Loading and unloading trailers and containers is an important task and requires skill to perform this quickly and correctly. Loading and unloading incorrectly can cause the goods to become damaged either during the operation, or once the goods are in transit. So to ensure loading doesn’t incur damage to the goods or financial damage to the company, it’s important to take steps to reduce damage as much as possible.

You should implement measures in warehouses, loading docks and other parts of a facility, and make sure processes allow you to load cargo smoothly without damaging them.  In the following article we take look at the causes of product damage, different types of product damage and what you can do to reduce it when loading goods into a trailer or container. 

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how does product damage occur?

Products can experience lots of different types of damage when it comes to loading and transportation:

physical damage

This can occur through rolling around, breakages, knocks during transit and more.

wet damage

This occurs when products are exposed to water or wet conditions.

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contamination damage

This can happen when products suffer poisoning or pollution that renders the goods unusable or unsuitable for human consumption. This can be through poor separation from another commodity in the cargo space, poor cleaning of the trailer or container after a previous loading and transportation, or improper storage before a shipment.

reefer damage

This is caused by failure or improper function of a reefer (refrigerated) trailer. This could include thawing, decay, freeze damage, bruising and more.

infestation damage

This is caused by large numbers of rodents or other animals which can also lead to contamination damage. 

how does product damage occur during loading?

The loading process is highly physical and there are many different ways products can end up on the receiving end of some during loading.

Puncturing the load

Improperly aligned forklifts can puncture loads if the prongs of the forklift are pushing into the load. They can even crush it! Forklifts can also push pallets or some of their goods off a rack if they’re on one. 

Sometimes, warehouse workers may not be using the correct equipment to transport the load into a trailer, which can also damage the load. It’s important that they train in the correct usage of forklift trucks and other equipment for loading. 

If you’re looking to reduce product damage during loading for your company, you can find the ideal material handling equipment solution today by visiting our Systems section.

Crushing the load

Load configuration and handling is a major cause of product damage. Some logistics operators will double stack pallets that they shouldn’t. If the products haven’t been stacked correctly in the warehouse, they may even already be damaged before loading begins. 

Note that operators should observe the maximum weight capacity and distribute the weight of the goods evenly. Not only does this help to avoid crushing, but also helps to keep the loading of trailers and the transportation of the goods safe, and also increases safety in the unloading stage of the process. Operators should also stack dry goods on top of liquid goods so that if there’s any leakage, this will be onto the trailer bed and not onto the dry goods. 

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Loading broken pallets

Before loading a pallet, operators should always check the condition of the pallet. Is the pallet old? Is it rotten? Is it damaged? Is the pallet strong enough to support the products? Is it suitable enough to secure them? Pull out any compromised pallets for repairs (or replace them). Placing Masonite or other sheets over pallets can protect them and the goods from other cargo on top of them.

Weak packaging

Even if operators load a shipment correctly, this can all be in vain if the packaging is weak. Sometimes cartons are too weak to hold the products well. Converting paper to corrugated and using better sealing techniques are possible solutions.

ways to prevent damage to goods when loading trailers and containers

Logistics operations feature lots of different elements, which means there are lots of different measures and strategies operators can employ to reduce damage or avoid it altogether.

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Use suitable handling equipment

Use handling equipment that fits the situation, will increase speed, efficiency and reduce damage to goods. All equipment — cranes, conveyors, forklifts, loading systems, conveyors, and pallet jacks — must be in good working condition. 

You can learn more about our world-leading loading technology today by visiting our Systems section.

Improve loading practices

Stacking should be uniform and stable. Keep the height of the pallets uniform and distribute the weight on the pallets evenly. Refrain from double-stacking pallets. Use a cushion to prevent product damage that swinging during transportation can cause. Fill up gaps with proper dunnage to stop the cargo from shifting. 

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Secure pallets correctly

Using the right wrapping method can cut the damage to goods experienced down significantly. Wrapping should be strong enough to hold the goods in place without crushing them. Before you even start to wrap, the wrapping should be secured firmly to the base. Wrap from the bottom and spiral upward. A 360-degree wrap will cover all the stack, and most times, to firm the stock, you’ll need two or three rounds. 

Choose the best container

Match the size of the container to your requirements and avoid selecting a container that exceeds weight or size limits at any stage of the shipping process. Consider any climatic changes that could affect the cargo. 

Beware of avoiding containers that incur an additional cost because of the ventilation control, fan, etc. Often, this can cost you more in the long run because temperatures may increase in the container and spoil the goods. 

You can learn more about the most efficient and safe way to load a container today by visiting our Container Loading section.

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Have a robust packing plan

As a lot of operators charge by container load, the more goods you can fit into your container, the lower the shipping cost will be. To achieve maximum fill for your money, draw up a packing plan. The less free space in the container, the harder it will be for the goods to shift. If the cargo doesn’t fill the container, cover the floor at an even height. If you can’t avoid leaving gaps, leave them in the centre so that you can wedge cargo to the side walls.

Check your container

Take some time to check your container. Residues can be hazardous or contaminate the goods. If you have any doubts, return your container and have it cleaned.

Check, too, for structural damage such as post rail damage or corner casting damage. This can also cause damage to the goods. Can you lock the doors securely? Again, any doubts, don’t hesitate to return the container. 

What about the dryness of the container? Is it dry? Has handling equipment made any holes that could let in moisture? Check for rust. Check for stains around the door, which are a sign of possible leaks. A light test can reveal holes in a container.

If you’re looking to learn more about what containers are suitable for your logistics operations, and what you should check for when using a container, visit our Container Loading section.

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Keep the facility clean

Whether it’s the main warehouse area or the loading dock, keeping the facility clean and tidy is imperative. Clutter makes it easier for workers to fall, trip or crash into things. Forklift drivers can have an even tougher time of it because it’s harder for them to catch sight of smaller items and can cause bumps and impacts on goods.

Essentially, operators must make workers aware of any allotted spaces for storage or waste. Let them know the hazards of debris and ask them to clean up after themselves. Be sure to hold them accountable for their actions so that they don’t become a threat to the goods, themselves, or other workers.

Conduct regular inspections

As time goes by, products and processes change, so ensure to conduct regular inspections. Check that staff are implementing their training and if they’re following protocols to keep safety in place.

Inspect physical equipment regularly as well. Machines, docking bay lights, pallets, racks etc… are any of these in need of repair or replacement? Using damaged equipment can harm products and injure staff.

Train staff

A lot of damage comes from workers who don’t know how to operate devices or perform tasks correctly. Some might feel scared to ask or not be open enough to ask. Training staff frequently with their tools and on their tasks is a simple way to stop them from repeating steps that could damage goods during loading. 

protecting goods using joloda hydraroll’s automated loading solutions

Automating, as well as taking the hard graft out of loading and unloading, is a safer, more efficient way to load trailers and containers and not inflict damage on the goods during the process. 

Our automated loading solutions, for instance, reduce the goods’ exposure to hazards such as damage from mishandling by workers or damage from forklift trucks as they enter the trailer or container. All forklifts have to do is place the goods onto the system, which then transfers the goods into the trailer or container, or from it. 

We offer three main automated solutions:

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moving floor conveyor

The Moving floor conveyor, which is ideal for palletised and non-palletised goods, and is especially used for loading and unloading tyres and barrels.

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The Slipchain, which would suit any business wishing to load euro pallets or industrial/block pallets, or a mix of them. This loading option is popular with operators in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMGC), food, drinks and packaging industries, plus operators in many other industries.

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The Trailerskate, which will suit businesses that have high volume logistics shuttle cases and a medium to large fleet of trailers. The trailerskate is also popular in the FMGC, food, drinks and packaging industries and many more.

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Goods can experience all kinds of damage, depending on how they’re stored, how they’re loaded and how they’re secured during loading. By planning loads, using the right equipment to load them onto trailers and into containers, training staff in loading and conducting regular inspections, you can help to reduce damage to goods so that they reach their final destination intact.

If you’d like to find out more about our automated loading solutions and how they can help, get in touch through our lets chat page or send an email to hello@joloda.com. We’ll be happy to advise you on the best system for your operation and will also take care of installation.

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