7 Load Planning Tips to Maximize Freight Space & Avoid Partial Deadheading

Load planning tips supported by freight software solutions help you make the most of cargo capacity.

As businesses enter the new year, many are looking at areas to cut costs and maximize profit margin. In the freight industry, this can be tricky during a carrier capacity crunch impacted by bottlenecked ports. One of the most important load planning tips for shippers to consider is how to avoid partial deadheading by using high-quality freight software solutions.

Deadhead trucks are defined as trucks that are empty on the return journey. Partial deadheading trucks are partially full. When moving partial trucks, shippers are not able to optimize their transportation costs.

This article provides seven load planning tips to maximize cargo space and cost efficiency.

1. Leverage Free Freight Software Solutions Like Load Boards

Deadheading trucks are not only a hassle for shippers, but also for carriers. Owner-operators and fleet managers watch free load boards to fill trucks in their frequented lanes. Some load boards even offer a specific category called shared truckload where shippers share the cost of a truck that travels to two separate, but nearby locations for pickup and drop off.

2. Gain Visibility Into All Available Capacity and Shipping Needs

Shippers can make their best decisions when they can clearly view all resources to fit their needs. Using a supply chain control tower provides visibility that reveals actionable information for managing orders. Shippers who use this method or others to achieve advanced visibility have better control over supply chain management at every turn, leaving less opportunity for surprise loads that need to be moved on a time crunch.

3. Track Carrier Compliance With Loading Requirements, Including Weight Distribution and Trailer Layouts

Regardless of how shippers find their carriers, it’s important for them to ensure they are compliant with loading requirements. Sometimes partial deadheading can be caused by carriers who are not knowledgeable or experienced in trailer layouts or weight distribution. Depending on the materials being transported, securement is also an important consideration to prevent minimal product loss on top of capacity loss.

4. Ensure Freight Is Properly Packaged and Not Taking up Undue Space

Shippers and logistics service providers can be proactive in maximizing cargo space by properly packing their materials. Just like the simple game of Tetris, certain shapes are better for stacking, so you can move larger quantities within a container. Maximizing capacity in this way results in fewer loads for transport, and less time spent researching load planning tips.

5. Stage Loads on the Dock, Based on the Information Gathered From Your Dock Scheduling Resources

Increased communication with dock partners can give shippers the load planning tips they need to maximize truck loading straight from the dock. This material handling zone can be a point of jeopardy for items of value or untraditional size. By reaching out to dock resources, shippers can better leverage their employees’ time to stage loads more effectively.

6. Track Total Deadhead and Waste, Knowing Which Carriers Tend to Run With Fuller Trucks

In order to reduce deadheading in trucking transportation, it’s important for shippers to monitor which carriers have transported the most amount of product with each load. Partial deadheading can be avoided by working with carriers that minimize extra space through efficient packing or shared truckload. Shippers can even pursue “shipper of choice” status with these carriers to ensure future partnership.

7. Use a TMS That Integrates With a Diverse Set of Load Boards and Networking Tools

Shippers who want to solve deadheading in logistics often do so by retrofitting their operations. A quality TMS can provide real-time awareness that gives shippers and logistic service providers everything they need to maximize the load space that is being paid for. Logistics collaboration in supply chains makes networking profitable for everyone involved.

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Put Load Planning Tips Into Action With MercuryGate

Shippers want to make the most of every load, but still deadheading can happen.

Truckstop.com reports, “To avoid the financial impact of deadheading, brokers and contractors add an incentive to some of their trucking job assignments…[paying] $.60 or $.90-cents per deadhead mile.”

Without proactive strategy, this cost can come back to the shipper without any gain. For more strategies to maximize your freight transportation spend, download our guide to Multimodal Freight Optimization.

Learn more best practices for multimodal freight optimization.


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