Route Optimization is an optional feature. To find out more, or add this to your vWork account, please contact email@example.com A member of the vWork Team will be in touch to discuss your requirements.
Alternatively, you can read all about it in the article What is Route Optimization?
In this article
This article explains the first step in the route optimization process - the process you follow to create, review, and publish route optimizations in vWork. You can learn more about this process in the article: Overview: what you can do from the Route Optimization page.
Note: Before you attempt to run your first route optimization it is important to make sure your vWork account is set up in the best way to get the most from this feature. If you haven't already done so, now is a good time to review your account settings and templates. The article How do I set up my vWork account to use Route Optimization? explains what you need to check and set up before you begin using route optimization. If you have already done this then read on to learn how to create an optimization.
This article is a step-by-step guide to configuring an optimization in the Create function. Follow the steps from the beginning to learn how to use the optimization Map and Workflow to configure and run the optimization in preparation for reviewing it in the View function.
There is a lot of information here. If you need to review one part of these instructions you can use the links below to take you directly to the topic you are interested in.
Return to this menu at any time by clicking this icon. You will find it at the end of each topic.
Topics covered in this article are:
- Define the time period
- Use the Map to search for and select jobs and workers
- Using the Workflow
- 1. The Setup configuration in the Workflow
- 2. Configure Jobs from the Workflow
- 3. Configure Workers from the Workflow
- 4. Optimize from the Workflow
Note: this article doesn’t explain what each tool used is. If you want to find out more about the tools and options, please read the article: Route optimization: map tools and workflow settings
Define the time period
The time period is the date and time you want your jobs optimized for. Setting the time period is a good place to start configuring the optimization. It can change what jobs you see on the map as it shows all jobs with scheduled start times in the time period you select.
The time period is defined in the Setup step of the Workflow.
By default the time period is set to:
- Schedule Jobs For Tomorrow,
- Start Time of 12:00 am, and
- Finish Time of 11:59 pm.
Note: At this stage, all jobs shown on the map either have a scheduled start time within the default or are unplanned with no scheduled start time. You can use the Search filters on the map to change what jobs show on the map.
What does the time period respect?
The time period you enter here is the time period the optimization fits all selected jobs into. The time period respects the following settings in vWork:
- Account working hours and User shift hours as set in Settings>Users>Shifts.
The optimization will schedule all jobs within the hours set in your vWork account for Account working hours and individual shifts if these fit within the hours you set here.
Note: When the Infinite workers option is selected the time period can’t take into account individual shifts. Infinite workers removes the option to select specific workers to do jobs within the optimization from the optimization configuration.
- Job Time Windows (within set time periods or outside set time periods) as they are set for individual jobs. Jobs will be scheduled within the optimization to fit within the constraints of the Time Window saved with the job.
To set the time period:
- Click the Schedule Jobs For field and select either Today, Tomorrow, or Custom.
- Click Start Time and set the start of the time period for the optimization - e.g., 6:00 am.
- Click Finish Time and select the time you want the optimization to be completed by - e.g., 6:00 pm.
Note: If you select Today in the Schedule Jobs For field you will not be able to select a time period that begins before the current time.
You can find more information about these fields in the article: Route optimization: map tools and workflow settings.
Use the Map to search for and select jobs and workers
The map shows you the geographical location of your jobs and workers and it is where you search for and filter the jobs to include in the optimization. You can also use the map to select and add jobs and workers to the optimization configuration.
This topic shows you how to use the map to:
- Search for and select the jobs to add to the optimization configuration.
- Add workers to the optimization configuration from the map.
Make sure the map displays the jobs you want to include
Begin by making sure the jobs you want to include in the optimization show on the map.
- All jobs that are unassigned show on the map by default; this includes jobs without a planned start time and jobs that have a planned start time in the time period you defined in the previous step.
Use Search to filter jobs
Use Search to ensure you only see the jobs you want to include in the optimization.
- Decide if you want to include:
● unplanned jobs (automatically selected by default), and
● overdue unstarted jobs.
- Filter jobs by other criteria such as, for example, Template, Customer, or Group. You can select from any of the standard search options you normally use to filter jobs.
In the example shown here, the Search has been used to filter jobs created from the “Mobile car service” template.
Note: You can reset the filters after you have added jobs to find other jobs to add to the optimization configuration. This is handy if you want to, for example, include jobs with planned start times on different days.
Select jobs on the map
Once you have searched for and filtered jobs to show only those you want to optimize on the map, you can use one of three methods to select and add them to the optimization configuration:
- Click each job icon on the map to manually add the jobs one at a time. This is useful to add one or two jobs that may have been missed using another method.
- Use the Polygon to bulk select the jobs on the Map that are in an easily defined geographic area. This process is described next.
- Add jobs through the Jobs step in the Workflow. This process is described later in this article under the section: Configure Jobs from the Workflow. It is useful for adding jobs that are spread over a wide geographic area that are difficult to select using a polygon.
Note: You can use more than one method to select jobs.
Select and add jobs with the polygon
To use the polygon to select and add jobs:
- Click to select the Lasso tool from the Map Tools.
- Use the Lasso tool to create the polygon so that it encloses all jobs that you want in the optimization within its borders.
Note: The polygon may also capture some, or all, of your mobile workers depending on where their Start Location is set.
- To add the jobs to the optimization:
● Click the Add X Jobs button to add the jobs, Or
● Click Auto-select jobs in polygon from the Setup step in the Workflow.
Note: You can choose Auto-select jobs in polygon from the Setup step in the Workflow before you create the polygon. This automatically adds the jobs within the polygon to the configuration when you double click to complete the polygon.
Note: When you have added the jobs you will see the number of jobs added in brackets next to the Jobs heading in the Workflow. In the example above you can see 35 Jobs were added.
Select workers on the map
Workers that show on the map are all workers on shift for the period of time you configure the optimization for. Their shifts are defined in their User settings and may be the same as your Account Working Hours or be individually tailored for each worker. If you use Groups then the map will only show workers assigned to the Group or not assigned to any Group.
You can choose to use all workers on shift or use other optional selection criteria, as defined in the Setup step of the Workflow, to modify how workers are selected for the optimization. The optional criteria for selecting workers are described in more detail in the topic, 1. The Setup configuration in the Workflow, below.
You can use one of four methods to select and add workers to the optimization configuration:
- Click each worker’s icon on the map to manually add one worker at a time. This is useful to add one or two workers that may have been missed using another method.
- Use the Polygon to select the workers on the map. This process varies slightly from adding jobs with the polygon. It is described next. Use the Polygon to select workers from the map who are in an easily defined geographic area.
- Add workers through the Workers step in the Workflow. This process is also described later in this article under the section: Configure Workers from the Workflow.
- Add workers in the View function after you have created the unpublished optimization.
This is the only method to add your workers to specific routes in the optimization when you select the Infinite workers option in the Workflow Setup step. This option is explained in the article: How do I review, modify and publish optimized routes?
Note: When you add workers to the optimization configuration the number of workers selected shows in brackets on the optimization Workflow next to the Workers heading.
Select and add workers with the polygon
The process to add workers using the Polygon is similar to the process for adding jobs.
Workers can be added at the same time that jobs are selected if your workers’ Start Locations fit within the polygon used to select jobs. They can also be added using a separate polygon after jobs are added.
To add workers using the polygon:
- Click to select the Lasso tool from the Map Tools.
- Use the Lasso tool to create the polygon so that it encloses all workers that you want to include in the optimization within its borders. This may be the same polygon you use to define jobs.
● If you have already selected Auto-select workers in polygon from Setup in the Workflow the workers are automatically added.
● If you haven’t selected Auto-select workers in polygon then click Add X Workers on the map.
Note: If you want to use the Auto-select workers in polygon option from the Workflow you must first check the checkbox next to Auto-select workers in polygon and then create the polygon on the map. If you create the polygon before selecting Auto-select workers in polygon no workers are added to your optimization (but they can be added later). In this situation make sure you click the Add X Workers button on the map to add the workers to your configuration.
Using the Workflow
The Workflow is on the right of the Create function. Its purpose is to guide you through the optimization configuration.
The Workflow has four steps. Each focuses on a different aspect of the optimization configuration: Setup, Jobs, Workers and Optimize.
The step you are at is highlighted in blue.
To progress to the next step in the workflow either:
- Click the Next button, Or
- Click on the step you want to progress to in the heading bar at the top of the Workflow.
Tip: You don’t need to complete each step in order and can go back and forth between steps to adjust your selections and settings.
1. The Setup configuration in the Workflow
Setup is mostly used with the map to add jobs and workers to the optimization configuration. It is also used to set the optimization time period.
Setup is divided into two sections:
- Optimization Using is in the top section of Setup.
This is where you can select options that determine how the jobs and workers are selected and assigned within the optimization. This is used extensively with the map to select jobs and workers. We explain this in more detail below.
- Scheduling is found in the bottom section of Setup.
This is where you configure the time period for the optimization. The process to do this was explained in the topic Define the time period, above. It is not discussed further in this topic.
There are six options you can select from in Optimization Using. These options are grouped by their use.
All of these options are explained in more detail in the article: Route optimization: map tools and workflow settings.
Minimum amount of workers and Infinite workers
The first two options: Minimum amount of workers and Infinite workers change how workers are assigned to the optimization.
- When you don’t choose either of these options the optimization will try to distribute jobs as evenly as possible across all workers in your worker pool and produce efficiently optimized routes.
- You should select Minimum amount of workers when you want to use the least number of workers from your worker pool and cover the least mileage for all vehicles used on the route. When you choose this option on its own it assigns routes to specific workers but may not use all workers if all jobs can be completed more efficiently without using them all. A worker’s start location and capacity will influence if a worker is selected to make more efficient use of the total fleet.
- You should choose Infinite amount of workers if you don’t know how many workers you need and have no preference as to who those workers are. The optimization creates routes without assigned workers. The fewest number of routes are created while distributing jobs as evenly and efficiently as is realistic between routes. The Infinite amount of workers option doesn’t work with Capacity and ignores individual worker start locations; it uses the Group or General start-location instead. It is also possible for Infinite workers to create more routes than you have workers available to complete. This happens when you do not have enough workers to complete all jobs in the optimization time frame.
- When combined with Minimum amount of workers, Infinite workers will reduce the number of routes to the minimum routes required but jobs will be distributed for efficient mileage and jobs may not be distributed evenly. No specific worker is assigned to a route
Auto-select jobs in polygon and Auto-select workers in polygon
The next two options: Auto-select jobs in polygon and Auto-select workers in polygon are used with the map tools to automatically add jobs and workers on the map to the optimization configuration in bulk. These were both explained in the topic: Use the Map to search for and select jobs and workers, above.
Ignore planned start times and Ignore planned workers
Jobs with planned start times are added to the optimization and scheduled at the time saved with the job.
- Other jobs in the optimization are scheduled around jobs with planned start times. This may not be the most efficient route due to the time constraints imposed by the job start times.
- You can override job start times by choosing the option Ignore Planned Start Times in the Setup step of the Workflow. When you choose to ignore planned start times you often get a more efficient optimization as jobs can be scheduled to reduce the distance traveled when they don't impose the time constraints of their start times.
When jobs are assigned to specific workers the optimization respects this and assigns these jobs to the assigned workers' routes.
- Just like planned start times, planned worker assignments can make the optimization less efficient.
- If you don’t need a specific worker to do any given job it is a good idea to select Ignore Planned Workers in the Setup of the workflow to override planned worker assignments in the optimization configuration.
Tip: You can use the Ignore Planned Start Times and Ignore Planned Worker options together if you want to optimize jobs that are already published. Search for Assigned jobs and their start date to show them on the optimization map.
2. Configure Jobs from the Workflow
The Jobs step in the Workflow lists all jobs added to the optimization configuration. All jobs visible on the map can be added to or removed from the optimization configuration from this step.
Add and remove jobs from the optimization configuration
Jobs are listed in the workflow
When you add jobs to the configuration using the polygon on the optimization Map (see the topic Select jobs on the map, above) all selected jobs are listed in the Jobs step. Any jobs you individually selected from the map are also listed here.
- You can easily add additional jobs visible on the map to this list, or delete individual jobs from it using the Select Jobs button.
- You can remove all jobs from the configuration here by selecting the Clear list button.
No are jobs are listed in the workflow
If no jobs are listed in the Jobs step you can add them to the configuration by:
- Selecting jobs from the map. Jobs are added according to the Setup options you selected
- Use the Select Jobs button to add all jobs on the map or specific jobs that you select from the list of jobs.
Tip: Make sure the search filters on the Map show the jobs you want to include in your optimization. If a job shows on the map you can add it in the Jobs step.
The instructions for adding and removing jobs in the Jobs step are explained in the article: Route optimization: map tools and workflow settings.
3. Configure Workers from the Workflow
The Workers step in the Workflow lists all workers added to the optimization configuration. All workers visible on the map can be added to, or removed from the optimization configuration from this step.
Note: You will not see any workers on the map or in the Workers configuration if you have selected the Infinite Workers option in Setup. You can still override the Start Location.
Add and remove workers from the optimization configuration
Workers are listed in the Workflow
When you add workers to the configuration using the polygon on the Map all workers you selected are listed in the Workers step of the Workflow. (See the topic Select workers on the map, above) Any workers you individually selected from the map are also listed here.
- You can easily add additional workers, visible on the Map, to this list using the Select Workers button. You won’t see this button if all available workers are already selected.
- You can delete individual workers from the optimization configuration by clicking the X next to their name. Alternatively, if you want to remove all the workers from the configuration click Clear List.
Tip: If you want to use most of your available workers on optimized routes, but exclude some to work on other things, the fastest method is to add all workers and then delete the workers you want to assign to other tasks.
The instructions for adding and removing workers in the Workers step are explained in the article: Route optimization: map tools and workflow settings.
Override all worker start/finish locations
All optimizations must have a start location for the optimization calculations to work out optimized routes. By default, all workers start from the start location set in the General Settings of your vWork account unless you have chosen to override this by setting a start location for a Group or by an individual user. The article, How do I set start locations for Route Optimization, explains what start locations are and how to set them.
In some situations, you may not want to use the start location saved in the settings. If this is the case, you can manually enter a start location for all workers in the Override Start Location field.
Note: Don't use Override Finish Locations. This functionality isn't enabled in vWork at this time.
Optional methods to define workers
In Setup on the Workflow there is also the option to determine how the optimization configuration will allocate workers to routes. See the explanation about Minimum Workers and Infinite Workers given above in the topic: Minimum amount of workers and Infinite workers.
4. Optimize from the Workflow
When you have configured all the optimization settings you run the optimization to create it in an unpublished state for review in the Optimize step of the Workflow.
Check the configuration
A summary of the optimization configuration is shown in the Optimize step. Take a moment to check your configuration to make sure the optimization will give you the result you expect.
- The Overview section shows how many jobs and workers are assigned and the planned time period for the optimization.
- The SETTINGS section shows the search filters you have used and the options you selected in the Setup.
If you want to change your configuration you can go back to an earlier step in the Workflow. Once you have made your adjustments click back into the Optimize step to run the optimization.
Run the optimization
To create the optimization using the configuration you have created in the previous steps:
- Click Run Optimization.
The optimization configuration is saved to our GeoServers.
- Next, we work out the optimized routes. This can take a few seconds to a few minutes to create depending on how many jobs you are optimizing and what other optimizations are also running on the vWork GeoServers.
- You can view the optimization progress or return to the Create function while the optimization is worked out:
● Click Show Me to be taken to the View function where you can see the Optimization’s progress, Or
● Click OK to return to the Create function where you can configure your next optimization.
Note: You can always view the optimization by clicking View from the optimization function menu.
- We send you an alert when the optimization completes.
The next step is to review the unpublished optimization and publish it. This is explained in the article: How do I review and modify optimized routes?