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MapMechanics adds more flexibility for users to fine tune routing and scheduling

TruckStops, the popular and powerful routing optimisation solution from MapMechanics for scheduling vehicles and people, now offers more flexibility for users to reflect the subtleties of their own fleet operations. The new features are introduced in TruckStops version 11, which is now available from MapMechanics.

It is now a simple matter for users to set up TruckStops to insist that vehicles visit certain call points in a given sequence, whether this provides the best possible route from other points of view or not. This might for example be required when goods have to be collected or delivered in a certain order.

It is also possible to tell TruckStops to generate a route with a fixed call sequence automatically, and then repeat the same sequence every day, even if load volumes differ from day to day.

Planners can now set TruckStops to give priority to specific vehicles or groups of vehicles when working out its routes. This is particularly useful where an operator wants to give preference to loading its own vehicles over those of a third-party contractor.

An especially useful new feature allows users to override TruckStops’ built-in load mismatch prevention capability. Over the years, users have valued TruckStops’ ability to prevent vehicles from being loaded with incompatible products. Now, however, they can also set up the system to disregard this constraint on any given journey as soon as it ceases to apply.

A classical example can be seen in milk collections from farms. The operator will want to avoid mixing organic and regular milk on the same collections journey, but can gain extra flexibility if TruckStops knows that once empty, the vehicle can start reloading by picking up either type of product. TruckStops’ new "exclusion release" system makes this easy to set up.

Integration with other software has come in for attention in TruckStops 11. Data transfer between TruckStops and transport management suites is now smoother and more seamless, and integration with GPS tracking systems has been refined. There is now a specific command to output TruckStops’ routing information in a format appropriate to the user’s tracking system – ideal for instance for allowing "plan versus actual" calculations to monitor performance.

As always with new releases of TruckStops, version 11 is supplied with the latest digital map data for calculating and displaying routes. Of special interest is the inclusion of an updated CodePoint geocoding database, incorporating the most recent unit postcode data available, coded to a grid reference of 1 metre.

This high level of accuracy means that when users plan routes down to street level, if they use appropriate street network mapping TruckStops will usually be able to plot the delivery location to the correct side of the street. Moreover, the CodePoint data includes historic postcodes, helping to ensure accurate routing.

"This new release of TruckStops is all about giving users more control over the way the system works and ability to reflect their own particular requirements," says Mary Short, founder and director of MapMechanics. "Although TruckStops had the potential to provide some of these capabilities before it has now been extended to make these functions more accessible. "

MapMechanics, which has distributed TruckStops in the UK for nearly 20 years, recently acquired full rights to the product from the American originator, MicroAnalytics, and has been assigned all existing user licences world-wide. MapMechanics maintains a close relationship with the original American developers and now promises ongoing development and enhancement of the system, which will result in further new releases in the near future.

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