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Utilising Google Maps for Route Planning Optimisation

Every so often a new form of challenge arrives on our desk. Recently what we have been finding is that more and more of our clients want to incorporate maps both in their route planning and also in their business reporting.

Over the next two posts, we will explain how some of these challenges have been approached.

With the economic downturn, rising fuel costs and also the need to ensure staff out on the road are spending as much time with customers, Route Planning Optimisation has become more and more scientific.

We geocoded our client’s customer details into a database that interfaces with a simple web app.
When a staff member wishes to travel to a number of customers, they choose a start and end location and up to eight stop off points. It is possible to have more stop off points but Google charge for this. This should easily allow your staff to develop either full day or half day route plans.

The benefit of using Google Maps is that it results in a high accuracy with low cost application. Google Maps already has overcome the “Travelling Salesman Problem” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling_salesman_problem ) using complex algorithms and formulae.

Map

What we have found is that many of our clients are now better placed to make customer visits by ensuring that time spent travelling is kept to a minimum. The algorithms used by Google ensure that regardless of the chosen outlets, the most optimum route will be selected.

Furthermore, unlike many of the “off-the-shelf” mapping software applications, Google automatically updates itself with new roads, etc. Therefore, there is no administration or ongoing cost involved in keeping the maps up to date.

Each route plan can be linked to a specific staff member. Optimised route plans can also be retained for future reference (e.g. for mileage expense calculation purposes).

Within Google Maps, it is also possible to provide summary information about your customers, including address information, Google Street View images, specific customer information (manager, turnover, customer investment, etc.).

Map2

If required, different coloured map markers can be used to represent your different customer groups.

All of this information can be held on an internal intranet, secure from prying eyes or can be hosted on our secure cloud based servers.

Our next article will show you how maps can be used to represent your data within your reports!

Call us on 01-2790020 today for a chat on how we can map your business.

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