Route Planning For Trucks
Have you ever given much thought as to what goes into over the road truck transport? The men and women who deliver our goods and the dispatchers who help them move loads deserve a lot of praise, and credit. They’re often unseen, and under-appreciated, and few understand how complicated transportation really is.
What goes into the trucking system? How are does route planning for trucks work, and how do drivers cope with the long hours? Let’s find out.
Getting goods from point “A” to point “B” involves careful planning, collaboration, and communication. It involves an ability to meet deadlines, stay safe, and coordinate across multiple platforms. It begins with ships that carry goods into ports, or trailers full of domestically grown foods.
Drivers pick up trailers from ports, farms, or factories, and have a set route that they’re to navigate. These routes are mapped out for them by a team of dispatchers who coordinate with teams at warehouses and stores to make sure the goods arrive on time, and to communicate any delays and issues with those receiving locations. Trucking route planners at dispatch check to see which drivers are closest to loads which need to be hauled, and assign routes based on need, distance, and availability.
Dispatchers are also responsible for giving truckers new loads to haul, after a job is done. A trucker has to wait on dispatch to assign a new load, and waiting periods for such a load can be hours, days, or even weeks, depending on the situation. Truck route planners have the tough job of keeping truckers on the road and working, while making efficient choices for warehouses.
Truckers also have to plan their routes once on the road carefully, and consider factors like weather, traffic, and how many hours they can legally be on the road. In many countries, it is illegal for truckers to be on the road, driving, for more than a certain number of hours per day. Truckers have to make sure that they’re not over their time limits, and are rested enough to drive safely. Today, truckers often use a GPS to figure out the fastest route, and see ahead for hazards like traffic or road closures. There’s a lot to be said for an old-fashioned road map, though, and the skill of reading a map is a valuable one for anyone on the road.
Communication is key here. Delays have to be communicated back to dispatch, and to the waiting warehouses. Drivers are under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines, and must also drive carefully, avoid speeding, and get enough sleep. It’s a pretty exhausting job, to say nothing of the responsibility of hauling thousands of dollars worth of goods, and the skill involved in operating such a huge machine.
Truckers may be regional or over-the-road drivers. Regional drivers tend to stay within a three or four state radius, whereas over-the-road truckers can be anywhere in the country, at any time. Regional drivers prefer the time they get to spend closer to loved ones, whereas over-the-road truckers often get to see parts of the country and natural sights they’d never get exposure to otherwise.
Drivers who have to operate in blizzards or rain storms have to weigh the costs vs. benefits of continuing to drive in difficult weather. They’re under pressure to deliver, yet it may be more worthwhile to wait it out in a bad storm, rather than risk getting caught in a pile up, or risk skidding on ice.
No matter if a driver’s local or national, you can be sure that they’re working hard, planning their routes for maximum efficiency and safety, and doing their best to delivery quickly, but safely. It’s a tough job, but we’re grateful that they’re on task.