Automatic Allocation – Finally

A number of years ago I carried out a loose survey of Transport Companies to see what they wanted, or meant, by the term Optimisation. The survey had been initiated in response to various requests and enquiries for optimisation facilities with these requests largely not defining the problem. At the conclusion of the survey it became obvious that the most common requirement was to consistently make better decisions in the Operations room and to lower Operations costs. It was perceived that many Operations decisions could be automated.

Historically some Transport Management Systems have given some rudimentary form of automatic allocation, generally allocating a delivery to a truck if the delivery is in a certain area. While this has been useful for some it has not addressed all other aspects of the cartage of freight and has not taken into account aspects such as vehicle capacity, contractual obligations, slot times and so on.

The opportunity to be involved with the design and system testing of the newly released Automatic Allocation facilities within the TLP suite has therefore been an exciting time. Can we provide a facility that will meet some lofty goals? Well I’m pleased to report this has been done.

So what does it do, how does it work? I think the easiest way to describe this facility is that in conjunction with other elements of the TLP system a job is entered, company best practice is applied to create the necessary actions (also known as legs or freight movements) required to carry out the job and then allocate each of those actions to the most appropriate run.

From the users perspective they merely enter a job and click the Save button, quite simple really. But those duck feet are really working below the surface with the actions being created, rate cards applied to the job, automatic allocations taking place and revenue being allocated to the runs in accordance with company rules. End result is the runs are being built automatically with visibility of capacities and free space as well as the revenue earned so far by that run.

This sounds fairly simple but there is a lot of intricacy involved. For a start the system must observe contractual rules such as deliveries being made by a certain time. It must also observe slot times available for collection or delivery, handle different dates for different actions and so on. The selection of the run also has complexities such as whether to use a sub-contractor or a company truck, checking capacities, determining whether the job can go on the early truck or must wait for the later one.

This piece of software is a major step forward. It will demand discipline from companies that wish to use it fully but from this they should realise much benefit in terms of accuracy and cost savings. Like all software it will undoubtedly be enhanced over time as the software has not yet been written that is fully finished, however it is a great step forward and sets a direction for companies looking for real improvement to Operations.

Contact us for a demonstration,

Trevor

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