Load planning is a very broad term. A load planning software deals with details like how packages fit together, the strategies for loading and unloading pallets, and trucking regulations. One key component of a good load management software is truck axle weight distribution. A truck weight distribution software can help improve safety for truck drivers and other individuals on the road.

What Is Truck Weight Distribution?

Truck weight distribution is the way in which downward force is exerted on and by your vehicle. This includes how the truck sits on the wheels, how the wheels put pressure on the ground, and how the packages in a truck cause changes. Manipulating these factors to ensure that your weight is distributed safely can greatly reduce your risk of an accident. 

When sending carriers out for delivery, calculating weight distribution in a semi-truck requires three important details.

  1. Center of gravity: Not only do you need to determine the centers of gravity for the truck and trailer, but you also need to find this metric for each of the items inside. All components that will contribute to the overall weight must be measured. Different objects of different shapes and sizes may be affected by physical forces in unforeseen ways. 
  2. Required movements: Some truck routes follow tighter turns than others or climb steeper slopes. Keeping a vehicle upright when it’s only going straight is not that difficult, but maintaining a strong center of balance on a winding road requires much more planning. Certain speeds and stops might also lead to forward and backward movement within the trailer. Especially in cases where the trailer is not tightly packed and you may have loose items, you should pay close attention to the vehicle’s route. 
  3. Overall mass: In addition to the weight on each specific axle, it’s important to know how much your load weighs in total. Trucks are already heavy, and with a full cargo, their physical properties can change drastically. Stopping is more difficult when a vehicle is packed, a truck gets lower gas mileage, and poor stacking can cause damage if product topples over.

Why Is Calculating Weight Distribution Important?

The most important consideration when calculating tractor trailer weight distribution is safety. Regulations surrounding axle weight regulations are meant to prevent damaged cargo and serious trucking accidents. 

The amount of weight in a tractor trailer and the points of contact on a semi-truck make it very difficult to control and maneuver. If the freight is not properly positioned, it may topple inside the trailer and shift the weight—leading to a rollover accident. 

Understanding how the weight is distributed in your truck and how the weight should be distributed in your truck must be the same thing. 

What Does a Truck Axle Weight Calculator Do?

Truck axle weight calculators perform the necessary operations to help you determine how much weight is placed on different parts of the truck. This is done with multiple predetermined formulas and advanced technology. Once you know the weight and center of gravity in a package, you can input that information into a weight distribution software and it will help you place items accordingly. 

In short, a weight distribution calculator helps you avoid dangerous situations by guiding your freight placement. 

Truck Weight Distribution Analysis

A truck weight distribution analysis is a preemptive measurement of the pressure put on each wheel and/or axle. Axles can only handle a certain amount of force. The analytical weight calculations are made during the design process to ensure that the truck will be able to sustain additional weight once it is fully operational. 

There are also legal capacity limits for axles that prevent a carrier from loading past a certain point. The lower value of the two—the legal limit or physical weight limit of an axle—is the one that must be followed. The number and strength of a truck’s axles will be a deciding factor in the weight it can carry. 

Measurements for Vehicle Axle Weight Distribution

Many distribution organizations face the challenge of loading their trucks in a manner that balances the weight across axles in order to achieve safe configurations and to comply with national, state, and local regulations. Due to the variety of products and their placement options within the truck, determining the actual weight that will be allocated to each axle can be difficult.

Syntelic’s Load Planning product provides reliable estimates of axle weights and determines which products will be assigned to each pallet position. These assignments are dynamically adjusted by the planning algorithm to distribute the weight (within other constraints assigned to the load) in proportion to the capacity of each axle.

To estimate the axle weights, Load Planning needs certain measurements for the equipment being used to carry the load. Assuming accurate values for these measurements, the actual axle loads should be fairly close to the estimates provided by Load Planning. These estimates also assume that the loading process is executed according to the load plan and that the stated weights for each of the products loaded on the vehicle are accurate. 

Some variability can be expected due to other factors, such as the amount of fuel in the vehicle, differences in configuration (like tandem placement) between specific vehicles of the same type, and additional items placed in or on the vehicle (e.g., snow on the roof). The estimated axle loads are applicable to static loads (non-moving vehicles) on a level surface.

Measurements on the Tractor Trailer

There are five lengths that will need to be measured for the load planning algorithm to work efficiently with a tractor-trailer.

  1. Tractor wheelbase: The distance from the center of the front axle to the center of the drive tandem
  2. Fifth wheel offset: The distance from the center of the fifth wheel (the position occupied by the kingpin) to the center of the drive tandem
  3. Trailer wheelbase: The distance from the kingpin to the center of the trailer rear tandem
  4. Kingpin offset: The distance from the kingpin to the forward-most extent of cargo in the nose, excluding the width of the exterior frame of the trailer and any unused space ahead of cargo in the nose; in certain (somewhat unusual) cases, the kingpin sits at a position that is ahead of the forward extent of the cargo—in these cases, the kingpin offset will be negative
  5. Cargo length: The distance from the nose to the tail, inside the trailer, of the cargo when all positions are filled (using standard full-sized pallets or other containers), excluding any unused space in the nose or tail

Straight Truck Measurements

There are three lengths that need to be measured when using a straight truck for load planning.

  1. Straight truck cargo offset: The distance from the center of the front axle to the front of the cargo
  2. Straight truck wheelbase: The distance from the center of the front axle to the center of the drive tandem
  3. Cargo length: The distance from the nose to the tail, inside the truck, of the cargo when all positions are filled (using standard full-sized pallets or other containers), excluding any unused space in the nose or tail

Both the tractor-trailer and straight truck measurements can use any reasonable metric, such as feet, inches, etc., provided all of the measurements use the same unit of measure.

Truck Tare Weights

Along with the length measurements, three weights will need to be taken as well.

  1. Tractor tare weight front axle
  2. Tractor tare weight drive axle
  3. Trailer tare weight rear axle (only applies to tractor-trailer configurations)

Tare weights are the observed scaled weights on each axle when the tractor and trailer are empty. When measuring for the tare weights, the tractor should be fully fueled.

Truck tare weights can help load planners stay within the proper boundaries while also maximizing the amount of cargo that can go in each vehicle. 

Syntelic’s Truck Weight Distribution Software for Load Planning

Syntelic’s Load Planning software includes a program specifically designed for axle weight distribution. Our truck weight distribution software is designed for trucking companies and third-party logistics (3PL) companies to provide the best possible solutions to loading issues. 

Our software is simple and efficient. We will help you implement it and show you how it works. Then we will let you see the results for yourself moving forward. 

Remember that weight distribution isn’t just about meeting regulations and restrictions, it’s also about keeping your drivers—and others on the road—out of harm’s way.

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