How Route Optimisation Can Complement Transport Management Software

Often like a game of chess, planning road haulage routes takes strategy and skill. Growing customer expectations and demands have pushed many operators to look at intuitive ways to improve delivery efficiency and streamline operations. This has led many down the path of route optimisation tools. While these technologies do offer some benefits for select businesses, it is crucial to acknowledge and address the potential drawbacks associated with its implementation and functionality for some variations of haulage operations.

Here, we will explore some of the challenges that certain businesses may encounter if choosing to utilise route optimisation software. We will also explore where a transport management system (TMS) and route optimisations could work together to be more suitable for transport planners with certain work types.

What is Route Optimisation?

Route optimisation is a method of autonomous transport planning, where fully automated routing software uses postcodes to plot the quickest route for vehicles. Usually, this is used by couriers with a fleet of vans or operates with multi-drop-styled work. Often businesses that don’t have a full-time transport planner or dedicated transport team in place would use this kind of platform.

What is Transport Management Software?

A transport management system (TMS) is a semi-autonomous traffic planning system, used to help transport managers and planners organise and co-ordinate daily transport jobs. Unlike route optimisation tools, a TMS is dependent on human management, and the planner’s industry expertise and route knowledge to assist with allocating and planning efficient haulage work.

Where Route Optimisation Works Well

Route optimisation is most effective in scenarios involving multi-drop operations with vast amounts of delivery points, and deliveries to densely populated areas with complex road networks. In these situations, the potential for significant time and cost savings is greater. Courier operators, or Amazon-style transport businesses would benefit most from this software, as often routing for hundreds of drops per job can be overwhelming and inefficient. Non-transport businesses that don’t prioritise their transport department and don’t employ transport planners would also probably find more success with route optimisation, as the software will be responsible for the duties of a transport planner.

Where a TMS Might Work Better Alone

On the flip side, route optimisation may be less effective in rural areas with limited road options and regions with frequent road closures or severe traffic fluctuations. These unpredictable factors can hinder accurate route planning, and this is where the value of human intervention and monitoring by fully trained, industry-knowledgeable planners really pays off, and this is done through an industry-standard TMS. On top of this, if the transport business works in various specific sectors, some optimisation tools might not recognise this variation of work, creating further complications.

If haulage operations are looking to utilise another aspect of logistics management such as proof of delivery (POD), tracking & telematics, vehicle checks or warehouse management systems, a dedicated transport management solution might be more suited, as all these modules can work in unison, helping to make the user’s job a lot easier to handle.

Where a TMS and Route Optimisation Complement Each Other

There are instances where TMS providers can link with route optimisation tools, to align their haulage work with route optimisation. Businesses with larger job volumes that operate within a multi-drop style of work, but still require a planner’s industry knowledge, could benefit from an integration between these two platforms. The TMS can be used for the job creation, along with relevant customer and load details, job codes, and any other useful information regarding that job. Then, if appropriate, the information can be fed straight into a route optimisation tool to create the most efficient and speedy route for that job.

The Pros of Route Optimisation

Time Efficiency: Time is money in the world of haulage. Optimising routes automatically, potentially alleviates the requirement for a transport planner, as routes are planned much quicker, saving time and money on personnel wage bills. Optimised routes ultimately lead to less empty running, and quicker deliveries which is essential for time-sensitive deliveries.

Reduced Wear and Tear: Optimised routes are not just about cost savings; they also contribute to reduced wear and tear on vehicles. This can extend the lifespan of the fleet and lower maintenance costs.

Compliance and Safety: Route optimisation software often includes features that help drivers comply with regulations and avoid high-risk areas. This enhances safety, which is always a top priority in the haulage industry.

The Cons of Route Optimisation

Disjointed Systems: Implementing route optimisation can be a complex endeavour. It often requires the integration of software into existing systems and comprehensive staff training.

Initial Costs: Acquiring and implementing route optimisation software can be expensive. While it can promise long-term savings, the initial investment can be a hurdle, particularly for smaller haulage companies during these tough economic times.

Inaccuracies: No software is completely infallible. There can be instances where autonomous software and optimised routes are not the best option, especially for specific and unique requirements for certain types of unique jobs and work.


In conclusion, route optimisation is a valuable tool in the UK haulage industry, offering advantages for some operators such as time saving and quick routing. However, it’s important to consider the specific challenges and potential drawbacks. Successful implementation often depends on finding the right balance between automated optimisation and human judgment, or if both could work in tangent.

To find out more about whether a TMS is the more suitable platform to accommodate your operations, submit a demo request below to speak to one of our product specialists.

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