Logistics

On-demand distribution is an industry that is growing at a very high speed. New companies appear every day, especially in the market of
Logistics
Intelligent Dispatch for On-Demand Distribution

The distribution on demand is an industry that is growing at a very high speed. New companies appear every day, especially in the market for food, beverages and deliveries of perishable products. And the competition is wild. Efficiency is a key metric in the “I want it all and I want it now” era and the most critical part is what happens from when a new order is placed until it is delivered.

Today I want to focus on the problem of sending new orders, that is, how to decide which courier service the order should be assigned to when an order enters the system. This is because the dispatch today is not addressed systematically. Optimizing the dispatch system can minimize delivery time and improve customer satisfaction.

The operating paradigm of companies that deliver on demand can be divided into two different types:

  1. Operations based on a single warehouse are those operations focused on a single tank. This warehouse has several dealers and the programming is done once to obtain an order list; usually grouping orders by area. Amazon Prime is a good example of this paradigm.
  2. Operations based on multiple warehouses are those operations that rely on choosing the order in one of the multiple warehouses and delivering it to a customer. In this case, the delivery people are scattered around the city, and once a new order arrives, it is assigned through a shipping process to one of the multiple delivery people. Companies such as Uber, Just Eat, Delivero, etc. operate this way.

The problem of dispatching is solved more or less satisfactorily in the first scenario thanks to the possibility of linking together a list of deliveries and considering it as a Traveling Seller Problem (Traveling Salesman Problem) with some pre-clustering restrictions (OK, I know that TSP is an expensive problem, but... come on, it's about Amazon).

On the contrary, in the second scenario, it is not so clear that the problem is being optimally addressed. How can a new incoming order be added to a running scenario? There are tons of variables to consider:

  • Can the courier make multiple collections before starting to deliver?
  • Can an already assigned order be reassigned to another courier service?
  • Do all orders have the same priority? (for example, all orders must be delivered no later than 30 minutes after placing them)
    Do orders need to be delivered by a particular vehicle?
  • ...
OnDemandDispatch03
Photo by Roman Mager/Unsplash

Modeling this scenario can be quite challenging, and that's why SmartMonkey has been working on this problem for a while. We call our solution Online Programming Optimization Model (OSOM) (Yes, branding isn't one of our strengths 😅, but phonetically it sounds like “incredible” and that's pretty fun). OSOM can model business restrictions and find a feasible solution to the dispatching problem.

In the simulation below, we have modeled a world where:

  • A courier service can be assigned multiple pickups and deliveries at the same time
  • and the first next service of each messaging service is fixed and cannot be reassigned in subsequent iterations.

The visualization contains twenty iterations of the world divided into two steps:

1. New incoming services are marked in gray.

2. Services are dynamically assigned to deliverers to optimize overall delivery time.

OnDemandDispatch04
Intelligent Dispatch for On-Demand Distribution
True story of how Highway de Routal helped distribute drugs to people confined in Canada.
Health
Coronavirus, helping those who need it most

I want to share a personal experience that matters. Smartmonkey.io is headquartered in Barcelona, the second region with the most Coronavirus infections in Spain. The second worst country in the world that is dealing with this virus.

Hospitals in our area are about to be overwhelmed by the demand for ICU patients. According to friends who work in hospitals, the capacity of ICU beds in the region of Catalonia is about 800 beds, of which 600 are currently occupied. But we are still a long way from the top. Studies suggest that it will be at the end of April . Even so, 4 long weeks with the exponential growth of infections and expected deaths. Tragedy is the smallest word we could find to define this situation.

ahmed

But it's not all darkness and death. A few days ago, a guy from Canada was starting to use Highway, our route optimizer. Use was normal for new customers, Testing the examples , taking their first small steps in a very powerful tool, but at the same time easy to put into operation.

We always like it talk to our new users . Not only is it very useful to know more about them, but being able to provide the best possible customer service is priceless. Sometimes you find incredible projects behind @gmail .com accounts like Ahmed Sagarwala's father-in-law in Canada.

Canadá

It is helping not only the poor, but also people who have decided to isolate themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. Delivering medicines to these people is not just worrying about them, but doing everything they can for society. We are very proud that yesterday 16 people received help thanks to Ahmed's father-in-law and Highway. He told us that next week it will increase to 50 or more. We'll be here helping them.

If you read this and know someone, we could help. Spread the word. We know how difficult it can be, #quédateEnCasa and support Ahmed and others around the world.

Xavi Ruiz, CEO of Routal

Coronavirus, helping those who need it most
See how we're fighting coronavirus using Routal artificial intelligence technology and route optimization. It's a logistical battle and we're going to win it.
Health
Fighting against COVID-19 isn't just public health, it's logistical warfare

We are at war. Wars tend to happen far from home. But now, all of humanity is fighting (or will fight very soon) from their own homes. Follow public health guidelines such as #quedateencasa it will make us win. There are not enough hospital beds to process the demand generated by the Coronavirus. No country is prepared for such an increase in demand for critical patients. Then doctors have to choose who lives and who dies. If you don't want to play Russian roulette, my advice is to stay home. You'll reduce your chances of playing a very dangerous game these days.

Why isn't this just a health issue?

This thread is causing people to change their normal patterns. In many countries, fear causes irrational decisions to be made. We've seen people buying toilet paper for the rest of their lives. Fear causes people to act in ways we couldn't imagine. Fear saved us for the last few million years from being eaten by a lion. Fear will save us (Spanish).

que mecanismo psicológico subyace a la compra exagerada de papel
Photo: CordonPress

The good thing about this crisis is that people are realizing the importance of the supply chain in their lives. Without trucks there is no toilet paper. That can't happen, period. But in a period of time when demand increases, normal ways of doing logistics tend not to meet the necessary demand.

These moments require help, which requires tools that make warehouse life easier, more reliable and able to adapt to unforeseen events that will surely happen again. The real question is when this will happen again. We just have to start getting used to it.

It's all a logistical problem.

It's not just supermarket logistics that are important. But healthcare logistics are key to maintaining human life expectancy. We're talking about compliance with basic materials, from whey to pills to laundry. Hospitals are complex production lines where people come in sick and come out cured.

A few weeks ago I was talking to one of the innovation managers of the ICS (Institut Català de la Salud — Catalan Institute of Health) on the future of hospitals. He told me that hospitals as we understand them today are going to change a lot. There is a huge tendency in the healthcare field to move patients from large and expensive hospitals, where they tend to stay for longer periods, to their homes as quickly as possible. Not only because it's cheaper for public health (40% savings) but because studies show that Staying home improves people's recovery

These benefits create a new logistical challenge. Make your healthcare team mobile. The main difference between a delivery company and Hospitality at Home is the cost of employees. The cost of a driver is relatively cheap, but a medical team comprised of a doctor, a nurse, and medical supplies is not comparable. Thus, every minute you can save them, in their trips, planning... is a minute in which you can treat more patients. Productivity isn't going to be like having them at the hospital door next to the door, but as much as we can optimize their routes, the less they're going to waste travel.

But how does Routal fight against COVID-19?

Like any good story, we have the bad guy: the coronavirus. The good ones: medical equipment. The problem is that the bad guy is winning the battle. The secret weapon: Routal . If you don't know us, we help companies with last-mile logistics processes optimize their routes while learning how their operations behave to improve operations the next day. Our goal is to make your last-mile operations as efficient and realistic as possible to make appropriate decisions. We have a mantra:

Machines solve problems, humans make decisions

Captura de imagen de carretera
Carretera

The Hospital at Home teams from Hospital Sant Joan de Déu they are fighting this villain. Our technology allows them to focus on what's important: treating their patients in the best possible way while protecting others from infection by staying at home. We take care of your planning, making it as efficient as possible in seconds.

We're simply going to win this war.

If we stay at home

Winning a war has never been easier

Do you want to know more? Request a demo in our chat and we'll show you how to improve your operations by up to 30%

Get a demo and start beating COVID-19

Fighting against COVID-19 isn't just public health, it's logistical warfare
Open innovation is becoming an established trend among all corporations. If you're a corporation and don't have an open innovation contest, this means you're missing out on the next wave of changes that could cause your current business to die sooner than expected.
Digitalization
SmartMonkey among the top 10 innovators in logistics: Volkswagen chooses

Open innovation is becoming an established trend among all corporations. If you're a corporation and don't have an open innovation contest, this means you're missing out on the next wave of changes that could cause your current business to die sooner than expected.

Volkswagen understood that and recognized that finding the best innovations that benefit its business will probably have to come from outside the company, which is why it launched its open innovation competition in which +400 startups were present and from which we were selected to be among the top 10 innovators in logistics.

innovación 02

Top 10 logistics innovators of 2019

The selection process was challenging: We had to go through different departments of the Volkswagen logistics group in addition to their factories, talking to their employees, trying to understand their needs and complaints and adapt them to our technology. In the end, they selected the 10 best companies that will directly impact their logistics operations and on May 14, SmartMonkey will be at the IPM logistics innovation event with the rest of the winners. This represents an honor for us and we would like to thank Volkswagen for this great opportunity.

But for now, the question I want to discuss is:
“Do all corporations need an open innovation contest?”

From my point of view, I would say no. Most companies are not yet ready for this disruptive field, not even their top managers! Because to be involved in innovation, you must first believe in its essence, from top to bottom; from the CEO to the lowest level of responsibility. This means that everyone must be willing to allocate a budget, efforts and resources and especially to receive the FAIL with open hands because innovation will inevitably cause people to fail, if that's not the case then maybe you're not innovating.

Failure is part of the game. Talk to Edison and his 999 ways not to make a light bulb. If top management is a firm believer in innovation, then innovation must be part of the company's culture. Once achieved, people will give more of their time and themselves to bring their best ideas to the company, even if there is a risk of failure. From the bottom up, innovation comes when employees believe in that culture.

There are a lot of examples that illustrate this, but there is only one that struck me personally: In Aigües de Barcelona; In the water service company that is part of the Suez group, there was that man who spent several weekends of his free time working at home, designing a tool to open sewers so that he wouldn't get hurt by repetition. He was one of their foremen, so he served as a role model for the rest of the employees to begin to innovate and provide new ideas that would improve their lives. The company believed in him, in his ambition and in his idea, and even dedicated resources to developing it, testing it and putting it into practice to encourage others to start taking initiatives as well.

Companies where failure is not accepted, in which people simply do what they are supposed to do, in which no one is taking risks, are in danger: their jobs are at risk, not because they are going to be fired, but because the market is not waiting for anyone. It's a matter of time and changing the inertia of companies over several years is no easy task.

SmartMonkey has been in numerous corporate open innovation competitions of different types: Aigües de Barcelona, Heineken, Cofares, Volkswagen, to name just a few and what I can tell you from my own experience, this is one of the ways to start working with open innovation. Innovation: While investors are looking for the unicorn, trying to fill their transaction flow, companies have the same difficult task; it takes time and it's very difficult to see potential matches between corporations and startups, but someone must do it. So my personal advice for senior management will be to assign one of the most experienced people in the company; someone with the big picture in mind, someone who knows the internal processes perfectly or at least has experience in several departments, to be responsible for the fit between the company and the startups. You need to be a leader, be reliable and be on good terms with other employees because you will ask for help, ask for favors or have to cut through internal bureaucracy. Give that person support and innovation will appear.

Last but not least, my last tip is for startups: if you don't know people from operations but only see people from marketing or communication departments, RUN (unless your products and services solve marketing problems). Sure, they'll convince you because of the amount of possibilities you have, but trust me, this is just to illustrate, they don't plan to do any business behind those meetings, they just do it because they should. I call that “The entrepreneurial show business” — “The entrepreneurial show”. So, believe me, don't waste time and run.

SmartMonkey among the top 10 innovators in logistics: Volkswagen chooses
Hello, I'm Xavi Ruiz, CEO of Routal. Last week I was talking to Muthu from Geoawesomeness about what we do at Routal.
Digitalization
Common Geocoding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Reduce costs and maintain quality of service with AI-based geo-coding

mapas de calor geográficos geo
SmarMonkey allows you to track the performance of your field operations

Hello, I'm Xavi Ruiz, CEO of Routal . Last week I was talking to Muthu about Geoawesomeness About what we do in Routal. During this conversation, I commented that non-geographic specialists have problems due to their lack of knowledge about geographic coding systems. They think it's no longer a problem, so when you talk to them about the quality of their master data they say: “Let's go! We have Google Maps, right?” It's a normal reaction!

mapas geográficos
Don't rely 100% on Google Maps for geo-coding

The magic wand of geocoding

Google has a good reputation as a technology giant and works well in urban settings. But if we ask them “Have you ever gotten lost using Google Maps?” triggers bad experiences in their minds. I'm a big user of Google Maps and I can identify with that.

The main question that comes up is why do Google Maps users trust their geocoding so much?

Geocode , for non-experts, means providing the geographical coordinates corresponding to a location.

They trust Google Maps for their expertise. They don't understand how it works and for them it's magic: they enter an address and Google magically puts a pin on a map. The magic feels perfect!

But the bad news is that Google Maps is far from perfect.

A study by the University of Pittsburgh (2009) on market quality concludes that geocoders do not offer sufficient quality. In short, 60% of the data is accurate enough (< 200 m), 20% has enough error, which is useful for a route optimizer, and the rest is not even a result (manual geocoding is still necessary) .* (See reference at the end of the post)

estadísticas geográficas
Results of the study* conducted by the University of Pittsburgh (2009) on the quality of geocoders (page 1090 in vol.24, No.7). See link below

Achieving 60-70% correction is far from magical or perfect.

Logistic operations cannot be based on results with an error close to 30% in geolocated locations.

When geocoding meets reality

Why isn't Google working? magically ? There are several reasons:

  • The main reason is the lack of information in the field compared to urban areas.
  • Another reason is that names change. The administration changes the name of streets, squares and avenues over time. Information must be up to date. And the system should keep in mind that users can still search for old names when they think of a place. Sometimes places have cozy names that are familiar to the townspeople. But these places don't exist for Google Maps.
  • Multilingual regions they have different translations and multiple combinations for the same place.

Living in the Non-Existent Star

I have a personal story to tell as an example of this problem with Google Maps.

My wife lived in a town near Girona called Olot. This region is famous for its political majority towards Catalan nationalism. My wife lived in a square officially called “Plaça Espanya”. To avoid this name, the inhabitants of Olot refer to it with the cozy name of “Plaça Estrella”. There's no need to ask why.

geo placa estrella gmaps
Estrella Square. Satellite image. Google Maps copyright

Now you can imagine the enormous problems that DHL or UPS workers had to deliver to this square!

Trust in human knowledge

How are people currently solving this problem? Obviously making mistakes and learning from them. It's that simple because none of us were born with full knowledge. Knowledge about places is acquired and shared between people. Human knowledge fills information gaps.

Since people make mistakes, 100% quality service cannot be achieved with this method.

Loss of information

Not only do workers make mistakes, besides, they aren't always available. The efficiency of operations is highly dependent on experienced people. This shared knowledge is one of the most valuable assets of a logistics company. They realize the value of their workers when they have to replace them. It is impossible to replace knowledge and at the same time maintain a consistent level of service quality.

This is a huge risk for companies that are not aware of this problem.

Artificial intelligence to the rescue

Artificial Intelligence is able to learn from operations as humans do. It learns automatically, without errors, and AI is always available. Routal helps companies in their logistics operations and reduces their costs by up to 30%.

Case Study: Suez

Suez is the world's largest utility company. As a water supplier, they have hundreds of thousands of places they visit periodically: water meters, valves and others.

geo SUEZ 1
Geolocated water meters, valves and others. Copyright 2019 SmartMonkey

Case Study: Suez

In some remote areas, there is only one person responsible for all of the company's operations. A single person has the knowledge of geolocation. Finding these water meters and valves is a real challenge. Google Maps won't be of any help.

Suez faced the problem when it was necessary to replace a worker. Routal demonstrated that AI helps maintain service quality and reduce risk, time and money.

How did we do that? Routal processed the GPS route of Suez logistics and combined it with commercial data (water meter readings) to automatically geolocate the places to visit. The result was:

  • More than 99% of the locations were geolocated with a maximum distance accuracy of 25m.
  • 60% with a maximum distance accuracy of 2m

The automatic capture of knowledge makes information more reliable and provides clear information about the operation.

Routal helps companies overcome challenges when it comes to geolocating and optimizing routes.

Visit our website to learn more about our solutions.

Stay tuned for our next article on human behaviors!

* * * Reference * * *
Roongpiboonsopit, D. and Karimi, HA , 2009. Evaluation and comparative analysis of online geocoding services. International Journal of Geographic Information Sciences , 24 (7), pp. 1081-1100. Source: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13658810903289478

Common Geocoding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
On-demand delivery is an industry that is growing at a very high speed. New companies appear every day, especially in the food and beverage market and the delivery of fresh products. And the competition is wild. Efficiency is a key metric in the “I want it all and I want it now” era and the most critical part is what happens from when a new order is placed until it is delivered.
Digitalization
Smart shipping for on demand deliveries

On-demand delivery is an industry that is growing at a very high speed. New companies appear every day, especially in the food and beverage market and the delivery of fresh products. And the competition is wild. Efficiency is a key metric in the “I want it all and I want it now” era and the most critical part is what happens from when a new order is placed until it is delivered.

Today I want to focus on the problem of sending new orders, that is, how to decide which courier the order should be assigned to when an order enters the system. This is because today shipping is not addressed in a systematic way. Optimizing the dispatch system can minimize delivery time and improve customer satisfaction.

The operating paradigm of companies that deliver on demand can be divided into two different types:

  1. Deliveries based on a single deposit are those operations focused on a warehouse. This warehouse has several messengers and the programming is done once for an order list; normally grouping orders by zones. Amazon Prime is a good example of this operating paradigm.
  2. Deliveries based on multiple deposits are those operations that depend on picking up the order in one of the multiple warehouses and delivering it to a customer. In this case, the messengers are scattered around the city and, once a new order arrives, it is assigned through a dispatch process to one of the multiple messengers. Companies such as Uber, Just Eat, Delivero , etc. operate this way.

The problem of the office is solved with greater or lesser success in the first scenario, due to the possibility of linking together a list of deliveries and treating it as a Common traveler problem with some restrictions prior to bundling ( OK, I know that TSP is a really expensive problem, but... come on, it's Amazon ).

On the contrary, in the second scenario it is not so clear that the problem is being optimally addressed. How can a new incoming order be added to a running scenario? There are tons of variables to consider:

  • Can the courier make several collections before starting to deliver?
  • Can an already assigned order be reassigned to another courier?
  • Do all orders have the same priority? ( for example, all orders must be delivered no later than 30 minutes after placing )
  • Do orders need to be delivered by a particular vehicle?
  • ...
Envío bajo demanda03
Photo by Roman Mager/Unsplash

Modeling this scenario can be quite a challenge and that's why SmartMonkey you have been working on this problem for a while. We call our solution Online Programming Optimization Model (OSOM) (Yes, branding isn't one of our strengths 😅, but phonetically it sounds like “incredible” and that's pretty fun). OSOM can model business limitations and find a viable solution to the dispatch problem.

In the simulation below, we have modeled a world where:

  • A courier can be assigned several pickups and deliveries at once.
  • and the first next service in each message is fixed and cannot be reassigned in subsequent iterations.

The visualization contains twenty iterations of the world divided into Two steps :

1. New incoming services are marked in gray.

2. Services are dynamically assigned to messengers to optimize total delivery time.

Envío bajo demanda04

Smart shipping for on demand deliveries