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Sustainability Generates Profit in the Transport Industry in New Zealand

This month I had the pleasure of presenting to the New Zealand Freight Summit at Auckland University to a diverse group of people from all facets of the transport industry. There were a number of common threads and one of them was sustainability. This is a word that is bandied around a lot, together with concepts like carbon emission trading and taxes, but I wonder how seriously a lot of companies are taking it.

One motivator is compliance. Government departments and many corporates today have KPI’s which require that they do business with companies who have sustainability policies and practices. We have responded to a number of tenders recently which have asked us to specify what sustainability practices we have put in place.

I have read many articles that say that companies which have sustainability practices are more profitable than those that don’t. Obviously the above is one good reason, effectively there are contracts they won’t win simply based on the policy.

There are of course other good reasons that also hit the bottom line. The most obvious one is the rising price of oil. If you use tools such as Route Optimisation and Business Intelligence, you can potentially do more work whilst driving shorter times and distance. That means reduced running costs, reduced maintenance costs, saved time which potentially means being able to do more work in the same amount of time and bottom line increase in profit. Whether your fleet is one vehicle or hundreds, there are savings to be made and they are easy to achieve.

Wellington Traffic 28 February 2012 1:15PM

I really enjoyed showing people AA Traffic by GeoSmart. Many of the delegates were not aware that we have real time traffic congestion information covering virtually all arterial roads and highways throughout New Zealand and Australia. There will be some announcements about this in the very near future. If you are a transport operator, how would you like to be able to see exactly where the congestion is in real time and on the same map, see your vehicle fleet?

Does traffic congestion cost your company by not letting your vehicles get where they want to be on time? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a birds eye of what was going on in real time 24/7? What would that mean to your business? We can help you with that.

Utilising technologies like this can help your company to focus on reducing overheads when the economy is tight and allows you to tell the market that you have sustainability practices, not just policies. Of course in doing so, you are actually taking practical steps to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and doing something good for your country and the planet.

Want to know more about how you can use these technologies in your business? We’d love to talk with you. Contact us today.

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February 28, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, route optimisation, territory management, Traffic, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Petrol Will Keep Going Up in Cost

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that petrol and diesel could well hit the highest prices ever this year. This is likely to have a significant impact in New Zealand and Australia where we rely on other countries to provide our fuel. Irrespective of the state of our economies, we are relatively low in the rungs of priority if supplies become short worldwide. Obviously oil demand is increasing globally, irrespective of international politics and our exchange rates. The following graph shows the trend just over the last 3 months.

The implications are obvious. If you have a fleet of vehicles on the road, your running costs are going to increase and you have very little control over what you are going to pay for fuel.

Using technologies such as Fleet Management from our partners, you will have the ability to manage some costs. This includes:

  • Monitoring driver behaviour such as harsh acceleration, speeding and other activities such as engine idling time where reports can identify drivers who may benefit from education on the impact of these activities to your costs.
  • Monitoring the use of the vehicles, eg personal use or order of use.

You might look at operational improvements such as whether it is more economical for the driver to start from home, closer to their first jobs in the morning as opposed to leaving the vehicle at the depot. You might want to focus more on load management, are you sending trucks out with a load but bringing them back empty? You might want to look at whether there are other jobs in the vicinity of the vehicle that could be completed without the vehicle coming back to base and going out again.

GeoSmart has a number of tools that can help you with these considerations. For example Route Optimisation with Route2GO can help you eliminate the guesswork of what order jobs should be done in. If someone is going out and doing one or 2 stops and going back, that’s one thing, but if a vehicle is making several stops on a trip, it is unlikely that many people have the ability to work out the best order to do the jobs in.

Route optimisation takes into consideration every possible sequence of all the stops on your trip, with an underlying knowledge of turn restrictions (one way streets, no left turns), road class (speed zones, a shortest route might include many compulsory stops trying to cross busy main roads and driving slightly farther might not only speed up the trip but by not stopping and starting through the gears, will consume less fuel) and other considerations. The computer has no emotions, it just solves a technical problem and provides you with a result that will tell you the best order in which to do the work, complete with expected driving distance and time. This can produce a run or job sheet that can also give you an idea, based of your knowledge of expected time on site, as to how many jobs may be completed in one day.

Business Intelligence is a whole new story. Imagine being able to see all your clients on a map, run queries and reports based on any information you have in your database or work management application. How would you like to be able to manage run territories, understand profitable clients, see where upcoming jobs and priorities are, without having to install any software? All you need is a web browser and an internet connection. A picture speaks a thousand words and being able to visualise your business on a map can shed a light on what is going on in your business in a way that is often very difficult to get from spreadsheets and tables. GeoSmart’s new BIonaMAP Business Intelligence on a Map can help you put the pieces together and show you what your business looks like.

We can help you keep your fuel costs under control with practical web based tools that will provide you with the information you need by visualising and viewing your business operations on a map. Information is power.

These solutions support all of Australia and New Zealand so if that is where you are, why not contact us to find out how we can help?

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Australia, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Delivery, Distribution, Fleet Management, Freight, geosmart, new zealand, Oil Price, petrol, route optimisation, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with Increasing Oil Prices for your Company Vehicles

In this morning’s NZ Herald, senior AA Analyst Mark Stockdale was quoted By Mathew Dearnaley as saying that there may be further pressure on petrol prices this week. The article pointed out that only part of the oil price increase has been passed on to consumers and the tense situation in Libya and other parts of the Middle East mean that the barrel price of oil could continue to increase dramatically.

It is clear that we have now well and truly crossed the psychological barrier of $2 per litre of 91 Octane petrol in NZ and I would be surprised if we drop below it again even if Saudi increases their oil production as suggested. AA’s Mark Stockdale made some good suggestions on ways to save fuel, all of which made good sense, especially if you own your vehicle and are paying for the fuel yourself.

I’m not saying they don’t make sense for all vehicles, but if the cost comes from your own back pocket and we have now crossed the psychological $2 barrier companies are also going to feel the pain and need to look at ways of saving money on their vehicle running costs.

You will remember the story of how to cook a frog. In 1869 Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that if you put a frog into a pot of water and heated it very slowly, the frog would not attempt to escape. Why he was doing it was another story which you can read here. The anecdote is important because we haven’t fundamentally changed our driving habits. Many of us have lead feet and as lovers of driving and fast cars, users of air conditioning and other features, we waste a lot of fuel. Perhaps the new price increases will make us jump out of the boiling water and modify our driving behaviour.

Many companies have been driving smart for some time. For example, large commercial fleet companies have been running with Fleet Management solutions using GeoSmart Maps for years. Many get total ROI from being able to claim Road User Charge RUC Rebates, which is being able to prove when they are driving on private roads or property. That means that the added benefits are free. Fleet Management uses technology to monitor many aspects of driver behaviour with a view to being able to improve driver training. For example it can monitor aspects such as harsh acceleration and braking, idling time is another aspect that consumes fuel.

Car Navigation is another tool that has been under rated. But lets look at some facts. If it costs over one dollar per km (before the latest fuel price hikes) to drive a relatively small vehicle (not counting staff costs and other items), what does it cost to run commercial vehicles? Can you afford to pay people to drive in circles looking for their next stop?

A new feature in car navigation that we have blogged about before is AA Real Time Traffic. This is a service that provides real time information advising of accidents, incidents and real time congestion covering all of New Zealand. This service is available on AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and as well as TXT and Email Alerts. What is really exciting is that you can now get this information direct to you car navigation devices including selected models from brands including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, and Pantera. This page shows how it works. If you consider how much time you have spent in congested traffic, wouldn’t it be great if you could be informed about incidents before you get stuck behind them. Note AA Traffic doesn’t just cover State Highways, it covers all arterials as well, so only really leaves out small residential streets. We are now discussing how to get this information into the Fleet Dispatch rooms of freight, distribution and service companies who are managing vehicle fleets and could better manage their operations if they can see their vehicles and the traffic incidents concurrently on the same map.

You may have noticed a number of references to the NZ Automobile Association. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZAA and as such are very much involved in helping NZ motorists, consumer and business and the initiatives in this blog outline many of our activities in this space.

Route Optimisation is another tool that has suddenly gained popularity. GeoSmart has offered these services for around 5 years. In effect the concept is that if you have a number of vehicles, we can tell you what order they should do their stops in, in order to drive the least distance and time. This doesn’t just take the shortest route, it takes into consideration aspects such as which roads have the least number of stops, the speed zones, the angles of corners, turn restrictions and more. It is a complex and involved problem which we have automated into an application that can be run from a web browser on a pay as you go basis. We blogged about this last week when we first heard of the $2 jump.

We made the offer of a fee trial whereby we will use Route2GO for free over up to 5 previous runs to allow you to compare the route driven, with what our recommendations would be. Many of the results have been astounding with time improvements of between half an hour and 2 hours on a run, with significant savings in fuel and other overheads, as well as the ability to do more work in the same day without an increase in fixed overheads. That offer is still available and of course the payback is now significantly increased.

So, if you have company vehicles that are more than just commuters, you may like to contact us and have a chat about how we can help. You can email us for information or a flyer or contact me (Luigi Cappel) direct on 09 9668768. We would love to help you save money, increase productivity and profit and remain competitive in the marketplace. Many companies will be forced to increase their prices and this will of course impact on inflation. On the other hand companies who work smarter could keep their prices the same or in some cases even reduce them. Historically those companies have increased their market share and in some cases taken over weaker competitors who didn’t think smart.

There are a few choices. One of them is to suffer and complain, the better one might be to contact us and see how we or are partner companies can help you prosper despite the difficult times.

I like the saying that there are 3 types of people and businesses. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Which are you?

March 6, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, satnav, software, territory management, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Petrol Price Hikes and Route Optimisation

If you are in business and have a fleet of vehicles on the road, you will be very aware of the increase in the price of petrol. This morning’s story in the NZ Herald Business Section suggests that fuel prices won’t be going down soon. There is of course the tension in the Middle East which has driven oil prices as high as US$103 a barrel and the NZ exchange rate has suffered not only with the Christchurch Earthquake, but also the expectation that the Reserve Bank will cut the cash rate on March 10. This makes our currency less attractive and we have dropped 2 cents against the US dollar in the last month.

One option is to shop around. Cardlink has a website called Pricewatch, which shows what people who have their fuel cards are paying, but of course these are discounted prices. Prices vary around the country, but even then you will struggle to find anything below $2 if you consider $1.999 as being below $2.

The AA Petrol Watch web page suggests that the oil companies have only passed on half their increase in costs, so far. There has also been talk of shielding Christchurch of increases which is great, but of course the rest of us will have to subsidise that.

The problem from a business perspective is that whilst our running costs increase, our clients expect to pay the same or less for our products and services. If your products and services involve distribution, delivery or field work, this becomes a serious problem. This is a problem that GeoSmart may be able to assist with.

Our solution is Route Optimisation. We have a solution called Route2Go, which you may have read about in previous blogs. In simple terms, give us a list of the jobs that a vehicle has to do in a day and our solution will advise you which order to do them in, to drive the least distance and in the shortest time by calculating the fastest route. Even without the price rises in petrol, this is saving clients a lot of cost, but now it is even more attractive.

The best thing is that we offer you the chance to evaluate this product in relation to your unique business for free. As per the PDF which you can download below, if you would like to send us the addresses of 5 existing daily runs (we don’t need to know the names of the companies, or will provide a confidentiality agreement) in the order that they have been done, we will optimise them for free and send you the results.

Route2GO is a Software a a Service (SaaS) application which means there is nothing to install and no set up fee. You simply pay for the number of locations you optimise to. With the results of the free trial, you will be able to see exactly what your savings can be as a result of using the service.

What have you got to lose? Try us now. Please note this service is currently only available in New Zealand.

Route2GO Flyer

P.S. Did I mention green? If you are reducing the distance you drive you are of course also reducing your carbon footprint.

P.P.S. Optimisation can also mean that you can fit more jobs into a day without increasing your fixed overheads.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Tools, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, new zealand, petrol, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, Sales, software, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anyone Can Use Route Optimisation with Route2GO Lite, it’s Easy!

Over the last couple of weeks, I have written about Route2GO Lite, which is a web based application which allows you to calculate the most cost effective order to make customer visits on the road. I talked about Furniture Stores and how they and other bulky goods retailers can get an immediate payback. I gave examples of added value things you can do such as creating a reverse order loading list for the truck and how to use a spreadsheet to calculate other factors such as estimated time on site for deliveries.

What is perhaps a little harder to get across is that this application is really simple to use. Large freight and distribution companies and service companies employ fleet controllers, dispatchers and other management staff and possibly highly skilled IT workers, who deal with things like route optimisation.

In New Zealand, most companies have very small fleets, ranging from 1 to 5 vehicles. They can’t afford to employ technical people and just want to get on with the job. The drivers will have key skills, for example a furniture delivery driver will know how to get in and out of tight spots, they’ll know how to carry furniture without damaging it or the house it is going into. They probably have good social skills and develop good relationships with customers. The problem though is that costs are going up and customers are expecting more for less. We have clients at the top end who have taken over smaller companies who can’t compete, those who don’t have an IT Department.

We have great news! You don’t need an IT Department. You don’t need to buy any software. All you need is access to a  PC connected to the Internet and a browser, such as Firefox. That’s it, no special skills (correct spelling is helpful but we have some fuzzy logic), just a desire to improve efficiency, save some time and money and perhaps provide a better standard of service to your customers.

If you’re business is in New Zealand we invite you to give us a try. The best thing to do would be to give us a few lists of routes that have previously been driven, in the order they were done. That way we can give you the ability to evaluate the route based on the order we recommend. If you can put a dollar cost per driven km, you can calculate the immediate Return On Investment. Of course as per the previous links above, there are many more ways you can benefit from this product.

So here’s our offer: We will run up to 5 routes (Up to a maximum of 25  addresses per trip) for FREE. Our preference is for ones you have already driven so we can give you a real comparison. No risk or commitment required. If you are as excited about the result as we think you will be, we will invite you to set up an account with us. You can use it as often or as little as you like. There are no up front costs and no license fees. You only pay for what you use. In effect it is Software as a Service.

Why have we done this? The way I see it is that it is about working smarter rather than harder. You are good at what you do and we are good at our speciality which is mapping and everything to do with Location Based Services.We are a New Zealand owned company. We understand New Zealand business and New Zealand roads. We want to help New Zealand businesses achieve their goals by providing simple solutions that make a difference.

So why would you take us up on our free trial? I don’t know. I could think of lots of possible reasons, such as:

  • Reduce costs and be more profitable
  • Reduce stress by being able to deliver to your promise
  • Be able to compete with bigger companies
  • Have happy customers who keep coming back and buying or using more of your services
  • Be able to do more jobs without increasing resources
  • Not lose sales or work because you don’t have the ability to deliver quickly
  • Work smarter rather than harder, rely on science instead of guesswork
  • Find out if it is as easy as I say it is
  • Have happier staff who know they can achieve what is expected of them
  • Have customers who recommend you to their peers

I don’t know why you are in business. It could be to get rich, it might be so you can be your own boss, it could be for lifestyle. Whatever it is, we want to help. Why not contact us today on 09 966 8730 or email info@geosmart.co.nz.

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Auckland, channel partner, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, GIS, lbs, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, optmisation, petrol, Retail Profit, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, software, systems integrator, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Route Optimisation for Retail Merchandisers

In the last few blogs I have been writing about route optimisation for retail delivery vehicles, using a furniture shop as an example of how to to achieve significant return on investment. Of course the principles apply to commercial travellers.

Take the example of a retail merchandiser. There are hundreds of people travelling around the country daily visiting supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies, liquor stores and pretty much every type of retail store. A large percentage of these people have a mix of urban and rural stores in their sales territory that they visit on cycles. Some of them are regular cycles that they repeat periodically, others may be more ad hoc.

Typically retail merchandisers change jobs or territories fairly often, which means that they will not be familiar with where their clients are, or what the best order is to visit them in. They are often under a lot of pressure to make as many visits in a day or on a trip as possible.

Route2GO is the perfect tool for these people and their Managers. Just like the retail delivery people in the last blogs, there are many factors that determine Return On Investment.

The first and most obvious one is travel distance and time. The obvious one is to look at a day’s calls, calculating the best order to do the visits in, putting in the start location which could be the office, warehouse or even the person’s home and then the end location. If it is local and just a day trip, it is going to be pretty easy to calculate the order. This will provide travel time and distance. It could also include driving directions.

If it is a longer trip which includes overnight stays, you could look at the entire trip as if it was on one day to optimise the entire trip and then cut it into chunks for each day. One of the things that is often difficult for a traveller is estimating the travel times. Barring traffic accidents, congestion etc, we can provide a very good estimate of travel time. The traffic information itself we also provide by way of the Roadwatch and AA Maps websites. For $1.95 you can also subscribe to real time traffic alerts which you can receive by SMS or email for a 4-day trip at AA Traffic. This would give you some advance warning if there are any real issues. For example over the last couple of months, many highways including State Highway 1 have had road closures due to slips and floods. Being forewarned means that you can plan ahead.

Now that you know the travel time from one retailer to the next, you can start to do some planning. In merchandising their are obviously a variety of types of call. Some are easy to plan because it is simply shelf management and the merchandiser will know which products are ranged and have an idea of how much time a call will take. In some cases they don’t even need to see the manager. By doing a spreadsheet similar to the one in this blog, you can get a pretty good idea of what you can achieve.

Obviously where there is actual selling going on, or even getting orders signed, there can be extra delays, waiting to see the buyer and time on site will vary. This comes down to experience.

As per previous examples, the immediate tangible ROI is that Route2GO can tell you the best order to make the visits in and advise you of time and distance. This can save you tie and money and we invite you to contact us and send us a couple of trips in the order they were done in and we can optimise them and return them to you so you can see the order we would recommend and what the savings would be. There is no cost or obligation to you for this evaluation.

The next obvious benefit is establishing whether, with the time saved, you can either make more calls in a day or maximise the time spent on the calls to find ways to generate more revenue. Perhaps managing shelf facings, recommending new products or doing product knowledge training. We all know that if you don’t manage your shelf facings, they can shrink as your competitors products squeeze them out. Another issue is out of stocks. In today’s economy many retailers manage their inventory on a Just In Time basis. That means that if you do not meet your call cycle, you could have a situation where you are not only missing out of sales, but the out of stock situation could be introducing the retailers’ customers to your competitors alternatives.

Optimising and planning your trips, especially out of the city means that you can also do some advance planning, making appointments with buyers, with a reasonable degree of certainty as to when they can expect you. This is of course a professional way of doing business that will help your customer relationships and give you a competitive advantage. Lets face it, everyone is extra busy these days and the easier you are to do business with, the more likely you are to get an unfair share of the shelf space.

Probably the best part of Route2GO is that it is really easy to use. You don’t need a specialist, just the ability to create a list, with addresses of the customers you intend to visit. There is no up front cost, you pay as you go, which means that it pays for itself from day one. Why not give it a try for your next trip?

October 5, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Delivery, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, petrol, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, Sales, software, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Travelling Salesman Problem

GeoSmart now has a solution available for people wanting to know which order to visit their clients in, so that they can keep time and travel costs to a minimum. This is a form of Route Optimisation known as the Travelling Salesman Problem. GeoSmart also offers complex Route Optimisation under the banner of Route2GO, but that is another story.

With the price of petrol now permanently above NZ$2 a litre and time at a premium, this tool can easily assist people in making the most of their travel.  It could be a delivery truck working out the order of their deliveries and in reverse order how to load the truck. It could be a sales person working out the best way to make their sales calls.

In the illustration you can see that we set the first and last addresses as fixed. In other words we are defining where we start and finish for the day, they don’t have to be the same, the last one could be a motel yo are staying at for the night and the first one might be your home or office. You could just fix the start point and be flexible on the end point and then go to the AA Maps website to decide where to stay for the night and even make the booking before you leave.

In the illustration, the sales person guessed an order in which to do the calls, but the optimised route cut 34km from the route and at the (adjustable) per km rate resulted in savings of $10 on the trip.

This tool doesn’t just have to be used for a set of destinations. It could also be used as a trip/price calculator. For example one of our new clients is putting this tool (slightly modified so that you can’t edit the price per km which only he can do on his site) so that people can get their own quote on a delivery job without having to ring the company.

Many companies pay staff or contractors on the basis of an agreed distance, it could be for commuting, or for visiting clients, patients etc. This tool can calculate the ‘fastest’ route between clients and will deliver a consistent result that can reduce arguments and deliver an equitable result.

There are other standard features to this tool, for example click on any of the letters denoting locations and the map will instantly zoom to that location so you can see it better. The maps are dynamic and do of course have full pan and zoom functionality.

This optimisation is possible because GeoSmart has a full turn restriction database for New Zealand so when it calculates these directions it knows all about one-way streets, dual carriageways, no right turn, no left turn etc. This is in fact the same database used by te leading car navigation brands including TomTom, Navman, Siemens VDO, BMW, Ford, Honda,Horizon and Nav N Go.

If you have a route optimisation problem, please send us an email to info@geosmart .co.nz or follow the directions on our Contact Page.

June 16, 2008 Posted by | car navigation, cartography, Delivery, driving, Freight, gps, maps, new zealand, petrol, Sales | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment