In order to minimise costs, the amount of vehicles used to transport goods is kept to a minimum. Because of this, companies will make great efforts to ensure that as many of the products being delivered will fit into the vehicle. In the logistics and warehousing industry, fitting items efficiently into a small space is often called “cubing”. For organisations that have a large fleet of vehicles of varying sizes, it may also be possible to fit vehicles to product loads to some extent.
Load planning may simply come from the skill and experience employed by individual loaders, thinking and planning while they are loading. This is a very common approach to loading and, depending on the loader being used, can be very effective. Another way of planning vehicle loading is to employ a central function with the duty of planning loading for several vehicles. This function may employ a computer system that will be fed with data on item sizes, weights and even storage temperature requirements where appropriate. In large organisations, their computer systems are usually so powerful that, once armed with the appropriate data, they can automatically plan vehicle loading patterns. These loading patterns can be communicated to the loaders either through a written manifest, diagrammatical manifest, audio instructions (through a headset) or through a computer terminal which may be fixed, hand-held/mobile or be on board a fork lift truck.
Loading large vehicles such as ships requires careful management and labour planning. An overall loading plan needs to be devised and broken down into sections in order to maximise space efficiency.