Route optimization for the vending industry: must-have features

Vending 07.02.2023

For a complex industry such as vending, operations must run smoothly, vending machines must be constantly replenished with products and regularly maintained to a high standard.

In addition, the demand for new products varies daily, which means vending machine operations need to be mobile, agile, and always on (or ahead of) time.

Modern route optimization software provides vending businesses with fully automated route creation and optimization, using real-time business data and stock-level data of every vending machine and every product.

In this article, we've listed some of the must-have features that make Mappost a superior solution to other routing software for the vending industry.

Fully automated route creation and optimization for entire regions, using real-time business data

Mappost integrates with telemetry providers and other operational business systems of the company to gather real-time vending business data and optimizes routes based on a multitude of limitations that are crucial vending industry businesses, including:

  • Special employee and vending machine compatibility cases,
  • Service time windows,
  • Road use limitations,
  • Task completion time predictions,
  • Driving time calculations based on historic traffic data,
  • Car maintenance visits and much more.

With multi-warehouse and multi-parking support, Mappost can automate optimized route creation and resource allocation for broad geographical regions — even entire countries.

To provide the best possible solution for each individual company, the system considers various business costs, such as driving time, employee work time, extra resource engagement costs, and more. As a result, vending managers see accurate cost calculations and realistic time predictions for every task and route, enabling them to stay well-informed and make better data-driven decisions.

Mappost considers various business costs to calculate the best possible route for servicing all vending machines.

Smart vending machine service prediction algorithms

Combining our industry experience and geographical analytics competencies, we have developed a unique smart task-adding technology to optimize our vending client operations. Using this approach Mappost is able to create fully dynamic routes instead of the traditional approach of planning by regular rounds. As a result, the routes are able to accommodate the ever-changing demand, balancing the dynamic business requirements with the available resources.

The technology considers geographical locations of must-visit tasks in areas further from the base to automatically create additional optional tasks for objects even before their stock alerts trigger while balancing it with predicted employee workloads.

This way, Mappost anticipates restocking in the most cost-efficient manner. As a result, Mappost routing optimization limits repeated trips to further-away regions, significantly saving on the total distance traveled and associated costs.

For example, if today's route includes a must-visit task 40km away, Mappost will check whether there are vending machines nearby or along the route. If those machines will predictably need service within the next few days, Mappost will include them in the day's tasks if the operator's workload allows doing so without breaching other constraints. This way, Mappost enables companies to save on driving hundreds of unnecessary kilometers every time stock alerts are triggered.

Prediction of task completion time

Each vending machine and location requires a different task completion time. Knowing these times is crucial to creating accurate and optimized routes and efficiently employing available resources.

For example, consider the difference in servicing time for two different vending machines – one easily accessible on the side of the street and the other one on the 4th floor of a public building (airport, hospital, school, etc.) requiring significant walking distance and possibly even security clearance for the operator.

To tackle this problem, Mappost automatically calculates the historical servicing time for each machine and location. The software identifies task start and completion times using GPS data and task completion (status change) data from Mappost's mobile application.

To ensure the precision of these analytics, Mappost can also exclude outliers and anomalies in the data and minimize human error.

Each vending machine requires a different task completion time depending on its location. These times need to be included in route calculations.

Task repetition according to a business's unique rulesets

Mappost supports creating company-specific tasks adjusted for a business's individual needs. When creating such tasks, Mappost considers resource availability and increases the task priority daily. Rules for such tasks are entirely customizable to suit your vending business needs which makes it a must-have feature for your business.

Accommodating employee and machine type compatibility cases

When assigning operators to tasks, basic routing software considers such criteria as geographical location, vending machine service time windows, and individual operator availability.

Mappost goes a step further by incorporating special employee type and machine type compatibility cases, ensuring that operators with the right skill sets are always sent to perform the tasks. In addition, the system can easily accommodate cases where entering particular locations might require special permissions or licenses.

Two-way integrations with third-party systems

To fully utilize system's capabilities, it must become an integrated part of the business through two-way data integrations.

For accurate routing optimization, Mappost incorporates live data flows on:

  • Vending machine fullness levels from telemetry providers,
  • Stock movement, order, monitoring, and inventory data. 

From the data recorded using Mappost and its mobile application for each task and operation performed, intelligence can be gathered on:

  • Route completion statistics,
  • KPI reporting on individual operators.
Mappost Web platform interface presents detailed route and object statistics.

Mobile application for employees

Personalized visual aids

The operators in charge of restocking and repairing vending machines use Mappost's mobile application. Mappost presents precise machine locations on the map and allows you to adjust locations in case of a machine relocation. In addition, to make operators' lives easier, Mappost enables the creation of additional symbols on the map for each individual location to help navigate to the destination.

Operators can see all necessary products and quantities ahead of time

Mappost's mobile application shows operators what products and quantities to bring to vending machines ahead of time. Such information can save up to 15 minutes per vending machine as the operator no longer has to check machine stock before bringing products or make multiple trips to the truck after forgetting an item. Accurate product and quantity levels are shown using the most up-to-date information on vending machine stock levels from vending telemetry providers. 

In conclusion

Data collection and its use are essential for running a successful vending business. Mappost's unique functionalities, including smart routing, allow managers to control operations more accurately, helping technicians and re-stockists eliminate unneeded visits while cutting down on fuel expenses and their associated pollution.

Please select the most suitable time for a call with Mappost representative

We will be happy to share more about Mappost, demonstrate the system and answer all your questions!