It is the responsibility of the individual in charge of a delivery operation to ensure that all cargo is loaded safely and effectively. When determining how to load a semi-truck, you can take multiple approaches.
We find it’s most effective to use optimized load planning software that calculates the location and relative weight of items to ensure an appropriate balance. The information you input will be analyzed against the planned route to load items in the safest and most efficient way possible. Preventing unnecessary danger is one of the main functions of a good loading strategy.
Dangers of Loading and Unloading Trucks
Loading and unloading semi-trucks must be a careful discipline. Lifting, moving, and stacking heavy boxes can lead to a variety of injuries, from sore muscles to crushed limbs. If cargo is dropped while moving, falls while being stacked, or comes loose in the trailer on a delivery, it can cause serious injuries.
This is why certain regulatory bodies have outlined rules and restrictions for trucks to follow closely. If not for the rules directly impacting loading and unloading processes, there would be many more preventable accidents.
How to Properly Secure Cargo
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cargo securement rules, published in 2002, apply to all motor carriers engaging in interstate commerce. These regulations cover load securement, tiedown methods, anchor points, cargo placement, minimum limits, and other commodity-specific requirements.
When you are securing your cargo, you should check the specific requirements that apply to a load. Securement equipment must meet performance criteria and have no malfunctions or damages that would hinder its performance. These standards apply to cordage, wire rope, chains, steel straps, synthetic webbing, and other securement devices.
Department of Transportation (DOT) tie-down requirements, anchor points, and edge protection for securement devices that could be damaged should all be considered when loading cargo for delivery.
Truck Loading Regulations and Requirements
As per FMCSA regulations, there are a variety of expectations employees must meet when loading a truck for delivery. As stated above, cargo must be firmly secured on or within a vehicle by adequate structures and equipment.
There are a number of other expectations trucking companies must meet. Pallets should be loaded and stacked evenly, weight should be distributed proportionately across all axles, and cargo should be secured to ensure it won’t fail during transportation.
Why Are Loading Standards Important?
Truck loading regulations are a necessary part of running a delivery operation. On an individual basis, they keep truck drivers—and other drivers—safe. On an industry basis, these rules protect trucking companies from going too far.
If there were no limits on how to load and transport cargo, some trucking companies would put their drivers and equipment at risk to deliver the most goods in the shortest time. The companies with the largest vehicles would find the most customers even though it might be more dangerous.
FMCSA standards do more than just prevent injuries, they also level the playing field for trucking companies across the nation by keeping reckless business owners in check.
Optimized Truck Loading and Unloading Procedures
There are many considerations when loading a semi-truck that affect the procedures you may use. It’s imperative that you consider maximum axle weights, total gross weight of cargo, fastening equipment, route obstacles, item requirements, and delivery location.
If your delivery driver will not be able to park for long at their delivery location, items may need to be stacked in a way that reflects that challenge. If your truck must go around multiple sharp corners or turns, high or loose stacks could lead to spills. Sometimes the temperature of items must be considered—as with perishable food items.
Benefits of Smart Loading
There are many reasons to use load planning software. First and foremost, think of the time that you will save. Syntelic Load Planning can determine the ideal loading procedure in minutes once the contents of an order are input into the software. Compared to the amount of time a person would need to spend coming up with the same plan, it saves a lot of resources.
Giving your employees more time to focus on more useful tasks enables more opportunities for growth and development. Below are some other benefits of proper load securement techniques.
DOT tie-down requirements and other truck loading regulations are intended to keep the truck driver and other drivers on the road safe. Unbalanced cargo can easily topple if a truck needs to perform a swift maneuver. If a truck gets cut off, needs to swerve around an obstacle, or makes a turn too fast, toppling cargo could lead to the driver’s loss of control—or even a full rollover accident.
Adopting smart loading habits will prevent unnecessary accidents and injuries. In addition to the safety factor, there are also regulatory standards that will be met with consequences if your company does not comply. Violating safety rules from FMCSA and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) can result in significant fines.
A good load planning software will automatically warn you if your actions violate rules or restrictions. This way you can correct your errors before they lead to a problem.
The trucking industry is built on trust between the distributor and the client. When a customer knows that their delivery team is following regulations, it provides peace of mind. Truck companies that do not follow the rules are unpredictable and value deadlines over people.
When developing long-term partnerships, businesses that ignore legal expectations are not conducive to successful operations. Lawful and efficient loading practices that simultaneously consider the unloading process create satisfied customers and drivers and healthy client relationships.
Fitting all your cargo is not the only consideration when loading a semi-truck trailer. While you want to ensure each item is secure and balanced, you also want to ensure cargo is packed in a way that accommodates those doing the unloading.
If a truck driver has multiple deliveries to make in one route, the earlier deliveries should be placed in an accessible location near the back of the trailer or side doors if that is the preferred delivery door. If the first boxes are buried under other clients’ orders, it’s going to take longer to unload at each stop.
Sometimes certain items may need to be packed in a specific way. For example, temperature-controlled cargo should be placed in the refrigerated zone and bulky items should be placed towards the bottom so as not to topple. In these situations, it’s best to modify the truck driver’s route to align with the unloading process. Inefficient unloading can waste ample time on delivery routes.
How Syntelic Can Optimize Your Load Planning Efforts
Every warehouse needs to follow certain business rules in its operations:
- Different trailers have different capacities and door configurations
- Some products can’t be mixed with other products
- Trucks need to be loaded a certain way for axle weight distribution
Additionally, your customers have their own rules: It may be fine to mix some deliveries on the same pallet, but maybe that doesn’t work for everyone. Syntelic’s Load Planning knows the rules—and it ensures you follow them every day with every load.
What Makes Us Different?
Here at Syntelic, we offer products with a heavy focus on outbound efficiency. The trucking industry is about getting your cargo to its destination, and we believe software should reflect that. We provide on-demand customer service before, during, and after the implementation process to ensure you know exactly what you’re doing. As a Syntelic partner, we want you to succeed.
Furthermore, our products are designed to scale with your company. Regardless of the size of your business, our software is a tool that remains available to you. It might take a few more minutes to calculate 100 stops between 10 drivers than 10 stops between one driver, but the amount of time you save in the end will be exponentially greater. The more you work with Syntelic, the more you benefit.