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.
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.
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.
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:
In the trucking industry, the most common types of containers are:
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.
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 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 include any product-related properties, restrictions, or requirements, such as size, weight, shape, package type, stackability, fragility, required temperature, etc.
Regulations usually deal with weight restrictions and handling hazmat freight to ensure overall transportation safety.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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
S4A Smart LOAD application — a tool that automates load planning activities and reduces fuel costs by producing the optimal center-of-gravity calculations.
Vessel stowage planners
Specific load planning is essential for efficient usage of optimal space and transportation in safe conditions.
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.
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:
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:
Our solutions are specifically built to help you overcome the problems you face:
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!
I've been leading a tech department specializing in eLearning applications and Business Intelligence for 10 years