Are you underutilizing your freight capacity?

4 minutes to read


The last step at a warehouse is shipping. Recent studies show that for 15 – 25 percent of the time trucks are on the road their trailers lay empty and 36 percent of the time they are driving with partly empty trailers. This means trucks are filled to capacity less 40% of the time. The main question we ask is “are you underutilizing your freight capacity?”

Often organizations are underutilizing truck capacity because they are not getting shipments ready in time to leave the operation for a variety of reasons including warehouse delays and poor load design. The likelihood of underutilization is heightened if organizations fail to have the data to build and optimize freights based on analytics or the technology to adapt to fluctuating demand and operation challenges (broken equipment, employee callouts) in real-time.

Below are three areas to consider and help you identify where and why you are underutilizing your freight capacity and how to rectify.

1: Timing:

The efficiency of your material handling route correlates to how efficiently you can move materials through your operation. To help maximize route efficiencies does your team:



  • Use a digital bill of lading? Digital tracking of inbound and outbound shipments gives you the information you need to plan ahead. It will give you data to identify when you are underutilizing your trucks, what your busiest days are, and what types of cases are sent out and when.


  • Convert daily orders given as products and quantities into shipping and transportation units? These estimated volumes help you better understand your truckload capacity in comparison to your warehouse capacity.


  • Mix between different means of transport for non-uniform shipments (non-conveyable)? Maybe one-size vehicle doesn’t fit all.


  • Map out times of peak demand in the receiving and shipping areas? This will help you understand where and when you need to increase/decrease staffing or automation throughout your operation. Strategic staffing helps you control labor costs and maintain a consistent rate output through fluctuating periods of demand.
2: Centralization

Customer orders do not all come in perfectly square boxes that can be packaged neatly one top of one another nor do they have the same shipping requirements (fragile, heat sensitive). The factors greatly affect how many units you can load onto manual and autonomous material handling equipment and freight trucks. Is your team:

  • Aligning transportation capacity demand with your logistics service provider abilities and customer needs?


  • Consolidating packages with similar shipping requirements, such as refrigeration or liquid holding,  onto similar vehicles?


  • Consolidating non-conveyable items, or “irregulars,”  onto different material handling systems and/or shipping on alternate trucks?
3: Measurement:

Collecting and tracking data is a necessary step to ensure improvement. Does your team:

  • Measure the transportation Load Factor and report it to a centralized organization?


  • Utilize load distribution  software, such as from Vecna Robotics, to plan shipments and adjust routes as necessary, ensuring packages are shipped out through fluctuating demand and environmental changes?
How automation can help

New software tools, including, help address the issue of adjusting and planning through fluctuations in demand and operational challenges and make sure you aren’t underutilizing your freight capacity. distributes work based on real-time needs and redistributes a task to a human if a machine is out of order or reroutes a machine around a blocked aisle if there was a spill. These tools keep the workflow moving and orders shipping out.

Self-driving vehicles like Vecna’s Tugger, allow you to move mass amounts of “irregulars” through a warehouse at once, keeping orders moving safely and quickly no matter their size or shape. In addition, automation collects information that can be used to match picking practices with load designs, organize outbound inventory on equipment in the shipping area, and coordinate the timing of arriving trucks with scheduled shipments.

Maximizing freight capacity reduces the number of trucks on the road. This cuts down on business costs associated with gas, driver labor and the environmental impact from truck emissions. In fact, taking back just half of the underutilized space on a truck cuts freight emissions by 100 million tons per year.

Want to know more?

Learn about Vecna Robotics’ entire self-driving vehicles from our Automated Material Handling and Hybrid Fulfillment brochures. We’ll be showcasing our self-driving vehicles, including our autonomous Tugger and Pallet, along with the technology that fuels them at booth #S4583 during ProMat 2019.