Mark Arnold, project manager for Con-way's SafeStack program, said the less-than-truckload carrier has installed Ancra's Lift-A-Deck II system in 16,800 of its 28-foot pup trailers because it works so well. By later this year it will be in all its trailers. The system has also been retrofitted to about 100 of Con-way Truckload's 53-foot vans.
"Cargo damage is the leading cause of customer dissatisfaction," Arnold said. "Surveys have proved this. And the root cause is stacking cargo."
Lift-A-Deck II eliminates stacking and crushing, and secures the cargo against damage from shifting and falling. Also, the equipment is always at hand and ready to use - another source of savings, he said.
Lift-A-Deck's aluminum pieces never leave a trailer except for rare repairs, and a trailer never lacks equipment for decking. This saves time for dock workers, who don't have to leave a trailer to go on a hunt for equipment, and adds to their productivity.
Hardware includes vertical tracks mounted to walls or wall posts, extending about 6 feet down from the ceiling, and horizontal shoring beams that match the trailer's interior width, and can be adjusted to sit above lower-level cargo. A pair of beams can carry cargo pallets, though Con-way places plywood sheeting on beams, then sets pallets on the sheeting.
Beams adjust vertically in 1-inch increments, and tracks are indexed so beams can be leveled. When not in use, the beams are raised to the trailer's ceiling and locked there.
Securement straps are attached to the vertical side tracks to belt cargo into place on the beam-supported shelving, and straps are stowed in a box at the trailer's rear when not in use. The strap ends mate only with Lift-A-Deck II's tracks, which discourages theft because they're not usable for anything else.
Like other decking systems, Lift-A-Deck II utilizes space in the upper 30 percent of a van that often goes unused, said Paul Wolford, Ancra's director of national accounts. The added payload can generate revenue to pay for the system in as little as a few trips. It's also boosted productivity for dock workers
Installing the system in a 53-foot van costs $4,000 to $5,000 and takes about a day, Wolford said. Weight varies with the amount of hardware in varying size trailers, but a system adds 700 to 1,000 pounds to a trailer.
Tracks are attached solely to walls and transfer no cargo weight to the floor, Wolford explained. So walls must be strong, but the system has been installed on sheet-and-post and plate-type metal walls.
Ancra offers training and training materials so employees can be taught how to properly use Lift-A-Deck II. They must know how to adjust the hardware, secure loads, and how to avoid putting dense cargo on upper decks so the trailer becomes top heavy.
Drivers must know that decked cargo can raise a trailer's usual center of gravity and change handling characteristics. Because of training and professional care exhibited by Con-way drivers, the carrier has not had any driving mishaps attributable to Lift-A-Deck II, Arnold said.
Ancra introduced the system in 2002, and since then has sold thousands, Wolford said. Demand will be boosted by new federal regulations encouraging safe securement of cargo. Ancra expects to have sold 55,000 by 2013. The original Lift-A-Deck is no longer made.