Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DHL start-up Greenplan optimises delivery routes

Steve Rogerson
July 14, 2020

Greenplan, a DHL financed start-up, has launched an algorithm for optimising delivery routes and stop sequences in logistics.
The algorithm leverages the potential of smart routing, using all information and data available to optimise transport routes in an entire delivery area.
The algorithm was developed by scientists from the University of Bonn in cooperation with DHL logistics experts. Bonn-based Greenplan supports customers with their road freight business and last-kilometre deliveries as well as field service providers with their service schedules.
“We at Greenplan want to help make the industry more efficient and sustainable,” said Clemens Beckmann, CEO at Greenplan. “With our smart and powerful algorithm, we are tackling the complex task of efficient route planning by offering a precise and reliable solution that can be integrated into existing systems. In contrast to nearly all tools on the market, Greenplan – for the first time – calculates routes according to historic traffic information available on street-level. This, in turn, enables our customers to save up to 20 per cent costs compared to standard route optimisation and to lower their carbon footprint accordingly, simply by reducing kilometres driven.”
The growing ecommerce market is fuelling demand for same-day deliveries while the contract logistics market increasingly looks at just-in-time processing. The Greenplan algorithm is equipped for such cases and can digest not only the targeted addresses but also individual delivery time windows at shipment level.
By considering time-of-day-dependent, street-specific travel times, Greenplan also finds the optimal starting time of delivery tours. These improved tours increase the predictability for customers and appear natural to drivers. It also supports contingency planning in case of incomplete data availability and considers system-relevant variables such as different loading types or adherence to regulations. This makes it adaptable to a various issues or customised changes.
The system lets users drive their own green strategies by enabling CO2 emission reductions through shorter distances and fewer tours. It not only provides visibility on the estimated carbon footprint based on planned delivery routes, it also considers emissions per vehicle type to plan the most CO2-efficient routes. Moreover, the algorithm can consider specific parameters for electric vehicle fleets, such as range limits per vehicle.
Altogether, the smart algorithm can lead to decreased costs and lower CO2 emissions for the same delivery work. This helps not only logistics companies, but also supports field service providers who need to plan schedules of their workforce.
To increase the potential of capacities and optimise resource management, Greenplan teamed up with the Research Institute for Discrete Mathematics at the University of Bonn to engineer a smart algorithm capable of meeting users’ business needs, while still ensuring short computing times.