Transport Planning

In the context of a forwarding software, transport planning refers to planning open orders on vehicles. During this process, the forwarders (also called dispatchers) decide which goods cover which distance at what time in which means of traffic. The goal of transport planning is to achieve ideal times and service quality and, at the same time, keep the costs as low as possible. Simple transport planning refers to a flow of goods with only one mode of transport, e.g. truck. Transport planning becomes more complex for international transports, which are handled intermodally with multiple modes of transport, e.g. vessel, air, rail.

In everyday work, transport planning comprises, above all, route planning and the creation of ideal tours. By using special software for planning, the order and the data can be automatically transmitted to the driver and on-board computer in the truck.

What is the difference between route planning and tour planning?

The terms route and tour are often used synonymously; however, they describe two different processes. The dispatcher’s job is to group multiple orders into a tour via clustering and, during routing, to define the sequence in which the points within a tour are to be processed.

In the tour-planning process, different orders (often from different customers) with different loading and unloading addresses are distributed ideally among multiple trucks. A tour-planning system can simultaneously optimise the tours of multiple trucks, taking into account the valid limitations, e.g. vehicle equipment, loading-space capacity, delivery agreements and available time slots.

The goal of the route-planning process is to find the ideal route and sequence between one or more delivery addresses for a single truck. The dispatcher is supported by the use of an intelligent route-planning system and, for example, receives suggestions such as the ideal route (based on the trip time or distance in kilometres), the unloading sequence, the total costs and the toll costs. Equally, vehicle-specific restrictions such as height restrictions, routes for dangerous goods and low-emission zones are taken into account.

Is there a difference between a transport management system (TMS) and a tour-planning software?

Specific software providers have specialised in route-planning or tour-planning software that is available as an individual solution. The more comprehensive solution for integrating and controlling the overall processes is the transport management system (TMS). It mainly serves to manage, execute, control and calculate all orders. Most of these systems also integrate tour planning as an important partial process; ideally, they also include suggestion, map and tour-planning functionalities. To group transport orders into tours that are as efficient as possible, a TMS is definitely recommended for a large fleet and many different customers.

Soloplan’s software CarLo is a transport management system that supports dispatchers plan transports in a more efficient and digitised way. The entire transport process, from quote calculation and transport planning to freight calculation and the creation of statistics, is integrated in CarLo.