monitor your operations to identify the need for geofence changes.

Schedule a free consultation. We can give you a glimpse of what your metrics are saying and where your potential savings lie.