Enhanced Logistics for Operational Efficiency

Many o rganizations are  under growing pressure to  increase operational efficien c y  and reduce operating costs  in response to   these  unprecedented times .   The logistics and planning that go into daily  operations activities can have a significant impact   on   these   im portant   metrics.   Route  optimization  is a n exercise many companies are using  t o  maximiz e  the productivity of field crews  by minimizing waste and prioritizing  work Esri  provides a  robust set   of  tools and capabilities to support  routing and logistics  workflows  aimed at increasing efficiencies in the field.  

The process of modeling travel and routing scenarios in ArcGIS is called Network Analysis.   Using this type of analysis, organizations can answer questions like :   What is the quickes t way from point A to point B?  or  How can we route our fleet to minimize transportation costs and distance traveled?     A network is a system of interconnected elements that represent possible routes between locations.  In ArcGIS, a Network Dataset is the data model used to manage roads, their connectivity, and all the rules associated with traveling on them. A specialized set of tools for creating, managing, and using  n etwork  d atasets are available through the Network Analyst extension .

A common network analysis workflow is routing from one location to another. This is often used to generate the shortest path between two or more locations . The path taken is determined by the network dataset used in the analysis. ArcGIS Online provides  hosted routing services that reference high-quality net work datasets with worldwide coverage .  These hosted services are useful for organizations that don’t want to maintain a comprehensive road  dataset  but  consume credits when used On the other hand, c ustom network datasets can also be used   if you want to incorporate your own data. This is useful for organizations, like oil and gas operators, that  maintain  networks of priva te lease and access roads  that aren’t commercially available.    

A route generated using the hosted routing services from ArcGIS Online

The same route generated using a network dataset with custom roads

While generating routes for a single driver can be beneficial, most organizations are interested in optimizing routes for an entire fleet of vehicles.  By nature, this is a much more complex problem. Getting the right people, with the right skills, to the right locations, at the right time can be a daunting task. Luckily, the network analyst toolset has the capabilities needed to perform this  type of workflow.  

The Solve Vehicle Routing Problem tool in ArcGIS Pro can be used to find the best routes for a fleet of vehicles.   The tool works by assigning a fleet of vehicles to  visit  sequenced stops  at scheduled times  while keeping the overall operating and investment costs for each route as low as possible. Constraints can be set so that the routes are completed using only a vailable resources and within the time limits imposed by work shifts, driving speeds, service commitments , and other business-defined rules Information about the routes, stops, and origin/destination points are  specified as input  parameter s.  The tool can be executed on a hosted routing service or a custom network dataset. The output includes a set of routes for each driver included in the analy sis along with an ordered list of stops and directions to each stop.  Generated routes can then be shared with drivers  in the field  to provide navigation and turn-by-turn directions.  

Traditionally, this type of analysis is done by a GIS professional using desktop GIS applications. Scaling this workflow as a repeatable business process ca n sometimes prove difficult. This is where an Enterprise GIS platform becomes valuable.  UsingArcGIS Enterprise, n etwork  analysis workflows can be pu blished as web services  and executed  with  server-side processing in place of desktop tools. This  allows  business users without a GIS background to execute these workflows through a configurable and easy-to-use  interface  that can be tailored to meet the needs of the user .  Routing web services also support integration with other business systems that need to leverage  advanced routing capabilities.  

The same Enterprise GIS platform also enables better collaboration and sharing of data.  As mentioned earlier, r esults  from a network analysis workflow can be shared  to the organization through the web .  Optimized routes   can be sent directly to drivers who can   use an app like   Navigator for ArcGIS  to  receive  turn-by-tur n directions and voice-guided navigation.   Important metrics like drive times, distance traveled, service times, s top sequences  and more  can be used  to establish a baseline that operations activities can be compared against. Configurable apps, likeArcGIS Dashboards , can be built to track the progress of workers and provide situational awareness throughout the day. This allows  personnel to  use information-driven decision making to respond in real-time to conditions that arise in the field.  

To learn more about how your organization can leverage the route optimization and logistics capabilities of ArcGIS, reach out to your Esri  Account Manager today.

About the author

Scott Noulis

Scott is a solution engineer on the Natural Resources team at Esri. He works with organizations in the petroleum, forestry, and renewables industries to incorporate location intelligence and GIS into solutions that address business challenges. His prior experience includes various roles as a GIS professional in the energy industry.