What Causes Load Shift and What to Do About It

container removing boxes

Load shift is an industry term that applies to truck shipments that literally move inside the trailer during transit. Essentially, cargo will move from one place to another which could cause an accident en route, as well as damage and loss to the cargo itself. Either way, load shift is a condition of the supply chain that is to be avoided at all costs. Let’s be clear: Shifted freight is indeed an avoidable situation. In this posting, we’ll cover the steps to take in loading trucks so that the cargo stays put throughout its journey to the warehouse. 

Several issues contribute to shifted freight: when the weight of the cargo is not evenly distributed between the axles, it can cause the vehicle to become unbalanced, so careful loading of the truck is very important. Additionally, the load must be properly secured. If not, it will likely shift during transport and cause a dangerous unbalanced condition. For safe transport, loaders and truckers can accept responsibility for their roles to avoid shifted loads from occurring.

To begin, loaders must ensure that the products, goods, and cargo is evenly distributed. If the shipment consists of all the same items and is packaged the same way, then this is relatively simple. But the reality is that few shipments are comprised of one type of item. So great care must be taken by loaders to make certain that every load has been distributed evenly. Next, when the goods are in place, these must be shored up using tie-down straps or similar materials durable enough to withstand the potential of jolts throughout the trip. Drivers should inspect and evaluate the placement of their cargo before driving. Their quality inspection should include: 

  • Ensuring that the cargo’s weight is below the weight limits specified by the truck’s manufacturer.
  • Double-check that the cargo weight is evenly distributed and the tension of straps and tie-downs are adequate. 

Truck drivers bear the additional responsibility for checking for shifted freight en route. They should be aware of anomalies in the way their truck is handled. Should they have to make a panic stop or swerve suddenly to avoid a collision, they should stop and check to make certain their cargo has not shifted during transport. Other ‘tells’ that their load may have shifted include:

  • The truck is not driving in a straight line
  • The truck is swerving or weaving
  • The truck is listing to one side
  • The steering wheel is vibrating or shaking

If it has, leave the repositioning of the cargo to experts. Wise transportation carriers will have Labor Loop on speed dial. We provide on-the-fly, on-demand loading and unloading services, to warehouse docks, and wherever a trucker with a shift load has pulled over. In the incidence of shifted freight, the schedule will be less impacted if professionals are called in to remediate. Any time lost in re-shoring up shifted freight far outweighs the consequences of a load shift, which can be quite severe – damaged cargo, accidents, injuries, and worse. 

To ensure the safe loading, reloading, and unloading of freight, contact Labor Loop to learn more about our on-demand lumper services today!