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September 30, 2021 | 12:09

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Different types of the logistics business.

COVID-19 has put a large pressure on the trucking industry. A lot of production lines have shut, there has been a shortage in key commodities, the tight capacity of transportation, constantly increasing freight rates, congestion at ocean ports and rail terminals, etc. 

Yes, these are hard times for the logistics industry around the world. 

Logistics companies need to take their business to a higher level to improve their delivery capacity, save costs, and make the most out of available technologies. Load planning software is one of them. 

Read our article to learn more about how to build a load planning software to solve the empty space problem in logistics.

What is load planning?

According to an Inbound logistics report, the main challenge of most truckers is providing capacity and optimizing their driver-related costs.

2021 Trucking Perspectives

Efficient load planning and shipment tracking can help overcome these challenges. Load planning is the process in the transportation industry that is aimed at decreasing the number of vehicles to transport goods and improving operational efficiency.

So how exactly does load planning help?

Ensure no more running on empty

According to the research, 15-25% of trucks on U.S. roads today are empty. Load planning helps to leverage backhauls, maximize space and environmental sustainability, and define the load parameters and constraints to find the best option for moving the goods.

Reduce transport costs

According to U.S. Xpress, the number of drivers has decreased because of the pandemic, therefore increasing freight demand and reducing capacity. That’s why it’s predicted that the contract rates will increase between 8 to 15% during 2021. 

Load planning will help to reduce transportation costs by predicting the number of loading meters required, make the best possible use of the means of transportation, and minimize merchandise in the warehouse by placing orders at the latest possible moment.

Improve the capacity of each truck

Load planner software can improve the capacity by mixing and distributing loads based on cargo type, destination, size, and vehicle capacity. Load planners also mix large and small loads to utilize the space effectively, analyze its weight and balance, and share the load between the drivers to make sure that each shipment reaches its destination on time and in safe conditions.

Meet compliance regulations for all your trucks and loads

45% percent of shippers consider that regulations have impacted cost or service in their operations.

Shippers: which is more important, your relationship with your carrier or with your broker/intermediary?

A detailed and sophisticated load planning considers not only basic capacity but also vehicle characteristics, helping ensure compliance for all trucks and loads.  

To improve efficiency, leading logistics companies should invest in new digital capabilities like developing custom load optimization software.

Digital is here to change the way carriers interact with customers, raising the bar for speed and experience, especially in these hard COVID times. 

The coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our industry in ways we couldn’t have imagined a year ago, and those challenges will reverberate throughout 2021,said Eric Fuller, president, and CEO of U.S. Xpress, in a news release. “I’m proud of our men and women who have been on the front lines, delivering essential goods throughout this pandemic. This will continue to be a challenging year, but I’m confident it will end on a positive note.”

Load planning software features in truck loading software development

The functionality of load planning providers is different, depending on your business requirements and needs. Let’s cover the most basic features you will need to improve the transportation efficiency in your company and develop container loading software.

3D diagram creation

With the visualization of the entire load plan in a 3D view, you can rotate or zoom your cargo and examine its layout in detail. Think of it as a game that will help you individually adjust the rotation and position of each box or even set up a loading plan from scratch.

Packing manifest: Cargo Planner

Different types of trailers/containers

Make sure that the software you choose contains a database of container and trailer types you can switch between depending on your needs. Containers are usually divided according to the mode of transportation. 

The most common types of maritime containers in load software development are:

  • General-purpose containers that are fully enclosed, protected from the elements, and weatherproof, with a rigid roof, sidewalls, and floor
  • Flat rack containers — a folded simple storage container with collapsible sides
  • Open top containers with lashing rings installed to the upper and lower side rails and corner posts to secure cargo, are available in 20’ and 40’
  • Swap body containers — containers with a convertible top, which makes them good for shipping a range of goods
  • Shipping container types.

    In the trucking industry, the most common types of containers are:

  • dry van
  • reefer
  • flatbed
  • step deck
  • double drop, etc.
  • In the railroad industry, general purpose and high cube containers are usually used.

    Air Freight containers or Unit Load Devices (ULD) are developed and created from materials approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Air Transport Association of America (ATA). They also have different sizes and shapes.

    Air Freight container sizes

    Multiple constraints support

    An efficient loading software should also consider and analyze various constraints and factors planning a consolidated shipment. The following types of constraints you need to know to build truck load optimization software are:

  • Equipment constraints
  • Equipment constraints include the capacity and other physical characteristics of the container or equipment, such as side doors, bulkheads, number and size of compartments, inside temperature, etc.

  • Product constraints
  • Product constraints include any product-related properties, restrictions, or requirements, such as size, weight, shape, package type, stackability, fragility, required temperature, etc.

  • Compliance with regulations
  • Regulations usually deal with weight restrictions and handling hazmat freight to ensure overall transportation safety.

  • Customer requirements
  • Loading software is not only about dealing with containers but with customers as well. So it should also take into account the customer demands of shipment delivery. For example, placing the items in a single-vehicle or container is forbidden to reduce the risk of theft or transport some products together.

    Balanced distribution

    The custom load planning software should also consider the center of gravity when distributing the weight and ensure that trailer axles are not overloaded. It helps to calculate accurate freight metrics at the time of order processing and optimize LTL less-than-truckload orders with efficient mixed pallets.

    Mixed cargo load & cube optimization software for containers, trucks, and pallet loading

    Manual adjustments

    Ensure that the custom cargo loading software allows you to make manual adjustments to the load plan in case of customer requirements or unusual loading requirements.

    Packaging Design, Case Sizing and Pallet Layer Optimization Software

    Freight grouping, loading sequence, and step-by-step instructions

    Sometimes, the items should be grouped together. For example, items that should be delivered to the same drop-off point. Or there are situations when items should be prioritized and added to the load list in the first place. 

    To ensure that the shipments are organized in the right order, you should be able to create detailed instructions for loading as well as create a printed step-by-step load plan to create truck packing software.

    “Step-by-step” loading report

    Integration options

    To streamline operations and enable efficient and complete data sharing, you need to connect your loading software to other software pieces via APIs. The most common types of integrations include:

  • Integration with routing tools
  • Integration with business management systems
  • Integration with BI and analytics tools
  • Load planning software providers

    Let’s review the main types of load planning software providers to consider.

    General-purpose load planners

    Most of the solutions on the market are general-purpose load planners. Their main features: focus on loading pallets, truck trailers, and standard shipping containers, rarely covering air transportation.

    The examples of general-purpose load planners are:

    EasyCargo — container and truck loading software.

    Container and truck loading software EasyCargo

    The loading software calculations in EasyCargo are evaluated right in the web browser. That saves the hassle of installing new software. EasyCargo provides easy-to-learn, easy-to-use software with modern design with available tutorial videos. 

    It contains an easy process of planning the cargo layout in EasyCargo and provides you with precise placement of items to effectively utilize cargo space and save your transportation expenses. Also, this tool provides great visualization. Load-plan results are displayed using real-time 3D visualization, and cargo items can be easily moved or rotated if needed. You can also generate print reports from any viewpoint, even within the container or the truck cargo space.

    Its features include:

  • Unlimited number of load plan calculations
  • More than 10 000 items of up to 250 different types in one shipment
  • Imperial (inches, pounds) or Metric (centimeters, kilograms) units support
  • Priority groups that sort cargo items based on final destination
  • Manual load plan editor (adjust the placement and rotation for each box in the calculated load plan)
  • Non-stackable groups and groups split by a virtual wall
  • Insert items directly from a MS Excel file
  • Export of the load plan to Microsoft Excel
  • New loading application function ready!
  • Cargo items database
  • New loading application function ready!
  • Integration with SAP (in German only)
  • New loading application function ready!
  • Constraint settings for cargo item positioning (non-stackable, no-tilt, do not rotate, shift to mass center, etc.)
  • The description is shown on each item directly in the 3D visualization
  • Define your vehicles or containers
  • Containers
  • Load Calculator — a web-based application created to optimize the stuffing of goods inside the truck or container.

    SeaRates Load Calculator - a web-based application created to optimize the stuffing of goods inside the truck or container

    With a load calculator, you simply add your cargo parameters and get a step-by-step loading plan at your disposal in a few clicks. All you have to do is select a transport mode, package type, indicate the dimensions, weight, and quantity, choose the type of container or truck manually if you have special requirements, leave it to the system for automatic selection, and get the result. As easy as it sounds!

    Soft truck — cargo calculator built to optimize truck, pallet, and container loads.

    Cargo Wiz cargo calculator by Soft truck.

    With this calculator, you can set stacking limits, load by sets, make some cargo “Taboo on top” of other cargo, require some cargo to be placed bottom only, record, print, and share your full set of reports.

    Multi-modal load planners

    For multi-modal shipping, you need to have software that supports a wide range of containers for air, sea, rail, and land transportation, as well as safety standards and other constraints. The examples of such software are:

    GOLDesp

    Boeing Load Planner by Tapestry solutions

    This is a premiere suite of software tools that enable organizations to quickly create effective and efficient load plans for multi-modal operations for vessels, aircraft, railcars, and trucks/trailers. The web-based software provides end-to-end supply chain visibility through information visualization, in-transit cargo visibility, and distribution forecasting and planning.

    MercuryGate

    End-to-end TMS Solutions

    TMS provider that supports multi-modal transportation and also includes a load planner.

    Aviation load planners

    In an aviation load planner, cargo must be distributed with the center of gravity maintained throughout the flight. Here are examples of load planning tools specially designed for aircraft.

    CHAMP’s Weight & Balance — a load planning tool that is fully compliant with Civil Aviation Authorities and IATA standards

    Advanced, intuitive, user-friendly load planning

    S4A Smart LOAD application — a tool that automates load planning activities and reduces fuel costs by producing the optimal center-of-gravity calculations.

    S4A Smart LOAD application - the visual load planning system, providing the best aircraft weight and balance solution in the industry.

    Vessel stowage planners

    Specific load planning is essential for efficient usage of optimal space and transportation in safe conditions.

    StowMan

    Stowman - faster planning and better vessel utilization by Navis

    A versatile, advanced storage system that optimizes the filling factors through better and easier cargo operations. The software is designed to assist shipping lines in voyage planning for the best vessel utilization agencies in efficient load list management.

    AMT Marine Software

    AMT Marine Software for marine professionals.

    Software for developing and implementation of ship planning and stability analysis software for various types of operations. It has different ship planning products depending on the type of freight shipped.

    Implementing load planning software

    When it comes to implementing load planning software, there are 3 main ways to build container loading software:

    Implement it as a Part of TMS

    If you ship goods regularly, consider choosing a provider of TMSs that provides a lot of load optimization functionality and covers all of the main logistics needs for optimizing the capacity. You’ll get everything you need out-of-the-box, however, note that customization options in such cases are limited.

    Create a separate solution

    If you don’t need a complex TMS, consider standalone solutions available on the market with the features you need. However, you’ll need a tech specialist who will integrate a separate solution into the software you’re using right now.

    Consider custom development

    Sometimes, it’s hard to find software that covers all your needs. In such a case, custom development is a good way to go. Custom software will meet all the unique requirements of your business and help you bring your operations to the highest level possible.

    AMCONSOFT creates custom load planning software for your logistics industry

    To conclude, load planning software fills the space gaps in the following ways:

  • Helps you gather Information about free space and axle loads to plan an added load
  • Allows to control the dimensions of loads and arrange them in order to make the most of the available space
  • Gives you an opportunity to quickly verify that a load fits the space, and if there is any space left, plan an added load
  • Amconsoft has experience in the transportation and logistics industry as well as the development of custom logistics solutions to help you optimize management processes, refine the shipping experience, and cut fleet operational costs.

    With Amconsoft you will get:

  • Optimized Logistics Processes
  • Integration Flexibility
  • Organized Data Flows
  • Extensive Device Compatibility
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Increased Visibility
  • Our solutions are specifically built to help you overcome the problems you face:

  • Difficulties in optimizing logistics costs
  • Driver shortage and retention
  • Government regulations
  • Capacity planning
  • Make more informed decisions and increase your processes’ efficiency while reducing costs. We develop logistic software solutions that boost communication between different parties, from manufacturing companies to end-users. 

    Want to develop load optimization software? Contact us right now to discuss the best roadmap!

    Views: 130

    Written by:

    Filonenko Vyacheslav

    I've been leading a tech department specializing in eLearning applications and Business Intelligence for 10 years

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