Businesses today have become very competitive. Customers in the modern world have become more and more enlightened on the quality of services they expect to be offered by various business organizations. Business organizations should therefore create better mechanisms of tackling technical challenges experienced when doing business. This study will assess the effectiveness of a vehicle routing decision support system. The vehicles that ferry customer deliveries must be managed efficiently. Customers’ orders must be delivered on time. Vehicle routing decision support systems provide effective means of managing vehicle routing problems. A vehicle routing decision support system software manages vehicle routing systems and thus helps to determine which routes are ideal for a certain fleet of vehicles. This is done in order to serve the customers of the given company better. A vehicle routing decision support system uses spatial techniques such as the use of geographical information systems (GIS) and suitable algorithms (Kay, 45). A look at the evolution of vehicle routing decision support system, architecture of vehicle routing decision support system and the features of a vehicle routing decision support system highlights key issues to be analyzed about a vehicle routing decision support system. A spatial decision support system is the core aspect of this analysis.SDSS is used as the system that informs routing solutions and decisions. The effectiveness of the said system has to be measured against the results. The focus in measuring the results of the spatial decision system lies in identifying how it has successfully been implemented.SDSS addresses issues related to transport. Specific attention is given to the manner in which the application of SDSS has eased the delivery of various quantities to customers. SDSS employs the use of a method called Backtracking Adapting Threshold Accepting (BATA).SDSS works to ensure that costs incurred by a fleet of vehicles is minimized and that customers’ needs are also effectively met.
Evolution of the vehicle routing decision support system
In the mid 1960s, vehicle routing was done manually. Companies relied on the use of paper maps to establish vehicle routes. Various constraints were encountered due to the inefficiency of the manual systems. During the 1970s, experienced route decision makers were employed to make decisions on possible routes which were less costly and had minimal constraints. By 1980s, the vehicle routing systems had incorporated decision support systems. They included database management systems to manage customer data and customers’ orders. They also included geographical information systems which helped to analyze cartographic data, display and store it.
Architecture of vehicle routing decision support system
Today’s vehicle routing decision support system is built on a distributed component software platform. This means that the programming code used in the software can be reused over and over again. Program code reuse facilitates enhancement and modification of the system. The program codes are generated using object oriented programming concepts. This makes it possible for the vehicle routing decision support system software to be tailored according to different client’s requirements. The system can be subdivided in to several subsystems during its developmental stage and each subsystem can be developed separately from one another. Later on, the subsystems are integrated together into one system. The vehicle routing decision support system includes the following features;
- Geographical information systems:
- Database management systems.
- Network analysis tools.
- The user interface.
Features of a vehicle routing decision support system
One of the characteristics of a vehicle routing decision support system is its ability to perform route modification scenarios. Existing routes may require to be changed. This involves adding new customers to the route or eliminating some of the customers.
The vehicle routing system for the greater Athens proved capable of establishing the optimal route in the Athens Road Network. The system is ideal for public transport companies, courier service companies and newspaper printing industries. To come up with an ideal route scenario, several parameters should be fed into the system. They include the carrying capacity of the vehicles to be used, the number of customers to receive the services, the demands for each customer and the traffic speed stipulated for the given route. Most urban roads in Athens have a traffic speed of 23kmh and rural roads have 35kph (Rondanini, 12). The information provided is then used to provide a graphical representation of the possible route plan. A tabular representation is then generated that will answer the following questions;
- Which customers are in that route?
- Which vehicles can be used to serve the customers in that route?
- Which customers’ orders will be delivered?
- What duration will it take to cover the entire route?
- Is the vehicle carrying capacity well utilized?
The systems proved to generate routing information fast. This makes it possible to improve on customer service. Strategic planning for different route scenarios is very possible without relying on individual skills. The overall costs are drastically reduced.
Review of the vehicle routing decision support system
A similar system to that of Greater Athens Vehicle routing system was tried by the Ministry of Education of Qatar. The ministry had experienced constraints in the management of school buses. It had difficulties in identifying the most optimal routes to pick and drop students. The problem had to be solved fast to avert serious consequences brought by transportation problems like missing of classes by students. It was difficult to identify how many students were available in each route and which vehicles were ideal to use in the given route to ensure their capacities were well utilized. Quite often, students arrived late for class. This led to the development of the Al Hady Vehicle Routing Decision Support System. The system incorporated the use of ArchView Software; Visual basic programming was used to help in the design and development of the user interface. The system was tested in two schools, Khalid Bin Al Model School and Rayyan Aj Jaddid Boys Elementary School. The system proved to handle many differed route scenarios. The user interface was friendly. The system proved effective is solving the vehicle routing problems (Berger, 35). The system managed and coordinated each and every activity that related to vehicle routing. The system propagated for an effective strategic planning in vehicle route management. The main benefit of the system was that it managed to cut down the overall transportation costs. The system was recommended for use in other schools.
If Vehicle routing decision support system is employed in any organization and well implemented, there is a likelihood that the organization will improve on its profitability. By establishing the best routes, the organization will save so much in terms of fuel consumption and vehicle maintenance. Customers will be happy due to timely deliveries. Overload will be avoided therefore minimizing on road accidents.
Berger, Michael. The automobile in American history and culture: a reference guide, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.Print.
Kay, Holtz. Asphalt nation: how the automobile took over America, and how we can take it back, New York, USA: Crown Publishers, 1997.Print.
Rondanini, Nunzia. Architecture and Social Change heresies ii, vol. 3, no. 3, New York USA: Neresies Collective Inc., 1981.Print.