Strapping in

While load-securing equipment is essential, there is more to it than just a few tiedowns

There are numerous examples of the dangers of transporting unsecured loads. These include products falling off a moving vehicle, and trucks tipping over as the load shifts. Aside from a legal obligation to prevent goods from falling onto a public road and endangering other road users, securing a load will ensure the safety of the driver, vehicle and product.

The equipment required to secure a load will depend on the product being transported and the method used to secure the load, whether it is blocking and bracing, dunnage, strapping or lashing.

Most transport operators that ship products on a trailer will require rachets, durable straps, load binders and tarps. It might be useful to invest in anti-slip rubber mats to be used inside the container to increase friction and limit how much a load shifts while in transit.

Using paper dunnage bags is also a cost-effective solution that minimises the shifting of cargo inside a container. These bags are inserted into the empty cavities between the cargo and container walls, or between pallets or crated items. Once in place, they are inflated to stabilise the cargo, which removes the need for custom-cut lumber bracing or strapping.

If the product is poorly packaged, it can still shift during transportation. It is, therefore, important to check the packaging before the goods are placed on, or in, the vehicle. It is the driver’s responsibility to monitor the load during transit. There might be a need to re-secure strapping or inform a manager when a load has shifted.

In order for drivers to effectively monitor and report the condition of a load, they require training in how to secure a load, how to apply ideal driving behaviour to prevent cargo from shifting, as well as when and how to respond once a load has shifted.

There are also telematic solutions that can assist in monitoring the condition of the cargo. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, for example, can now monitor the location of cargo, as well as its condition – including temperature. An alert can also be sent if someone tampers with the cargo. Cameras placed inside the container or van can alert the transport operator or driver if the cargo shifts inside the sealed area.

In addition, transport operators can invest in telematic systems to monitor driver behaviour. Excessive acceleration, harsh braking or sharp cornering can also result in, or aggravate, the shifting of cargo while in transit. Many of the modern telematic systems can also alert the driver so that driving behaviour can be adjusted.

Whatever the equipment or method used to secure a load, it is important for transport operators to regularly inspect equipment for any wear and tear that could compromise performance, and to train drivers to respond appropriately to shifted cargo.

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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