Time Windows – Advanced Constraint Add-On (Customer Availability)
With Route4Me you can effortlessly plan and optimize routes with numerous time windows and make sure that your customers are always visited and serviced only within their hours of availability. Route4Me’s time windows routing enables you to prevent your drivers from arriving at their destinations too early, too late, or when customers are busy or unavailable. Therefore, you can avoid unnecessary fuel expenses, extra trips, and inefficient utilization of your resources and assets. Time windows routing can also be used for planning routes that should be completed only in the daytime or at night, as well as within the constraints of a particular part or even hour of the day.
To plan one or multiple routes with time windows, you need to upload or import a spreadsheet that includes the following columns and values:
|Address||Full address of the stop that should be visited and serviced.|
|Time_Window_Start||The time when the first time window starts (can be defined in military time or regular time).|
|Time_Window_End||The time when the first time window ends (can be defined in military time or regular time).|
|Time_Window_Start_2||The time when the second time window starts (can be defined in military time or regular time).|
|Time_Window_End_2||The time when the second time window ends (can be defined in military time or regular time).|
|Service_Time||The time required for servicing the corresponding stop on the route. Service time cannot be longer than the time window(s) of the stop. Service time is essential for precise computing of the most efficient sequence of stops on the route.|
Most businesses have particular inventory hours, lunch breaks, and other unavailability windows that split a regular working day into two parts. In such cases, you can add two time windows for one stop. To do so, include the first and the second time windows into the spreadsheet using the corresponding column names and add “Day 0,” before each time window value.
Since some routes may last longer than one day and some customers may have different availability hours on different days, you can add different time windows for the first and second days of the route. The value “Day 0” indicates that the time window is valid for the first day of the route and the value “Day 1” indicates that the time window is valid for the second day of the corresponding route.
To plan a route(s) with time windows, you can either upload a file/spreadsheet from your device or import it from one of the supported cloud-based storage services. To do so, first, go to “Plan New Route” from the navigation menu.
Next, select the “Upload a File” option in the corresponding window to upload a spreadsheet from your device. To learn how to import files from cloud-based storage services, visit this page.
To plan a route(s) with time windows, you need to select “Multiple Drivers Route” optimization type so that the system can plan more than one route if needed.
To select “Multiple Drivers Route” optimization type, first, go to the “Optimization” tab and then choose the corresponding option. Next, specify the preferred optimization parameters in the corresponding fields.
After that, specify the rest of the route parameters and then click on the corresponding button to proceed.
Next, either drag and drop the file/spreadsheet into the corresponding window or click “Browse File to Upload” and then upload the file from your device. Currently, Route4Me supports CSV, XLS, and XLSX upload file formats. For the most accurate results, it is recommended to use spreadsheets in CSV file format. You can learn more about spreadsheet requirements here.
Once you uploaded the spreadsheet, Route4Me processes the imported data and displays it in the corresponding window. For the system to process the data automatically, select the “Auto (attempt detection)” option respectively. Alternatively, you can manually match column titles to the data contained in the corresponding columns.
Next, click “Continue to Review.”
In the “Verify Addresses on Map” window, you can view all imported and processed addresses on the map, as well as check their geocoding statuses. Green colored dots indicate that the corresponding addresses were successfully geocoded with “High Confidence.” The addresses in the yellow “Review” tab should be reviewed and fixed accordingly.
Geocoding is the process of giving/assigning latitude and longitude values/coordinates to street addresses for accurate location detection and precise GPS tracking.
After reviewing the imported addresses, click “Finish Import” to plan the route.
Once the route(s) is planned, you can view and change the time windows of any stop. To do so, click on the corresponding stop and then scroll to the “Time” section respectively. The “Time” section of the stop’s menu displays the time windows and service time values assigned to the corresponding stop from the uploaded spreadsheet.
To change a particular time window, click on the field next to the time window that you want to modify and then input a new value into the corresponding field.
Depending on the number of stops, length and number of time windows, as well as other relevant optimization parameters, the system may plan more than one route. When the system plans more than one route, once planned, the latter are automatically opened on the Routes Map. To view time windows of a particular stop on one of the opened routes, hover your cursor over the corresponding stop in the timeline.