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Optrak Vehicle Loading
Unless you deliver full loads or full pallets, working out if the vehicle is full is often quite difficult. A common problem is having a mixture of pallets and roll-cages. Pallets fit neatly 2 across, roll-cages typically 3 across. But mixing the two rarely gives a tidy solution.
The load plan below is a multi-temperature example. The frozen food is palletised and loaded into the front compartment of the vehicle. The chilled food is palletised by product line, so the driver has to pick from the pallet, whereas the ambient is packed onto roll-cages according to customer. Chemical cleaning materials are kept on a separate roll-cage.
Different companies and industries have different loading problems. Some examples are given below.
Why is loading important?
An alternative to proper loading calculations is to use one or more linear measures – for example weight or volume. But most loading problems are not linear. You can’t fit 1 pallet and 1 ½ roll cages across the width of a vehicle, it’s 1 pallet, 1 roll cage and an unusable space.
But if all you have is linear measures you will probably end up approximating. You know you can’t fill the vehicle 100% on volume because of the shapes and combinations of things you are putting on it. Sometimes you can fill to 100%, sometimes only 85%. What happens? Most people build in a "fudge factor".
John, the planner, decides to set the maximum fill level at 89% of real vehicle capacity - a fudge factor of 11%. Most days this is safe and the trips work. Sometimes it doesn't but he can get in an agency driver. One day the chances run against him. Not just 1, but 3 loads won’t fit. He gets a call from a panicking warehouse worker at 5am. He can only get one agency driver – what does he do? When he gets in, the warehouse manager shouts and customer service complain about a missed delivery. Vowing "never again" he sets the fudge factor to 13% just to be on the safe side. For the next year vehicles are planned to 87% of capacity - 2% below previous levels. On a fleet of 25 vehicles this is half a vehicle per day.
With an Optrak loading model, you do not need a 13% or even an 11% "fudge factor" – because Optrak works out, not only how much will fit on the vehicle, but where on the vehicle it fits. With significantly better vehicle fill you can make a big impact on your distribution costs.
The Optrak loading modules are fully integrated into the vehicle routing process. There is no separate program or second phase. All trip building actions, whether optimisation or interactive trip editing are always checked against the appropriate loader for the vehicle (and you can have different loaders for different vehicle types in the same data set). Any infringement of loading rules is immediately indicated to the user.
Multi-compartment bulk loading can be used in fuel oil deliveries, lubricants or chemicals. See our Lubricants page for more details of how Optrak integrates compartment loading with cleaning and pump flushing.
Optrak can deal with nested containers. The example below is for a delivery of foil or plastic food trays – ready to serve for Meals-on-Wheels or hospital patients. The trays are packed, in layers, into baskets. The baskets are loaded as drawers into wheeled dollies and the dollies are loaded onto the vehicle.
The vehicle has two compartments a front and rear, the front for frozen food. Note that frozen food is loaded on a pallet. Also see how the dollies are orientated – some of them widthways some lengthways, as it is not possible to load three dollies widthways across the vehicle. Also see how, in the frozen compartment, the dollies have been rotated to fit around the pallet while minimising space.
In the diagram the numbers on the items indicate delivery sequence of the items.
In addition to the loading diagram there is a load sheet which gives the information in a text format.
Three Dimensional Packing
Certain types of three dimensional packing can also be modelled. The diagram below is for a shipper of white goods and parts. Many of the items are typical 60cm kitchen appliances, but sizes and heights vary considerably. The footprint and height of each item is given to the system and displayed in the diagram. Some goods are palletised – blue in the diagram.
In this case many of the products are stackable The top half of the display shows the top layer. These items are stacked directly on the items below. Each item has a indicator:
- top-only (nothing on top of this),
- bottom-only (too big or unstable to stack on top but something can go on top)
- stackable (either top or bottom).
We have implemented a number of custom loaders for different industries, for example Delivery Co. use a custom loader that allows large items, such as material for plastic displays signs, to be loaded flat in an under-floor compartment. Optrak is designed to allow such customizations to be carried out quickly and relatively inexpensively. Please contact us to discuss a loading solution for your requirements.