Con-way Freight, a less-than-truckload (LTL) trucking company, has announced the nationwide deployment of SafeStack, an advanced load management and cargo protection system installed across its fleet of 16,800 freight trailers in North America.
The deployment represents the culmination of a strategic, nine-month multi-million-dollar investment in an adjustable decking and securing system that enables LTL shipments to be handled more efficiently, travel more securely and gain increased protection against damage. For customers, better handling processes and reduced in-transit damage can help improve the service experience as more shipments are delivered on time, intact and in exception-free condition, explains Greg Lehmkuhl, executive vice president, operations for Con-way Freight.
How the System Works
Con-way Freight retrofitted its existing fleet of 16,800 28-foot “pup” trailers with the SafeStack system, and is installing the equipment in 1,300 new trailers scheduled for delivery this year. The units have been deployed throughout the company’s network of 290 service centers. The system was purchased from Ancra International, a provider of cargo handling, loading and restraint systems for aircraft cargo, the military and transportation. The company has applied its expertise in aircraft cargo systems to the manufacture of highly-engineered freight loading, decking and restraint systems designed exclusively for trucking operations.
The SafeStack system utilizes aircraft-quality components. Heavy-duty, aluminum tracks are attached to supporting vertical posts along the trailer walls. Height-adjustable horizontal shoring beams clamp securely into the vertical tracks and can be moved up and down in one-inch increments, creating multiple decking platforms set at precise levels for palletized freight of various shapes and sizes. The system also features custom-designed anchors and heavy-duty straps that securely brace and tie down shipments to prevent movement in transit and protect shipments against damage.
Running parallel with system installation was an extensive education and hands-on training program for Con-way Freight drivers and freight operations personnel nationwide. All freight handling employees were trained in best practices and proper use of the tools and then certified — more than 15,000 employees to date. In addition, feedback from Con-way’s drivers on the design of SafeStack’s components led to a number of improvements which increased the system’s utility and usability.
As drivers and dock associates have become proficient with the SafeStack tools, shipment delivery exceptions, a leading indicator of customer claims, have declined while productivity and operating efficiencies reportedly have improved. Trailers are achieving better cube utilization in the daytime pickup and delivery (P&D) operation, creating opportunity for drivers to pick up and deliver more customer shipments per route, compared to pre-SafeStack-equipped trailers.
In the night-time line-haul operation, SafeStack is generating additional benefits. On a nightly basis, Con-way Freight’s network operates roughly 8,000 inter-city trips, or schedules (a schedule or trip consists of a company driver and tractor operating a double-trailer set running between two service centers). SafeStack has enabled consistently improving load factor and more complete trailer space utilization, requiring fewer trailers and a reduced number of schedules to move nightly freight volumes. Using 425 miles as the average nightly round trip between service centers, for each trip eliminated per night, the company potentially conserves 65 gallons of diesel fuel, and prevents nearly 1,500 pounds of CO2 emissions from entering the environment.