It’s an unfortunate thing in the transport industry, but some operators and drivers do not always fully grasp one of the basic disciplines of professional freight transport – loading.
The symptoms of this are all too apparent at times. You may have seen them yourself, including things such as vehicles struggling to corner or go around roundabouts without half their wheels lifting off the road, or vans arriving at destination with a chaotic clutter of boxes and other items all over the inside of the vehicle.
Here we will touch on one or two of the basics by way of a reminder about preparing and loading a vehicle for freight transport.
There are all sorts of legal regulations relating to the distribution of weight equally in a vehicle so as not to present a danger to other road users, or indeed yourself. Think carefully about making sure that the weight is as evenly distributed as possible on both sides of the vehicle as well as front and back. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for maximum axle loadings and so on.
A classic nightmare for customers and loading bay workers is when a vehicle arrives with everything in an unholy pile somewhere in the middle, as it has shifted in transit.
Typically, there is no excuse whatsoever for this. Some types of cargo will, by their nature, be more prone to shifting than others, and that might be particularly the case if the vehicle isn’t fully loaded and there is space to move around.
The solution to this has been available for centuries – it is called strapping and webbing. In some cases, it might also be necessary to use chains if the item is particularly heavy.
Whatever solution you use, remember that if it is possible for something to move around on your vehicle in transit then it probably will. So, make it impossible!
Unless you want to spend most of your time involved in the administration associated with insurance claims, as opposed to being on the road, it’s important to pay attention to the safe stowage of your cargo. This shouldn’t need saying, but even so, make sure that heavy solid items are not put on top of those that are clearly flimsy and which will be unlikely to be able to take the weight.
In fairness, there is a major responsibility here on your clients, but if you are carrying liquids, however well they are packed, make sure there is some sort of liquid-proof membrane separating them from the rest of your cargo.
All of these things really should be 101 level courses for people working in freight transport and, yes, if your customers are loading they will also have a responsibility to help you get this right. Remember though that when it comes to freight transport, ultimately the buck stops with the driver – so take care!