Advanced route planning boosts companies’ green trucking strategies without waiting for expensive new trucks, while saving money too.
The trucking industry needs to raise its game when it comes to sustainability. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks produce 23% of all transportation emissions in the U.S., even though they only make up 5% of all vehicles on the road, according to the EPA. That’s why there’s a buzz about what newly-efficient engines, trucks that run on alternative fuels, and even Uber Freight, can do to help the industry go greener.
For most, these are solutions some way off in the future, as they require substantial capital investment and/or operational changes. Implementing truck route optimization software, on the other hand, is something that can move the needle on green right away, because it applies to the trucks you have now.
More efficient routes mean fewer miles driven, less time on the road.
The first principle of sustainability when it comes to hauling freight by truck is to burn less fuel. And the easiest way to do that is to drive fewer miles in less time. With advanced truck route optimization software, routes are planned and executed using sophisticated algorithms that cut unnecessary fuel usage down to the bone. It also means you’re saving money every day, by using your existing equipment more efficiently. That might be a lot more attractive than shelling out nearly $400,000 in the short term for a brand new hydrogen-powered truck.
Route optimization is about more than simply finding the shortest way of going from A to B to C to D on a multi-stop delivery trip, although that is the first order of business. It enables (and may even proactively suggest) other strategies and practices that save fuel and emissions.
Delivering on time. Turning up on time reduces the chances that drivers will be left idling in line and burning unnecessary fuel while picking up a load or at the point of delivery, since they’ve turned up when the customer is ready to receive them. It also means drivers can fit more deliveries into a day, because they deliver faster, and can quickly be on their way to the next delivery.
Dropping off heavy items first. The heavier an item is, the more fuel it takes to haul a mile. Truck route optimization software can factor in the weight of each delivery and ensure that the heaviest item(s) are delivered first, to minimize fuel consumption, even if that means driving a few extra miles.
Identifying backhaul opportunities. Uber Freight touts as one of its promises, “No more deadhead miles.” But this is something you can achieve yourself. Advanced route optimization software uses the power of computing to crunch unimaginably complex possibilities and scenarios, including identifying opportunities to pick up another load on the way back to the depot, or move loads between DCs on the way to a delivery. Another opportunity to save miles and fuel.
Supporting carbon-reducing strategy changes. Route optimization software also gives you a powerful strategic tool to assess carbon-reduction strategies. You can run what-if scenarios before changing a thing or spending a dime, to see if alterations will have the desired green result. What if you consolidated two delivery regions, or split one into two? What if you changed the delivery schedule to a customer? What if you deployed a different fleet mix?
The biggest prize: fewer trucks
Green trucking doesn’t just mean more efficiently-deployed trucks; it means fewer trucks, too – on the road and in your depot. According to the National Private Truck Council, more than a quarter of U.S. trucks are driving around empty. Even when they're not empty, truck trailers are 36 percent under-utilized, according to Department of Transport statistics.
Reducing inefficiencies in truck routing means you need fewer trucks to complete the same number of deliveries. That decreases road-congestion, cuts air pollution and saves you money via lower capital costs and maintenance charges.
Even if you have decided to invest in greener trucks, route optimization software will make sure they run as efficiently as possible by driving the least miles and time.
Any way you look at it, advanced route optimization software offers not only sustainable freight practices but substantial savings in transportation costs as well, right off the bat. Implementation can be achieved in weeks, and ROI is usually measured in months. Whatever your opinion on climate change, that’s an attractive proposition.
Will Salter is CEO of Paragon Software Systems, which offers routìng and scheduling software to companies operating delivery fleets in over 60 countries. Since taking on the role of CEO in 2002, Will has remained focused on the transportation industry’s need to squeeze the maximum value out of assets and resources.