Load security: prevention is better than cure

Load security: vital in the transport world because it’s the only way to safely convey products from A to B. But things still don’t always go to plan. For Vos Transport in Deventer, it’s a continuous process. For the company itself and for its clients. Time for a conversation.

Vos Transport has a long history. Anton Vos started the company in Apeldoorn over seventy years ago in 1947. Now the third generation is at the helm. ‘We still feel like we’re a family business,’ says Sales Manager Ruud Klatten. ‘We all have the same Vos feeling.’

Just after the war, Vos Transport had one truck. Now the company operates from several sites in the country and has 350 trucks. As specialists in transport, it’s a medium-sized company, says Klatten. ‘We are keen to keep control of everything. Personal service is important to us.’

Klatten says that it’s good that there’s attention for load security. ‘There are still too many accidents involving trucks where load security seems to be the cause.’ As a transport company, it is therefore constantly focusing on this issue. Klatten considers it a shared responsibility. ‘For us and the client.’ In fact, there are two types of load security, he explains. ‘There is load security in the trailer and on the pallet.’ Both are essential for the safe transport of goods.

Load security in the trailer

As a transport company, it is legally obliged to train its drivers on an on-going basis. ‘A recurring theme is load security,’ says Klatten. ‘That’s a constant point of attention because some clients haven’t got it totally sorted, whether consciously or not.’

It’s also important to have the right material, so that the driver can fulfil the client’s demands. ‘For products like drums, you need anti-slip mats in the trailer. And our trailers have tensioning straps fixed to the top so that you can pull them over the load.’ So, it’s very diverse, says Klatten. ‘You need knowledge, but also the cooperation of the client and the right material.’

But load security can also be a difficult theme. In Europe, the regulations are not uniform. ‘A well-known condition is that it must be possible to secure 80 percent of the load weight forwards and 50 percent sideways, in case of an emergency stop or a sharp bend,’ Klatten explains. Wallonia in Belgium has an additional rule that was altered last year: ‘Here, you also need to be able to secure your load upwards.’

Last year, the Dutch government introduced new measures relating to enforcement: 5 percent of all journeys must be checked. ‘We personally have the impression that there are more checks in Germany than here or in France, for example,’ says Klatten. There is general legislation and regulations, but what applies in the Netherlands does not necessarily apply in Belgium, or the Belgian standard is different. ‘We therefore need to manage everything very well or else you can get huge fines.’

Load security on the pallet

However complex, this is always an important aspect in the services provided by Vos Transport. ‘Because the load obviously needs to stay intact, but also for the safety of its drivers as well as fellow road users. Our main concern is that our drivers can transport goods safely. And load damage compromises productivity and safety. Prevention is better than cure.’

They therefore have no problem addressing any situations where they feel that the load security is not good enough. Because that’s something we regularly see, says Klatten. He gives some examples: ‘Sometimes pallets with cardboard boxes are wrapped around in film, but not on the top. If condensation occurs in the trailer, the boxes are vulnerable. And you can very easily prevent that by wrapping the top too. Transferring products here in Deventer can also cause problems if pallets are not stacked stably when we load them.’

Penny wise…

Klatten feels that companies sometimes save on wrapping pallets. And at Vos Transport, they notice that immediately. Sometimes the film used can be poor quality. ‘Then we see weak film that easily loses its elasticity.’ Or too little film is used: ‘Then the wrapping machine is set so that it only wraps film once or twice around the load, while three or four layers are needed. And then the load may have to travel all the way to Scandinavia!’

He’s also experienced it with a trailer full of jars of preserved food. ‘The jars themselves were wrapped but they were not fixed to the pallet. During an emergency stop, the products could therefore easily move on the pallet. Faced with that risk, the client won’t usually allow them to be unloaded and the load is returned. And that can be prevented by wrapping the products and the pallet.’

So, check the state of your pallets, says Klatten. ‘Check the corner profiles where necessary, so that everything stays intact. And make sure that your pallets are stacked stably: heavy boxes at the bottom and light ones on top. Sometimes that still isn’t done properly.’

Don’t save on the wrong things, he summarises. ‘Penny wise, pound foolish.’