Taking Breaks into Account

Determining cost-effective routes requires us to take into account the needs drivers experience on the road, in particular their need to take breaks. Thanks to a new version of VROOM, the open-source software we have developed for optimizing itineraries, this functionality that our clients have been impatiently awaiting is now available through our API.

Time for a break – Photo by Phil Garrison on Unsplash

Flexibility of Time and Location

Up until now we were able to define a break as one of a driver’s several tasks, but that meant pre-determining the location at which the break was to be taken. At times this approach worked well, but as a rule the site of the break depends on the optimized route. With our new approach we can now define breaks as tasks without pre-establishing their location.

Even pre-determining the time of a break can have a negative effect on optimization. It would clearly be foolish to cancel a job simply because performing it would mean that the driver’s break would have to begin at 12:03 rather than at 12 noon sharp, as planned. Moreover, we have to be able to ensure that breaks are taken early enough to allow drivers to meet subsequent deadlines. Our API provides this flexibility, guaranteeing breaks of adequate length that comply with in-the-field needs.

To take an even more complex example, imagine a situation in which the final morning job ends before the midday break can reasonably begin. No one wishes to waste time waiting, and putting off the break could cause delays for jobs that follow. We are now capable of splitting travel time before and after breaks, thus minimizing downtime and providing pertinent solutions even when time constraints are especially tight.

Increased Functionality with the Same High Degree of Performance

The newly developed ability to include several breaks in itineraries makes it possible for us to model a great number of new situations. For example, planning work that stretches over several days and involves rest times at night is trivial.

The good news is that we have been able to add this functionality without significantly increasing algorithmic complexity. In a word, whether taking breaks into account or not, our API continues to provide elegant solutions at the same record speeds as always.

If you would like to try out this new functionality, contact us to get your API key.

Teliae integrates VERSO’s API into its Software

Teliae specializes in developing business software for logistics management and the transport industry. Its Transport Management Systems (TMS) are used by more than 450 carriers of all sizes: Ciblex, XPO, Kuehne Nagel Road, Michelin, Groupe Mazet, GFS, Office Depot, DGS, Normatrans, Noyon, and others. To increase the advantages of the solutions it provides, Teliae has integrated VERSO’s API for route optimization into its software, which will save its clients time spent scheduling and reduce operational costs

Teliway in action – Map data © OpenStreetMap contributor

The Keys to a Successfully Integrated Tool

Users of the Teliway TMS will now be able to access functionalities for the optimization of fleet operations with just one click. No need for additional tools or to reconfigure data; users of the software will continue to work within familiar confines. Access to these functionalities is immediate, just one simple step in the ergonomic operational process that the Teliway software provides.

The success of an integrated tool for route optimization depends largely on its ability to consider each and every one of a client’s needs so as to generate pertinent solutions in the field. To reap the greatest benefits from VERSO’s API, Teliae has inputted its clients’ specific constraints: routes based on predetermined but adaptable sectoring, constraints imposed by loading dock workflow, task priorities, schedules and working hours, and so on.

“I’m just blown away by the speed of these calculations”

Jérôme Petit, Teliae’s Director of Operations

Thanks to the speed with which calculations are performed the optimization module can be used in real time and help generate more enlightened business decisions. The user, obviously, given his expertise, still has the final word and can make adjustments through either the software’s presentation of the fleet schedule or a cartographic view of it.

The Key Word is Complementarity

“I’m just blown away by the speed of these calculations,” Jérôme Petit, Teliae’s Director of Operations, said after watching VERSO perform. That is precisely what we seek to do: focus on a “software building block” that can solve specific problems with blinding efficiency. We are delighted that Teliae has placed its trust in our highly specialized expertise in optimization, and we know that Teliae’s long and rich experience in the field will make our collaboration a success sure to benefit its clients.

Contact us if, like Teliae, you would like to optimize your clients’ route planning and further enhance the performance of your software.

Managing Pickups and Deliveries

VERSO’s API for route optimization has just been enhanced. We can now model pickups and deliveries in combination, which allows us to deal with a greater variety of situations. As always, the latest update is based on a new version of VROOM, the open-source software we work with to optimize itineraries.

Photo by RoseBox

A New Functionality

The previous update allowed us to deal with objects that all had to be either loaded when the vehicle set out or brought back at the end of a round. In the trade, pickup and delivery is the phrase used to designate an object picked up and later delivered in the course of the same round. The newly added modeling entity shipment deals with this exact situation.

And all kinds of combinations are possible, for shipment objects can be combined with the previously managed job objects of single deliveries or pickups.

New Uses

It is now possible to optimize the deliveries and pickups of multiple clients to or from a variety of storage areas (warehouses, stores, etc.), all while taking into account the usual factors: priorities, load capacities, schedules, expertise in handling, and so on. When dealing with a multi-site fleet of vehicles, the optimization tool minimizes operating costs by determining the vehicles best suited for a series of pickups and its associated deliveries.

The new feature can also be applied to the transport of people, with possibilities for optimization combined with innovative solutions for carpooling or the use of common-carrier vehicles. In the case of individual requests for transportation, calculation time is so short that schedules can be updated and optimized in real time.

The Same Excellent Results as Always

As has consistently been the case, the results we achieve are both verifiable and reproducible. According to the well-established benchmark Li & Lim 100, our approach obtains absolute optimal results more than 46% of the time, for an average of just 1.22% over optimal cost. And everything is done in record time, with problems involving a hundred different locations solved on average in 256 milliseconds.

If you are interested in trying out this new functionality, contact us for an API key.

Place du local Makes it Easier to Have Access to Locally Grown Foods

We have become increasingly aware of the consequences of our choices as consumers. Place du local gives us the means to do what is best for the economy and the environment.

Josselin Pradier, Place du local founder – © Lionel Vadam, Est Républicain

Eating Healthier Foods Made Easier

Many of us would like to make the purchase of healthy foods more meaningful by supporting local growers and reducing the potentially harmful impact our purchases have on the environment, but few of us have either the time or the means to make the rounds of local growers to fill our shopping carts, as it were, with everything we need. Through its large network of growers, Place du local has created an e-market that gives us all easy access to a wide range of local products along with the advantages modern technology has wrought: online ordering, deliveries to homes or pick-up locations, and a choice of delivery times.

A Real, Quantifiable Impact

Place du local uses our API for route optimization to draw up cost-effective delivery routes that take into account factors such as the days and delivery times their customers require. In addition to the time saved creating schedules and the reduced delivery costs that make this service more affordable for everyone, our API has become an essential part of the logistical planning. And the results have been very impressive. Today, the average distance covered for the delivery of the whole of an individual’s purchases is just 3.7 miles (6km), which includes both pick-ups from growers and delivery to customers. By comparison, the average per person car-time for daily shopping is 15 minutes1, and that figure does not include the time it takes to supply stores with the food they sell.

We are delighted to be collaborating with a local partner who is providing consumers with an approach to food purchases that makes for a more sustainable economy and environment.

[1] Figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INSEE)

New Functionalities and Enhanced Performance

VERSO’s API for route optimization is constantly being updated to respond more fully to our users’ needs. The October 2019 update introduces functionalities designed to fine-tune approaches to problem solving and to allow us to solve new kinds of problems as well. This update uses the 1.5 version of VROOM, which is the open-source software we have developed for optimizing itineraries.

Managing Priorities

Example of how to include priorities in problem solving – Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

When a company is faced with limited load capacities or a limited number of available vehicles or man-hours of work, it is sometimes difficult to get everything done. In the example illustrated above, the job that gets left out is not surprisingly the one located furthest away (left). But what if that job had priority? It is now possible to include priorities in problem solving and ensure that the most important jobs appear in the solution (right).

Combining Deliveries and Pickups

Until now, it was easy enough for us to model simple logistical problems, such as when a vehicle leaves a warehouse with loads to be delivered to various places or when it leaves empty and returns after a round of pickups. But out in the field companies usually deal with a more complicated mix of deliveries and pickups, sometimes at the same location. That makes it far more difficult than it might seem to guarantee that solutions take into account actual load capacities, which depend on the pickups already made, the deliveries yet to be made, and the order in which these operations are carried out.

That functionality has now been implemented. We are now able to work with a mix of pickups and deliveries and ensure that we take into account a vehicle’s actual load capacity at any given point.

Enhanced Performance

To be sure, the introduction of these functionalities involves more complex problem solving, but the icing on the cake is that it has not increased the time needed to generate solutions. In fact, that time has actually decreased both because of various efficiency mechanisms built into the new code and because, while the verification tests needed when dealing with combinations of deliveries and pickups are more complex, there is far less need to have recourse to them. The conventional VRPTW benchmarksshow an average decline in calculation time of nearly 40%.

To learn more, check out the on-line documentation for our API and contact us to see how your business can benefit from these new functionalities.

Launch of VERSO’s API for route optimization

VERSO’s API for route optimization saves time and money and can be easily and seamlessly integrated into any software used for businesses. Following the success enjoyed by clients who have had advanced access to it, we are very pleased to announce its public launch.

Image © Jack Moreh

Resolving Real Problems

To be able to concentrate on what matters most to them, professionals who depend on scheduling for the transportation of persons and merchandise need to devise the most cost-effective routes quickly, both for the logistics of their operations and the services they provide. And this involves working with a large number of variables that are becoming increasingly complex. Our API immediately and automatically generates cost-reducing routes that take into account schedules, transport and intervention times, capacity limits, required features on equipment, expertise in handling, and so on. Integrating our API into software yields immediate rewards and a guaranteed return on the investment.

Performance, Reliability, and Growth

Our API is based on the open-source software VROOM, which stands as a guarantee of its durability. It is designed to adapt to increasingly larger scales and to provide elegant, advantageous solutions in record time. Numerous benchmarks attest to its problem-solving capabilities. By incorporating our API into your software, you will be able to benefit, at no additional cost to you, from the constantly evolving functionality that we will have worked together to predesign.

We invite you to learn more by reviewing the documentation on our API and to contact us to see how we can help improve your current software.

Keolis optimizes service routes in Besançon

Every year, the upkeep of Besançon’s urban transport system requires Keolis to intervene some 18,000 times. The expertise gained from long experience and familiarity with the network has allowed the company to service quickly and efficiently whatever needs attention in the day-to-day maintenance of the system.

Gray and black waiting shed under cloudy sky.
A bus shelter in need of a schedule update. – Photo by Samuel Foster

An Increase in Scale

Keolis is also responsible for updating the bus and trolley schedules posted for riders. This requires them to visit all of the system’s bus shelters and schedule posts several times a year, in each instance in a very short span of time. The geographical area Keolis has to cover was recently expanded to include all of greater Besançon, which added 400 stops to the 500 already in place, with most of the new ones located in areas previously unserviced. The increased workload, with its rural setting and significantly longer travel times, had to be worked into the scheduling process. But how was Keolis to do that without the deep knowledge of the terrain that comes from years of experience, such as the knowledge they had of the transport system within the city limits?

Optimizing Service Routes

A sample optimized route plan. – Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

By working in close collaboration with Keolis, we were able to frame the problem in a way that allowed us to take all factors into account and generate a solution optimizing service routes. Reduced travel times made it easier to manage the increased workload. The maintenance teams were able to negotiate the new sectors smoothly by following on smartphones the routes that had been devised. After a successful full-scale trial run, the new approach to devising routes was adopted. It will continue to be used for the scheduling changes to come as well as for the routine inspections carried out at regular intervals throughout the year.

We are proud to have been able to help a key player in the Besançon community open to innovation in both the way the business operates and the tools used to improve its organization. Contact us if you, too, would like to reexamine how best to optimize service routes.