Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Maxoptra Offers Dynamic Route Planning and Scheduling Software for Agriculture
April 6th, 2017 by Susan Smith
Agricultural merchant Zantra is implementing UK-based Maxoptra dynamic route planning and scheduling software with GPS tracking technology to manage deliveries of its crop protection solutions.
“If we fail to deliver the best advice and product selection, on time and in full, then we fail to deliver what our customers – and their crops – require,” commented Russell West, Logistics Manager at Zantra. “By introducing Maxoptra vehicle routing and scheduling, we can ensure our regional depots are fully stocked with the right products at the right time, and our delivery fleet is utilised to its maximum potential.”
The farming-family owned business has grown substantially since it was established in 2003, and now operates a nationwide service supplying crop protection products, nutrients, fertilizers and seed from leading manufacturers. Based at Great Staughton, Cambridgeshire, Zantra maintains a network of strategically located, BASIS approved depots, including Doncaster in the north, Faversham and Winchester in the south and Telford in the west.
GISCafe Voice: What type of GPS/geospatial system is the Maxoptra and does it rely on cloud solutions?
Geary: Maxoptra is a cloud solution which is used by commercial vehicle fleet operators including trucks and light commercial vehicles, typically involved in delivery work or maintenance services. It is used to compute the best routes and schedules across the fleet, optimizing the utilization of mobile workers and their vehicles. It’s not a GPS system itself, but links with GPS tracking technology – such as that provided by TomTom and Teletrac Navman, to give operators the ability to both plan vehicle routes and track actual progress.
GISCafe Voice: What types of datasets does Maxoptra rely on – weather, scheduling, districting, road conditions?
Geary: Standard road restriction data is taken into consideration during the planning process – size, weight and load limits etc. Specific customer parameters can be added to the system and the routing logic will plan accordingly. So, for example, the system will know that certain farm size have certain vehicle size restrictions (or the approaching roads do) so will allocate the correct size vehicle accordingly, and find a safe route. Road network information from highways authorities is incorporated such as restricted access, low bridges and road works. The associated vehicle tracking systems provide navigation and traffic information.
GISCafe Voice: How is the system assessing “environmental impact of its transport operations?”
Geary: Maxoptra allows you to monitor the mileage associated with each route. On the whole most of our customers see and marked decrease in the number of miles per vehicle route as a result of more efficient route optimization. It’s then a straight calculation to equate miles saved to carbon emissions. Maxoptra recently won and Environmental Award from the Energy Saving Trust last year for our work in this area.
GISCafe Voice: How is Maxoptra customized to address other farm supplier customers?
Geary: The beauty of the Maxoptra system is that it’s an ‘out of the box’ system. There was no specific software development required at our end to make it work for Zantra.
GISCafe Voice: Is any data from drones being used, if so how?
Geary: No data from drones….but it’s worth looking into!
GISCafe Voice: Prior to having this system, how many deliveries was Zantra able to deliver?
Prior to the introduction of the map-based Maxoptra platform, Zantra manually planned both depot and customer deliveries. Using orders exported from the company’s Customer Relationship Management software, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Zantra will now automatically schedule up to 200 deliveries a day in accordance with customers’ specific requirements.
One point to make here, and a big benefit for a business like Zantra that has significant seasonal fluctuations, is that the software is scalable. So you only pay for the vehicles you route in a month. Therefore they don’t get ‘stung’ for a huge cost for vehicle capacity that they are only making use of during busy periods.