Improve your Load Control Efficiency, Part 5.1: Organizational Aspects
In today’s changing airline business, optimal weight and balance is an important factor in achieving greater operational productivity and profitability. This two-divided blog takes a broader look on how organizational aspects might help influence this.
This blog is divided in two parts: First I focus on the general approach of the widely common Centralized Load Control concept and its benefits. Within the second part I will take a deeper look on selected topics within this concept, including next possible evolution steps, and also refer to further organizational concepts that I experienced during my work as consultant.
Why centralizing Weight and Balance?
When it comes to using resources efficiently, a centralized structure is one of the greatest strengths. Airline Weight and Balance is inherently an area that can benefit from a high level of centralization. It is a key success factor, embedding local characteristics and strengths into a globally standardized process.
According to my consulting experience the concept of Centralized Load Control is therefore widely used by airlines for more than two decades to save costs and improve their operational efficiency. The investment in re-organizing a de-centralized into a centralized load control represents a significant step up from some of the widely used in-house load control systems which are increasingly outdated.
What is a Global Load Control Center?
A Global Load Control Center is an approach in Weight and Balance in the planning, operational and sourcing business process that pulls together in one single place what has formerly been managed regionally by an individual on-site: The creation of the Loading Instruction (Load Plan), Load Sheet and all other relevant officially needed documents.
How does the concept of centralized load control work?
Centralized Load Control is usually integrated in a complex operational chain of events, which take place between the Load Control Agent (who calculates and plans the loading remotely) at one or more Centralized Load Control Centers and the stakeholder such as the Ramp Agent or Flight Deck Crew at the airport stations.
Within the centralized load control concept the remote Load Controller is the primary point of contact at a centralized location. In this role (s)he is responsible for the generation of the Loading Instruction (or Load Plan), which – under a de-centralized concept – was the task and responsibility of the on-site Ramp Agent / Loading Supervisor. Within the Centralized Concept the Load Controller now sends the Loading Instruction to the Ramp Agent who completes the loading accordingly with his loading staff as set out in the Loading Instruction.
The Load Controller also communicates with the Ramp Agent and / Loading Supervisor regarding the progress of the loading activities, giving updates of the load situation or any required changes due to operational deviations. Shortly before departure the Load Controller issues the second mandatory document – the Load Sheet. It contains a summary of actual loading and all flight relevant information and is an important information source for the pilots. Finally (s)he is also responsible for ensuring that all actual editions of Load Sheets, Loading Instructions, Post-Departure Messages and other relevant documents (for instance NOTOC) pertaining to load control are compiled and sent to the flight deck and outstations
What are the benefits of Centralized Load Control?
From an organizational point of view - which means leaving out any process result benefits, like reduced fuel costs or increased revenue due to gained load capacity - the advantages can be summarized as following:
- 1. Ability to centralize human sourcing resulting in higher productivity figures
- 2. Greater efficiency – generally, a fewer number of Load Controllers will be needed in total than when load control is being managed at each site;
- 3. Development of standard processes that are streamlined and consistent, rather than the diverse load control processes found inherently in decentralized operations
In summary this organizational concept allows airlines to streamline operations and therefore save time and costs on the one hand while maintaining safe operations on the other hand . This is achieved by giving the full responsibility for the creation of the load sheet and the loading instruction to the remote Load Controller. Whereas the correct and safe aircraft loading process stays as the designated task of the Ramp agent / Loading Supervisor. Within the de-centralized concept the Load Controller is a remote-“all-rounder” on-site, responsible also for the generation of the Loading Instruction and / or Load Sheet while supervising the physical loading process.
At some airlines I have observed a mix between both concepts: Most of the flights were handled centralized, but some stations still operated de-centralized. The reasons for de-centralized handling were mostly historical so it is more likely that sooner or later the centralized concept will fully take over.
In the second part of this blog focusing on organizational aspects I will share with you my thoughts about:
- 1. What to specially consider when implementing Centralized Load Control?
- 2. Where might the concept of Centralized Load Control be going?
- 3. Regional and airline business model influenced aspects on Load Control organization
I look forward to hearing your thoughts so far about this topic and am happy to receive any feedback. Please stay tuned.
END Part 1
Improve your efficiency. Thoughts at the beginning of the year:
Improve Your Load Control Efficiency (2) - Correct Usage of the System:
Improve your Load Control efficiency (3): Why culture matters!
Improve your Load Control efficiency (4): Why the auto-load button doesn´t always make your life easier…: