Route Planning

Introduction

Arrivy’s Route Planning feature allows Schedulers to create and edit routes for crews that have multiple stops/Tasks during a single day. With Route Planning, Schedulers can automatically create and optimize routes, rearrange Tasks within a single route or drag-and-drop Tasks between routes in order to balance them between your field teams.

Route Planning works differently from other features in Arrivy. The Route Planning interface provides a way to experiment with different Task layouts and assignments. Within this interface you can create new routes, drag-and-drop Tasks between and within routes, change route starting and ending times. No permanent changes are made to Tasks until you click the Publish button. Once you click Publish, all of the edits made in your Route Planning session will be propagated to the affected Tasks. Rescheduled messages may be sent to customers whose Task times have changed. Or, you can choose to have no messages sent.

The important thing to recognize is that Route Planning is an experimentation environment as opposed to an operational activity like Dispatch. You can work with Tasks on a given day; completely change times and assignments; save those changes and come back to your session three days later. No changes will be made to Tasks until you publish those changes using the Publish button.

See a demo video of Route Planning here:

You can access Route Planning from the Workflow nav. 

Route Planning

Clicking on the menu opens the Route Planning environment. There are four main regions in the interface:

  1. The Command Bar: Has a set of buttons that make global changes to the environment and Tasks.
    1. The Group Selector: Route Planning works on Tasks from a single Group at a time. Use the Group dropdown to select the Group of interest.
    2. The Optimize button: Allows you to optimize routes. You can choose a variety of options such as optimizing all Tasks, or Tasks within a chosen route.
    3. Create New Route initializes a new route without any Tasks
    4. Undo/Redo/Revert: Undo and Redo (cmd-z, cmd-y) reverse and move forward in the command list. Revert (under the undo dropdown) erases any changes made during the Route Planning session and reinitializes Tasks to their original state.
    5. Compact/Auto-Compact readjusts the Task times within a route so that–starting with the first Task–all times are set so there is exactly enough time to execute the Tasks and to travel to the next destination.
    6. Save/Save & Name: Save saves the current configuration of Tasks and Routes for the given date without publishing changes. This configuration will be shown the next time the Route Planning interface is bought-up for this date. Save & Name lets you save the current state with a name so that it can be compared to other saved configurations by using the Snapshot feature.
    7. Snapshot (grid icon): The Snapshot feature lets you compare sets of saved route configurations for Total time, Task time, and mileage.
    8. Publish Tasks & Routes makes the changes made in the Route Planning session, permanent. The Dashboard for the given date in Route mode should reflect the changes made in Route Planning.
    9. Brief Mode Route Planning’s brief mode allows the schedulers to look at the team members’ routes concisely. It helps planning numerous routes and their tasks conveniently, enabling drag-drop experience and showing critical task information upfront.
    10. Expand All and Collapse All Expand All allows you to expand the team members’ routes, making all the contained tasks visible to the user. It opens all the routes so that you have a comprehensive view of a given day in the left panel, and all your routes/tasks are visible on the map. As apparent by its name, Collapse All does the reverse.
  2. The Route Sidebar: Contains a set of Route Cards and (child) Task Cards that details route and Task configurations.
  3. The Map: Show Tasks pins and direction of Task travel.
  4. The Info Panel: Contains information on selected Tasks and Routes including the layout of Tasks on the chosen route.
Elements of the Route Planning interface

Elements of the Route Planning interface

Depots

For many companies, routes begin at a transportation depot where crews pick-up (and drop-off) the vehicles they will be using for the day’s Tasks. The Route Planning feature lets you designate depots as starting and ending locations for your Routes. You can define any number of depots in Basic Settings for a company, or in Groups Settings if you are using Groups. Depot addresses work similarly to the way you add multiple addresses to a Task. Simply click on the “Add Depot Address” button as many times as desired and input the address(es) in the corresponding field. Make sure to save your changes.

Specifying a Depot name and address in Basic Settings

Specifying a Depot name and address in Basic Settings

Each Route can have its own separate Depot. However, a route must start and end at the same depot location. Within the Route Planning feature, there are two places you can designate a Depot for a Route.  Click the “kabob” menu on a Route card and choose Edit. The associated dialog will let you choose a depot, company or group location as start/end points.

If you use depots, the Map and Info Panel will show the Depot you have added to your route

Depot included in a route

Depot included in a route

The Route Sidebar

Routes are automatically created using in the Route Planning interface by grouping together Task having the same assignees. They can also be created using the New Route button. The Sidebar contains Route cards and Task cards grouped under them. 

The Route Planning sidebar

The Route Planning sidebar

Route Cards

Route cards are similar to those on the dashboard. 

Task Cards

Task cards contain Task details and timing. The Task bar in the middle of the card provides a graphical representation of the Task timing, showing the time window and duration in color. By viewing the Task bars of a group of Task cards together, you can get a good sense for the sequence of the route.

You can change dates, start time, end time or Task duration using the Task Info dialog (by clicking on the clock-pencil icon on the Task card). Note that any changes to Task times made through this dialog will not affect the actual Tasks until the route is published.

If the date, time, duration or assignees for the route have changed during the Route Planning session, the Edit Task button will be replaced by a yellow warning icon. Clicking on the icon will bring up a popover that identifies the changes and allows you to revert the changes and/or edit the Task. It will also flag issues–such as not having enough travel time between stops.

Schedule changes and other issues are shown by clicking on the warning icon.

Schedule changes and other issues are shown by clicking on the warning icon

The Unplanned Route Card

The Unplanned Route card is special. It cannot be deleted or renamed. It contains Tasks that are either unscheduled or scheduled with no assignees. The Unplanned route will only display Tasks plotted as individual pins/circles–not as a continuous route.

Route Editing in the Sidebar

The interface for route editing is primarily drag-and-drop. When a Task is dragged and dropped the start and end times are affected. The duration and time window stay constant. As the Task is dropped, the affected Tasks (those following the one dropped) are reordered based on the calculated travel times and Task durations. 

  • Tasks may be reordered within the same route by dragging and dropping Task Cards within the same route. The new target position of the Task within the route is shown in the usual way (dark line) while the Task Card is being dragged.
  • Dragging a Task Card onto a different Route Card will add this Task to that route. 
  • You can multi-select Task cards using the standard key combinations. Ctrl-click will select/deselect individual cards. Shift-click will select all the cards between the last selected and the one shift-clicked.

The Info Panel

The Info Panel and Route Bar provides tools for helping to understand and adjust Routes and Tasks. The Info Panel provides information and controls for adjusting Routes and Tasks. The Route Bar is a visual display of the layout of Tasks within a Route, over time. Clicking on a Task or Route in the Sidebar selects that Task or Route and displays relevant data in the Info Panel. 

The Info Panel in Route Planning

The Info Panel in Route Planning

If a Route is selected, the panel shows a variety of information and options, including:

  • Number of Tasks, route timing
  • Checkbox to start/end at depot
  • Starting time for the route
  • Padding added between Tasks (padding time is added to travel time to account for unpredictability)

If a Task is selected, the info panel shows:

  • Title, Customer, Address, Duration, Arrival Window info
  • Editable start/end times
  • Assignees
  • Edit Task icon

The Route Bar shows a horizontal view of all the Tasks associated with the selected route. It displays the entire route associated with either the selected Route or Task card.

Optimizing Routes

Arrivy Route Planning incorporates very powerful algorithm for performing Route Optimization. The process of optimization is inherently time-based. Arrivy will rearrange your Tasks so that you can perform as many Tasks as possible in the least amount of time. You can choose to optimize an established route by rearranging the order of your Tasks; you can create new routes for all the day’s Tasks; or you can create routes and optimize the Tasks in the Unplanned route. In order to achieve optimal and predictable results, you need to understand “Task constraints” such as time windows, lock and unlock.

Task Constraints

The object of optimization is to rearrange your Tasks in order to minimize the total amount of time, which includes both the Task time (i.e. Task duration) and travel time. Sometimes you have the flexibility of changing the start time of a Task to anytime during the day. And, sometimes, customers require the service call to take place within a very narrow band of time. You can use time windows and the lock icon to help specify how flexible or inflexible the Task start time is, when optimization takes place.

  1. If a Task has a time window: The route optimizer will ensure that the optimized Task start time falls within that window (independent of the lock settings)
  2. If a Task does not have a time window
    1. Task is locked: The optimizer will leave the start time unchanged
    2. Task is unlocked: The Task start time can move anytime during the day

Using the Optimizer

You can invoke the optimizer from either the button on the Command Bar or the “kabob” menu on a route card (if you are only interested in optimizing a single route). The optimizer options are detailed below:

  1. Optimize: Lets you choose to optimize 1) All Tasks (will eliminate any existing routes), 2) Tasks in the Unplanned route, 3) Selected route (if there is a route currently selected).
  2. The maximum number of routes to create: The optimizer will create this number of routes or fewer. The optimizer works with this number and the Maximum duration per route to determine how many routes to create. If you specify 5 routes and the optimizer calculates that the Tasks can be completed with 3 routes within the allotted time per route, it will return 3 routes. However, if you specify 3 routes and all the Tasks cannot be completed within that duration, the optimizer will drop Tasks and give you the optimal number of Tasks that can be completed within those 3 routes. Dropped Tasks will be placed in the Unplanned route. You can run the optimizer again and potentially eliminate dropped Tasks by either increasing the number of routes, or increasing the maximum duration per route.
  3. Route name prefix: The name given to the routes generated by the optimizer (e.g. Route 1, Route 2, Route 3). These names can be changed later by editing the route names.
  4. Padding between Tasks: If you would like to allocate some additional “padding time” per Task, you can specify a non-zero value
  5. Maximum duration per route: As noted, works with the Maximum number of routes to create (above) to determine how many routes are created and whether Tasks are dropped.
  6. Car/Truck switch: When this switch is set to “Truck” the optimizer will only route the vehicle on roads that support truck clearances.
  7. Start/end at depot/depot/depot departure time: These options allow you to set the starting location and starting time for the route. These are essentially “locked,” meaning the starting time will be exactly what is set for the Depot departure time.
Route optimizer options and results dialot

Route optimizer options and results summary

Route Optimizer

Route Optimization now allows limiting the number of tasks aka jobs that can be completed in a single optimized route.

Optimization Results

Route optimization is both an art and a science. While the algorithms for calculating least-time (or least-distance) routes are fairly well established, you can get radically different results depending on how you organize Task constraints (such as lock/unlock and time windows) as well as route constraints (such as the number of routes and route duration). Additionally, there are human factors–drivers who can only work a fraction of a day, for example. So, frequently, you can expect to try out multiple optimizations with different routes and Task parameters. Remember, you can take any route and continue to work with it manually–dragging and dropping Tasks to see how they affect route times and configurations. See the Snapshot topic in the next section for intelligence on how you can compare multiple route configurations.

After clicking the Optimize button in the Optimize dialog the server will spend some time calculating routes and then return with a dialog that summarizes optimizations results (as shown above). You can accept these results by clicking “Apply” or cancel and return to your original configuration.

Saving and Snapshot

You can click the Save button on the Command Bar to save the changes you’ve made during your current Route Planning session to persist them until your next session. If you don’t save your changes they will be discarded when you navigate to a different page of Arrivy or close your browser tab. Save will not make permanent changes to your Tasks. You must use Publish in order to affect permanent changes to Tasks. Use the Save & Name command to store/restore route configurations that you would like to compare using the Snapshot facility. 

Save and name lets you save and restore route configurations

Save and name lets you save and restore route configurations

Snapshot is a feature for comparing various route configurations. Snapshot uses saved, named configurations allowing you to make time and mileage comparisons. To use Snapshot (after having saved some route plans) click on the blue grid icon to the right of the Save button. The Snapshot dialog lists the current (unsaved) configuration next to the named and saved configurations. Each configuration has a summary line that provides top-level information on metrics like total time and distance, longest and shortest route. You can also view detailed information for each route by expanding the left caret. Within the interface, you can click on the eye icon to immediately restore the relevant configuration or use the trash can to delete the configuration.

Snapshot lets you compare route configurations

Snapshot lets you compare route configurations

Undo & Revert

The Undo and Redo button allow you to step forwards or backwards through any changes that have been made to routes or Tasks within the Route Planning interface. The Revert button–which is under the caret to the right of Undo–will reverse any changes made and reload the original Task times and assignments. 

Compacting

Compacting is the process of rearranging Tasks within a Route so they are sequenced as closely together as possible. The best way to understand the Compact command is by looking at an example. In the screenshot below, the Info panel shows 3 Task where Tasks 1 & 2 have a 3 hr spread and Tasks 2 & 3 are overlapping. Obviously, this is a non-optimal layout.

Clicking the Compact button on the Command Bar will re-jigger the series of Tasks on a Route by taking the ending time of the Task 1, calculating the drive time for Task 2, setting the start time for Task 2 equal to the end time for Task 1 + drive time to Task 2 and repeating for subsequent Tasks. You can also add “padding” to add extra time between Tasks to account for unpredictable drive times or as extra “margin.”

You can use the Compact button manually, or select the Auto-Compact checkbox on the Command Bar to automatically have a Route compacted when you make changes. If you have selected to start and end a Route at a depot the Map and Info Bar will reflect that.

Note: Arrivy will compact a route beginning from the start time of the first task of the day. The depot start time is set independently. You must make sure that you have allocated enough time to get from the depot to the first Task. 

Brief Mode

Route Planning’s brief mode allows the schedulers to look at the team members’ routes concisely. It helps planning numerous routes and their tasks conveniently, enabling drag-drop experience and showing critical task information upfront.

 

Expand All and Collapse All

Expand All allows you to expand the team members’ routes, making all the contained tasks visible to the user. It opens all the routes so that you have a comprehensive view of a given day in the left panel, and all your routes/tasks are visible on the map. As apparent by its name, Collapse All does the reverse.

Publishing

The Publish Tasks & Routes command takes all of the adjustments to time, sequence and assignees made during a Route Planning session and makes those changes in the original Tasks. Thus, if your original Task was assigned to Eddies for 10:30 AM and through your Route Planning session was reassigned to Robben at 2:00 PM–the Publish action will copy those changes into the original Task. Once you have Published your routes, you cannot recover the previous times or assignments. You CAN do Route Planning on a set of Tasks that have already been Published. However, your starting point will be the previously Published Task times and assignments.

Normally, if you change the date or times of a Task, the customer will be sent an email and/or SMS message letting them know their Task has been rescheduled. This will also happen as soon as you Publish your routes (for all the Tasks that have time changes). However, you do have the ability to suppress these communications when you execute a Publish. When you click the Publish Tasks & Routes button, it brings up a dialog which lists all the Task changes. Additionally, the Publish changes without sending messages checkbox in this dialog let you suppress Task-rescheduled messages that would occur because of the Publishing changes.