Just imagine that you want to relocate with your family to another country for 2 years for company's work. It is but obvious that you would want to carry the maximum luggage with you without paying hefty fine for the excessive baggage at the airport. As a part of logical thought process, you would first consider the various constraints imposed by the airlines (weight, volume, number of luggage/ hand baggage, etc.) and then you would start to pack the stuff. Won't you agree with me that the most important step is placing different items inside the bags - like which items should be at the bottom (ideally sturdy ones),which items should be alongside of the bag, which items should be in the hand baggage (fragile ones), et al. Applying similar other parameters after 1st round of packing you would weigh the bags, re-shuffle the items 4-5 times in various bags and would spend almost 3 hours in this process till the objective of maximum luggage within the specified weight constraints is met. How nice it would be, if any software program can provide an end-to-end solution to you - i.e. right from considering the constraint to the layout of the products to be placed in the bags?
In today's era of fierce market competition and high fuel cost, companies are also looking for such a solution to facilitate the load building process to great extent. Every supply chain planning product possesses the basic capability of producing distribution requirement planning (DRP) or deployment planning output by considering the constraints (Number of cases, Weight, Volume, etc.). However at the execution level, there are real challenges for the vehicle loaders in the dock in the process of placing the product inside the truck. When certain products are fragile, the complexity increases further. This is one of the major needs of every organization which has not been fully met by today's best-of-breed supply chain products or even by SAP APO/Oracle APS.
Some of the niche players like TWO (Transportation and Warehouse Optimization) grabbed this opportunity with both the hands and helped many Fortune 100 companies (including CPG industry leaders like Nestle, P&G, Kraft) to reduce the transportation cost by 4-8%. The load building product (AutoVLB) developed by TWO, rightly termed as "SuperTruck", has been made so smart that it also considers the weight restrictions on the axles of the truck (to conform to the Federal Bridge Gross Weight Rule in US to prevent heavy vehicles from damaging roads and bridges) and distributes the load accordingly inside the truck. This unique feature of the product makes sure that trucks are not held up at the weigh scales. With the help of AutoPalletP3 (optimized mixed product case picking) and AutoLoaderT3 (optimized load building), AutoVLB can create a loading diagram and a case pick sequence for every shipment as well, which is one of the striking benefit of the solution.
To cut down on transportation cost, companies are relentlessly striving to attain the "true truckload optimization". So there is definitely a huge and growing need of an end-to-end load building solution in the market. Now, the question still remains - will it be possible for the market leading or best-of-breed supply chain packages to cater to this requirement or this area would always be dominated by niche players?