Delivery Routing Software

What Is The Traveling Salesman Problem And How Can You Solve It?

One of the goals of the Delivery Biz Pro delivery routing software is to optimize delivery routes in the most logical way. Our customizable software can do this by finding the shortest physical distance to make the route or by finding the quickest route to complete deliveries. While this may seem like a modern ideal, finding the most efficient way between point A and point B (and points C through Z) has been puzzling mathematicians for centuries.

The Traveling Salesman Problem

Finding the quickest loop between multiple destinations is often referred to as the traveling salesman problem (TSP). This problem was first recorded in a handbook for traveling salesman in the early 1800s and poses this conundrum: A traveling salesman must visit a series of cities to do business. He must visit each city only once, end up in the same city where he started, and minimize his time on the road. What is the most efficient route for him to travel?

The most obvious answer is to start at the first destination and move to the destination that is nearest that one, and then move to the next nearest destination, and so forth. However, this often doesn’t prove to be the fastest or most efficient route. In fact, without a delivery routing software to help analyze traffic and road patterns and generate an automated delivery route, finding the best route can be mostly guesswork.

So, what does it take to solve the TSP and make it to a series of destinations efficiently? Take a look at an example below.

UPS Stops Turning Left

We’ll get back to the traveling salesman problem in a moment, but first, let’s look at how one of the biggest deliverers in the world has addressed a related issue. In the 1970s, UPS started avoiding left turns. Drivers would make their deliveries in a series of right-hand turns, looping through neighborhoods and focusing on one side of the street first, before looping back and hitting the other side.

Why no lefts? While left turns are not forbidden among UPS drivers, study after study has shown that left turns almost always fall short of right turns in terms of fuel and time efficiency, as well as driver and pedestrian safety. A 2010 study by the U.S. Department Of Transportation studied intersection-related crashes and found that 22.2 percent of all intersection crashes occur while a driver is turning left, compared to just 1.2 percent of crashes that occur while a driver is turning right. Left turns are also much more likely to injure or kill pedestrians. Both of these events are something that anyone, let alone a major corporation like UPS, would want to avoid. Their drivers and those around them were statistically safer making right turns.

Beyond safety, avoiding left turns is also more fuel and time efficient. Left turns can leave drivers’ cars idling for much longer than if they were turning right or going straight. Rather than sitting in an intersection 30 seconds or more, a driver can make a right turn and make it to the next delivery. According to UPS, this has had major benefits for the company. UPS makes about 16 million deliveries in the U.S. daily. Thanks to an optimized delivery management software, their drivers annually drive a collective 100 million miles less, save 10 million gallons of fuel, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 metric tons. For UPS, this results in an operations cost reduction of $300-400 million per year. And while drivers felt that their delivery routes took longer, data proved them wrong, showing that trip time and distance were actually shorter.

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Solving The TSP

So, did UPS find a tangible way to solve the traveling salesman problem? For now, probably. The TSP involves an area of computer science called heuristics. A heuristic, in short, is not a final answer, but it is an answer that is “good enough” until a better answer comes along.

Optimize Time Spent On The Road With A Delivery Routing Software

Because our software is dedicated to helping small-to-medium sized businesses that make recurring deliveries of produce, dairy, or other items, those using Delivery Biz Pro don’t have the same delivery software needs as a major corporation like UPS or Amazon. Instead, our software is designed to meet the needs of the businesses and industries we serve.

Whether you are delivering propane or water jugs, fresh milk or fresh produce, our delivery driver software can empower your drivers to make changes on the road, return deposits, skip deliveries, text customers, and so much more.

Your customers are depending on their orders to show up on time and be accurate, and choosing an integrated home delivery software that handles everything from orders and payments to deliveries and deposits can optimize the efficiency of your business from top to bottom.

Learn More About Our Delivery Software

Just like the answer to the traveling salesman problem is always evolving, so is our delivery management software. We continually update our features and improve our functionality to give our clients the best service.

And while we’re not as big as Amazon or UPS, you can depend on the power behind Delivery Biz Pro. Our software successfully handles over 600,000 home deliveries every week and over $10 million in customer transactions flow through our system every month and those numbers are growing.

Discover the difference that a powerful and easy to use delivery routing software can make for your business by getting in touch with Delivery Biz Pro today.