March 19, 2019 3:15 PM, EDT

Ancra Cargo Presents Automated Decking System

Automated Decking SystemAncra Cargo's booth. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

ATLANTA — Ancra Cargo, a manufacturer of cargo securement equipment, introduced an automated decking system at American Trucking Associations’ 2019 Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting March 19.

Ancra Cargo specializes in load securement products, such as straps, chains and winches. The system, called AutoDeck, allows dockworkers and drivers to automatically program the height of each beam within a trailer.

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Beams are the horizontal supports that allow haulers to stack pallets of freight. Decking is aligning the beams so that they can support pallets. Jim Calico, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the company’s cargo division, compared decking to the rafters that support the second floor of a two-story home.

The conventional method of setting beams involves using a pole to manually adjust each beam within the trailer to make sure they are the same height. AutoDeck presents a series of buttons near the tail end of the trailer, which a shipper can use to select a beam and raise or lower it to a desired height.

“Ever since cargo’s been moved, carriers have struggled with how they put as much weight or fill as much space as they possibly can,” Ancra Cargo President Larry Bethel said. “We always knew there was a better way to do it. We knew there was a faster, easier and safer way to do it.”

The conventional process was time-consuming and occasionally resulted in damaged cargo, as the pallets sometimes were not properly stacked. Bethel said AutoDeck reduces the time to load a truck by 20%. Greg Kauffman, director of engineering, said it takes about 1 minute, 10 seconds to adjust all of the beams using AutoDeck.

“The resulting issue is this is a great time saver,” Calico said.

As a safety measure, AutoDeck has a breakaway system, meaning if a programmed beam comes down on a person or a load, it will immediately stop.

“Some shippers are very sensitive,” said Jeff Murillo, director of sales for engineered cargo system. “Even if just one box or one carton is slightly damaged, they’re going refuse the whole load. So we wanted to make sure that, whether it was a person of freight, it wasn’t causing any serious damage or injury.”