DORKING, England - An innovation by a UK software company is set to help retailers get their products into stores faster by guiding lorry drivers around predicted traffic hot spots and HGV-restricted zones. The system uses pre-set rules to automatically route HGVs clear of major public events and to ensure roads with lorry bans are avoided, lowering the risk of incurring penalty fines. Paragon Software Systems, the pioneer of vehicle routing and scheduling software used by retailers such as Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Fullers, believes the software is a game changer for the transport industry.

When approaching traffic hot spots or a congestion charge zone, most drivers can simply check their Sat Nav and look for the fastest alternative route to their destination. Truck drivers - responsible for delivering more than 60 percent of the UK’s food products - are not able to do this. Their pre-planned routes are monitored to ensure that drivers avoid HGV-restricted zones like the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS), and physical limitations like low bridges, whilst enabling their arrival times at each local store to be accurately predicted.

Paragon’s Route Control automatically provides drivers with a different set of routes to avoid congestion caused by large crowds attending events like the Rugby World Cup, Notting Hill Carnival or a Royal Wedding. Even local hot spots are catered for, like schools at child drop-off times, to ensure that deliveries can always be made safely and in the fastest time possible.

“Traffic congestion is a major issue for those delivering goods to our shops and homes,” said William Salter, Paragon’s Managing Director. “Computer software plays a big part in planning the best possible route for each vehicle. However, transport planners spend considerable time amending plans to accommodate conditions that can delay or even prevent a journey. If a driver doesn’t follow the planned route, then further time needs to be spent working out whether those deviations were legitimate or not.”

Paragon’s Route Control software is set up with details of events using a simple calendar, which can be stored and re-used. Algorithms within the software then calculate the best driver schedules every time. In addition to major public events, the software can also be used to manage time-related local authority restrictions on HGVs in cities around the world, such as LLCS which bans lorries over 18 tonnes late in the evenings and during the weekends.

“Transport operations that ensure goods are delivered on time are complex,” added Salter. “Creating rules that allow for legitimate deviations from the normal fastest route at specific times by vehicle type reduces the level of manual intervention required by the transport planner, and ensures that the schedule reflects what is actually happening on the roads. After talking to transport and logistics industry players about the challenges they face, our team of software developers has now built the functionality to help them ‘close the gap’.”