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Today's blog tries to shine a light on automatic planning using additional capacities. By default, the VSR optimizer considers weight and volume constraints (next to many others). On resource level, it is possible to define available capacities and load space dimensions. On Freight Units level, the required capacities are available. Considering the load planning functionality, many new scenarios are possible. Especially for a pallet scenario, the challenge is to steer the VSR to result in feasible Freight Orders ready for Load Planning. Goal is to minimize the number of Freight Units that Load Planning would need to unassign from a Freight Order due to load planning restrictions. Reasons for such a need to unassign are weight, volume, stackability, and resource specifics like axle constraints. Today's blog wants to basically focus on volume. So here is the standard approach to solve this.

On resource level, it is possible to define capacity constraints for weight and volume. In my example I have defined a limit of 4.000 KG and 20 M³. In addition, I have specified the resource load dimensions (5 x 2 x 2 meters).

Resource Capacities

For my initial planning scenario, I use Freight Units each respresenting a single pallet (note that this is defined in the Freight Unit building rule and a 1:1 relation is not always required -> performance impact; I picked it this way for the example for ease of understanding, but it works the same for Freight Units represention for example 2 or 6 pallets each). Those FUs have the required capacities on header level. For simplification, the pallets are 1 x 1 x 2 meters.

Required Freight Unit Capacities

When applying automatic planning to this scenario, everything works well. The VSR optimizer recognizes correctly based on the volume information that 10 pallets fit onto my truck and creates 1..n Freight Orders depending on the number of to-be-planned Freight Units.

Freight Orders with Load Plan as planning result

So for example in case I plan 11 Freight Units, the VSR creates 2 Freight Orders. Alright, obviously this work well due to the 1:1 match between the resource dimensions / capacities and the Freight Unit dimensions / required capacities. In reality, pallets will have differing height (or length / width) and not fit perfectly, the pure volume based planning will lead to situations where the VSR assigns too many Freight Units to a single Freight Order using volume that can actually not be consumed. This can be tackled (sometimes) by reducing the available volume. So for example your truck has an internal height of 3 meters, but you would never have pallets higher than 2 meters (no stacking), the available volume can be reduced by 1/3. In any case it is a good idea to have on resource level only capacity that can actually be consumed (what really depends on the customer scenario). For more complicated scenarios this is not feasible.

To give an example. I have another truck, which has more volume due to the fact that the load space is higher (2.5 meters).

High truck

Planning 11 Freight Units using this truck creates a Freight Order which is overloaded from a load planning perspective. 1 pallet does not fit to the truck, even if it fits from a weight and volume perspective.

Overloaded Freight Order

Now a transportation planer would need to check this Freight Order and re-plan the not fitting Freight Unit (what is depending on the volume of the scenario already a feasible approach). The relevant Freight Orders will indicate that they have not-loaded items (available a selection criteria) and can be adjusted. Standard process would be to unassign the Freight Unit, check if it can be added to another  Freight Order, or a new Freight Order needs to be created.

For the load planning feature a method is available which can automate the unassignment of the not fitting Freight Units (note 2189965). This would lead to a different follow up process: All Freight Orders would be fine, but a set of to-be-replanned Freight Units would exist. For those an additional automatic planning could be applied.

To reduce this additonal effort, we can improve the automatic process using additional capacities. So I add the information that my truck can at most transport 10 pallets.

Additional planning relevant resource capacity

Planning now again those 11 Freight Units, the VSR creates 2 Freight Orders using the pieces information from the Freight Units header.

Planning result considering additional capacities

This is for sure not the answer to everything, but key takeaway is that there are options to streamline the VSR & LP process. The goal of today's blog was to give a hint for the right direction when setting up the scenario.

Stackability and different pallet types are not touched today, but you can be sure there are ideas and solutions.