When you’re in the business of constantly loading and unloading trucks throughout the day, it becomes very apparent that the way you load things into a truck can make unloading them either very efficient, or a terrible experience. If you’re new to loading and unloading, there are a few things to remember; some of which are common sense, and others may be foreign concepts.
The Basic Rules
There are some elements of efficient loading that are essentially common sense.
Load heavier boxes on the bottom, and light boxes higher up. Heavy boxes packed high could damage items beneath them, or worse, tumble onto a person while he or she is unloading.
Standardized sized boxes pack more efficiently. The more sizes of boxes you may be using, the more difficult it will be to ensure that you’re efficiently using all of the space you’re allowed, which will ultimately require longer loading times.
Pack tightly. Try to fill your space as much as possible to prevent items from shifting during transport. If it can be avoided, try to not have any loose boxes, particularly up high.
Following these basic concepts will give you a good head start in loading containers or trucks.
Container Loading Software
Of course, if you want to be very efficient, there are a variety of container loading software that exist to make sure you fill every possible square inch of your containers with all of the packages you need loaded. The different programs vary in what they offer, but most start with the size of the container you’re loading, and the dimensions of the boxes you’re loading (again, consistent box sizes make this much easier). From there, it shows you where to load the largest, heaviest boxes, where the smaller, more awkward boxes will fit, and where the heaviest of boxes will go. Some software even account for loading onto pallets.
The licensing price per user of the software will also vary, depending on the number of users you need to license and the number of features on the software.
Loading as a Science
Realize that container loading isn’t something to consider lightly. There are engineers and academics who spend a significant amount of time studying trying to algorithms that can be used to ensure efficient use of space, including some Six Sigma methods. With an engineer or mathematician on staff, you can surely increase your loading and unloading efficiency.
Most third-party logistics providers (3PL) have dedicated a significant amount of time to learning how to properly load and unload containers. How much time do you have to dedicate to it?