A Tale of Two Santas

Why some sleigh-drivers are smarter than others

The snow was falling prettily on Christmas eve, frosting the runners of Santa Claus’ sleigh and making the reindeer stamp their feet as they blew out clouds of breath into the darkening air, impatient to be off.

But where’s the big man himself? From within the office at the North Pole Workshop HQ comes a howl of despair. The job’s just too big these days. Santa throws up his hands and watches the thousands of dispatch sheets slither to the floor in chaos. There are going to be some disappointed kids tonight – he just can’t make this work.

How can he map the most efficient route between all those households? How can he realistically estimate the time it will take, so he can be sure to finish before dawn? How can he conserve the reindeer’s energy by making sure he takes the shortest routes? And how does he split the deliveries between the main sleigh and the many elf-driven delivery vehicles who support him? And don’t let’s even start on problems of overloading with heavy gifts and the issue of scheduling rest breaks.

Santa wonders if the PR elves could start a campaign for seven days of Christmas week Santa deliveries to give him a bit more time. But he knows the magic’s all about getting every parcel to the right household on the day it’s needed. What kind of a Santa is he if he can’t bring his ‘ho’ ‘ho’ ‘ho’ of happiness down the chimney on the one day everyone wants it? He’s finished.

But wait! What’s this dropping down the chimney into the little fireplace behind Santa’s desk? Head sunk in his hands, Santa doesn’t even notice. Luckily a passing elf spots the parcel and rescues it. Gloomily, Santa turns it over in his hands. More junk mail, surely – he doesn’t know how they find him in the wilds of the North Pole but it seems these marketers stop at nothing.

And then, as he reads the message on the front and wrenches off the wrapping, he sits up straighter. The sparkle comes back into his blue eyes and he throws back his hood, white hair and beard springing out in excitement.

Dear Santa

Don’t despair! There is another way!

Here is your new Truckstops VRS (vehicle planning, scheduling and route optimization) application. It’s special route planning software that assigns calls to vehicles and sequences them in the most rapid and efficient way, so you can get to all those Christmas stockings before the night’s out.

It’s designed for busy delivery operations where you need to take on more work with the same number of vehicles – sound familiar?

We’ve been working on your schedule and we’ve pre-loaded it into this mobile – your elves have all got their own routes and the special instruction they need for each delivery (too-small chimneys, noisy dogs, insomniac toddlers… you know the score.)

So you’ve got every child covered and you’ll be home for your bacon and turkey wholewheat bread sandwiches by dawn. Job done for another year!

Merry Christmas! from all the team at Truckstops from CACI

Christmas is saved!” Santa yells, making the reindeer buck and prance in the yard. He brandishes the mobile device he’s just received, its screen alive with activity. “Truckstops to the rescue!”

The elves cheer, checking their new delivery manifests as the convoy of heavily (but safely) loaded vans streams out of the compound, throwing up sparkling showers of powdery snow from under their winter tyres, while Santa’s sleigh gathers speed to take off on its now fully optimized mission of joy.

The End.