Bpost has an extensive national network of 58 logistics centers and 6 sorting centers that it can rely on to distribute thousands of letters and parcels around the country on a daily basis. When it came to optimizing this challenging and intensive distribution process, the Belgian postal company sought advice from GIM.
“The provincial boundaries have always determined the sorting center that post is taken to”, explains Bernard Van Causenbroeck from bpost. “For example, our delivery vans and trucks bring all the letters and parcels for West and East Flanders to our center in Ghent.” But bpost has to deal with the problem of queues and diversions too. In order to be able to guarantee a high-quality service, the postal company worked with GIM to analyze all its transport routes in terms of speed and cost efficiency.
GIM investigated every detail based on real user data on speed and traffic density from TomTom navigation systems. These included the precise times of arrival of bpost trucks at sorting centers, the average driving speed in free-flowing traffic (free-flow speed), the usual queues and waiting times at any time of day. And they did that for every working day, analyzing a wealth of traffic information that had an impact on bpost's distribution process.
“We determined the optimum accessibility zone for each sorting center and time of day”, says GIM project leader Nikolaas Vyverman. “For example, bpost trucks leaving Waver at 16.30 hours will reach Charleroi the quickest. If they leave at 20.00 hours, Zaventem is the best place for them to head to.”
GIM combined all the relevant findings in clear, easy-to-read maps. These not only serve as a useful source of reference when determining the best routes and journey times but also prove extremely useful during peak periods for the postal service. “For planning the best alternative routes, for example”, says bpost. “So we can give the busier sorting centers some breathing space quite easily. And if a certain road suddenly becomes gridlocked due to an accident, then we can immediately plan the most efficient alternative route.”
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