Optimized load planning is fundamental to improving your service and revenue.
Could your company be wasting money on a logistics strategy that doesn’t work? Efficient load planning is more critical than ever and a key performance area for any supply chain. Ideally, you want to be able to move your product to your customers while maintaining desired service levels in the most efficient way. Logistics optimization strategies such as improving your load planning processes can be an effective way to reduce freight costs by as much as 10 to 40 percent.
While this sounds great, load planning can be a very manual and time-consuming process. A transportation management system (TMS), specifically one that includes a freight optimization tool, is one way to analyze and take your load planning process from hours of manual work to minutes through automation and technology.
Before we dive into how a TMS can help you with your load planning, perhaps you’ve thought of one of these common misconceptions.
First off, not all TMS platforms are the same. Some may not even offer load planning tools. It’s also important to see what kind of support is offered, as having an expert available can help provide you with more insight than the software alone.
Technology is a great tool to make your logistics processes more efficient. The word to remember here is “tool”. Even a TMS with a freight optimization tool can overlook certain opportunities for freight consolidation, so it’s important to always treat your transportation technology as an aid to your load planning process and not as a full replacement for it.
A TMS is a powerful tool for optimizing your load planning. A TMS provides you visibility into your entire logistics process. This allows you to monitor performance and create efficient plans. It helps you with your forecasting and planning so you can find cost-saving options. A TMS can help give you a clearer picture of your entire freight network by housing all your transportation information in one system.
Now, there is a lot of transportation management software out there. To gain the most benefit for your load planning process, you’ll want to make sure you select one with a freight optimization tool.
Anyone who has gone through the process of figuring out how to reduce shipping costs for each of their loads knows how much of a pain it can truly be. The process starts with tracking down all your open shipments, deciding what loads should be moved together, and then building, rating, and tendering those loads manually. For those who have not implemented a TMS, this is usually done with paper and pencil or an Excel spreadsheet.
Many factors go into optimizing shipments, including the number of pallets and weight of each shipment (taking trailer size into consideration), delivery availability for locations, and special services needed.
Perhaps one of the most important dynamics of building a shipment is delivery deadlines. It’s imperative to take note of whether a truck can deliver to single or multiple locations and arrive on time, factoring in the drivers’ hours of service (HOS) and loading and unloading times.
In sum, it’s a like a complex jigsaw puzzle made up of your freight, and trying to figure it out alone can be difficult.
The freight optimization tool in a TMS will take your list of open shipments and consolidate them into loads based on the criteria specified by you. The software’s criteria encompass ship and delivery date flexibility, maximum weight per shipment, the maximum number of pieces, the number of picks and drops, driver hours, and more.
You’re also able to choose which carriers you want to include for consideration. Once these parameters are set and the optimizer has been run, you also have the capability to auto-create loads in the TMS based on the optimizer’s results.
The optimizer tool accomplishes in minutes what usually takes a person hours to calculate and configure, with the likelihood of saving money in the meantime. The top benefits here translate to both time and money saved. Gone are the days of sitting at your desk for hours with a calculator and a headache.
In summary, our TMS (and other similar products) allow you to enter all your shipments, whether it’s 20 or 1000, and will automatically calculate the most efficient way to route your shipments by combining smaller shipments into multi-drop truckloads, keeping other shipments separate, and configuring the way it all gets routed across the country. The results of the freight optimization tool include the reported cost savings and a detailed report of the loads proposed.
Logistics optimization never ends. It is a continuous process only limited by your time, technology, and commitment to improvement. And ensuring your company has access to a best-in-class TMS is the key to starting that process and finding efficiencies.
Discover how Trinity’s TMS, including its freight optimization tool, can improve your logistics processes, like load planning, helping you offer better customer service and reduce costs while increasing revenue.
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