I want to semi-automate the process of loading products (in the form of cardboard box) to trucks.

Current process utilizes manual pallet jack to bring the pallet full of cases inside the trucks, then the box will be stacked manually, so in total there is three worker involved on the process.

What I'm looking for is to try to increase the efficiency (more boxes handled in shorter amount of time), and my first idea is by removing the manual pallet transfer and changing it to transfer the boxes through a conveyor inside the truck. But, I'm still not sure if this is the most efficient way to do this. Is there any other way to increase the efficiency?

The rules that needs to be obeyed on this improvement: no pallet inside the trucks, because the shipment needs to be non-palletized

Other solutions that I have explored is the slip-sheet loading method, but this involves renting forklifts and could be much more expensive.

  • $\begingroup$ Investigate box handling in warehouses and trucks where the sides are removable. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 19, 2021 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ is this an exam question? $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Aug 19, 2021 at 12:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SolarMike, that's not an option for North American operations - no one would be able to unload it. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 19, 2021 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ @TigerGuy is the OP in North America? There are other countries in the World... If you look at the OP's profile you may find out... In other countries we have trailers with "soft" sides etc... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 19, 2021 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ @SolarMike, of course you're right, but driving into trailers makes me think it's NA, or at least a sea container loading operation. If side loading were available where he is he would know it, plus your warehouse has to be built to allow side loading. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 19, 2021 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


Solutions from cheapest to most expensive:

  1. Extendable non-powered conveyor. The first thing to do is stop building pallets so that you can take boxes off the pallet later. The first rule of waste reduction is avoid multiple handling actions. Example These are extremely common.
  2. Powered version of the above. Example Common for operations with a bit more cash and for unloading that trailer when it gets to its destination.
  3. Semi-permanent extending conveyor. Usually attached to a powered inlet conveyor. Example
  4. Permanent extendable conveyer. These are typically attached to an incoming conveyor system that drops boxes to the right dock door. Big Box retailers typically have one dock door per store, fed by an automated system. Example 1 Example 2

There are issues with extending conveyors, namely that you can no longer drive along the dock. You could theoretically also have robots move product onto a conveyor from a dropped pallet. The other option is live/walking floor trailers, but this really only works for dedicated lanes between your own facilities.

ETA: Please do not consider slipsheets. These will increase your damage rates, require more lift truck driver training, require expensive push-pull attachments, and you have to buy the slip sheets themselves, which is 100% waste. If you are stacking to the ceiling you will still have to throw cases onto the top of the slip-sheeted loads. Similarly, avoid clamp attachments unless you have a product that absolutely can take it.

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, there are those Boston Dynamics Drinking Bird Robots which could probably load it directly from palette to truck. But I have to assume not cheap. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 19, 2021 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen I think that a robot can do such things for standard size boxes but I don't think tech is ready yet to play tetris with oddball case sizes. Within ranges, pallet build via robots is proven tech. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 19, 2021 at 13:35

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