FreightWaves Ratings cuts through the noise of freight technology product reviews to make you a smarter buyer

Leveraging TMS for smarter truck load planning

In a world that is increasingly data-driven, trucking companies can gain a competitive edge by using transportation management systems (TMS) for smarter load planning. 

Leveraging TMSs can drive efficiency, reduce costs, and significantly improve service levels. This article delves into the features of top TMS solutions, the essence of truck load planning, and how to get the most from your TMS. 

Features of top transportation management systems

A well-designed TMS offers numerous benefits that facilitate smarter load planning. Central features include route optimization, which aids in selecting the most efficient routes, and freight audit and payment features to streamline invoicing and ensure accuracy. Load and route optimization is another key feature, offering an efficient way to plan loads and routes to minimize costs and delivery times. 

Carrier management features allow for better selection and monitoring of carriers, leading to improved quality of service. Real-time tracking and visibility keep all stakeholders informed about shipment statuses, and analytics and reporting provide critical insights to inform strategic decisions.

What is truck load planning?

Truck load planning refers to the process of efficiently organizing, positioning, and securing freight within a truck to optimize the use of available space and weight capacity. This process takes into consideration several factors including the size, shape, weight, and type of goods, as well as their delivery sequence and destination.

The primary goal of truck load planning is to ensure that cargo is loaded and transported in the safest, most efficient way possible. Proper load planning can lead to significant benefits including improved fuel efficiency, reduced transportation costs, increased safety, and enhanced customer satisfaction due to timely deliveries.

For instance, heavy items are typically loaded first and placed towards the center and bottom of the truck to maintain stability, while lighter items are placed on top. The load must also be balanced from side to side and secured to prevent shifting during transit, which could cause damage to the goods or make the vehicle unstable.

Truck load planning also involves the sequence of loading and unloading. Items that need to be unloaded first are typically loaded last, a concept known as last in, first out (LIFO). This reduces unloading times and minimizes the potential for damage to goods.

In the modern logistics industry, this process is often assisted by advanced TMSs, which use algorithms and artificial intelligence to automate and optimize truck load planning. By taking into account a range of variables and constraints, they help to generate the most efficient load plan.

Loading plan example

A practical example of a loading plan involves a shipment containing a mix of heavy and light goods. Heavy items such as machinery parts are loaded first and placed at the bottom of the load, while lighter items like furniture are placed on top. The loading sequence is planned to ensure that the items to be unloaded first are easily accessible. 

The plan also takes into consideration the routes to be taken, ensuring that weight distribution is compliant with regulations and doesn’t pose a risk during travel on sloping roads. With a suitable TMS, this process can be largely automated, increasing efficiency and reducing human error.

Best TMS truck load planning software benefits

Transportation management systems have a significant role to play in facilitating smarter, more efficient load planning. With their robust features and advanced capabilities, they can transform the traditional load planning process in several ways:

  1. First, TMS solutions provide load optimization capabilities. They allow logistics and trucking professionals to input a range of variables, like freight dimensions, weight, destination, and delivery schedule. The system then uses these variables to create an optimal plan for fitting the freight into the truck. This maximizes the use of available space, and helps balance the load to improve safety and fuel efficiency.
  1. Secondly, TMS software offers route optimization features. Considering factors like traffic patterns, road conditions, and fuel costs, the system determines the most efficient route for each delivery. This speeds up delivery times, minimizes wear and tear on vehicles, and reduces fuel consumption.
  1. Thirdly, many TMS solutions offer real-time tracking capabilities. These provide instant, up-to-date information about the status of each load, to help you identify and resolve any issues promptly. This can lead to improved customer service, as clients are provided with accurate, real-time information about their shipments.
  1. Moreover, TMS tools offer analytical and reporting capabilities, providing deep insights into load planning operations. These can help identify patterns, trends, and areas of inefficiency, empowering trucking companies to continuously improve their load planning processes.
  1. Finally, the automation capabilities of TMS solutions cannot be understated. The automation of repetitive, time-consuming tasks like documentation, invoicing, and carrier selection can result in significant time and cost savings. It also frees up staff to focus on more strategic, value-adding tasks.

Get the most out of your transportation management software

To truly leverage the power of your TMS, it’s crucial to understand its capabilities. Invest time in training your team to use the system effectively. Be proactive in reviewing analytics and reports to identify areas for improvement. Consider working with a vendor that offers ongoing support and upgrades, so your TMS remains current with trends and regulations.

As you navigate the complexities of load planning, remember that it’s okay to seek assistance. The right TMS solution, combined with smart financial planning, can revolutionize your operations. With the right tools and resources, you can transform your load planning processes, drive efficiency, and position yourself for growth.


How do I make a loading plan for containers?

Creating a loading plan for containers involves understanding the weight and dimensions of your cargo, its destination, and delivery sequence. With this information, you can determine the best way to arrange the cargo within the container. Doing so helps to maximize space and weight utilization while ensuring easy access for unloading.

What is load optimization in logistics?

Load optimization in logistics refers to the process of arranging cargo in the most efficient way to maximize truck capacity. This can involve optimizing the sequence, arrangement, and selection of cargo to reduce costs, increase fuel efficiency, and minimize delivery times.

What is a load order optimization tool?

A load order optimization tool is a software solution that helps plan the sequence and position of cargo loading. By considering factors like destination, delivery schedule, and cargo characteristics, this tool can significantly reduce loading and unloading times, minimize transport costs, and improve service levels.

Sign up for a FreightWaves e-newsletter to stay informed of all news and trends impacting supply chain careers and operations.

Simple TMS Software for 5+ Truck Fleets

Truckbase is an intuitive TMS software for FTL fleets with 5+ trucks that accelerates billing and automates repetitive tasks. It has everything from dispatch to invoicing to driver pay.