Automatic Truck Loading and Unloading Systems: The Future of Shipping

The best way to increase agility and safety throughout the products receiving and dispatch process at the warehouse docks is to employ automatic truck loading and unloading systems

An essential component of every distribution facility are the loading docks. The quantity of vehicles entering and leaving a warehouse, or goods flows, increases with the number of docks a facility has. Generally, depending on the kind of goods and their weight, manual truck unloading takes around 30 minutes. This process might be automated to reduce the duration to around ten minutes.

In this article, we’ll define an automatic truck loading and unloading system, describe how it operates, and discuss its benefits. 

What Is A System For Loading And Unloading Trucks Automatically?

An automatic truck loading and unloading system, sometimes referred to as an ATLS (automated truck loading system), involves the minimally-intervened automatic insertion and removal of pallets from/into a truck.

The docking area, a crucial point of access for any facility, is where these systems are situated. As a result, it’s essential to plan every aspect of their architecture, decide on the sort of dock to be created based on the available area, and, most importantly, specify the precise number of docks. This last component will depend on how the materials flow, how many deliveries are made, when the majority of the items are received, how long it takes to load and unload the freight, etc.

Companies are being forced to modify the architecture of their facilities as a result of the advent of automatic truck loading and unloading systems. The cause? the adaptability they provide. It should be quite obvious that if you shorten the time it takes for trucks to load and unload, you’ll probably need fewer loading docks overall since the ones you do have will be more effective. Therefore, the design of a warehouse will differ in that a portion of the area designated for the docking area might be used for other purposes. 

How does autonomous loading and unloading of trucks operate?

The procedure for automatic truck loading and unloading is as follows (in broad strokes as specifics may vary depending on the system and its parts):

  • The truck backs up and aligns with the loading dock with its doors already open. The dock door opens when the vehicle reaches the limit.
  • The automated loading and unloading of items can start once the vehicle is connected to the loading dock power supply.
  • Pallets are brought into the building during unloading using a conveyor system (in a fully automated warehouse). When this process is complete, the vehicle is prepared to convey the freight and is ready for loading.

The procedure for loading and/or unloading products has been completed effectively, without mishaps, and with the least amount of personnel involvement in a matter of minutes.

An Autonomous Loading Dock’s Components

Depending on the type of solution used, a truck loading and unloading system might include many components. There is currently no standard method because each provider gives a unique option based on the kind of commodities, vehicle, dock, etc.

In light of this, the following are the essential elements of an automatic truck loading and unloading system:

  • Chain and/or roller mechanism. Chains, rollers, or a combination of the two make up this driving mechanism. For instance, the system is based on two central chains and four lines of rollers that move up and down hydraulically to convey the pallets in the warehouse our business created for hygiene product maker Hayat.
  • adjustable forks. Extendable forks that are connected to some of the rails may be moved by the system.
  • Skids. This has to do with where the hydraulic skids that lift and move the weight to the proper location are placed.

Lifting platforms, hydraulic tables, and chain or roller conveyors that communicate with the mechanized loading and unloading systems frequently accompany these components.

Do My Vehicles Need To Be Modified?

One frequent query regarding autonomous loading and unloading is whether or not the vehicles need to be altered. The answer is yes, as autonomous loading and unloading requires two coupled systems—one on the truck and the other on the platform of the warehouse loading dock.

This is why internal transportation inside a single firm (between the production and distribution facilities) typically uses automated truck loading and unloading systems.

On the other side, there are methods that don’t require you to modify any component of the vehicles if all you want to do is automatically load items into the trucks. These solutions, however, are more difficult and uncommon. For instance, they may consist of an arm that loads, lifts, and places the pallets inside the truck or a transfer vehicle that automatically travels between the various loading docks.

Automatic Truck Loading And Unloading Systems’ Benefits

Numerous advantages of automatic loading docks contribute to a large increase in a company’s profitability.

Raised productivity: automated loading platforms help you load and/or unload a complete truck containing 33 pallets in only a few minutes, thereby boosting the quantity of products dispatches and receipts.

Leveraged surface area: simplifying truck unloading shortens the time necessary to complete the dock-to-stock procedure. As a result, the staging area will require less room, and you may use that space for other purposes.

Protected goods: Automating the loading and unloading of freight from trucks eliminates abrupt movements that might harm the items. Reverse logistics activities will consequently decline.

Workforce optimization: One of a warehouse’s busiest sections is the docks. Systems for loading and unloading trucks automatically minimize the amount of people needed in this area, freeing them up for other duties.

Operator security: One of the most important and risky procedures in the warehouse is the loading and unloading of cargo. Automating this procedure makes the place safer and less congested by removing the potential of an accident.

Finally, all of these advantages directly reduce operational expenses. less workers are needed, handling equipment lasts longer, is used more safely, and productivity is boosted… It’s safe to conclude that automatic truck loading and unloading systems guarantee a quick ROI (return on investment) with all these benefits. 

Complete Automation From Dock To Stock

Systems for loading and unloading trucks automatically are the first and last steps in a completely automated supply chain.

With them, together with the installation of conveyors, stacker cranes, a pallet checkpoint, and other equipment, any business may fully automate its dock-to-stock procedure. Conveyors are also used by automatic truck loading and unloading systems to gather the merchandise that stacker cranes have taken off the racks and put into the vehicle.

Systems for warehouse management are essential for both receiving and shipping items. When products are on their way, the company’s ERP alerts the WMS so that both systems may communicate constantly and in both directions that a truck carrying the specified number of pallets will be arriving (ASN, or advance shipment notice).

The WMS is responsible for arranging the pallets that will be distributed in terms of dispatches. Each product is given a preload channel based on its route or consumer.

Do I Require A System For Loading And Unloading Trucks Automatically?

When working with bulky goods and stock movements that need speed (for instance, with just-in-time systems), automating truck loading and unloading is quite effective.

Automation provides installations with a wide range of benefits in addition to agility, including operator and product safety. In businesses like the food and pharmaceutical ones, safety is a need. For Grupo Siro, one of the biggest businesses in Spain’s food industry, we constructed an automated clad-rack warehouse with autonomous truck loading and unloading technologies.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with Mecalux if you believe that it is time to increase both throughput and safety in your installation. We’ll provide you advice and demonstrate all the benefits automation has for the whole supply chain.

I have completed Master in Arts from Amravati University, I am interested in a wide range of fields, from Technology and Innovation, Sports, Entertainment, and online marketing to personal entrepreneurship.