Time Windows Route Optimization Constraint and Business Rule
Almost all businesses operate within specific hours, delivery windows, pickup windows, service windows, and other working hours. Arriving too early or too late at customer locations typically results in expensive waiting times, driver idling, additional trips, missed deliveries and pickups, etc. Therefore, when optimizing multi-stop routes, you want to visit customer locations only within their working hours. Route4Me’s Time Windows Route Optimization Constraint enables you to easily optimize thousands of last-mile routes with thousands of addresses with different Time Windows in the most efficient way possible.
Specifically, Route4Me automatically accounts for the Time Windows on each address and sequences them in the most optimal visitation order, where each address is visited only within its Time Windows. Furthermore, Route4Me automatically accounts for all your other business rules and outputs the most optimal number of optimized routes. This way, you can easily avoid arriving outside operating hours, minimize waiting time between stops, avoid missed deliveries and pickups, visit more stops in fewer routes, save time and make more money.
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Time Windows Route Spreadsheet Formatting
To optimize last mile routes with addresses that have Time Windows, add the “Time Window Start” and “Time Window End” columns to your route spreadsheet, and then populate these columns with the preferred times. Accordingly, your addresses with added Time Windows will be visited only within the timeframe between the Time Window Start and Time Window End.
Additionally, you can learn more about Route4Me’s Spreadsheets Formatting Requirements.
|Time Window Start||Time when the First Time Window Opens: “Day 0,” + “Military Time or Regular Time” (i.e., Day 0, 9:00 AM).|
|Time Window End||Time when the First Time Window Closes: “Day 0,” + “Military Time or Regular Time” (i.e., Day 0, 3:00 PM).|
|Service Time||This column is optional. You can add Service Times to your addresses for more accurate Time Windows route optimization and more realistic ETAs. NOTE: When adding Service Times, make sure that they are not longer than the Time Windows of the respective addresses.|
Many businesses have restocking hours, lunch breaks, and other times that split their workday into two parts. Accordingly, you need to make sure that the driver doesn’t arrive at the customer’s address when the customer is not available. In this case, you can add 2 Time Windows for one address to account for these types of breaks. To do so, include 2 sets of Time Windows for the preferred addresses in your spreadsheet. Specifically, in addition to the “Time Window Start” and “Time Window End” columns, add the “Time Window Start 2” and “Time Window End 2” columns.
Accordingly, your addresses with 2 added Time Windows will be visited only within the First Time Window and the Second Time Window timeframes, and will not be visited within the break between them.
|Time Window Start 2||Time when the Second Time Window Opens: “Day 0,” + “Military Time or Regular Time” (i.e., Day 0, 4:00 PM).|
|Time Window End 2||Time when the Second Time Window Closes: “Day 0,” + “Military Time or Regular Time” (i.e., Day 0, 9:00 PM).|
Download Time Windows Route Spreadsheet Template
For your convenience, you can download Route4Me’s Time Windows Route Spreadsheet Template as a CSV file, change prepopulated addresses, Time Windows, and Service Times, and use it for optimizing your routes.
Optimize Last Mile Routes with Customer Time Windows
To optimize last-mile routes with Customer Time Windows, you can upload a spreadsheet from your device or import it from your preferred cloud storage service. To do so, go to “Plan New Route” from the navigation menu and then select the preferred option:
- Upload a File: Upload route spreadsheet from your computer or device.
- Import Data: Import route spreadsheet from your preferred cloud storage, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
Time Windows route optimization works only with the Multiple Drivers route optimization type so that the system can output more than one route based on the specified Time Windows and other optimization constraints. Next, go to the “Optimization” tab and select the “Multiple Drivers” route optimization type.
After that, you can specify the preferred Route Start Time for your routes in the “Schedule” tab. Equally important, make sure that the Route Start Time is not much earlier than the first Time Window to avoid long Wait Times between both.
Next, upload your spreadsheet file, and Route4Me will automatically verify and validate addresses, Time Windows, and any other columns in your spreadsheet. Accordingly, make sure that the header (column name) of each column corresponds with the data in this column. Additionally, you can manually match column names to the right data columns in case specific column names don’t match the data in them. After verifying your spreadsheet, complete the following steps to finish optimizing your routes.
Manage Route Stops Time Windows on Optimized Routes
Route4Me optimizes the most optimal number of routes accounting for your specified Time Windows and other optimization constraints. Accordingly, the system can output one or multiple routes with your imported addresses. When multiple routes are optimized, they are automatically opened on the Route4Me Routes Map.
Once your routes are optimized, you can check and edit the Time Windows on any route stop. To check the details and Time Windows of a stop, simply click on this stop in the timeline. To edit the details and Time Windows of a stop, right-click on the preferred stop in the timeline and then select “Modify Stop” from the menu.
Route4Me’s optimization engine sequences addresses with Time Windows in the most optimal visitation order to minimize Time Window conflicts and Wait Time. Wait Time is the time the driver has to wait before the Time Window on the given address opens, and the driver can visit and service this address. In the Route Summary Table with aggregated route metrics, you can enable and check the total Wait Time on all displayed routes. To do so, click on the gear icon in the bottom left corner of the map, go to the “Time” tab and check the “Wait Time” box.
Driver Wait Time Between Route Stops With Time Windows
Depending on the Time Windows of your addresses, it can be mathematically impossible to entirely eliminate the Wait Time. For example, if some Time Windows start significantly later than other Time Windows, certain Time Windows are too short, etc. Accordingly, the assigned driver might have to wait until the Time Windows on specific route stops start to visit and service them.
Route Stops that have Wait Time are displayed with their respective Wait Time in the timeline. Accordingly, the Wait Time displayed on a route stop shows how much time the assigned driver has to wait before they can visit and service the given stop. Additionally, you can see the total Wait Time of all stops on the selected routes in the Route Summary Table.
Furthermore, you can view and edit Time Windows on individual routes using Route4Me’s Route Editor. To do so, open the route, click on the preferred route stop, and then scroll to the “Time” section. Accordingly, route stops can have 1 or 2 Time Windows. To edit a Time Window, click on it and then enter the new preferred time.
Similarly, you can see the total Wait Time of the opened route in its Summary Table. To do so, click on the gear icon in the bottom left corner of the map, go to the “Time” tab and check the “Wait Time” box.
Time Windows on Routes Dispatched to Driver Mobile Apps
Moreover, Route4Me enables you to easily dispatch optimized last-mile routes to drivers’ Route4Me Android Route Optimization App and iOS Route Optimization App. Once the route is dispatched, the assigned driver can open the route on their mobile driver app in real-time. Furthermore, the driver can check the Time Windows on any route stop of the dispatched route. To do so, simply tap on the preferred route stop and then scroll to the stop’s Time Windows information. In this way, drivers can know when the business on each route stop opens and closes.
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