Planning and optimization in the last mile

An issue that is of great interest to the Transport companies that make the Last Mile is to seek to fulfill their deliveries with the least amount of resources necessary. For this reason they are always looking for better ways of doing things in order to achieve those goals. And it is this need to spend less that makes us think about traveling fewer kilometers, spending less fuel, fewer working hours, among other things.

To carry out such planning, companies have logistics people who know the business and the streets very well, in such a way that they can define a “path” through which the units must pass to fulfill their mission. But we will not always achieve these savings, especially when the company begins to grow in the number of orders and new work variables begin to appear that make the planning process more complex.

This problem is nothing new. Everything was born in the city of Konigsberg in East Prussia (today Russia) in the 18th century; the city was divided into 4 parts by the river, to visit the city you could cross 7 bridges. The problem was to find a route to cross the entire city on foot with the least possible effort, passing only once through each of the bridges and returning to the same starting point. This problem was “solved” by a famous mathematician Leonard Euler. The conclusion was that such problems have no solution!

In this way I have defined the notions of graph theory with which it is possible to know if a problem of routes has a solution. At present, the situation is much more complicated, because other additional rules intervene: delivery orders arrive with restrictions that must be fulfilled. For example, time windows make us consider loading, transit and unloading times aligned with a schedule in such a way that the delivery point can be reached within the authorized time range.

If we arrive outside the time window, they will simply not receive us and we will have traveled for pleasure to the point wasting time and fuel. So far there are companies that can still handle it manually with people with a lot of experience in the field. However, if the business continues to grow and points increase, human effort makes planning hours lengthen with the possibility of error due to normal day-to-day wear and tear.

Some clients may tell you, I want you to consider this type of vehicle, the vehicle’s load capacity in Kg, M3, etc. They enter as a relevant factor for certain types of businesses. The type of merchandise, for example… in the unit that you carry fish you cannot put detergent because otherwise there will be cross contamination. There may also be units that must always do a fixed route every day (preferred routes). At that point, the direction of the streets and traffic must be considered according to the hours through which the unit passes because it is not the same.

Due to regulatory issues, the working day must be controlled so that the maximum limit of daily working hours does not exceed, contemplate the regulatory mid-day snack, etc.

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