How The Algorithm People helps companies reduce fleet mileage and become more sustainable

Data has a key role to play in reducing emissions and helping plan for the transition to vehicles powered by renewable energy sources, which is why The Algorithm People has created a unique web-based platform to help fleet managers harness its power.

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The Newcastle-based outfit has developed software driven by algorithms that helps companies and organisations optimise the operation of their vehicles. This means their fleets travel less miles and therefore reduces emissions and increases overall profitability.

The Algorithm People offers a consulting service to help decarbonise fleets, while its platform can also be used independently by those involved in fleet management.

Colin Ferguson, chief executive of The Algorithm People, says: “Our platform can reduce emissions by reducing the miles travelled on each route, and we can also help organisations model and plan how they can overlay and then replace their petrol or diesel fleets with electric, hydrogen or other low emission vehicles.

“We provide the evidence-based analysis needed to underpin procurement decisions made.”

The Algorithm People deploys four main stages when working with a client to reduce mileage.The first stage will baseline the existing routes taken by vehicles using data from GPS telematic devices on board, or through manual recording, along with other back office information.

The next stage will resequence the given routes to determine if they can be altered to achieve less mileage, while still working within operational rules.

The following optimisation stage will assess if the number of vehicles can be reduced or more routes can be done with the same resources.

The final stage will examine how electric or hydrogen vehicles could be incorporated within the fleet and what infrastructure, including charging points, would be needed for this transition.

Ferguson explains how The Algorithm People can help organisations make the call between electric and hydrogenfleet vehicles: “With electric you have to consider the range of the vehicle, whereas hydrogen vehicles have a longer range but have a higher cost.

“Our algorithms will take on board the attributes of future vehicles that the organisation is considering and also consider the jobs and duty cycles they will be expected to perform.

“The algorithm will then work out what is the best option in terms of costs or emissions and will suggest a number of utilisation scenarios including all electric vehicles, all hydrogen vehicles or a hybrid model of the two.

“One model may be more expensive to run but have less emissions and another model may be cheaper, but there is a trade-off in terms of emissions.”

The costs of electrifying a fleet or electric or hydrogen is a large outlay for any organisation, therefore the stakes are high when it comes to deciding what vehicles to buy and where to install related infrastructure.

An electric-powered lorry can cost in excess of £400,000, while there are also costs to be incurred for setting up charging stations.

Ferguson says: “The optimisation part of our process also looks at how the vehicles will interact with the charging infrastructure.

“The platform will identify the infrastructure that you will need in terms of the number of charging posts and also help with planning how organisations can transition to powering their vehicles through renewable sources.

“It will also look at when the fleet vehicles have to be at charging stations to get enough energy to perform a duty cycle, and the process will also make sure that other vehicles are not turning up at the infrastructure at the same time.”

Organisations and companies face the challenge of fluctuating demand as circumstances out-with their control can lead to a surge or reduction.

Ferguson outlines how The Algorithm People’s platform can help manage these variations:“We can use the platform tomodel a number of different scenarios.

“A fleet manager could change the parameters and assumptions and hit the optimisation button and it will then create a new set of routes.

“Once you have got all of your baseline data and have entered your routes into the model then it is easy to change the scenario and run it again.”

Organisations face daily challenges to services that can pose significant disruption to the entire fleet. Many local authorities are considering using IoT services to keep track of overflowing bins along their routes.

Ferguson points out that The Algorithm People’s platform can connect to IoT services and the data that they provide can be inputted into the algorithm. He explains: “We can connect the IoT bin sensors to our platform that will alert the system that somethinghas changed which was not predicted.

“We can optimise dynamically based on the new information coming into the system and re-optimise the route just for that day to take into account the volatility.

“For example, if you have a bin that was supposed to be collected on Thursday it could then be collected on Tuesday or one-off remedial action taken.”