Ortec Transport and Distribution: Continuous product innovation for optimal performance

Ortec's continuous product improvement process is evident with the latest updates to its advanced planning solution for vehicle routing, dispatch and execution - Ortec Transport and Distribution (Ortec TD). Enhancement packages 1 and 2 extend the Ortec TD 2010 major release with several ease-of-use improvements and major new functionality, particularly in the area of reporting. Daniel Dam, Product Manager at Ortec, comments: "Our product roadmap is continually evolving to take into account technological developments and specific industry requirements, and we're really pleased to be able to deliver to market this latest release of enhancements."

Interactive reporting
One of the most significant and more visual developments is in the area of data sheet and KPI reporting. The new Reporting and Analytics module will provide users with a number of real time, interactive, operational reports that will benefit planners and management alike. KPIs and target variables can be defined in the system in order to compare plans against specific benchmarks such as average load per trailer or average transportation cost per unit loaded etc. A key benefit of these new reports is the ability to interact with the data. Records can be expanded and closed, users can drill-down via hyperlinks, and if required, the data can be exported. Furthermore, as the module is based on Microsoft SQL Server reporting services, users will have the flexibility to create their own business-specific reports. These reports can even be viewed on the Apple iPad without the user having to open the Ortec TD application.

Analytics dashboard
A new analytics dashboard is now available to support planners and dispatchers in meeting management performance goals, i.e. average no. of stops, or revenue per route, etc. A number of graphical display formats can be set by the user at route level, i.e. gauges, histograms, etc. These can also indicate target values, which provides the planner with real-time feedback about whether the quality of the plan is below or above target. Speaking about planned developments, Daniel Dam adds: "In the future, our product roadmap will focus on Business Intelligence (BI) reporting, offering a framework for true BI reports based on history and trends."

Functionality enhancements for optimal performance
Besides these enhanced reporting features, Ortec TD also contains new functionality to assist logistics businesses in dealing with failed pickups and/or deliveries during route execution. The system supports both the manual and automatic input and processing of failure notifications and the consequences thereof. Planners are also set to benefit from a new optimiser that integrates with the existing Ortec TD optimisers in order to smoothen depot departure times. This enhancement is particularly useful for preventing loading bottlenecks in distribution environments, particularly early in the morning when route starting times tend to be clustered.

Also noteworthy is the new functionality for capturing environmental zone data. Users can define zones or 'polygons' based on any truck bans in force in a particular region or city and these restrictions will be taken into account during the route and resource assignment calculations. This feature will increase planning efficiency, save time and avoid unnecessary penalties.

Focus on the environment
Sustainability is at the forefront of Ortec's product and service development and Daniel Dam expands on this further: "We're really pleased to offer a new CO2 emission calculator that can assist companies in determining the carbon footprint of their daily transport routes. Users can set the emission rate for each vehicle in their fleet and when loads are assigned to a vehicle, the planner can assess the impact in terms of carbon dioxide volumes. This will inevitably support organisations to monitor their carbon footprint and could even be used to track against sustainability KPIs."

Technical improvements
Technology and innovation are key ingredients for any Ortec solution and with EP1 & 2, a number of improvements have been made in this area. For example, enhancements have been made to the Ortec TD web client, which is a web-based application that enables users to work with the main components of the software via a web client interface. Furthermore, with Ortec TD EP2 users working in different time zones will be able to use the system concurrently.

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