FEATURE HIGHLIGHT: Trans-Loading Bulk Items With ViewPoint Logistics

The ability of ViewPoint Logistics™ to handle the 3PL requirements of unit goods is well known. However, a lesser known feature group is the ability to handle bulk commodities. Find out how VL can handle the trans-loading of bulk commodities.

The ability of ViewPoint Logistics™ (VL) to handle the 3PL requirements of unit goods (e.g. cases, cartons, pallets, totes) is well known. A lesser known feature group is the ability to handle bulk commodities (e.g. granular products, powders, liquids, etc.). The topic of this article is the trans-loading of bulk commodities.


Trans-loading generally refers to the process of transferring goods from one mode of transport to another as a part of the process of moving those goods from origin to destination. For example, bulk commodities are shipped from the source by rail car and must be trans-loaded to trucks for final delivery to the consignee. This is essentially a ‘cross-dock process’ and tracking of the process might be at either the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU – product code) or at the shipment level (i.e. no tracking of the SKU).

1. Tracking of Process and Inventory

For inventory control purposes, products could be set up by client for the commodity (or SKU) that is going to be trans-loaded. It must be possible to do this in such a manner that the unit of inventory can be in LBS (pounds) or CFT (cubic feet), if the commodity is a bulk commodity. The units of measure for inventory should be user define-able as bulk commodities and not limited to LBS or CFT as the unit for tracking and handling.

The concept of ‘warehouse’ that most 3rd Party Logistics WMS applications require has to be flexible enough to allow the warehouse to be virtual, if need be, and locations in the warehouse may be spotting locations on a rail siding. The rail car in which the commodity is received and located has to be a ‘container’ holding the quantity of the commodity within the location.

2. Process
2.1 Advance Notice of Inbound

Notice of inbound rail cars would be set up on VL as an ‘in transit’ which would provide visibility of expected arrivals of product. Based upon the ‘in transit’ information, Put Away documents can be available to aid in the receiving process once the cars arrive.

2.2 Receipt

Upon arrival of the inbound rail cars, the inventory of commodity being received is committed from ‘in transit’ status to ‘received’ status and becomes available.

2.3 Shipment

As outbound orders are created in the system, they will record the approximate or, possibly, minimum amount to be loaded on the outbound truck. This process allocates the ordered amount to the order and decrements it from Available inventory (quantity in the various rail cars) of the requested commodity. The ordered amount is, however, still On Hand. Once the order is created, a ‘pick’ document can be produced which will be the control document the yard operator uses to load the truck. The pick document will identify by rail car how much commodity is to be loaded and the assignment of the rail car can be done by VL to comply with FIFO (First In, First Out).

If the ordered quantity is greater than the amount of commodity remaining in the oldest rail car, the system would automatically allocate the balance of the order against the next oldest rail car with the same commodity. Conversely, the order can be allocated against a specific rail car (not the first received).

The truck being loaded will ‘scale in’ to get the Tare Weight prior to start of loading and will ‘scale out’ to get the Gross Weight after loading to determine the Net Weight or amount being shipped on that truck. If the weight is acceptable, an operator will retrieve the order in VL, adjust the Requested weight to the Actual weight based upon the scale ticket, update the order and print a Bill of Lading.

Once the driver signs off on the Bill of Lading, an operator will retrieve the order on VL and confirm shipment. This process updates VL’s transactional records, decrements the ordered quantity from On Hand and can trigger an automatic notice of shipment to the client.

Note: The above processes have been described from the standpoint of paper-based processing. VL also supports Radio Frequency (RF) based processing and the solution described can be implemented with operators using RF devices.

2.4 Billing For Services

VL includes a robust and flexible service billing module that is integrated to the operational components. Included is a ‘cross-dock’ billing capability that supports a ‘one time’ charge approach.

3. Inventory Management

By design, VL maintains a complete record of inventory transactions along with details of the transactions for as long as corporate policy might dictate.

4. Visibility To Clients

Transactions in process (orders, receipts, etc.), perpetual inventory records and much more is visible in real time to authorized external clients through the MyLogistics web portal.


It is sometimes necessary to ‘package’ bulk commodities for final delivery. In this case, the bulk commodity is unloaded from the rail car and 'packed' into bags, drums, totes, etc. and then shipped on a regular dry van to the ultimate consignee because they do not have the ability to store bulk commodity.

VL also has the functionality to support the packaging requirement.

If handling of Bulk Commodities, in general, or Trans-loading, in specific, is services that are important to your business, ask your MAVES representative to show you how ViewPoint Logistics™ can help or email us at sales@maves.com for further details.