- "A number of individual packages bonded, palletized or strapped together to form a single unit for more efficient handling by mechanical equipment. [http://www.geodiswilson.com/en/Global_tools/Logistics_Dictionary/U/]
- "Packages loaded on a pallet in a crate or any other way that enables them to be handled at one time as a unit." [http://www.apl.com/equipment/html/equipment_glossary.html]
- "A unit load combines individual items or items in shipping containers into a single "unit" that can be moved easily with pallet jack or forklift truck. A unit load packs tightly into warehouse racks, intermodal containers, trucks, and boxcars, yet can be easily broken apart at a distribution point, usually a distribution center, wholesaler, retail store, etc." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_load]
2. Why unit loads?
In general it can be said that, unit load is getting more and more important because globalization, increasing international trade and the growing importance of electronic technology impose new demands on packaging and distribution industries.
Two factors why unit load is imprescindible as modern-day transport concept and even more as an efficient consumer response to increasing volume of trade and expanding market
1) achieving economies of scale to bring down cost
2) improving the performance of the supply chain to delight consumers.
Advantages of unit loads:
- The primary advantage of using unit loads is the capability of moving more items at a time.
- Therefore, unit loads reduces the number of trips, handling, loading and unloading operations.
- And last but not least unit loads also keep to minimum level product damage and losses.
- Unit loads facilitate internal handling and storage
- They speed up trailing loading and unloading
- They shorten the processing of manifests and bills of lading
- They subject products to reduced handling hazards
- And the cost may only be minimal.
Unit loads make automation in plants possible. The following video shows that this automation is only possible by unit loads and therefore it emphasises the advantages mentioned before even more: it makes moving items faster and safer.
Unit Load Automation:
In this video mostly boxes are used for the unit loads.
3. Factors influencing Unit Load design
- the design of the product itself (its nature, dimensions, shape or profile, etc.)
- Environmental conditions to which the product is exposed
- the manner of loading of goods at supplier end, handling facilities at shipping ports and unloading provisions at the receiving venue