Cyndi Brandt: Map out a plan for drivers

Monday, April 30, 2007

Having a methodical routing system for drivers is a good foundation for optimizing transportation efficiencies, but HME providers also need to use all the tools available to ensure maximum savings, says logistics expert Cyndi Brandt.
Brandt, marketing manager for Baltimore-based UPS Logistics Technologies, will be instructing Medtrade Spring attendees on "How to Increase Routing Efficiencies." In advance of her seminar, she offers some valuable pointers.
HME News: On a scale of 1 to 10, how are providers doing when it comes to routing efficiencies?
Cyndi Brandt: Today, providers are at either end of the spectrum--high investment in technology, which includes routing applications, or low-tech "seat of the pants" routing. I would say that on average it is about a three. As an industry, we have great comfort that drivers do the best job that they can. In reality, they do the best job that they can for what fits their needs.
HME: Where are providers most deficient?
Brandt: First, in simply creating a plan; second, in monitoring the execution of the plan. There are very few places left where cost savings can be found. Having said that, (routing offers) a tremendous opportunity for cost savings and also allows providers to grow their business without adding additional drivers or vehicles. If they aren't provided with a plan, drivers will route themselves with a bias. For some, the bias will be great and others small. What a plan does is eliminate that bias by creating an expectation. Now take it one step further, monitoring the execution of the plan. With simple technology such as mobile phones, you can monitor the routes in progress to proactively notify customers of late arrivals and see how your driver is running the route. These types of applications should alert you to unplanned stops, driving too far off the route, speeding and communication gaps.
HME: Are there misconceptions that you see throughout the provider community?
Brandt: If I install software, it will "automagically" solve my transportation problems. Installation is only a starting point. You must have a champion of the software and someone who is willing to implement change. If you add tools to cut costs, you need to monitor and follow-up and make sure that it's happening.
HME: If you could give a provider only one piece of advice about routing, what would it be and why?
Brandt: Routing is an important part of what they do, and it's often overlooked or over-simplified. Take the time to think about what the overall transportation strategy is and to create a vision of what it should be for the organization. Does it save miles? Decrease service time? Take a vehicle off the road? Provide different time windows to different customers? Once you know what you want to do, it is a lot easier to create route plans with the goal in mind.
HME: What traits do the most successful providers share?
Brandt: The most successful providers are not afraid of change. They have champions and take the time to speak with those that change will affect. By working with all parties involved, they can implement change. hme
Cyndi Brandt
Title/company: marketing manager, Baltimore-based UPS Logistics Technologies
Session: "How to Increase Routing Efficiences"
Date: Thursday, April 26, 8:30 a.m.
Contact: 410-847-1972 or