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What is Load Planning? How Load Planning Can Be Improved With Route Planner?

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By Komal Puri | July 6, 2023

Load planning simplifies the strategic arrangement of items within a container for maximum space utilization. This holds great importance in the shipping industry as companies try hard to minimize transportation costs, maximize the load capacity of vehicles, and guarantee efficient delivery to their end customers. If you’re trying to learn more about load planning, this article explores its key principles, benefits, and best practices in great detail. Let’s get started.

What is Load Planning?

Load planning is all about optimizing the available space of a container as efficiently as possible. It requires strategic goods arrangement by keeping several key factors in mind. For instance, you have to consider each item's dimensions and weight, plan the even weight distribution, and ensure load stability. Additionally, if there are any specific constraints or logistics requirements, you must also consider them.

While the manual process can take time, advanced software can easily suggest optimal plans. These applications take in the key parameters and constraints for a given shipment. Then, they run this data through complex algorithms to identify the best loading arrangement. The algorithms consider all the angles to provide actionable recommendations on efficiently packing cargo.

Understanding the Importance of Load Planning

Load planning is important for any business dealing with goods management for the following reasons:

  1. Enhanced Space Utilization: Random placement of items creates unused space inside the cargo. On the other hand, intelligent load planning fully leverages the available space as per the item size, shape, and height. By minimizing unused gaps, companies can reduce trip frequency and the need for larger vehicles. The payoff? Lower costs, better resource use, improved efficiency.
  2. Cost Reduction: Companies with inefficient load planning underutilize their cargo capacity and require additional trips to deliver the same amount of goods. This results in extra expenses for the company. But load planning lets you haul more goods in each run. This translates to fuel, labor, and maintenance savings. Filling vehicles during each outing also eliminates fees for bigger rentals or fleet additions. That said, careful load plans keep budgets in check.
  3. Improved Safety and Load Stability: Intelligent load planning ensures an even weight distribution across the vehicle. The algorithms make sure items are secure and stable in transit. This prevents dangerous shifts or topples. Factoring in limits, balance needs, and restraints minimizes cargo and operator risk. This results in safer travel for both goods and drivers.
  4. Time and Efficiency: Shipping companies aim to achieve smooth load planning to experience faster in and out at each route. Let’s understand how it works. First, arranging items strategically optimizes the sequence for loading and unloading. Second, organized placement means fewer delays at pit stops. Lastly, a pre-planned loading sequence results in faster process execution. This results in maximized efficiency with reduced wait times.
  5. Compliance and Regulations: If a shipping company fails to comply with legal requirements during transit, it often results in potential penalties, fines, and legal issues. In such situations, companies can hardly promote a safe and compliant transportation operation from positive branding. In this regard, load planning can help you easily comply with regulations and guidelines related to load securing, weight restrictions, and axle loads with ease.
  6. Customer Satisfaction: Imagine a shipping industry struggling with customers due to poor load planning. No customer would like to experience delayed deliveries due to poor load planning. Also, customers would never like to receive damaged items due to unstable loading. In such scenarios, load planning becomes imperative to maintain customer satisfaction and avoid negative feedback or loss or repeat business.
  7. Environmental Concerns: When companies do inefficient load planning, it may also backfire with unnecessary environmental concerns from the regulatory boards. For instance, a grocery chain with poor load planning may require frequent trips, leading to increased fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

8 Big Benefits of an Efficient Load Planning

Efficient load planning can result in the following benefits:

  1. More Load Capacity Per Trip: The strategic arrangement of items makes more room for including extra items inside vehicles, containers, or storage areas. You can transport more goods in a single trip that too with an even weight distribution for your carrier safety. With fewer trips, you save on transportation costs, and with proper load balancing, you avoid safety issues and legal violations with ease.
  2. Huge Cost Savings on Fuel and Manpower: A well-optimized load planning directly contributes to company cost savings. As you reduce the number of trips and container size, you save on fuel expenses, labor costs, and vehicle maintenance on unnecessary trips or oversized vehicles. With less number of trips, you reduce carbon emissions. Lastly, with well-planned routes, you save time to plan more trips per day. That again translates to low fixed expenses to variable expenses ratio every month.
  3. High Operational Efficiency: When companies load and unload more items per trip with optimal weight distribution, they save time on extra trips and achieve high efficiency. Load planning tools also suggest the best sequence of loading and unloading your items. For instance, it suggests you load last-to-deliver items first for easier, quicker unloading. As a result, you avoid the ideal time to prepare for the next trip.
  4. Enhanced Vehicle and Carrier Safety: When all items are properly placed with ideal weight distribution, the container and the vehicle remain stable during braking and turns. Otherwise, vehicles become prone to accidents due to unstable loads during a stiff turn or sudden braking. Also, when vehicles adhere to their maximum load limits, the brakes and tires go through comparatively less wear and tear. Most importantly, it keeps drivers out of stress, which is necessary to ensure safe driving.
  5. In Compliance with Regulatory Norms: When shipping companies fail to meet regulatory compliance for maximum weight limits, or axle loads, they attract hefty fines from the regulatory board. But, when they diligently follow load planning, they not only become aware of regulatory boundaries but also turn brand ambassadors of safe and responsible transportation amongst competitors.
  6. High Customer Satisfaction: When you optimize loads to ensure accurate and timely deliveries, you, by default, earn customer satisfaction. Optimal weight distribution also reduces the risk of damaged goods. Customers trust you with the safe and secure delivery of their items. This further enhances customer loyalty and fosters a positive brand reputation.
  7. In Check With Environmental Responsibility: The local government always keeps a keen eye on logistic companies to exceed their maximum carbon footprint limit. Carbon footprints increase with unplanned extra vehicle trips. However, efficient load planning helps logistic companies easily address all these challenges thereby promoting a strong commitment to environmental responsibility.
  8. Full Resource Optimization: Planning your load does not optimize your cargo space only. You also learn how to effectively use other resources, including vehicles, containers, and manpower through data-driven insights. Eventually, the art of maximum resource allocation benefits you through reduced idle time and high operational efficiency.

We all can acknowledge that efficient load optimization calls for meticulous planning and execution. But, is it possible to carry it out manually? Will it be wise to invest in tools and automation? Let’s find out.

Manual Load Planning vs Automatic Load Planning

Manual Load Planning

  1. Decision-Making: Limited to human intelligence and judgement through limited data
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Highly cost-effective for small-scale operations and simple loads
  3. Scalability: Challenged by human intelligence, shipment volume and complexity
  4. Efficiency: Less efficient due to time-consuming processes and human errors
  5. Time Management: Time consuming for complex loads and high volumes
  6. Complexity Handling: Increases with complex load configurations and large volumes
  7. System Integration: Manual handling of data from multiple sources
  8. Real-time Adjustments: Real time adjustments can be slow and less efficient
  9. Data Analysis: Limited scope of data-driven insights due to manual processes

Automatic Load Planning

  1. Decision-Making: Combines human input with AI-powered data-driven algorithms to make prompt decisions
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Higher initial investment but yields quick ROI with large scale operations
  3. Scalability: Highly scalable as per load diversity and volume of items
  4. Efficiency: Highly efficient if the entire process is correctly configured to run on automation by sophisticated technologies
  5. Time Management: Super fast due to automation of data processing through AI and Machine learning
  6. Complexity Handling: Capable of handle large and complex logistic operations with ease
  7. System Integration: Easy integration with other systems to fetch and process data automatically for swift decision-making
  8. Real-time Adjustments: Quick recalculations for changes in orders, constraints, or item availability
  9. Data Analysis: Continuous real-time data analysis with sophisticated AI and data models

What Does a Load Planner Do?

A load planner takes the entire responsibility of load organisation within the allocated space. Whether it’s a truck, container, or warehouse, the group of responsibilities remains the same. However, the primary responsibility covers multiple secondary responsibilities if executed correctly. The list of primary responsibilities includes:

  1. Ideal Load Configuration: There are a lot of factors that come into play while optimising space for items. For instance, the load planner checks for weight distribution requirements as per container capacity. Additionally, items are arranged properly not to topple over during shipment. Similarly, even weight distribution in line with load stability guidelines does matter. A load planner handles all of these responsibilities with ease.
  2. Efficient Load Optimisation: Imagine optimizing loads on your own without any tool or software. Here, several factors may surface. Item dimension, weight distribution, and load balance could just be the starters. This gets tedious, time-consuming, and prone to human errors when you do it manually. However, a load planner uses sophisticated software tools with their expertise to optimize load without any error.
  3. Better Resource Allocation: Managing and allocating resources is another challenge. You need real-time data on available vehicles, on-duty labourers, and delivery charts to make quick calls. The load planner can access all these data using software tools. That’s how they swiftly manage vehicles, containers, and labour for efficient resource utilisation.
  4. Route Planning: Logistic companies save fuel and time with a well-planned optimal route. But, the shortest route may also turn the longest one under occasional traffic constraints. Load planners fetch real-time traffic data for a detour when such a situation arrives. Plus, they optimize routes from time to time, depending on delivery windows and load configurations. That again translates to fuel economy and on-time delivery.
  5. Communication and Coordination: Successful load planning also demands clear communication and smooth coordination with various associates. The list includes stakeholders, warehouse personnel, transportation teams, etc. Unless you have a dedicated management team, hiring an ideal load planner is a wise choice.
  6. Documentation and Record Keeping: Let’s not forget how tedious accurate record-keeping is for various load configurations. It covers analyzing item details, weights, shipping labels, tracking numbers, etc. Load planners use automated tools to plan and manage records to avoid costly shipping errors. This saves a huge amount of time and maintains the company's reputation.
  7. Continuous Improvement: Load planning doesn’t come with a fixed blueprint. It’s a cycle of continuous improvement with feedback and performance reflection. Load planners can do that with constant monitoring and feedback generation systems. They also consider the latest trends to enhance load efficiency and save operational costs.

Improve Load Planning With FarEye Route Planner

FarEye’s robust route planner helps logistic companies improve load planning with:

  1. Dynamic Route Optimization: The FarEye route planner optimizes routes with dynamic data elements. For instance, it considers distance, traffic conditions, delivery slots, and vehicle capacity for optimization. However, the route gets auto-optimized with any change in these factors in real-time. That saves a great hassle on dynamic routing.
  2. Real-time Visibility: FarEye application offers a real-time vehicle tracking feature. You can see the current location of vehicles to track progress and update customers regarding the same. It also aids you in dynamic route planning during emergencies.
  3. Integration With Load Optimization: FarEye route planner can integrate with tools that monitor vehicle and driver capacities to meet on-time delivery SLAs. It synchronizes load configuration accordingly. You also get notified to meet the requirements for future deliveries.
  4. Resource Utilization: FarEye's route planner uses advanced algorithms to find the best way to load goods in line with factors like size, weight, and compatibility of the loads. Automation reduces your time and effort in manual planning. Moreover, optimal use of available space in trucks or containers results in fewer trips and lower transportation costs.
  5. Efficient Handling of Constraints: You don’t have to juggle between various constraints for efficient load planning. FarEye's route planner considers weight restrictions, delivery time windows, and specific delivery requirements with ease. It can factor in these constraints in line with necessary compliance to improve the efficiency of your load planning process.
  6. Analytics and Insights: How about having a bird’s eye view of your order status for different clients with address, city, carrier, and more details on a single dashboard? Apart from operational data, you can also monitor business trends, visualize big data, and get on-time tips to make informed decisions with FarEye's advanced route planner analytics.
Komal puri

Komal Puri is a seasoned professional in the logistics and supply chain industry. As the Senior Director of Marketing and a subject matter expert at FarEye, she has been instrumental in shaping the industry narrative for the past decade. Her expertise and insights have earned her numerous awards and recognition. Komal’s writings reflect her deep understanding of the industry, offering valuable insights and thought leadership.

Komal Puri
Sr. Director of Marketing | FarEye

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