For millennia, those involved in delivery work have planned their loads and, as part of that, optimised their use of the available space. Anyone who thinks this is a modern science is simply mistaken. |
When the ancient Romans shipped grain from Egypt to Rome in cargo vessels, you can be sure the loads were planned in order to get the maximum amount possible into every single ship. They would have been no more inclined to just ‘throw in’ everything that came to hand at random than we are.
The same would have been true for canal barges in the 18th century or horse-drawn wagons in the 19th.
21st Century Challenges
Yet for todays’ delivery work companies, things ARE different in many respects.
Firstly, elements such as health and safety would have been an abstract concept throughout much of the history of transport. It’s no longer enough to plan a load simply with the objective of getting a theoretical maximum amount possible into a vehicle. Things such as safe loading laws must be taken into account also.
Secondly, in the past, environmental considerations played little or no part in load planning. By contrast, today it’s important to plan loads in totality, so as to try to limit the number of individual journeys made in a given period.
Finally, transport throughout large parts of history was often a highly dangerous business. As a result, costs could be high and margins likewise. Many people in past centuries became extremely rich just as shippers, but today margins are under intense pressure and efficiency is king. A little loading inefficiency perhaps wasn’t typically a big deal in the past, whereas today it could make the difference between business survival and business failure.
Load Planning – It’s Not Easy
Anyone who has significant experience of load planning within delivery work will readily confirm that it’s not easy.
Even when everything is theoretically ‘straightforward’ in terms of the load, such as having a large consignment of regular-sized cartons adding up to 75 cubic metres, it can then defy the laws of physics by refusing to fit into an 85 cubic metre trailer!
The problems become at least an order of magnitude greater when you start having loads of multiple different individual consignments, odd shapes, sizes and varying weights. If that’s not bad enough, there is then the need to plan the load to make multiple tips practical and taking all that into account with things such as axle weight distributions and so on.
This is why some load planners go grey – and very quickly!
Help is at Hand Fortunately, today there are computer programs that can help plan a load, taking into account all the variables.
True, these aren’t exactly new, and versions have been around for some decades, but the latest versions are immensely powerful and sophisticated tools that can reduce at least some of the stresses on the human planner. They can be run on mobile devices too – something which is very practical in the loading bay when supervising.
The pressures on load planners to deliver the optimum vehicle performance and load yield while staying within the ever-more detailed requirements of the law have never been greater. These software packages are worth looking into in more detail if you’d like to be sure you’re getting the very best out of your delivery work planning.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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