13 Ways to Save Money With 3D Load Building


Load Building is all about the way your goods and products are packed, stacked, and loaded. It starts at the carton level (well actually product level, but I’ll skip that – for now). How do products fit in a carton, or what carton sizes are needed to ship an order? When cartons are packed they may need to be stacked on a pallet. How do you stack them in the most efficient way, and how many and which pallet types do you need? Done stacking? Then the pallets need to be loaded on a trailer or in a container. Which pallets go where, maybe some loose loading as well, and how many loading meters do you need?

3D Load building software gives you answers to all these questions, and then some!

In this blog post I will touch on 13 points in your supply chain, where proper load building can save you money. I will start with the procurement department and your suppliers and work my way through your supply chain until we reach your customer.

  1. Product Design

How products are designed impacts how they will be shipped. Small alterations can have minimal impact on the product, but maximum impact on shipping it. Use load building software to see the impact of design decisions on carton size or pallet load. For example: adding an internal support bracket allows for storing items flat instead of upright on a pallet. Changing the dimensions slightly might create nice full layers instead of just having a few mm/cm short of an additional product on the layer. Now 10 cartons can be stored on a pallet instead of 8. That is a 25% saving on transportation costs.

  1. Packaging Design

What goes for product design also goes for packaging design. The way products are packaged impacts how they are stacked on a pallet. 3D load building allows you to run large amounts of simulation runs with real live data to find out what the logistics costs are for different packaging design choices. For example: using a heavier quality cardboard for the cartons allows you to stack 4 instead of 3 layers on a pallet. You save 33% on the total volume shipped. Shipping less empty space in the carton might also result in more efficient packing on a pallet – saving packaging costs and transportation costs. 3D Load Building Software can help you determine what the ideal size is.

  1. Purchase Order Sizing vs. Transportation Capacity

Saving money starts at your purchasing department. Ordering full cartons, full layers, full pallets or full truckloads allows for efficient picking, packing, palletizing, stacking and truck loading – this lowers the logistics costs. For example: size your order so the shipment is a full truckload, instead of receiving an additional partial shipment at extra cost or receiving a less than full truck load and pay for the transportation of air. Use 3D Load Building Software to optimize order size.

  1. Perfect Shipment

The Perfect Shipment and the Happy Flow are terms that are closely related and form a nice twin. The Happy Flow is a flow from ordering to fulfillment without the need for human intervention. To be able to do this in a cost-effective way the Perfect Shipment is an important requisite. The Perfect Shipment needs minimal handling (full cartons instead of item picking, stock pallets instead of multi-item pick pallets and full truck loads instead of partial loads). Combined with the Happy Flow this minimizes human effort on standard steps and frees up time for exception handling.

  1. Transportation Planning

The earlier you book your freight, the lower the cost. If you book too much you are paying for loading meters you are not using. If you book too little, you pay even more. Booking a truck today for tomorrow, or worse – finding transportation capacity for now – is much more expensive. With 3D Load Building it is possible to accurately predict the number of loading meters required. You can book the exact number of trucks you need.

  1. Carton Selection for Sales Orders

Load building starts on carton level. Correctly estimating the size of the carton, you need to package your sales order can save costs. If you overestimate size, you are shipping air, or if you need to use filler material to protect your products, you use unnecessary filler material. If you underestimate the size you may need to repack the sales order, which costs valuable time, or the order will be in multiple cartons, which can lead to additional transportation cost as well. The same holds for pallets (ship full layers or preferably full pallets) and full truck loads.

  1. Pallet Building

Whether you have odd sized or same sized items, you will want to stack as much on a pallet as possible within the rules posed by product characteristics, customer demand and legal rules. Adding another pallet adds loading meters and that adds cost. There is another reason you want to know what goes on a pallet in advance: you can use the information to accurately predict the number of loading meters you need. No pallet gets left behind, and no full truck load is ordered when a partial load would have sufficed.

And then there is the speed with which a truck is loaded. If the load plan is made in advance, there are less errors. Fork lift drivers don’t have to create their own loading plan. They just follow the loading instructions. Loading rules will be followed more closely and the loading itself is quicker.

  1. Fork lift drivers for load building

With staff hard to find, expensive to train and hard to retain it helps to simplify the job. Proper load planning removes the planning component from the qualification checklist of your fork lift drivers. This opens up the job to people who might otherwise not qualify but now will be able to execute and be happy in the job. Both company and staff win.

  1. Load building rules – don’t believe what you are told

In many warehouses visited, loading rules are strongly believed and applied in a rigorous and standard way. Well, sort of standard. These rules hold as long as they are not confronted with reality. Of course, rules like adhere to dangerous goods requirements or stay within container dimensions are followed either because of legal requirements or because of the physical constraints of the transportation units. Spending a couple of hours at loading docks makes clear that, although there are some general guidelines which are followed, creativity in loading is well and alive.

  1. Transportation Cost Estimates

Load building enables you to accurately predict transportation cost. Know in advance how many loading meters you need. This gives you an advantage in both your sales process and your order taking process. Your quotations can be more accurate, and you can save cost by matching the ordered quantities to the number of loading meters you need.  No need to add unnecessary safety margins that raise the price you offer your customer and no unnecessary loss because transportation costs are higher than originally estimated.

  1. Order Split / Smart Ordering

In the current heterogeneous IT landscapes creating a sales order in the ordering system, transferring it to the warehousing system for picking and loading and then transferring it to the transport management system is relatively straightforward. If somewhere at the end of the flow a change needs to be made and therefor the change must be propagated up the flow again is anything but easy. Better to split / size the order at sales order entry. This allows for less complex interfacing (saves on ICT spent) and removes the need for unwanted communication and extra work.

  1. Weight Distribution in the Trailer

When loading a trailer, weight distribution is an important factor. Load building ensures trailers are properly loaded in terms of weight distribution. Distributing weight evenly from side to side, ensures that trailers are more stable, and products don’t get displaced in transit. And looking back to front: pallets and/or loose items should be placed such that the axle weight limitations are honored. This ensures that there is not too much weight on a single axle. It improves safety and as a bonus you don’t get fined. 3D Load Building ensures safe and stable loading.

  1. Trailer Loading Efficiency

Same as with a carton or a pallet, you want to ship as little air as possible in a trailer. The more you can fit in a trailer, the less trailers you need. With load building you can minimize the number of trailers you need, by instructing the warehouse how to spread pallets over multiple trailers and load them. And even more important if you want happy customers: no pallet gets left behind because the trailer was full.

3D Load Building, Organizational Happiness, and Satisfied Customers

In various stages of your supply chain 3D Load Building will bring happiness. It will save you money at every step from purchasing all the way to delivering to your end customer. There will be less exceptions to manage, as clear instructions prevent unnecessary errors. Your end customers will be happier, as shipments arrive better packed and in one go. Your employees will be happier as their jobs become less stressful. Better results. Everybody wins!

Want to know more about 3D load building? Send an e-mail to Dick Zijlstra and receive updates on future stories on load building, or connect with Dick on LinkedIn.

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Dick Zijlstra
Dick Zijlstra has been optimizing supply chains for over 20 years. For the last 6 years he has been responsible for optimizing supply chains for customers like EPSON, Heineken, Medtronic, Unilin, and Saint Gobain, through optimizing load building and routing at ORTEC.  Next to Supply Chain, he has a passion for sustainability, fueled by his passion for geology. He has a degree in Geophysics and majored in Mathematics. 

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