Why load planning is key to a successful rollout
A lot of planning goes into launching a new product, and nearly every team at your organization — from research and development to marketing — will spend many months coordinating the details to ensure success. During this planning, it’s essential to determine how the logistics portion of the launch will go. And one of the most important parts to lock down is the launch’s load plan.
What is a load plan?
Load planning is the process that aims to reduce mileage, carbon emissions and overall costs by decreasing the number of vehicles used to distribute your shipments. As the name implies, load planning involves deciding how the shipments will be loaded into the equipment, but that’s not the only detail to consider. Route and mode optimization are other critical components that can sometimes be overlooked. Working with a provider that will take a strategic look at your launch plan will enable you to gain efficiencies while still meeting your deadlines.
What information is needed to create a product launch load plan?
Having clear data is essential in planning how products will get from production to retail shelves across the country. You’ll want to communicate the following details with your transportation partner to help promote a timely and efficient launch.
Pickup and delivery locations
Because your rollout will likely involve transporting merchandise to multiple places, the planning starts with identifying all locations included in the product launch. At a minimum, you’ll need to have the ZIP codes for each delivery site and the address(es) of where the merchandise will be picked up by the carrier. The earlier you can provide exact addresses, the more efficient your plan can be.
Specific details about the freight
Accurate freight dimensions, weight and number of handling units for each delivery location are needed to calculate your shipments’ total volume and density. These are used to determine the amount of space needed in the equipment and will help ensure each trailer is loaded with proper weight distribution in mind.
It’s also recommended to provide a picture of the freight for reference purposes. This will allow the carrier to determine if load bars or other stabilizing support will be needed once each shipment is loaded into a trailer.
Product launch deadlines
A crucial element of any rollout is the date (or dates) when the shipments are expected to be delivered. Sharing the scope of the project lets those responsible for transporting and delivering merchandise plan appropriate pickup dates.
Choosing the most efficient service and loading options
Once you’ve shared the relevant details of the launch, your provider can start building a custom load plan. Many carriers will use software to help make decisions about the type of equipment and services used, what routes will be most effective, and how the freight will be loaded into the equipment.
Choosing the best services and routes
Depending on the specific needs of your launch, multiple modes and services can be necessary. For example, a product made overseas may need to be shipped to the U.S. shortly after manufacturing and then be stored in a U.S. warehouse until closer to the launch date. Some launches may need expedited transit to meet a single, targeted delivery date nationwide, while launches with less strict delivery times could travel LTL.
Routing will largely depend on the size of each shipment and the distance between delivery locations. For simple launches, it could be best to let everything travel full truckload. While for more complex launches, it may make sense to use a pool distribution strategy to help save on long-haul costs.
Additional services like setup, assembly and dunnage removal could be needed depending on how the product is packaged and where it will be placed in the store.
Your logistics partner will look at your requirements, available capacity, and transit costs to determine the best option for your launch.
Determining how products will get loaded
Your provider will likely use a program to create digital models of how the shipment should be placed in the equipment. These programs will use trailer size and freight dimensions to ensure proper space utilization and weight distribution. They will also help decide the order things need to be placed into the equipment so freight can be staged correctly. Knowing what needs to come out of the equipment first will make setup faster and easier.
Create a plan that saves time and reduces costs
Streamline your next rollout by partnering with a provider that’s dedicated to your success. ArcBest’s product launch experts will evaluate your specific needs and build a comprehensive solution to ensure your product is delivered safely and securely to each location. Learn more about our product launch services.