The Complete Guide to Cargo Handling to Increase Logistics Efficiency

  • 20/06/2024
  • 22 minutes

In the context of cargo handling, logistical efficiency becomes fundamental. After all, this sector is strategic and represents a competitive differentiator.

Therefore, it is necessary to apply different practices aimed at improving the activity. To understand what is worth doing to achieve good results, we have created this comprehensive guide to cargo handling to increase logistic efficiency.

So, how about knowing more? Keep reading and enjoy the content.

What is cargo handling?

Cargo handling refers to the techniques used to transport or hoist an asset. More broadly, it covers different steps. Thus, it comprises from the moment the product leaves the production line until its loading or unloading.

Generally, the activity depends on machinery and equipment. When it achieves this purpose, it tends to increase productivity and service quality. Indirectly, it contributes to sales and customer loyalty.

In addition, it aims to optimize operational processes, both internal and external. It is worth reinforcing that all cargo handling work must meet the quality and safety parameters of Regulatory Standard 11 (NR 11).

It highlights which principles are fundamental in this activity and the necessary protective measures. In this sense, it is necessary to have the right equipment and ensure that the team carries out periodic training.

What is the cargo handling equipment?

There are different load handling equipment that can be used. All alternatives can meet your company’s demand. However, this choice needs to be well-founded.

This is because the incorrect decision leads to inefficiency in the process. Therefore, there tends to be idleness of equipment and waste of resources — two aspects that translate into increased costs. So, what to evaluate?

The ideal is to do a logistics study to identify the product to be moved and the area available for this operation. Next, it is also important to consider the type of activity that will be carried out to check the possibilities of equipment.

Here, manual cargo handling can be carried out by one or more employees. It tends to be more expensive and ineffective, not to mention putting the health of professionals at risk.

Another option is the handling of suspended cargo. This is an activity of lifting and transporting heavy items that takes place at height. Therefore, it depends directly on the use of appropriate equipment.

Now, what are the main pieces of equipment? Keep reading to find out more.


It is aimed at loading and unloading goods, usually palletized. It can support items ranging from 1,000 to 16,000 kg. Some of the most commonly used alternatives are:

  • Retractable forklift: it is a compact model and ideal for small environments. It is a practical option, because it has a tower that moves by the operator commands;
  • Walkie stacker forklift: it’s more economical for business management. The operator stands, which allows to adapt this equipment to the demands of the operation. The activation of the traction and lifting movements is done electronically;
  • Counterbalanced forklift: usually requires the operator to sit and the environment to be wider. Therefore, it is ideal for longer distances.


It is an ideal option for moving materials at low cost. However, it performs only the horizontal movement of the load. Therefore, it is not suitable for work at height. On the other hand, it has wheels, which facilitate transportation. The most common pallet options are:

  • Manuals: are recommended for transportation in docks and warehouses. The load capacity reaches 2,500 kg;
  • Electrical: they are electrically driven. Therefore, they are indicated for medium distance movement.


It is usually used in civil construction and in port and airport terminals. It is ideal for larger and heavier loads. There are several types of cranes. The division is done as follows:

  • Crane: makes horizontal and vertical movement of the load. It has electronic control, which helps in energy saving;
  • Tweezers or multi-angle: it is widely used in civil construction because it is easily disassembled. The crane is usually latticed. In addition, a counterweight stabilizes the equipment;
  • Gantry: they are common in ports, in order to unload and maneuver large containers, including in the part cargo modality. The loading capacity is up to 20 containers of 20 cubic meters;
  • Forest crane: it is aimed at loading wooden logs into specific trailers or trucks. For example, production of charcoal, paper, and cellulose. It also serves to supply boilers;
  • Munk: is the so-called road crane, also used in construction. This is because it simplifies the assembly of metal structures and tanks. Generally, its assembly takes place under chassis truck.

Stacker crane

It is a robot created to store products in an automated way. You can move around the warehouse and allocate goods at the time. It has high precision in its movement, which allows to streamline the order picking and storage processes. The types of stacker cranes are:

  • Unit loads: make use of pallets to handle items. Therefore, they tend to be heavier;
  • Mini loads: store the products in boxes or units.

Overhead crane

It is used for the handling of heavy products that are in a predetermined area. It also serves for the transport of differentiated and awkward goods, such as bulk materials. It could be:

  • Supported: passes over the top of the beam, running over the running rails;
  • Suspended: travels along the bottom of the beam. That is, it is under the rails of the rolling path;
  • Uni-beam: has two headboards and a beam. In addition, one or two trolley cars support the hoist and run on the lower flap;
  • Double-beam: contains two headboards and two beams. There are also one or two trolley cars, but they are on the top flap.


It is an equipment with different compartments. It tends to be used to transport bulky loads, such as small wagons. The advantage is that they are flexible, simple and low cost.

Conveyor Belt

They facilitate the location and transportation of goods. Additionally, they ensure safety and agility in these processes, as it becomes unnecessary to have an employee for the handling and loading of cargo.

What are the types of cargo handling?

The different equipment presented above can be used in different types of operations. Knowing them is essential to establish the best process for leaving the factory until reaching the final destination. Check it out below. 

Pier to pier

The port-to-port movement, as it is also called, involves two maritime terminals. It indicates the goods containerized at the port already on shipment. When disembarking, the container is removed, with transportation performed at the shipowner’s convenience. Thus, it is important to analyze the responsibility to pay the port use fee.

House to house

Door to door handling performs collection directly at the shipper’s location and delivery to the buyer’s destination. For this reason, it covers the entire logistics operation. That is, freight contracting, customs clearance, insurance and transportation.

Pier to house

The port to port includes a merchandise stored in a maritime terminal and which is shipped in a container at the exporter’s requirement or the ship’s convenience. Normally, there is an increase in export freight equivalent to 3%. However, it may be 10% if the goods are imported. There is still a demurrage fee.

House to pier

The door to pier operation, is similar to house to house. However, the container is emptied by the shipowner at the port of discharge and already takes immediate possession. Meanwhile, the merchandise is made available to the consignee or delivered. Therefore, there is an extra charge of 7% on export freight and 3% on import. There’s also the demurrage fee.

What are the technologies of cargo handling?

The purpose of bringing more efficiency to this operation requires the use of technology. With the right software, you can have a clearer view of the entire process. This allows interventions and improvements to be made in order to eliminate bottlenecks and automate processes.

These are just some of the benefits gained. The question is: what technologies are really worth investing in to have a good return on the operation? The answer is next.

Cargo and inventory management system

The cargo and inventory management system provides a clear view of all steps taken in the warehouse. Thus, all information is stored and organized, facilitating access to data. With this, the manager also makes better decisions, since they are data-driven.

This software also brings other benefits. For example:


  Radio Frequency Identification is a technology that identifies products, records their technical information and allows their tracking. In cargo handling, it is widely used to locate pallets, forklifts, high value-added parts and trucks.


The Warehouse Management System integrates all company processes, bringing efficiency to logistics. In the case of cargo handling, the main contribution of WMS is the proper execution of activities. They become safer and more accurate, since it is easier to check the time of collection and dispatch, for example.

It is important to reinforce that WMS favors all inventory management, precisely because it is a warehouse management system. As a result, all movement of goods is controlled, both inbound and outbound flow.

How to make cargo handling more productive?

The technologies presented already show how it is possible to have more productivity in the logistics activity. However, when the work refers to moving loads, some extra tips help improve results. Check out the main ones!

Plan and have clear goals

The ideal is to know exactly what should be done and where you want to go. This helps you make improvements and track the right metrics — instead of looking at vanity metrics, which contribute little to efficiency.

Therefore, check the types of operations carried out and what you plan to achieve with them to set clear goals. For example, you may want to reduce transportation expenses, so you need to define what percentage of reduction you want.

Standardize processes

Standardized processes are crucial for maximum efficiency and productivity. This way, everyone knows what they should do and by what deadline they need to meet. Therefore, map the activities from cargo handling to delivery to the final consumer. From there, standardize actions and automate those that are possible.

Control spending

A common situation is finding unfamiliar expenses. The ideal is to collect all costs related to cargo handling, such as payment of drivers, vehicle maintenance, safety equipment and more. With this analysis, you will understand the financial impact and which areas consume the most capital. In this way, it will be easier to create intervention strategies.

Have risk and loss management

Risks in cargo handling activity exist and need to be well managed. It is recommended to adopt measures aimed at planning and preventing adversities, such as accidents, robberies and mechanical problems. This also includes the rules to be followed. They are important both for safety and to avoid fines and sanctions.

How to avoid risks in cargo handling activity?

Existing risks can also be avoided by simple measures. Here are some important precautions.

Wear the required PPE

 Personal protective equipment must be suitable for the cargo handling area. They serve to protect employees from accidents and injuries. Therefore, they also interfere with employee productivity. Some of the main PPEs are:

  • Gloves;
  • Helmets;
  • Safety shoes;
  • Ear plugs

There are still other very useful safety equipment in this function. For example, hooks for lashing loads, tapes and chains.

Maintain equipment

Maintenance is essential in all sectors. Therefore, pay attention to this issue from the handling equipment itself — such as crawlers and forklifts — to the fleet vehicles. Check for possible defects and opt for preventive maintenance, being more economical and avoiding the appearance of failures in the process.

Train employees

Professionals who work moving loads need to be well trained and qualified to perform their duties. They must know NR 11 and other regulatory standards. In addition, they need to know how to apply the correct techniques to avoid accidents. This depends on continuous work aimed at increasing knowledge and practice.

Thus, it is clear that cargo handling is an essential job for any company. However, it requires the adoption of good practices to be efficient. In this way, you can achieve better results for the business, regardless of the modal used.So, how about going deeper into this subject? See  how to store and move cargo in ports.