These days the pallet networks rule supreme in the general haulage world, and with good reason – putting together individual groupage loads in the domestic market was never going to give customers or hauliers a great deal of flexibility or a high standard of service, so once the parcel world had tried, tested, refined and perfected the regional hub template it was only sensible for bulkier LTL consignments to start being moved in the same way.
Two decades on and there can be few freight operators who haven't at least considered joining a pallet network, and many who deal with several on a daily basis. The spirit of co-operation may be alive and well, but there is a downside – each network has its own software system for the allocation of work and confirmation of deliveries, so co-ordinating more than one along with any non-network work a haulier is also handling can very quickly become a time-consuming nightmare.
Now, with AGM routeMASTER Planner and Dispatch modules, these frustrations really are just a bad dream, thanks to Pallet Network Integration.
Both are well-established and proven systems: Planner is a highly-configurable and comprehensive fleet route planning system relevant to any type of operation. By automatically converting orders and work lists into the most efficient, cost-effective runs possible it saves office time, frees vehicles to take on additional work and easily copes with complex scenarios including multi-drop, collections en route and time window constraints. Manifests can then simply be printed, emailed or delivered electronically to driver smartphones, tablets or other in-cab displays.
Meanwhile, Dispatch is a powerful, cloud-based Traffic Management System which, as well as facilitating the creation, editing and deployment of jobs of all types, keeps all operators synchronised so everyone is following the same plan, no matter where they're physically located.
The routeMASTER Dispatch app is available for Android and iOS, which enables drivers to log in and view their day's work and to electronically capture customers' signatures via EPOD. Plus, a live proof-of-delivery can be sent back to base - all by using existing smartphones.
Optional sat-nav capability and two-way messaging are also featured, the latter reading messages out to drivers on the move so they can remain hands-free and in control of the vehicle at all times, while live updates to current or later jobs can be instantly delivered to drivers, saving costly dead mileage in the event of a cancellation or addition to their run.
RouteMASTER Dispatch also features an integrated online portal so customers can add and review jobs, which can easily be integrated into the operator's own website if preferred, using just a few lines of HTML code.
Put these two systems together and not only do operators have the tools to run a highly efficient modern transport office, they can also provide the same streamlined service to the pallet networks as they give to direct customers.
Moreover, deliveries and collections can be imported automatically from Palletline Contrado, UPN, TPN and Stirling Traffic Desk – including non-network jobs being managed within those platforms – new non-network jobs may also be created within routeMASTER Dispatch, thereby keeping everything in one place. From there, automatic routing takes into account consignment size and weight along with time windows and restrictions and the load capacity of the fleet.
Possibly best of all, however, all signatures and other PODs collected electronically by drivers are automatically separated and returned to the correct pallet network from one single device, eliminating the need for vehicles to carry multiple pieces of hardware or download and manage multiple apps, thereby removing an avenue for potentially costly mistakes. All in all, routeMASTER Planning and Dispatch really are the easiest and best solution for co-ordinating all jobs, no matter how many pallet networks are served.