Betterways provides software solutions for the planning and management of logistics.
A fleet manager has to deal with a given fleet of vehicles with different characteristics and a list of commands. The first task implies a global process to calculate the assignment of the tasks and the calculation of the optimum routes for all vehicles in order to attend all the commands in a minimum time, simultaneously achieving the maximum productivity of the fleet and full satisfaction from the clients.
In recent years, the development and integration of communication and automatic location technologies have propelled the appearance of connectivity and productivity tools that are affordable to everyone. In the field of logistics, with the purpose of increasing their competitiveness, many firms are using these tools to offer new services whereby they attempt to provide an answer to the needs of the customer virtually at the moment they are required.
We may find different profiles of this dynamic on cases like delivery services, taxis, shared vehicles, on-line shopping, transport on-demand, corporative shuttle buses or cooperative logistics. In these cases the initial planning remains optimum for a short period as events such as new orders, incidents or breakdowns come about.
A system for dynamic management is the one that has to take care of re-planning the operations and maintain an optimum performance in relation to the manager’s priorities and objectives. Also there is a wide range of management options that depend on factors like the degree of dynamism, demand pooling, geographical clustering, width of time windows and the option for proactive policies.
Unlike the classic static problem, where customers are known in advance and based on that knowledge, routes are built by assuming that they will not change throughout the execution of the plan, the dynamic vehicle routing problem considers the possibility of allowing new customer orders or changes in demand in such a way that routes are built while new information is being revealed to the feet manager. In order to efficiently carry out dynamic management, the feet manager must have access to real-time information that allows him/her to know, on one hand, the current state of the vehicles in operation, and on the other hand, the current situation of the environment where service is provided. Thus, when the operation takes place within an urban environment, it is necessary for the feet manager to have accurate information about the current and forecasted traffic conditions with the goal of making better decisions. Also routes built with time-dependent travel times have a better performance, in terms of total travel time, than those built with static information.
Due to the fact the main unforeseen event in a dynamic vehicle routing problem is the arrival of a new customer, Betterways counts with an optimization algorithm that allows quickly finding low cost solutions, which in turn allows providing an immediate response to the new customer concerning the required service. Additionally, it is possible to choose among reactive and proactive policies depending on the reaction capacity of the fleet manager and the previous knowledge about demand, which allows the feet manager to take advantage of possible idle times of vehicles that are waiting to start a service.
These policies allow to the fleet manager, in face of a new customer, to immediately decide whether to assign the new order to a vehicle or hold it in a pool of orders that will be assigned as soon as there is a better knowledge of the demand. Under certain acceptance criteria, it is possible for the fleet manager to hold and assign orders in a pool without losing quality of the solution.
Another type of policies corresponds to proactive strategies where the feet manager has a certain probabilistic knowledge of demand and he or she uses it to anticipate a possible call from a new client. The direct effect is that total cost can be minimized when the feet manager orders vehicles to wait instead of bringing them back to the hub.
In case of disruptive events, such as sudden changes in travel times due to congestions or delays in service times that can increase the risk of service failure, the optimization algorithm can help the fleet manager to increase the service level by reassigning customers that are on risk of service failure within the required time window.
Betterways offers a wide range of knowledge and technology to calibrate an optimum system according to needs and priorities.