Routing with Time Windows
Route4Me allows you to plan routes based on address specific or order specific time constraints. The time windows engine optimizes your specified constraints to produce the minimal number of routes required to fill the time slots that customers say they are available for service, pick-up, or delivery.
This option requires you to prepare a spreadsheet file and plan your route using either the Upload a File option (if you want to upload a file that’s stored locally on your computer) or the Import Data option (if you want to import the spreadsheet file from a file hosting service). To plan a route with time window constraints, you need to select the Multiple Drivers Route optimization type.
To use the time windows feature, you should prepare a spreadsheet file with the following recommended columns:
– Alias (recommended) – The name you assign to each address on the route;
– Address (required) – The addresses you plan to visit;
– Time_window_start (required) – The start of the time window for that particular address. This column supports 2 time-formats: military time and 12-hour format. The military time format can be input as either HH:MM: SS or HH: MM (for example, 5 PM will be input as 17:00:00 or 17:00). The 12-hour format is the recommended option for multiple-day or overnight time windows. It includes the day of the route when the time window starts, followed by the hour and minute: day x, HH: MM AM/PM. In this case, the day count will start at zero (the first day of the route will be inserted as Day 0 in the column);
– Time_window_end (required) – The end of the time window for that particular address. The supported time formats are identical to those used in the “time_window_start” column. The “time_window_end” column should match the format of the “time_window_start” (if the “time_window_start” column is set in military time format, the “time_window_end” will use military time as well for a specific destination);
– Service_time (recommended)– The estimated duration of service for that particular address. The service time can’t be longer than time window set between the start and end time.
You can also add time window interval. For example, if you can visit an address between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM or between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM on the same day, you can add two additional columns in your spreadsheet file to accommodate the second interval. These columns should be titled “time_window_start_2” and “time_window_end_2.”
You can find sample files for different time window route formats below:
IMPORTANT: After the time windows constraints are set, the system will automatically determine the dynamic start time for each route, based on the start time you have input in the “Schedule” tab.
You can upload a file with these additional columns into Route4Me if you are a Professional Plan subscriber, but only Small Business and Enterprise Plan subscribers can utilize the “Time Window Team Route” constraints while planning a new route.
You can also add the time window and service time manually for each address on your route. Go to “View Saved Routes,” open the route you want to edit by clicking the gear button and selecting “Open Route.” Click on any address in your route, and the address menu will appear on the right.
In the “Time” section, fill out the “Time Window Start,” “Time Window End” and “Service Time” fields. The format for the “Service Time” field is HH: MM, so if you want to insert a 15 minute service time, you have to enter it as 00:15.
You can do the same for any address in the route. Your team route will be updated instantly each time you enter new time window and service time information.