Technological Innovations in Air Cargo: Issue 1

Technological innovation – Definition: the introduction of an idea, method or device. The creation of new significant technological changes to products and processes.

Welcome to the first in a new series of newsletters looking at how various aspects of technological innovation have improved operations within the air cargo industry. This is our third series, following on from our previous e-Freight and DGR newsletters.

In today’s world where everything is digitized and easily accessed no business can afford to neglect technology, especially when it comes to complicated, 24/7, integrated and competitive cargo management systems (CMS).

With growing competition within the Air Cargo Handling industry different CMS providers are focusing on different aspects of technology, functionality and innovation.

When the Hermes air cargo management system was created over a decade ago, it was seen by many as a turning point for air cargo handlers transforming “I’d like my CMS to be able to do this” into “my CMS does this”. Since then Hermes Logistics Technologies (HLT) have been at the forefront of CMS technology, partnering our in-house cargo experts with the latest design innovations to bring challenge driven improvements and value to our customers.

We focus on translating the latest technologies into best practice and functionalities. We investigate lots of new technologies, challenge industry buzzwords and constantly look at real world ways air cargo operations can benefit from them. We believe that new functionality does not necessarily need to be reliant on technology, it can simply be a good idea that needs to be implemented.

Looking at ways we can turn technological advances into useful innovation for our customers has become central to our everyday thinking, as well as the way we approach our future product development. Understanding this and believing that the only way to deliver true value to our customers is through the introduction of innovation, both functional and technical, the vision, mission and strategy for the HLT product portfolio is to become one of the innovation leaders in our field.

The air cargo industry has experienced something of a technological revolution in recent years as cargo handlers make the decision to move away from legacy systems and towards tools that they can customise to suit their current and future operations.

By embracing the latest advances air cargo carriers are concentrating more on streamlining their ground handling processes, reducing handling errors and maximising their profits.

In the past decade, we have seen technological innovation in area’s such as real time process management, controlled and monitored irregularity management and fully integrated DGR checking functionality HLT can proudly say that we have pioneered many of these innovations.

Today, using even smarter technology HLT is always looking at ways air cargo products and processes can be transformed into more efficient ones, and by linking this innovation with customer service, what real benefits these advances bring.

HLT believe innovations like ‘Big Cargo Data’ Business Intelligence (BI), Integrated Work Orders (paperless warehouse), Intelligent Customer Service Monitoring,Smart Hub Management, Task Management and Inbound Workload Profiling are important. Over the next issues we’ll be looking at how each of these innovations can be used and what benefits they bring.

And tomorrow is looking positive too. As part of this series we will be looking at underlying technologies, deployment methodologies, publishing option etc. as part of the comprehensive technological review of the Air Cargo Handling space. We will naturally share facts like the HERMES system migration to Magic 3.1 technology which will allow us to offer our customers a modern infrastructure based on Microsoft .NET, as well as an enhanced user experience and a better look and feel.

New functionalities provided by Magic 3.1 will also make it easier to integrate with the latest technologies and protocols, allow for the development of native mobile applications for both internal and external use and provide even more rapid development.

In the next issue…

Find out how Business Intelligence applications remove the challenges associated with analysis design, data integrity and complex mapping to allow you to make well informed decisions.

Dangerous Goods 12: Serviceability of ULDs

A SERVICEABLE ULD is dependent on a pallet base and pallet net being in good condition. IATA has established some clear guidelines for training requirements for those handling ULDs. A damaged ULD loaded into an aircraft may present a flight safety risk because damage can mean it is no longer able to meet its minimum required strength requirements.

On all open pallets the net must have the required amount of fasteners stipulated by that airline. It is important to be aware of these requirements before you begin flight build up and the same applies to breakdown of any pallet.

If a pallet arrives damaged, make a senior member of staff or the Airline Cargo Representative aware if it has arrived in this condition. The ULD can either be removed from service or repaired depending on thee Airlines un- serviceability guidelines. By doing this, your prompt action may also stop a major incident occurring if a defective ULD were to be loaded onto any aircraft.

Tie-Down Rails round edge of pallet where nets/ straps are secured to prevent movement of cargo during flight. If one of these is defective it can greatly decrease the weight restrictions of the airline equipment – pallet net for example.

CONTAINERS must not be used if the following defects are evident; ALWAYS CHECK INDIVIDUAL AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS

  • Delaminated or de- formed bottom skin
  • Splits, tears, holes and indentations on under surface
  • Cracked or distorted edge rail higher than 3.2cm. Prevents locks being raised over the pallet edge
  • Cracks or permanent distortion to structural framework or roof panel
  • Splits and tears on metal panels larger than two in (5cm). Check with individual airline concerned
  • Damaged door latches and parts. Tears in tarpaulin doors greater than 10cm / 4in
  • More than 1 deformity over an area of 1m
  • More than 3 deformities over an area of 3m
  • More than 1 missing rivet / screw per edge profile or any damages within 3 pairs of tie – down track lips each side of the net attachment point
  • Any tear / crack exceeding 25cm / 10in in the side / roof panels
  • Dents on any frame profile that could affect the contour

PALLETS must not be used if the following defects are evident: ALWAYS CHECK INDIVIDUAL AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS

  • Missing corners
  • Broken tie-down rail
  • Cracked edge rail
  • Splits, tears, holes and indentations on under surface
  • Excessive bending
  • 16′ / 20′ pallets with more than 1 side restraint ‘Pocket’ damaged. IGLOOS / REFRIGERATED UNITS
  • Shell should not have large splits or punctures, which would allow water to penetrate
  • Shell must not have any damage that causes protrusions outside the external contour
  • Shells should be checked periodically for cracks, holes and other external damage
  • Any damage to the door seals
  • Be aware on refrigerated units it does not effect the internal temperature therefore damaging contents

PALLET Nets must not be used if the following defects are evident: ALWAYS CHECK INDIVIDUAL AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS

  • One or more missing or damaged net hooks.
  • One or more missing or damaged tie-down rings. If one is missing, it must be replaced with the same capacity ring e.g. double stud with double stud fitting
  • More than 3 completely broken meshes per net side
  • More than 1 broken border cord
  • No torn fibers to the lashing cords or net
  • One or more broken or missing lashing cord. Some airlines accept double thickness rope but LH must be replaced using correct corner rope
  • LH – net older than 5 years


In order to prevent possible damage or mishandling of ULD’s the following things should be considered.

  • Correct storage facilities for every ULD should be available
  • Do not use forklift trucks for handling a ULD unless the ULD / FLT is specially designed for this purpose. Always take care when moving any ULD with a FLT
  • When transporting ULD’s on dollies or other vehicles ensure that the restraint stops are always correctly applied
  • Do not push or drag along the ground
  • ULD’s are not supposed to be stored directly on the ground
  • If dollies or roller-beds are available then these must be used as opposed to being left lying around on the floor
  • LD3 / 2 type containers should not be stacked on top of one another. However, this is not always possible due to storage space, therefore care must be taken not to damage containers stored below. This can be reduced by placing all units on a wooden pallet
  • Container doors should be closed when stored
  • Pallet nets should be stored in a dry area
  • With the exception of open pallets, it is recommended not to stack on top of each other
  • If stored outside, be aware of weather conditions. ·ULD’s of different airlines should be stored separately
  • In view of this it is strongly recommended that other airline ULD’s are returned to the owners within FIVE days with the correct ULD receipt form (UCR) to avoid possible loss and costs

It is very important for you to be vigilant at all times especially when issuing ULD’s to either customer or shipper and any damage noticed and highlighted before it is too late.

Please note this list is not exhaustive and different airlines may have other stipulations to those listed.

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website:


If you have any questions on the topics discussed here get in touch at:



Is the cross-stitching torn?

Are the straps damaged or torn? Is the net missing or unserviceable? Remember to check fittings or hooks.

Are the corner ropes missing? If so they must be replaced with correct rope. If that’s not available double lashing using PN040 must be used.

Check for missing or defective fittings / hooks on flexible doors.

Make sure door lock mechanisms work correctly and are not damaged or missing.

Is the steel cable missing or damaged?

Are there tears or cuts in the door material, big enough for small shipments to fall out?

Are there missing rivets or screws or tears in the gussets?

Are the stiffeners or corner strengtheners in place and not loose?


The information in these newsletters is for information purposes only and is representative of the experience of Hermes Logistics Technologies Ltd. We do not guarantee its completeness, timeliness or accuracy.

Dangerous Goods 11: Additional Special Loads – Part 2

Continuing with our theme of additional loads from our last issue. These are some of the various additional handling labels commonly found on ‘Special Loads’.

Magnetized material – (Cargo IMP code MAG) found on computer equipment and items that could be effected by interaction from other hazards when loaded in/on the same ULD or in the same aircraft compartment. (class 9)

Hazardous cargo carrying the additional label means in short CAO ONLY. These shipments bearing one of these labels must only be loaded on a CARGO AIRCRAFT ONLY due to its commodity. It has been classed too dangerous to fly on a passenger flight. (Cargo IMP code CAO).

The newest of the hazard labels, this label signifies shipments carrying ‘Cryogenic Gases’ which must be treated with care. This will be found in the class for gases, (class 2). This label will be found in addition to the non-flammable gas hazard label on packages and over packs containing Cryogenic Liquid (Cargo IMP code RCL).

Both of these arrow labels are known as package orientation labels and must be used when shipments contain liquid dangerous goods. Each package must show two labels affixed on opposite sides of the piece. The words ‘THIS END UP’ Or ‘THIS SIDE UP’ may also be displayed on the top of the package. These labels may be red or black.

Other markings / labels on Hazardous Cargo to be aware of include:

Require 3 – Letter code for the following; REQ – Excepted quantities

This information is required on all flight documentation.

All sections of these Handling Labels must be completed by the persons in charge of this particular shipment.

This is a label used on packages of ‘Dangerous Goods in Excepted Quantities’. There are Dangerous Goods that are permitted in very small quantities and will pose a minimal hazard, therefore these require no other hazard or handling labels. The package conforms to strict packing directions as published in the IATA DG Regulations and should still always be handled as dangerous goods.

What is a ‘Packing Group’?

The packing group indicates the degree of danger presented by the substance.

Packing Group 1 = Great Danger

Packing Group 11 = Medium Danger

Packing Group 111 = Minor Danger

Packing Groups 1 and 11 are generally loaded ‘accessible’ during flight – on the Main Deck of anaircraft. These will be shown on the ‘Notification to the Captain’ (NOTOC). This form is created with the Office documentation once the warehouse completes flight build up.

Radioactive Materials in Excepted Packages

RRE – Excepted Packages.

The ”Excepted Packages” regulations can be used to cover the transportation of limited quantities of Radioactive materials, manufactured articles and also cover the transportation of empty packaging. There are restrictions and exemptions to the contents depending on the radiation levels of the packaging. Don’t forget, if one of these packages shows signs of leakage / damage, do not accept them.

Remember, though they may be only small quantities the parcel could still contain Dangerous Goods. DGR in Airmail is generally not allowed but there are, as ever, exceptions to this rule. Below are some exceptions to be aware when accepting mail – look for any leakage;

Infectious Substances – Dry Ice used as a refrigerant forRIS – Radioactive Material,

Some shippers do not have UN specified packages for DGR and this procedure allows the usage of packaging which has a similar standard to the UN recognised packages. However, there are certain conditions attached and one of them is the maximum gross weight of each package must not exceed 30kgs.

Package and Marking

The packages are marked and labeled just like any normal DGR package with one exception; Instead of the UN package markings you will see the wording Limited Quantities or Ltd Qtg.

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website:


If you have any questions on the topics discussed here get in touch at:


The information in these newsletters is for information purposes only and is representative of the experience of Hermes Logistics Technologies Ltd. We do not guarantee its completeness, timeliness or accuracy.

Dangerous Goods 10: Additional Special Loads – Part 1

Cargo shipments are transported throughout the world daily carrying the classification ‘Special load’.

Some Airlines recognize a shipment as a Special Load before some of their competitors but there is a general table to work from, which is known throughout the Airfreight Industry.

Any shipment carrying the term ‘Special Load’ is classified by the Consignee and the Handling Airline as a shipment, which requires special precautions to protect,

A – The Aircraft.
B – Handling Personnel.
C – Other consignments loaded with the shipment.
D – The shipment itself.
Or which, due to their urgency, require priority handling.

For all ‘Special loads’ a booking is MANDATORY.

Where a ‘Special Load’ is present on a flight build-up plan, senior personnel dealing with that flight will be notified by the Airline Representative, stating the requirements for that shipment to fly and for making it safe to any staff involved in the loading and of course the aircraft whilst in flight.

All these categories are simplified via means of three letter codes. Here are some of the more common ones.

Perishables – This is a generalized term but includes three – letter codes than come under the PER name;

These will be classified in the IATA Perishable Cargo Handling Manual so get to know where yours is if required.

PES: Seafood products

PEF: Fresh flowers and plants

PEP: Fruit and vegetables

PEM: Fresh meat and poultry and their products (sausages)

EAT: Food for human or animal consumption (which is not any of the above)

COL: Use this code for movement of ‘temperature’ controlled shipments. The same incompatibility restrictions apply to COL as EAT

PEA: Other products derived from animals (hunting trophies, skin)

PER: Generally perishable goods (medicines, blood plasma)

PPH: Pharmaceuticals to be transported at a temp = 10-30.c using a Cool Container

PPL: Pharmaceuticals to be transported at a temp = 2-8.c using a Cool Container

Marking – ‘ Perishable’ label, ‘Keep Temperature’ label maybe ‘Fragile’ and ‘This way up’ label visible.

When loading it is important to be aware of other cargo in the same compartment.

When stacking packages containing perishables, make sure that the lower layers of the stack are not damaged by the weight of the above pieces. It is also best to handle this cargo like WET cargo.

PEF ULD’s must not be completely wrapped in plastic. However a top layer could be used for protection as where physically possible, maximum air circulation is an advantage.

Some of the other more common markings required on other packages for correct and safe transportation are:

HEA: One single piece weighing 150KG or more

Its’ important to always make sure you know theREGULATIONS for each airline handled within your shed. HEA’s can rangeup to 250kg and will generally require additional lashing. HEA’s with a single weight of 10,000kgs are not allowed unless special permission is granted as this could affect the aircraft structure once loaded.

Marking – ‘Attention Secure’ label, ‘This Side Up’ label and possibly ‘Fragile’.

Loading – HEA’s should be preferably on pallets. If it is inside a container inner lashing may be required and where possible not loaded in LD1/ LD3 containers due to any possible damage. HEA’s must be loaded in the centre of the ULD. If not spreading must take place.

Lashing is mandatory when HEA is loaded in a bulk load compartment(500kg max). The cargo shed is also responsible for supplying the required lashing material.

The operations dept at the aircraft side are responsible for the correct loading and lashing.

VAL: Valuable items should always be handled as VAL. These include Gold, Platinum, Precious stones, Airline passenger tickets, narcotics, Blank travelers cheques. Special allowance for certain firearms.

Marking – No labels to be affixed to cartons, packages or similar types of packaging. Use tags or handwritten markings.

When loading VAL, small pieces should be stowed into relevant Value Box (LH – yellow) or container that is to be Sealed – Usually in a lockable container. (LD3)

Specials – These are only transported by aircraft, never by road. If missing or stolen the supervisor or appropriate staff must be notified. For DGR goods with a classification of VAL, the rules apply the same as any DG shipment and then VAL restrictions apply from then on.

Always check with individual airline concerned as additional requirements may apply.

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website:

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website:


If you have any questions on the topics discussed here get in touch at:


The information in these newsletters is for information purposes only and is representative of the experience of Hermes Logistics Technologies Ltd. We do not guarantee its completeness, timeliness or accuracy.

Keeping pace with a changing industry

Much has changed at Hermes over the last two and a half years as we grow our portfolio offering and customer base.

Our list of customers has expanded to include Etihad, who signed up towards the end of last year and projects currently running in early 215 include PCF (Perishable Center Frankfurt, CACC (Cairo Airport Cargo Company) and HCS (Hahn Cargo Services).

Recently Freight Business Journal (FBJ) interviewed Hermes CEO Yuval Baruch who took over the helm in the summer of 2012. Since then he has helped the company keep pace with a changing industry.

Hermes team expands again

We are delighted to announce two more additions to the Hermes team.

A warm welcome to Michael Sharfman who joins our Technical Team as DBA Support and to Amrath Kharvi who joins our QC Team as a QC Engineer.


Hermes quoted in Logistics Update Africa

Africa’s Air Cargo industry is adopting the latest technology to enhance its supply chain, with e-freight being high on the agenda. Hermes have customers in both South Africa and Nigeria so when Hermes Chief Cargo Officer, Steve Montgomery was recently asked to contribute to an article about IT in African air cargo, he was happy to do so…

“We are already seeing increased investment in technology in the air cargo industry in Africa. With more sophisticated airlines serving the main African hubs the demand for investment in the latest CMS systems is becoming a requirement so that the latest messaging, cargo 2000 and e- freight requirements can be met,” says Steve Montgomery, Hermes Chief Cargo Officer. “Hermes has customers in South Africa and Nigeria. Both companies want to offer a quality cargo ground handling product to their customers and see the investment in a system like Hermes as a major step towards improving the quality of service they currently offer. Hermes’ long term aim is to attract more customers by meeting the customer airlines requirement for visibility and control within a cargo ground handling operation,” adds Montgomery. The main challenge in increasing the rate of adoption of IT services is investment. “Introducing a new CMS system into a cargo operation requires not just financial investment but operational investment in time and commitment to ensure a successful implementation of the new system.”

Steve’s comments form part of the “Going Technological” article just published in the latest issue. The full article can be found on pages 14/15 of the Logistics Update Africa November issue or by clicking here.

Hermes continues to grow…

We are delighted to introduce another new member to our Hermes cargo team. Carl Harrison joins us from Virgin Atlantic Cargo as a cargo specialist.

This is an exciting and busy time for Hermes and we are delighted to have Carl on board. He brings with him lots of experience and is a valuable addition to our growing cargo team.



Hermes prefers being the best in its niche

Payload Asia magazine interviewed Hermes Chief Cargo Officer, Steve Montgomery, at the Air Cargo Handling Conference in Milan last month.

The article is part of an Information Technology supplement published in the October issue.

In it, Steve talks about how Hermes works to maintain its niche position and the next steps we are planning to take our products to mobile platforms in the very near future.

Click to read the full article – Hermes prefers being the best in its niche.

IT challenge highlights Hermes approach to improving customer experience

Septembers Air Cargo Handling Conference in Milan, saw the introduction of a new IT Challenge Session. Alongside Hermes, two other leading IT suppliers took to the stage to share exciting new initiatives aimed at improving their customers experience.

Oded Lavee, Chief Technology Officer at Hermes spoke of reducing costs and improving quality, introducing transparency and about having the flexibility to interact with your customers. He also shared ways that customers can get the most out of the Hermes air cargo management system.

Below are some of his presentation highlights:

  1. The launch of a Work Order System, a new generic tool that will allow customers to define and add their own, specific, internal processes using a set of pre-defined building blocks giving them the independence and the flexibility to personalise their systems without having to contact the Hermes team directly.
  2. The introduction of an automated QC process which will see scripts for every application process as well as sanity tests on each build to reduce errors.
  3. The setting up of Operational and Database Health Checks which will see Hermes cargo experts meeting with key users to review all Import/Export and Accounts processes and then advising customers on how they might enhance them.
  4. The use of RFID (radio frequency identification) to read and capture information stored on tags to automatically track cargo through warehouses.
  5. Using technology to introduce Mobile Apps that can be used on both phones and tablets and that will automatically update.

To keep our air cargo management system at the forefront of our industry, the Hermes team also continues to grow (see below) but to find our why more and more air cargo ground handlers are choosing Hermes to run their operations click here.

Hermes team continues to grow

We’d like to welcome two more new faces to our expanding team at Hermes.

James Plested, who recently joined the Hermes Cargo team from Emirates and System Developer, Moshe Amran who joins our Technical team.

Dangerous Goods 9: Building Up a Unit Load Device (ULD)

In this issue, the what, why, where and when questions that arise when building up a ULD (Unit Load Device) are addressed. From the arrival of a shipment at the door, to it’s final point of leaving the shed fully built up and ready to fly securely and safely, the process chain is a long one.

A huge amount of information needs to be checked and cross referenced and the final decision as to whether or not that shipment or ULD flies rests with the individual in charge of the flight / build up. The process starts with reservations making the booking and then continues in a process likely to be similar to that below.

  1. Reservations make the booking

Dimensions are documented but if additional equipment is used and raises the overall dimensions, will it still be able to fly?

  1. Know your consignments

What type of commodity is the cargo to be loaded? Can it be loaded safely? Where can it be loaded? What can it be loaded with? Will it fit? Is the correct equipment available to safely load the shipment?

  1. Identify the Aircraft

Will it fit on the Aircraft? Is the aircraft narrow or wide bodied.

  1. Identify ULD

Will the cargo fit in the ULD? Will the ULD fit on the aircraft? Is the ULD serviceable?

  1. Loading Position on Aircraft

Can the cargo be loaded in this position?

  1. Check the Contour

Once the shape is created on a pallet, will it fit in a container?

  1. Commodity

Is the cargo DGR or a Special Load? Can it be loaded into a container?

  1. Is it radioactive?

Amount of T.I’s in compartment? Is there sufficient loading height.

  1. Cargo lifespan

Is the cargo perishable? Must it fly on its booked flight otherwise the consignment is useless?

  1. Sufficient lashing

Is the cargo safe to fly? Will it move? Has the gross weight been considered!

  1. Floor Bearing Capacity

Is the load spread over the base of the ULD to avoid floor bearing capacity being exceeded?

  1. Compatibility

Can it be loaded it with another DG shipment? Has separation and distance been considered? Has accessibility been considered? Can a shipment be loaded M/D or L/D on board an aircraft?

  1. Destination of Aircraft

Are there any Special requirements or country limitations for DG – ‘Thru’ units – Flight direction.

  1. Forces in the Air during Landing or Take Off

Air pockets or close turns can cause cargo to move. Could a HEA piece of Cargo move due to insufficient lashing?

  1. Standard / Mixed / Embraced / Direct Lashing

Have the requirements for securing in flight depending on cargo been considered.

  1. ULD Tags

Is the weight correct? Have the SHC’s all been documented on the tag and Pallet Weight Statement.

  1. Correct System Input?

Has all the information been correctly inputted into an cargo management system, like Hermes to transmit information to all concerned.

ULD (Unit Load Device):

ULDs are used for the storage of cargo on the aircraft and are divided into two types;

Pallets and Containers:

Pallets are secured by a net, attached to the rim of the pallet. The final shape (contour) chosen in the build-up of a ULD needs to fit the allocated aircraft type.

Containers provide the shape (contour) so the contents are secured either by the container doors being closed and bolted, or the door net being secured to the rims of the container walls and floor.

Container or Pallet?

Advantages of using a container:

  • Faster loading and unloading of the aircraft and container
  • Better protection against weather conditions
  • Better protection against damage to the cargo or to the aircraft
  • Less experienced personnel required for build up as contour is complete

Why use a pallet?

  • Some cargo is difficult to fit into containers
  • There are more options for build-up when using an open pallet
  • Some ‘Special Load’ cargo can only be loaded on open pallets

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website:


If you have any questions on the topics discussed here mail us at:

Dangerous Goods 8: Dangerous Goods Load Spreading

Everyday hundreds of aircraft carry tons of freight all over the world. As customers we put our trust in the airlines and expect they will deliver our freight to the required destination without delay and, most importantly, in good condition.

In order to achieve this there are many processes that must be followed to secure the safe transit of our cargo. One such process is load spreading – spreading the weight of the load over as much of the surface area available on or in the pallet or container.

Think of a skier in the snow. Why do they have skis or wear snowshoes? Instead of sinking they ‘spread the load over the top. Compare a Training shoe to a women’s stiletto, the trainer spreads the load over grass while the stiletto heel simply sinks. A table has 4 legs – this is the known as the ‘contact area’ – turn the table upside down and the contact area is greatly increased – the whole table top is now the contact area.

However, trying to spread weight evenly across a pallet, ULD or aircarft hold can have its own restrictions as there are many fragile, sensitive or perishable goods shipments that include, fresh fruit & vegetables, lab equipment, glass products, electronics or computer hard drives, that fly around the world that need to be handled very carefully and which cannot be turned or tilted for various reasons. Ensuring handling and loading guidelines are followed for this cargo can make spreading the weight a bit more of a challenge.

TIP N TELL labels, SHOCKWATCH labels or upright labeling is used to show if fragile cargo consignments have been turned, tilted or mishandled during transportation.

These labels detect and record when fragile products have been exposed to a potentially damaging impact during transit or storage. They can also have a psychological effect on employees and shippers as goods with these labels often receive extra care in transit, therefore reducing damage.

On TIP N TELL stickers, blue beads move over the middle line and stick to the adhesive substance within the label indicating that this package has been tilted or turned during transport.

SHOCKWATCH has a glass tube containing a liquid which turns RED if the cargo is handled roughly.

Both TIP N TELL and SHOCKWATCH are designed to show any incorrect handling of the package throughout its entire journey from the Forwarder’s warehouse, when it’s accepted at an airline or cargo handler’s warehouse and of course in a loading area. These labels are another reason why cargo should be thoroughly checked before acceptance as claims can run into large amounts of money if liability for not handling it correctly has been blamed on your staff.

For any type of cargo with instructions not to tip or turn it during transport, we have to calculate the contact area on the way cargo is being loaded and delivered.

We do this by ‘Spreading’ that single piece over the complete base of the pallet. Most airlines have their own spreading equipment so it is important to know where such items are stored. Depending on the capacity known of your spreading materials and the weight of the individual piece, you can calculate how many pieces are needed to safely / correctly spread the load.

Here we have an 11 ton bulldozer where the Tyres are the contact area. It is driven onto the aircraft pallet but you can see the tyres now sitting on heavy duty spreader boards therefore spreading the load over the complete base of the pallet.

Add to that the required lashing of large, heavy cargo you can see the amount of lashing/tie down straps used to secure cargo in transit.

Here is an example of cargo secured to the aircraft floor on the Main Deck of a Cargo Freighter aircraft. Oversize cargo (Special Loads) would be built by the Shipper / using a specific Cargo Agents warehouse. These would be built to specific requirements laid down by the airline carrier. Very often an airline representative will go the Agent warehouse to check the load or even oversee the loading and confirm all correct before arrival at aircraft side.

Additional lashing may also be required to secure a load. Spreading may also be required for “loose load” cargo in the Aft Hold in compartment 5 to avoid possible damage to the aircraft fuselage.

Providing the load is safe old wooden pallets can also be used to help spread weight and to stop it from moving. In this example below, the first picture shows a tin that has been incorrectly placed for loading. Metal on metal will slide during transit so to load it correctly (pic 2) the tin is placed on old pallets or spreaders to prevent it moving about and to spread the weight.

Why is spreading important on an aircraft?

To make the Aircraft loading easier (The weight and balance of aircraft)

To make loading at the aircraft side easier for staff. An evenly laden ULD is far more manageable with an even distribution of weight.

Safer for all concerned e.g. you have to load a 4000kg pallet onto an aircraft – 3000kg of that pallet is one single mass.

To avoid damage to the aircraft structure.

To avoid damage to other cargo loaded in close proximity.

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website:


If you have any questions on the topics discussed here email us at

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