How Maps APIs can power logistics for a greener future
Julija Babre
Jul 21, 2021
Traffic and travel information

How Maps APIs can power logistics for a greener future

Julija Babre
Product Marketing Manager Enterprise
Jul 21, 20215 min read
How Maps APIs can power logistics for a greener future
Almost a third of US greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation*. Trucks and vans that transport goods aren’t very efficient to begin with – add extra time spent idling, stuck in stop-and-go traffic, and driving inefficient routes, and the problem is worse. Fortunately, mapping APIs can help solve these challenges.
Logistics and transportation services have long been crucial to modern society, and the pandemic-driven explosion in e-commerce has only underscored their importance. But the boom in logistics and delivery services has also come at a high environmental cost with it—putting providers under pressure to find more efficient and sustainable ways of operating. 

Routing solutions to solve these efficiency challenges are more in demand as companies seek to save money on fuel while meeting environmental responsibility goals – without compromising overall operational efficiency. And that’s where mapping APIs can lend a helping hand – allowing companies to plan smarter routes for deliveries that cut both costs and emissions.

Efficient routing for logistics

Until recently, it’s been challenging to improve transport fleet efficiency. Without specialized knowledge or access to the right location technology, it is challenging to calculate routes based on myriad factors, such as vehicle size, axle weight and efficiency while accelerating or decelerating. Transport companies also haven’t had easy access to live traffic data to help avoid heavy traffic and accidents. 

Now, with modern mapping and routing APIs, like the TomTom Routing API, any company that can hire software developers, or purchase a product incorporating these tools, can optimize their operations with environmental impact in mind. 

Exactly how can an API make the operation of transport trucks and vans more efficient? Here are some routing API features that help:

  • Eco-routing modes automatically choose the most fuel-efficient route between two addresses, rather than the shortest or fastest. 
  • Dynamic traffic updates adjust a truck’s route on the fly. This helps to avoid congestion and reduce inefficient stop-and-go driving. 
  • Up-to-date information about road closures means transport vehicles don’t waste fuel on ad-hoc rerouting and backtracking. 
  • Truck travel modes ensure drivers avoid roads that ban commercial transport vehicles.
  • Calculations for vehicle parameters like size, weight, maximum speed and cargo type ensure the route avoids restricted roads.
  • Vehicle efficiency modeling parameters — like fuel consumption rate, uphill and downhill efficiency, as well as acceleration and deceleration efficiency — help the API pick the most efficient route for every vehicle. 

TomTom's Routing API goes a step further by offering efficient routing for electric vehicles (EVs) too. While most transport vehicles still use carbon-emitting fossil fuels, EVs are increasingly important as local and last-mile delivery services look for greener, more efficient options.

Effective routing APIs may also encourage EV adoption in the transport industry. Currently, companies might worry that EV’s batteries will run out before they can complete a delivery route. Electric-aware routing APIs ease this anxiety by incorporating battery size, vehicle efficiency and range into routing calculations. Transportation companies who use software that incorporates these capabilities through a routing API can be confident vehicles will complete all their deliveries and return to base with power to spare. 
TomTom's Routing API
TomTom's Routing API helps ease range anxiety for fleet management companies by incorporating battery size, vehicle efficiency and range into routing calculations.

Matrix routing for large fleets

Routing APIs offer many ways to lower fuel consumption and emissions for individual vehicles. But transport companies with large fleets miss out on significant efficiency improvements when solely considering route efficiency on a per-vehicle basis. With thousands of vehicles traveling among thousands of ports, factories and warehouses, it can be challenging to determine which to use to fulfill shipments between various locations. 

Advanced routing APIs like TomTom’s Matrix Routing API consider the location and capabilities of each vehicle in a commercial fleet and compares them to the origin, destination and size of each upcoming delivery. Using this information, the API can determine precisely which vehicle should pick up and deliver each shipment. This ultimately reduces the total miles traveled and the amount of fuel consumed. 

Geofencing drives efficiency 

While routing APIs like those we’ve discussed provide the most obvious path to an API-driven cleaner future, we shouldn’t forget about geofencing. Geofencing is a set of services for defining an area with a virtual "fence" boundary. There are many ways geofencing can be used to benefit individuals and businesses, such as tracking fleet vehicle assets, targeting ad content to a specific area of town or letting customers know when a delivery is almost at their house.

In fleet management, Geofencing APIs let developers define contiguous geographic regions and then trigger alerts when a vehicle enters or leaves a geofenced area.

Geofences improve commercial transportation efficiency in several ways. The most prominent is by defining point-source geofences around delivery locations. Transport and logistics companies can then automatically alert customers when a delivery vehicle is approaching.

It might seem counterintuitive, but early or unexpected deliveries can be efficiency killers. A tractor trailer load of goods won’t unload itself. Personnel working for the company receiving the shipment are usually responsible for unloading it – not the delivery driver. If a truck shows up very early (or very late), there’s no guarantee anyone will be available to unload it. When this happens, the vehicle will often sit idling for hours awaiting unloading, leading to unnecessary fuel consumption and emissions.

However, if your client receives a geofence-triggered alert indicating that a shipment will arrive in 30 or 60 minutes, they can often reassign staff to ensure unloading can begin immediately. The net result is less pollution and a cleaner environment (and happier truck drivers!)

Supporting businesses on the move 
Improving logistics efficiency can be a complex undertaking – but the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. TomTom’s APIs provide everything you need to make your routing more eco-friendly. If you’re in the transport and logistics software industry, we’re here to help you deliver a greener, cleaner future.
Never miss a story
Get the latest news from TomTom in your inbox.
You’re in!

Thanks for subscribing to the TomTom Blog newsletter! Stay tuned for new stories delivered directly to your inbox.