Ensuring a damage-free Full Truck Load (FTL) delivery: mission impossible?
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Whenever a shipper looks to carry their cargo on the road with a carrier, the number one question is whether their cargo will arrive safely and without any kind of inflicted damage at the unloading location. While speed, temperature, if carrying perishable goods, and punctuality all are important factors in the road transport process, if the goods arrive at their intended location damaged, then neither of those three elements matter at the end of the day.
There are a plethora of ways cargo could be deemed damaged whenever it has to be carried from one destination to another. After all, the palettes or other forms of assortment, have to be stored, moved onto a trailer, transported across the road, then unloaded at its final destination before it even begins its process of reaching the final consumer at a store, if that is their final destination.
One of the ways cargo can get impaired, especially during the loading process, is by becoming compressed by another pallet. Loading two palettes, one on top of another is an efficient usage of space, especially whenever talking about full truck load (FTL) deliveries. Another way, if the cargo is loaded onto a refrigerated trailer that can interchangeably be used as a box trailer, is that refrigerant could leak onto the cargo, potentially damaging it. That risk is also present whenever temperature-sensitive goods are loaded or traveling on the road, as an improperly maintained trailer can result in water-damaged cargo.
Naturally, the loading and unloading process itself poses risks to the goods that are to be transported. Not loading items carefully on a trailer with a forklift can result in the goods slamming to the ground or brushing up against the side of the trailer. Then, if a loader has failed to properly secure the cargo inside the trailer, an accident inside might occur if a driver has to brake suddenly to avoid a crash.
Such events can also be out of the hands of the carrier. For example, Portugal has introduced legislation that has prohibited drivers from participating in the loading and unloading process, with certain exceptions. Nevertheless, loading and/or unloading possesses risks to the goods that are about to take off on a long journey on the road.
Lastly, cargo theft is an extensive problem that can occur all throughout the road freight transportation process, beginning with storing goods on a trailer, carrying them on the road, and finally, unloading them.
While risks are plentiful and are seemingly all around whenever goods are being shipped on the road, there are ways to reduce those risks with internal processes, as well as using the latest technology and safety measures.
While there are many ways to ensure safety and quality, there are a few key procedures that reduce the possible deviations from the norm when carrying various stock with a truck and trailer.
The basis of it is, of course, operating the newest trucks and trailers. Participating on the road with the latest technological solutions allows carriers to have full visibility of their fleet and it is much easier for the driver to stay in control on the road, as such systems as emergency braking, lane keep assist and cruise control ease the workload for the driver. As a result, the driver is more rested and can limit the mistakes that can happen at a loading site, for example.
“That is why ensuring that our vehicles are maintained properly is much easier when our drivers are able to spot any kind of abnormalities, whether it would be damage to the inside of a trailer or issues with the truck,” noted Aurimas Kapočius, the Head of Transport Division at Girteka Fleet. “Training drivers to check truck and trailer before a trip is a must because spotted seemingly minor issues on time can help prevent any huge problems from appearing in our customers’ supply chains,” he added.
According to Kapočius, drivers participating in the loading/unloading process can also ensure that everything is done correctly if goods are brought onto a trailer by an external party. If done by the driver itself, “then it’s a matter of how well the driver is trained to load or unload cargo.” However, even having the proper training on how goods should be loaded when it’s done by someone other than the driver can also help immediately spot issues, allowing to take care of the cargo before it is damaged.
Equipment upgrades are also helpful. For example, the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) has developed the TSR rating, which includes having proper locking systems on trailers. A TAPA TSR Level 1 locking device is a “high-quality, stainless, or hardened steel, heavyweight high security locking device permanently installed on all cargo compartments doors,” read the association’s description of the locking device. The effectiveness of such locks can be further assured by parking at secure and well-lit parking or resting locations, pointed out the Head of Transport Division.
Training is crucial
Modern equipment and technologies can only go so far without the proper management systems in place. Analysing the transport process and identifying weak spots can help a road transport provider reduce any potential cargo damage to a minimum.
“Training can go a long way,” stated Kapočius. Girteka Fleet’s management analysed data and noticed that there was a tendency that cargo became damaged following incorrect tie-down procedures. “As a result, we began to educate and train our drivers on how to secure customers’ merchandise in a trailer, providing us with a tangible result – a reduced cargo damage rate.”
“Overall, training is a crucial part of the equation in order to reduce cargo damage rates,” continued Kapočus. The company’s transport manager pointed out that even ecological driving training can have a positive effect on reducing the number of goods that are broken on the road, as drivers are thought to be more consistent with their acceleration and braking, reducing the chances of cargo moving back and forth and becoming damaged as a result of movement from fictitious forces.
“We also like to remind our drivers to check their trailers and trucks whenever they are about to enter a break period, whether it would be their daily 45-minute or the weekly rest period that includes checking the trailer for any damage to the cargo,” said Kapočius.
Training should not be a one-and-done thing either, according to the executive at Girteka Fleet, as continuously exploring and passing on the latest trends and developments to ensure the safety of cargo is crucial. “All of our hard work and investment to improve our transport processes allowed us to have a cargo damage rate of 1% per 1000 FTLs,” concluded Kapočius.
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Girteka Fleet is the silent partner in logistics. A unique supplier of dedicated trucks and trailers with professional drivers tailored to client needs and requirements. Girteka Fleet is an independent member of the Girteka Group of companies. With separate management, trucks, trailers, drivers and operational processes.