The Importance of a Load Plan

The Shifting of Paper Rolls during Transit

Have you ever wondered how such large, heavy paper rolls can shift so much during transit? Throughout their journey from point A to point B by rail, constant forces are being applied to the paper rolls. As described in the AAR’s publication “Best Practices for Roll Paper”, these forces come from a series of shocks, vibrations, or a combination of both. The force created by shock is caused by the train periodically switching tracks or a buildup of slack between railcars, which can lead to slight tugs on the railcars when removed. Force distributed to the rolls caused by vibrations is typically created at the wheels of the railcar when travelling across the tracks and any non-uniformities in the tracks or wheels.  Force placed on the railcar caused by vibrations and shock is then distributed to each roll within the car. The force travels throughout the paper rolls in different patterns, dependent on how the load plan is laid out. If the rolls are lined up in a lengthwise alignment, then the force will travel lengthwise down the railcar and across the rolls. If the rolls are placed in an offset pattern, the force will be distributed throughout each roll, continuing to travel either lengthwise down the railcar or towards the sidewalls of the railcar. This is demonstrated in the picture below. If a poor load plan is used for a load of roll paper with large open voids in the container, a roll could have the potential to shift into the open void. In turn, the rolls around the shifting roll would then also shift. The slow shifting of rolls during transit could cause unsafe unloading as the rolls can end up leaning against doorways or have the potential to fall over. Movement during transit can also cause damage to the rolls. It is important that railcars do not contain large open voids which the rolls can move into during transit and that certified load plans are in place. The paper rolls should be secured in place by certified cargo securement equipment.  Many factors need to be considered when creating a load plan for paper rolls to ensure they get to their destination safely.

Find more information on the importance of a load plan, load plan assistance, or rail regulations by reading the AAR’s publication “Best Practices for Roll Paper”, or by contacting our knowledgeable sales team toll-free at 1-866-858-8800.

The picture below shows the different  forces applied to paper rolls during transit and how the force is distributed throughout the railcar depending on the load plan. This image can be found in the AAR’S publication, “Best Practices for Roll Paper”.



Edited by: Stephanie Irvine

Written by Erik Burden

Erik Burden

Erik Burden is the product marketing specialist at Complete Packaging Systems. He serves clients with in-depth knowledge of cargo securement, load planning, and dunnage products for all types of transportation. He also loves hockey and golf!