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Thursday, 17. December 2020

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4 tips on how you can save a lot of time with software in scheduling

Dispatchers are the central employees when it comes to organising any kind of logistics. Regardless of whether it is a classic freight forwarder or a shipper, or whether special cases such as plant transports and intermodal transports need to be organised – without the dispatcher as the central planner, the goods will not get on the road. Dispatchers are supposed to ensure that own and third-party trucks are optimally deployed and utilised every day.

The work areas in dispatching are diverse; one has to plan, control, react and inform. Traditionally, this also means that dispatchers are at the centre of chaos in day-to-day business and are exposed to countless disruptions.

Disruptions and stress in dispatching hit employees and the company in sensitive places: Because stressed employees mean a lack of concentration and diligence and lead to careless mistakes and suboptimal plans. Dissatisfied employees and dissatisfied customers are the result.

Intelligent software solutions for scheduling cannot eliminate all causes of disruptions, but they can eliminate many. And they can relieve dispatchers of routine tasks, leaving more time for important core activities. With four important measures, you can save a lot of time in scheduling.

1. Give your dispatchers transparency about all relevant information

Planning and implementation are two pairs of shoes in scheduling, just like theory and practice. A route plan that has been created usually only works until it meets reality:

Vehicles are stuck in traffic or have broken down, an unloading point cannot be approached or the goods in the warehouse have not yet been picked. The sales colleague sold a tour yesterday that has to be taken into account this evening, a customer calls and asks about the whereabouts of her consignment.

It is therefore all the more important that all necessary information is available to all dispatchers quickly and, if possible, at a glance within one system. How can this be guaranteed:

  • Put telematics solutions in your trucks and integrate them into your dispatching software. GPS and status information not only show your dispatchers where a truck is, but also whether and where delays have already occurred.
  • Transfer the data from the digital tacho into your dispatching in real time so that there is transparency about remaining driving and working times at all times.
  • Use the options for forecasting arrival times (ETA). This enables dispatchers to detect impending delays at an early stage.
  • Work with digital transport orders and have loading and unloading locations automatically geolocated.
  • Let the software do the scheduling. An intelligent system can calculate in a fraction of a second how long the journey from A to B will take, when a break will be necessary or what journey time to the next loading location should be set – even in regions where your dispatcher is not so familiar.

Bild: iStock (Smederevac)

2. Ensure more efficient communication with drivers

Experience shows that a large part of the telephone calls in the dispatching department are made with the drivers. Here, too, a software system can massively support the dispatcher through the connection of a telematics system.

The use of information on the current GPS location and the tour status or the activity carried out has already been described above. In addition, the reverse route, i.e. the flow of information to the driver, is also of great importance and can avoid unnecessary errors and queries in the day-to-day business if the quality is appropriate.

For example, delivery addresses can be transferred directly to the driver and a navigation solution in the vehicle, thus eliminating transfer errors. Necessary safety instructions at the customer’s or special hygiene measures can already be provided during the journey and do not have to be taken from an additional leaflet or similar.

Another important reason for communication between the dispatcher and the driver is damage to goods. If there is damage to the goods, photos of the transport damage as well as evidence of the actual quantities delivered can be recorded directly and digitally and transferred to the system. This information is then not only immediately available in the disposition, but also, for example, in the complaints and quality assurance.

With this process of simpler and more efficient communication between dispatch and driver, all parties involved save valuable time and personal communication can be reduced to the really important points.

3. Inform your customers digitally and automatically

Transparency and automated provision of information on the delivery process and especially on the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of a consignment are of great benefit to your customers. This transparency can be achieved in various ways. In particular, the use of automatic notifications and the offer of shipment tracking lead to a minimisation of costly and time-consuming telephone calls.

Thanks to individually configurable trigger events, notifications are nowadays preferably sent via automated e-mail or electronic short message. At the same time, shipment tracking has emerged as the second standard for automated customer information. Here, the customer can independently view the shipping status and expected arrival date of their goods online.

Bild: iStock (dusanpetkovic)

4. Dispatch faster with automation and artificial intelligence

An automatically created tour plan can greatly reduce the dispatcher’s workload. However, the tour plan is not usually created without the knowledge and expertise of the dispatcher. On the contrary: the systems use the implicit knowledge of each dispatcher through the use of entered rules and restrictions and map it digitally in the route plan.

The time saving results from the system taking over tasks that can be solved mathematically well, but are quite challenging and time-consuming for a human being.

  • Which loads in which directions can be combined?
  • How long does the transport take on a route and can follow-up deadlines be met on time?
  • Do the drivers have enough driving and working time for the planned activities, or are there even usable buffers?
  • Which vehicles are available in a region at a certain future date?
  • Should the driver and the vehicle return to the head office or to a home location at the end of the day?

The more of these questions can be answered automatically by a system, the more time is freed up for dispatching to solve the remaining special cases and ad hoc problems that arise.

Intelligent software systems are therefore a must-have for the disposition of the future.

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Through targeted software support for dispatching, a large part of the hectic pace that traditionally prevails in dispatch can be avoided. The digitalisation of communication with drivers and customers significantly reduces the number of daily telephone calls and ensures greater satisfaction for all involved.

A transparent overview of all relevant information and the use of artificial intelligence for automatic route planning relieve the dispatcher of routine tasks and save a lot of time. Intelligent software systems are therefore a must-have for the disposition of the future.