Have you ever found a stray thread on the sleeve of one of your sweaters and made the decision to pull it to see what would happen? Were you short one sweater sleeve as a result?
Consider this analogy in the context of load planning for your business: If you’ve been on the precipice of disaster, pulling the figurative thread may lead to a collapse of shipping plans, an increase in disgruntled customers, and a loss of income.
Of course, with the proper tools, your load planning process can be as smooth as a well-stitched sweater with nary a stray thread. Here are some items to consider as you implement your successful load plan:
- Understand responsibilities
Load planning isn’t based on how much material you can shove onto your transport vehicles — nor is it based on having those materials delivered at such low costs they risk vehicle safety as well as that of drivers. No doubt you want to keep your costs down; however, you need to determine your responsibilities to your employees, customers, and contractors. And if you can’t handle all the responsibilities — and you shouldn’t — you need to pass them on to others in your organization who’re reliable and trained to handle customer service, load planning, and transportation.
- Digitize and automate
The easiest way for your next load plan to fail is by leaving a gap in communication between support staff, warehouse personnel, and drivers. Paper invoices aggravate this issue as individuals sometimes transpose numbers, adjust time frames, and enter customer information incorrectly.
If you haven’t entered the computer age yet, now is the time to do so to avoid further disasters. You can use a transportation management system (TMS) to mitigate communication lags with access to load information from all departments. These systems offer options such as SKU verification, web-based dispatch, and vehicle tracking. Some packages provide the ability to remotely review vehicle mileage to determine if the driver is taking the proper route or if the driver needs a respite to get to her or his destination in an alert fashion.
- Know your drivers and vehicles
Though you could consider purchasing the proper software, the most difficult aspect of load planning — and the most important piece — is actually selecting the right drivers and vehicles. Even if the load planning software works like a charm, your human and mechanical components are fallible and can lead to delivery failure.
Driver and vehicle selection requires careful research to get the best in both categories for your investment. Ask leaders of other companies in your area for recommendations and perform your own review of their suggestions. Make sure you fully train drivers on business processes and on the vehicles they drive — and ensure you give both drivers and trucks probationary periods to determine how well they do.
While sales are important for your business, proper load planning for those sales is just as critical. Proper procedures and equipment enhance not only the planning process but also the overall supply chain — and your bottom line. With this knowledge in hand and implemented, you can solidify your business success.