ULD stands for unit load device, which is a pallet or container used to load luggage, freight, and mail onto aircrafts. If the ULD is a pallet, it is most likely made from aluminum sheets equipped with rims to lock onto cargo nets. Once loaded, the shipments are wrapped with shrink-wrap or tied together using cargo nets. A container – sometimes referred to as a can or pod – is a closed ULD framed with aluminum. Depending on the items being shipped, these containers could have built-in refrigeration units or Lexan walls (a type of thermoplastic).
Why are unit load devices so important?
ULDs are an efficient way to ship bulk packages domestically or internationally. Large quantities of cargo can be bundled in a single unit, making it less likely to get lost or improperly manhandled along the way. These devices save crews time and effort, not to mention help prevent delays. Another plus to using a ULD is the balanced loading it provides. Instead of warily stacking box on top of box and praying they don’t shift in transit, ULDs offer support and organization for your packages.
Before you purchase your own unit load device, it is very important you know where you are shipping items and how much space those items will occupy. ULDs are unique because they are built based on the availability of space in an aircraft body. Once the smaller packages are loaded onto the pallet or container, the shipment should be shrink-wrapped starting at the base. After that, adhesive and labels are applied to the outer surface and the shipment is numbered to guarantee a safe delivery.
There are different specifications depending on where your package’s final destination is. If shipping domestically, you are free to use a regular pallet or container. However, if you are planning on shipping internationally, you must use a heat-treated or plastic pallet and bind it twice with ties after it is wrapped. If you fail to bind the ULD, it will not be loaded on the aircraft, and thus not delivered.
Shipping large packages can be tedious and stressful, so anything that makes this process a little smoother is extremely valuable to your company. ULDs have an impressive reputation and are the most secure option when transporting large quantities. Next time your company is looking to send items via aircraft, a ULD is definitely an excellent option to ensure the shipment arrives unharmed at the final destination.