Optrak Grocery

Optrak Grocery is a new in-development route optimisation platform – cofunded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK – to bring combined slot booking and route optimisation to the attended home delivery (AHD) grocery delivery market.

Optrak Grocery is designed to bring new optimisation techniques to the online grocery delivery industry that integrates the slot booking process with trip construction to remove the inefficiencies which the current mechanisms for planning generate.

Optrak Grocery is a backend optimisation tool that will integrate with current order systems and offer the infrastructure for online grocers to offer wider, custom delivery slots and improve route efficiency whilst offering customers better availability and make better use of internal resources.

The Problem

Current AHD solutions consist of a two-system approach:

  • customers book a slot from a slot booking system that uses statistical techniques to allocate a suitable number of delivery slots per area and time band.
  • when all slots have been allocated and the order book is closed for a particular day, actual route plans are produced using standard Vehicle Routing Software.

This two-phase approach has a number of weaknesses:

  • Slot boundaries are rigid and often inconvenient.
  • The system fails to exploit wider availability of customers to take orders (e.g. home workers/retired people).
  • Two-phase optimisation systems are inherently less efficient than integrated systems – there is no real-time feedback.
  • Dynamic slot pricing is limited to statistical demand rather than actual orders.

The Solution

Optrak Grocery will address this through an integrated slot booking and routing optimisation solution. This is achieved through an innovative combination of recent optimisation research and the power of multi-core cloud servers capable of running many optimisation processes in parallel.

The system itself is being developed as a cloud backend server for integration into supermarket and other grocery ordering systems.

Benefits of Optrak Grocery:

Smart Integration

Key to Optrak Grocery is an integrated slot booking and routing solution that will allow customers to say when they are available, rather than select from pre-determined slots.

The wider time windows selected by home workers, those not in work and others who are able to receive deliveries across more than one slot will translate to more efficient route plans – saving fuel, driver’s hours, CO2 emissions and traffic congestion.

Vehicle Routing Solution

Better Customer Service

Providing customers with wider elective booking windows provides greater flexibility for consumers who aren’t able to commit to whole current slot windows, as well as people who have very large amounts of availability and so can be better placed in routes with other local drops.

The efficiency savings could be used to benefit customers through lower delivery charges particularly rewarding those who can provide the widest availability.

Incorporate Delivery Analytics

Understanding the patterns of order delivery by analysing historical orders is an essential mechanism for the underlying machine learning that will help tune the optimiser. As a result, Optrak Grocery will utilise historical and actual delivery data provided by the operator to tune its integrated service (with a forecasted model of expected demand to help construct trips and provide quick slots to customers trying to book).

This data will also be made available for reporting at management level, providing another input for delivery managers to assess the efficiency of their operations and identify areas of improvement.

Integrated Carrier Functionality

Sustainability Planning

Optrak Grocery optimisation will be designed to take into account the additional operational requirements of electric vehicles (such as range and charging stations) and other low-carbon options. For operators looking to transition to green fleets, taking such requirements into consideration during the planning phase maximises the benefits of such sustainability schemes.

Supported by Innovate UK

Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.

We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.

We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation.

For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org

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Where to find us

Optrak Distribution Software Ltd
Suite 6, The Maltings
Hoe Lane, Ware SG12 9LR