Route optimization for field service personnel

Sean Carroll, Business Development – Utilities, discusses the shift in the utility industry and how we adapted to become a leading solver of complex routing problems.

There’s a reason why big city residents would rather commute in crammed monorails and subway trains instead of navigating through road traffic, forgoing the comfort of a personal vehicle. Since the travel time remains a virtual constant, office executives are able to plan their days with efficiency and are seldom late for meetings or appointments.

The mounting road traffic density has also given birth to the use of drone-aided doorstep drops by several American and Chinese food delivery and e-commerce websites. With this need to minimize driving or walking time spilling over to many such industries, organizations in the delivery sphere are actively looking for solutions to improve efficiency. RouteSmart Technologies, a route optimization software technology firm based in Columbia, MD, is driven by the mathematical goal to minimize non-productive travel time, by

designing a specific plan to maximize the productivity of field service personnel. As a result, its clients are traveling fewer miles and spending lesser time, and are hence enjoying increased productivity with balanced workloads. In particular, the organization solves complex routing problems for various clients in the delivery services industry; it specializes in high-density, mode-specific — walking or driving — optimization solutions for the utilities landscape. Traditionally, its role in the utilities market was routing clients to a metering device for capturing consumption data. However, the influx of heavy-duty technology has significantly altered both the requirement and the marketplace.

The industry underwent a sea change with the advent of the Advanced Metering System (AMI) which removed the need for utilities to visit a meter physically and capture consumption data. “More utilities are coming to us and are admitting that their historical ritual of visiting a meter to capture consumption data has gone away. We’re helping them not to capture data, but to create routes to fulfill compliances, and thereby conduct all the inspections within a certain timeframe,” explains Sean Carroll, Business Development, Utilities, RouteSmart Technologies.

To its clients, varying from newspaper distributors, waste management service providers, utilities, and parcel companies, RouteSmart Technologies provides three options. 1) A one-time offering in which the organization performs a re-routing project from start to finish, 2) A longterm relationship which involves the client purchasing RouteSmart software to maintain its own optimization system, and 3) A complete solution in which the organization provides onsite training to clients and consequently takes them through methods to exploit the software.

Carroll narrates the experience of working with one such client, a large natural gas utility based in the state of California that requires utilities to visit every meter physically once in three years. Historically, this utility created its own in-house meterreading software solution. Post AMI, their in-house solution became obsolete, and they had to seek another way to figure out how best to conduct six million inspections. “We stepped in with our software, and they are now able to conduct all those inspections while following state compliances,” says Carroll.

In its pursuit of reducing transportation time and distance for clients, RouteSmart Technologies has aligned itself with one of the top global brands in the street data vertical. By incorporating the new data, which includes historical travel speeds at certain times of the day, into its algorithms, RouteSmart is able to provide an increasingly accurate solution to clients.

Based on the industry landscape, RouteSmart Technologies is expecting a stellar 2019. “We are becoming fairly well known in the utility space. If someone has a complex routing problem, they pick up the phone and call us. It has taken us many years to get to this point, and we feel our reputation has been established in the market,” concludes Carroll.

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