Posted by Guru Rao

Did you know that UPS trucks almost never make left turns? According to CNN, this saves the company between $300 and $400 million every year in fuel and other expenses. How much of that is just UPS tooting its own horn is a question for a different blog, but we will say this: They may be onto something.

Consider that about 61 percent of accidents that occur at intersections involve left turns, compared to 3 percent for right turns. In addition to cutting time spent idling in wait for the other lane of traffic, not making left turns is a smart risk management play. Clearly, there’s something to be said for the calculated intelligence of automated route planning.

This isn’t to suggest that everything should be done with software or that left turns don’t have their place in the delivery world (because they do). However, we do believe that the secret to route optimization lies in the right combination of human experience and artificial intelligence.

Merging the best of both worlds

Many smaller fleets prefer to have more control over their routes, and that’s partially because they know that there is no replacement for the wisdom, experience and instinct of a seasoned fleet manager. An automated piece of software, for instance, may miss a newly installed low-clearance bridge or an unmarked flood zone that a local manager never would.

At the same time, manually planning all routes comes at a cost of its own.

  1. It’s more work. With automated route optimization, the fastest and most efficient route shows itself to the fleet manager and also to the driver in real time.
  2. Lack of visibility. Do you know where your trucks are at all times when they’re out making deliveries? What’s the status of those deliveries?
  3. Not enough flexibility. A single hitch in the plan risks serious setbacks to delivery schedules since manual route planning isn’t as adaptive.
  4. Tardiness. Along those same lines, this rigidity may harm on-time delivery, which could ultimately dissatisfy the consumer, and in turn, your client.

Automatic route optimization isn’t just for the big guys

The best option for SMB carriers is to use automated, map-based route optimization that allows for manual adjustments as needed. Fleet managers can calculate the most efficient route prior to a day’s runs and then tweak the final route plans based on their own business preferences (e.g., no left turns). This is faster than complete manual route planning, but it keeps management at the helm. Additionally, it provides much-needed real-time visibility of the entire fleet.

Then there’s the benefits on the road. By arming your drivers with mobile fleet management software, you give them real-time, live intelligence that can reroute them in the face of unforeseen adversities.

With nuDeliverIt, you make as many, or as few, left turns as you want, but your deliveries are always on time.

The dangers of over-reliance on manual route planning