Logistics operators are always looking for ways to improve the way they deliver value to their customers. With the increasing need of turning the industry into a greener one, some believe systems that provide firms with the ability to plan better will become even more important. William Salter, Managing Director of Paragon Software Systems, talked to The Logistics Point about how better routing can be used to fight climate change.
Founded in 1991 Paragon has a long history of working with logistics and supply chain companies and departments to help them improve their planning and routing. The platform is used by a variety of companies from agriculture and supermarkets to gas distribution. The system can be used both in daily operations as well as strategically for 3PLs.
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‘When we talk to companies, they tell us they want to plan more efficiently and make the best use of the resources they have,’ explains Salter. With the increase in requirement from governments and customers it is becoming harder for companies of any size to do their routing by hand and include all specifications like loading rates, time of arrival, etc.
‘If you are delivering to urban areas, you have to take into account what restrictions there are,’ Salter says.
The challenges do not end there as logistics providers have to be able to communicate well with the customer, get to the destination in the most efficient way and keep the level of the service high.
Good on many levels
According to Salter having a good routing system not only could solve many of the above problems but also adds to the overall environmental impact. ‘If you are using your resources to the fullest, you are putting less trucks on the road. Companies are able to easily plan collections, reduce wastage in their network.’
Routing systems distribute resources evenly and give information on when drivers are available.
‘Reducing CO2 might not always be the first reason why companies choose routing systems, but it is an important factor,’ the expert says.
Different industries approach the problem of routing and scheduling in their own way, because they face unique challenges. ‘Some might have vehicles that need to be cleaned after every use, or vehicles with multiple compartments,’ continues Salter, ‘and there are differences between the industries.’
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After the first step
Installing such routing software is just the first step of improving the overall productivity and efficiency. Salter says that equally important is how companies use the system, what lessons they want to learn from it and how proactive they are in tracing problematic spots in their networks and solving them.
‘The information can be used to change some settings and routines to make sure companies are moving forward. This is a continuous process to make sure that the system reflects what is happening in the real world,’ he explains.
Often organisations do not realise how systems like Paragon can help their operations. ‘It requires a certain level of work to put the right information in the system and run it on a daily basis. There is a need to change some of the things that companies do,’ Salter says. There are those who expect that routing programs will follow old processes and companies need to understand they will have to look at an old problem through a different lense. ‘We spend a lot of time to win the confidence of drivers and management.’