Automatic merging of bookings into optimized tours

Overview

The Auto-merger feature is designed to increase driver utilization by building optimized tours from incoming bookings. It also aims to improve operational efficiency by reducing dispatchers’ need to watch daily operations closely and manually merge bookings.

The Auto-merger works per Saved Place: it merges bookings that start from the same location. The Saved Place doesn’t have to be a Hub, it can be any Place, including a Place of a customer.

By default, the Auto-merger runs automatically every minute. When preparing tours, it considers available drivers in the search radius around each Saved Place. It won’t plan tours if there are no available drivers, and it won’t plan more tours than available drivers unless the same driver is within the radius of multiple Saved Places.

If drop-off stops of bookings have arrival times, the Auto-merger will factor them in to ensure time restrictions are met and drivers aren’t late. If bookings can’t be merged without violating these restrictions, they will remain unmerged.

Once a tour is created, it’s made visible to drivers immediately.

This article will touch upon the following topics:

Details

How to enable the Auto-merger

Please reach out to our Customer Success team if you’re interested in this feature. Once it’s activated for your account, it can be enabled per Saved place via the Dashboard.

Bookings eligibility for auto-merging

Not any booking can be automatically merged into a tour. Before merging, the algorithm assesses booking eligibility. For Instant Bookings, assessing happens upon creation, and for Scheduled Bookings, it happens according to the Scheduled Booking's Matching Lead Time of a Service. The Matching Lead Time defines when MotionTools converts an unclaimed Scheduled Booking into an Instant Booking.

To be considered eligible, a booking must meet the following criteria:

  • A booking must have 2 or more stops.
  • A booking must start from the Saved Place for which the Auto-merger is enabled.
  • A booking must be created in ‘On Hold’ status. I.e., Manual Dispatching must be enabled for the Service of a booking.

If a booking is eligible, the dashboard will display an icon on the Operations page.

Booking_is_eligible_for_auto-merging__1_.png

The Auto-merger won’t re-assess the eligibility of bookings if a booking status transition occurs. For example, if the booking was moved from the ‘Pickable’ status back to ’On Hold’, its eligibility will not be reconsidered.

Auto-dispatch time of eligible bookings

The Auto-merger works with ‘On Hold’ bookings only, but it can’t keep them ‘On Hold’ indefinitely if arrival times are set on stops. At some point, if bookings can’t be auto-merged, they need to be dispatched as individual bookings to avoid delivery delays. For this to happen, the Auto-merger calculates the auto-dispatch time for each eligible booking.

The auto-dispatch time is calculated by subtracting the travel time between stops from either the ‘Earliest arrival’ or ‘Latest arrival at’ time of the stops depending on which time is provided.

 

Auto-merger.png

 

In the example above, a 2-stop Instant booking was created at 16:30, with the ‘Earliest arrival’ set to 16:50 and the ‘Latest arrival’ time set to 17:00 on the second stop. The Auto-merger estimated the time needed for traveling between the pickup and drop-off stops as 8 minutes and set the auto-dispatch time to 16:42, which gave 12 minutes to merge this booking in a tour with other eligible bookings.

Note that the Auto-merger doesn’t factor in the time needed for a driver to reach the first stop. This makes the feature more suitable for operations where drivers are stationed at the first stop rather than floating around. However, this restriction can be alleviated by providing ‘Earliest arrival’ and ‘Latest arrival’ times with a reasonable gap between them.

If both timestamps aren’t provided, the auto-dispatch time cannot be calculated, and the booking will stay in the ‘On Hold’ status indefinitely. This doesn’t affect the booking’s eligibility for auto-merging; it just requires a dispatcher to manually dispatch the booking.

The auto-dispatch time won't be overridden if a booking has the auto-dispatch time provided upon creation.

If the auto-dispatch time is set, the dashboard will display an icon on the Bookings and Operations pages.

Auto-dispatch_time_is_set.png

Configuration of the frequency

If the default 1-minute interval is too frequent for your operations and you’d like to increase it, please contact our Customer Success team.

Limit tour distance and the number of bookings included in a tour

The Auto-merger allows limiting tours based on distance and the number of included bookings. If you’d like to add these limitations, please get in touch with our Customer Success team.

Support for dispatcher intervention

As soon as a tour is made visible to drivers, its corresponding parent bookings become ineligible for auto-merging. This effectively means the bookings won’t be auto-merged again if a dispatcher undispatched or canceled a tour.

Troubleshooting

If the feature was enabled for your account but doesn’t work, check that the following conditions are met:

  • Manual Dispatching is enabled for the Service which you use to create bookings and for the booking type / scheduling mode (Instant or Scheduled). Go to Settings → Services → Dispatching to confirm it.
  • Bookings start from the same Saved Place. The Saved Place must be linked to a stop.
  • At least one driver is available within the search radius of the first stop.
  • You have waited for 1 minute for the auto-merging to be performed.

If you’ve reviewed the points above but bookings aren’t merging, it could be due to time constraints on the stops. Bookings won’t be merged if a driver on the resulting tour can’t meet the promised arrival times at the stops.

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