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Con-way Freight introduces SafeStack system

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
January 27, 2011

Earlier this week, less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation services provider Con-way Freight announced it has introduced a new advanced load management and cargo protection system for its 16,800 freight trailer fleet in North America.

Entitled SafeStack, this new system, according to Con-way officials, is an adjustable decking and securing system that enables LTL shipments to be handled more effectively, travel more securely, and gain increased protection against damage. They added that SafeStack will provide shippers with better handling processes and reduced in-transit damage, which will augment the service experience as more shipments are delivered on time, intact, and in exception-free condition.

In an interview with LM, Con-way Freight SVP Operations Greg Lehmkuhl said that SafeStack is a reflection of how Con-way Freight is constantly on the lookout for innovations that can drive out waste and make operations and its people more efficient.

“We initiated a Black Belt lean six sigma project in early 2009 to analyze current processes in order to reduce freight damages and handle freight more efficiently,” said Lehmkuhl. “The result of that project was a decision to acquire and install the SafeStack system. The entire project from initial study phase through pilot testing, validation, purchase and network implementation, took just under two years.  We found that SafeStack provides a logistics solution that’s highly efficient because it’s always there for the loader to use. Since it’s permanently installed in the trailer, the loader doesn’t have to leave the trailer to get a load beam or other piece of equipment. It’s constantly available.”

Lehmkuhl added that freight that is loaded and travels in SafeStack trailers does so more securely, with far less exposure to potential damage situations. And with its adjustable decks, high-tensile strength straps and anchors, shifting, tipping or other in-transit movement of shipments is prevented. The adjustable decks also eliminate the practice of “double stacking,” or placing one pallet directly on another.  The decks also keep cargo separated and help maintain shipment integrity.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about preventing shipment damage, and delivering shipments to customers in the same pristine condition in which we received them,” he said. “The system allows our drivers and dock associates to do a much better job, from both a quality and efficiency perspective, of loading freight in a very secure manner and making the best use of the available trailer space.  It’s like putting a puzzle together.”

When asked to describe a basic example of SafeStack in use, Lehmkuhl described it in the following steps:
1-A driver might load skids of drums on the floor in the nose of the trailer;
2-Then he builds a deck above those with SafeStack load beams, lays on a sheet of plywood, and loads pallets with boxes of dry goods on that;
3-Next two short pallets of heavy machinery go on the floor.  Another load deck is built at a different height above the machinery shipments, just at the right height so several taller pallets of seasonal retail goods can be loaded on the deck, with a half-foot to spare before reaching the roof.
4-Lastly, in the tail of the trailer on the floor, shrink-wrapped boxes of power tools on pallets are loaded to the end of the trailer.  Another deck is set at a precise level, and palletized shipments of light fixtures are loaded on that deck.  Straps secure every shipment to a deck or the trailer walls.  The driver marks the shipments loaded and notes the trailer number on his hand-held device, and closes out the trailer. 

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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