Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) permeate the transport and logistics industry. It’s natural, these commercial trucks can carry as much cargo as multiple lighter vehicles at once, all while requiring only a single driver. In this respect, HGVs can be immediately seen to represent a more efficient and cost-effective way of carrying out deliveries en masse. In today’s context of driver shortages, rising fuel prices, and supply chain issues, corresponding optimisation is evidently crucial. Not to mention, customer & client satisfaction has always remained paramount in the world of business, of which the former guarantees.

However, despite the fact that using HGVs entails some distinct advantages, there remain certain possible problems that have to be prospectively addressed if you’re to get the most out of a HGV fleet. Saliently, the primary responsibilities fall onto the fleet manager here. In particular, their role in planning the most productive vehicle routes. But fleet managers are only as good as the tools that they are equipped with. And so, it’s for this reason that we’ve put together this piece which covers everything you need to know about a HGV route planner. Namely, why it is an essential part of efficacious HGV fleet management.

What is HGV Route Planning?

To firstly define route planning in the most basic sense, it is the process of discerning the most economical journey to be taken for a vehicle before it is dispatched. Route planning involves mapping out a variety of destinations and then sequencing them in such a way that saves time & money. Hence, route planning can also either be referred to as ‘route mapping’ or ‘route sequencing’.

Although, on the surface, the principle of route planning is simple to understand, the reality of it for HGVs is a different matter. HGVs stand entirely apart from conventional on-road vehicles such as cars and vans etc. Followingly, they bring with them individual considerations that fleet managers need to fully take into account when planning journeys for those who are driving them. In essence, the larger the vehicle, the trickier it is for fleet managers to ensure an optimised delivery standard. Consequently, HGV route planning isn’t just a case of inputting destinations into a sat nav, it implies keen judgement, real-time tracking, active supervision, and more.

Why is HGV Route Planning Important?

HGV route planning is important because, as we briefly glossed over, there are an array of factors on the road which can act as detrimental barriers to optimal productivity. The fundamentally related point being that, given their size, HGVs are expensive to both operate and maintain. Ultimately meaning, any circumstances which lead to excessive idling, detouring, or instances of wear and tear essentially equates to financial losses in the short and long term.

Of course, there are those universally inconvenient on-road variables that often keep people from being where they need to be, such as adverse weather conditions and traffic jams. But the severity of these occurrences is increased regarding HGVs because not only is a relatively larger degree of fuel being wasted, so too is a business’s profitability being exponentially risked.

Moreover, there exist discrete elements that influence HGVs’ functionality like tunnels and narrow roads which have restricted usage to smaller vehicles, bridges that have weight limitations, and the fact that legislation dictates drivers’ working hours for health and safety purposes. Attempting to balance all of these significant concerns in order to provide satisfactory service is challenging, to say the least, and fleet managers bear the burden. As such, streamlined HGV route planning should be categorised as more of a necessity than anything.

The Benefits of HGV Route Planning

So, how exactly does HGV route planning benefit fleets? Well, there is a comprehensive range of aspects which comprise enhanced efficiency & productivity, these include:

Lowered overall expenses

The most direct way in which HGV route planning reduces a fleet’s costs is through more expeditious journeys, i.e., less mileage & idling = lowered fuel consumption. Yet, further still, smoother routes also impress less wear & tear on vehicles, and this therefore lowers the amount of maintenance work needed over time. Likewise, your drivers will be less likely to run into costly toll charges frequently if they stick to a designated course, as opposed to taking detours.

Increased health & safety

Prioritising your drivers’ health & safety is crucial from every point of view. However, particularly so if a HGV fleet’s practices are to comply with on-road regulations. Deviating from standardised laws can have very severe consequences. This is for good reason, considering that a great deal of incidents on the road are due to sleep deprivation. HGV route planning enables you to detect optimal margins for when drivers should ideally take a break from the wheel. Additionally, conscientious route planning will negate the possibility of collisions on narrow roads and with low tunnels/bridges.

Lessened environmental impact

The current climate crisis grows in urgency by the day, and HGV fleets are in a position of great influence. By reducing their CO2 emissions, HGV drivers can exert a substantial positive impact on the environment. By outlining more sustainable routes through definitive planning, this will manifest as a considerable lessening of a fleet’s carbon footprint, something from which we all benefit. Indeed, it’s likely that the longevity of businesses and fleets will be strongly determined by their sustainability efforts in the near future.

Improved customer satisfaction

It's easy to see how HGV route planning benefits a business’s customers and clients. If deliveries are reliably made on-time and without delay, then this asserts a reputation of professionalism. In turn, guaranteeing that they’ll keep coming back to you for quality service. One integral part to such quality delivery service is indicated by consistently accurate ETAs, these are especially appreciated in today’s age of online consumerism and can only be provided if there are precise route plans in place.

HGV Route Planner Solutions

Clearly, the above benefits of HGV route planning leave little to be desired on paper. Albeit, the reality of achieving them can prove to be far different than may be initially anticipated and, again, the duty is one that is allocated to fleet managers.

At its core, effective fleet management relies on properly utilising purpose-built tools. HGV route planning is no exception to this. Inherently, if fleet managers are to meet the formidable demands that they are tasked with addressing, then they must be afforded the support & technology that is accordingly required. HGV route planner software symbolises a solution to planning optimised routes for HGVs. Foremostly, it is designed to incorporate preventative measures for all of the potential causes of risk and delay we’ve spoken of. This can be seen in that it accounts for driver progress & how long they’ve been driving for, traffic & weather warnings in real-time, congestion signals, maintenance alerts, and more.

Here at MICHELIN Connected Fleet, we have a dedicated vision to increase the productivity and safety of HGV fleets, all while reducing their operating costs so that we can make the industry more sustainable overall. If you’re interested in joining our cause, then be sure to make an enquiry into what we can do for you today. Thank you for taking the time to read this article, we hope that it has thoroughly explained everything you need to know about HGV route planners and why you need expertly-designed software to get the most out of effective route planning. For further material, feel free to browse our resources center.