Carrier TMS Blog

How complicated is load planning?

It is a shame that in 2019 load planing is still done for the most part by people. The process is quite complicated and ripe for being "digitalized", but it is hard to let go. While in 2017 the trucking industry finally installed ELD devices on most of the trucks, companies are not data-driven and don't know what to do with it.

The current process when choosing a load in the trucking company is for the dispatcher (a human being) to call at least ten different people for a given lane and get a “feeling” of the market. Such a process can’t be more archaic, yet it is how over 98% of the trucking companies do business and set prices. That process can’t be more inefficient. Even with technological advances of the 3Pl companies, it is still time-consuming and still boils down to humans making a decision. To put it in perspective,  the US has 135 different freight markets, which equals to 18225 different lanes with the price for each lane. The three main modes of freight are Flatbed, Dry Van, and Reefer, so each lane has three different prices, which make 54675 different combinations. Since the market often changes on average every month, we need to multiply that number by 12, and we will have a whole freight cycle. Each dispatcher needs to know not only the 18k different lanes, not only the price for each lane but also to chose how to line them up, so the truck generates the highest revenue for the period.

All these numbers do not include nuances of the day of the week or if the load is hazmat, requires step-deck instead of flatbed, or needs additional time requirements that will add up to the price. Also even there is the right load for the right price, the driver may not have enough hours on his clock to perform the load. The load planner needs to consider all these factors before making a decision on how to schedule the truck.

Image shows what are the best 3 lanes out of the Houston Market.

That process is complicated and difficult to scale. It requires extensive training and even the good load planners are people and sometimes they make mistakes. They not only think about one lane, but they think about a couple of lanes in advance.

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