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SECTION 3 - A Guided Tour.

(Covers Data Input, Calculation modes, Results display and Printing).

Welcome to CARGOMANAGER. This section of the manual provides you with an introduction to some of the basic features of the software. A rather shorter introduction can be found in the 8 page Getting Started Guide

In this section a step by step approach is taken - which allows use the opportunity to explain aspects of operation in rather greater detail. New users might also wish to try out the example presented below to gain familiarity with the software..

The Problem to be Examined.

CARGOMANAGER has been developed to provide solutions to problems in which between 1 and 15,000 different cargo types (with dispatch quantities of up to 20,000 units of each product, subject to a total of 50,000 items in a dataset) are to be packed into one (or more) rectangular containers. Container loading, pallet loading and trailer loading are a few of the possible application areas. The software caters for a range of practical packing requirements (weight, fragility, priorities etc) as illustrated below, as well as producing volume efficient loads. 

Consider a shipper who wishes to pack a 20' shipping container (Type 1C) with a cargo consisting of 4 case types.



















Bulk Packs












All the above dimensions are external (in mm.), weight is in kg.

The nature of each product and its packaging require that certain constraints be placed on how the above items may be packed.

The Pallets are a HEAVY item, and this product MUST be placed on the container floor, with its 1550mm. dimension as the vertical dimension. It can only be stacked 1 high, however other lighter items may be placed on top of it.

The Promotion product is FRAGILE, and must be packed no more than 3 high in the container, without any other products being placed on top of it.

The other two products do not require special attention, and, in fact, the nature of the product and the packaging mean that they, as with product 2, can be placed in the container in any orientation. The problem outlined above is typical of those which can be tackled using CARGOMANAGER



Start CARGOMANAGER by selecting ‘Start / (All) Programs/ CARGOMANAGER’ or use any desktop icon which may have been configured by your IT staff.

The Main Menu screen shown above will be displayed. This provides you with the following options:

In addition, at the top of the screen are the options Exit and Help. These are found on nearly all screens. Exit is fairly obvious, and Help provides you with assistance specific to each particular screen. On most screens direct access to the full 100+ page manual is also provided.


Tackling the Problem:

In following through the above example we select the New Data Option.

After being prompted for a Cargo Description - which can be any text description that describes the consignment - you are then presented with the Container Database screen shown below.

The database contains information on up the 50 container and pallet sizes. Using the Contbase option on the opening screen this can be edited to correctly reflect container sizes / descriptions / weight limits appropriate to your company.

Your selection of a particular container size at this time can be changed on any of the later data entry screens. This is just an initial selection of the container size to be used.

On this occasion the container size appropriate to the example problem described earlier in this section of the manual (ISO 1C - 5867 * 2330 * 2197) already appears in the list. The mouse is used to highlight and select this entry. You then have the opportunity to make one-off changes to this data - something which is not necessary on this occasion.

In this instance we know which container we are going to use for this consignment, but on many other occasions we may be uncertain as to which is most suitable. As we will see later CARGOMANAGER can quickly (in a single step) rank up to 50 container sizes in terms of their suitability for a particular consignment. In such cases the container size input at this stage is typically one which you consider as a likely contender.

IF YOU ARE USING AN EVALUATION COPY OF CARGOMANAGER then the Container Database will only contain one non-standard container size (one not matching the problem we are examining here). You will still be able to tackle the type of problem described in this section of the manual, but using the non-standard container size instead. Thus you will get slightly different results to those shown, but in all other respects the software will be fully functional.



Consignment Data Input:

You will now be prompted on Screen 3 to input details of the items which will form the consignment. This includes the dimensions and characteristics of the case / contents, the number available for packing and any priorities. The screen display provides for details for each case type to be entered on a separate 'page', and up to 600 case types can be defined for any consignment.

 Whilst on this occasion we will enter at least some details manually, in practice all the required information (except for the quantity) can automatically be retrieved from the CARGOMANAGER item database. This database holds details of the characteristics of potential cargo items. It is also possible to link input to CARGOMANAGER directly to other applications you may use (e.g. Excel).

When an Item Database is available this will usually be displayed to the left hand side of the data entry screen. Completely new CARGOMANAGER installations will have a small number of database entries already set up. These can be used to automatically enter the data for some of the trial consignment as is discussed later in this section. The Itembase database is fully described in Section 10 of this manual and removes the need to enter any information on standard products into this data entry screen - except for the quantity to be shipped.

Data Entry - the completed screen for the first product is shown overleaf and the simple data entry procedure is, for completeness, described below. We will input details for the 'PALLETS' product manually, and then use the ITEMBASE to enter the remaining 3 products automatically:

1. Manual Entry for the PALLETS product:


followed by the TAB or Enter key to move the cursor to the next entry box (for case length). 

Length / Width / Height: 1100 / 750 / 1550 (once again using TAB / Enter key to move between fields).

The (currently ticked) permitted orientations boxes immediately below the three dimension entries cater for cargo items that do not have a fixed vertical orientation. In this instance the product is a pallet and thus only the 1550 dimension can be vertical, so the two boxes on the 'Can be placed vertically' should NOT be ticked. (To remove the ticks click the left mouse button once whilst pointing in the appropriate boxes).

The two following tick boxes (also initially blank) allow for a particular dimension of the item to be forced to be lengthwise in the container - one or other of the two boxes might be ticked if we needed to force this arrangement (e.g. for a one-way entry pallet) - here no such restrictions apply.

The next entry which is required is 'Case Weight'. The data presented earlier has a case weight for each pallet is 500.0 Kg. 

The left bottom portion of the screen allows us to specify whether the item MUST be placed on the container floor (For this pallet this IS a requirement); whether other items can be placed on top (this is not a problem for this item); and the number of such items which may form a stack - default 99. Here we want pallets to be just one layer high. Make Entries of Yes (on the floor) and 1 (layer high).

The bottom right of the screen allows us to enter the number of such items to be loaded (3) and the priority (1).

An entry of 3 should be made for the quantity to be packed

The entry of data manually can be a little time consuming so CARGOMANAGER has available a number of different mechanisms to help make data entry quick and easy.

2. Automatic entry of the remaining entries:

Those installing CARGOMANAGER for the first time will find that a small Item Database containing 3 items has already been set up. These items are the 3 remaining items used in this example. The Itembase Window will be automatically displayed to the left of the data entry screen, or (on low resolution screens), you may have to select Itembase from the top screen menu. 

As indicated to the left, the 3 remaining items described earlier as forming the consignment are contained in the database (TRIAL 2 TO 4). If this Itembase is available to you then, having already entered TRIAL 1 PALLETS into the consignment data manually, you can add the following 3 items to the consignment in the following way.

With the 'TRIAL 1 PALLETS' screen displayed, select 'Add More Items', then double click on TRIAL 2 PROMOTION. This will enter details of the PROMOTION product into the screen - then enter the quantity (9) into the highlighted quantity field.

Once gaian 'Add More Items' and repeat for the other items.

If the CAPS LOCK key is set on then this removes the need to select 'Add More Items' between each entry.


If a windows such as that shown above is not shown automatically to the left side of Screen 3, and selecting Itembase from the top screen menu does not result in its display then you will need to enter details for the remaining 3 items manually to match the 3 item input display screens shown below and overleaf.

As described in more detail in Section 10 the Itembase holds descriptions and dimensions and characteristics for up to 25,000 products. Getting item details from the database into the Case Input screen can be done in one of two ways.

1) As described above the complete Itembase in a scrollable window can be displayed to the side of the Case Input screen and double clicking on any item will enter its details into either the current data entry screen or, with the Caps Lock Key down, will add the item as a new consignment entry.

2) When manually entering text into the Case Code / Description field, then if the text enters matches that of a database entry then once again the full details will be added to the input screen.

We have now completed entry of the first of 4 items. The details of the other 3 product types now need to be entered in a similar manner. 

If the Itembase is not available then we can enter these manually - we select 'Add More Items' and enter the details for Products 2, 3 and 4.

If the Itembase containing TRIAL 2/3 & 4 is available then the approach detailed just above can be used.

In either case the next 3 screens should be as below:


Having completed entries for the 4 products you can use the 'Next' and 'Previous' button to check that the data is indeed correct and then select Cargo List Complete to complete the data entry process. Other options allow the deletion of a complete item entry and to search for a case code in the consignment entered so far.

You may have noticed that the data entry screen also provides you with information on the number and volume of the consignment, these being updated as you add data, together with details of how these compare with the container space available.

Having entered details of both the container, and of the cargo, we are now nearly ready to proceed with the packing of the container. Having selected Cargo List Complete a summary of the data entered is presented.

This screen displays the volume and weight of the cargo, the volume and weight limit of the container, and the ratio between them. The screen for the example problem is show below.

The cargo as specified has a volume of 23.632 cu.m., compared with a container internal volume of 30.03 cu.m.. This represents a cargo that is 78.68% of the internal container volume. Although we have specified some cases that are 'awkward' (HEAVY / FRAGILE), we would probably expect to be able to fit all the cargo within the stated container.

We might therefore wish to continue with the packing of the container (discussed below), or we might want to add additional items to the container load prior to packing. We can add new items by selecting 'Back' to move back one screen and then select Add Items. If all we need is to add extra quantities to existing item(s) we could select EditTable on the top menu of this screen.

Had the volume of the cargo exceeded the capacity of the container then we might have wished to pack what we could into the stated container, or to increase the size of the container used (going back one screen and selecting Contbase), investigate a selection of container sizes for this load (BestCont / MultiCont as discussed below) or to change the quantities of the cases to be packed. The facility to add additional items to the cargo will be examined in more detail in Section 4 - which describes some of the more advanced features of CARGOMANAGER

If the volume of the cargo did exceed that of the container then we may have wished to determine the number of containers which are required for the given cargo using the multi-container packing option.

Other options available on this screen include (on the top menu) Itembase, and as buttons Options, BestCont and MultiCont. The first two of these are described below, with the packing modes allowing comparison of different container sizes, BestCont and MultiCont being covered in Section 11 and Section 12 respectively.

Itembase: We may wish at some stage to add the product details which we have just entered manually onto the data input screen into the ITEMBASE, the database which holds Case Codes / Descriptions and their associated dimensional information as described in Section 10. Any items which have been entered manually (i.e. by typing in codes / dimensions into the Item Entry screen) can be automatically addred to the Itembase by selecting this entry.

Options: This allows users to tailor the packing rules used by CARGOMANAGER to suit their particular loading environment. This is discussed in great detail in Section 6 of this manual.

For the present we will pack the consignment just entered into a single container of the size selected using the PackCalc option.

When this is selected we are then prompted for a filename.

We may wish at some future time wish to re-run CARGOMANAGER using the same consignment data as we have just input, perhaps changing slightly the quantities or dimensions. We now have the opportunity to write details of the Container and Cargo to disk for possible future recall. Alternatively the temporary default filename (saved.dat) may be used.


The Calculation Phase.

CARGOMANAGER will then proceed to pack the given cargo and the progress of the various packing stages is displayed on screen. Depending on the type of cargo and on the packing options settings (Section 6), up to 5 packing stages are performed. CARGOMANAGER makes use of a wide range of techniques so as to obtain a cargo packing which makes efficient use of the volume of the container. If it can fit the cargo then the length of the container used is minimised, if it cannot then the arrangement selected maximises the volume packed. Once again the type of loading patterns produced can be influenced by packing options as described in Section 6.

The time taken to pack a cargo depends on a number of factors (which are discussed in more detail in Section 6), and in the example just input by you it will typically take just a couple of seconds to examine possible packings and to display a summary of the packing achieved.

The Packing Results Summary screen tells us that all 143 cargo items have been packed, that this was achieved in a length of 4970mm during packing Stage 3.

Select Continue to display initially a miniature view of the loaded container.

Whilst on this occasion there is just the single small picture of our one container, when tackling problems where you may wish to load a cargo set into multiple containers, then this screen would automatically show you in miniature the load plans of ALL the containers (12 at a time), and allow you to select which of those you wished to examine in more detail. Here the single container has already been selected for you and thus you now select Continue to display in tabular form the load details.

This screen (shown overleaf) presents in tabular form the number of items of each cargo type packed (in this instance all those available). 

We might now select to Draw the suggested arrangement but options such as Add and Level are also available:

Given that only 4970mm. of the container has been filled (of the 5800mm. length), we may wish to immediately add some additional cargo items (of an existing or new cargo type) to those which have already been packed. In this situation the items already placed in the container will RETAIN their existing positions within the container and any additional items specified will be fitted into spaces within the existing packing arrangement. This would be selected using the Add option. (See Section 4).

The Level option would enable us to take the current packed cargo and re-pack it so as to provide a load which is spread over the floor of the container rather than being packed in minimum length. This option is likely to be of particular interest where a weight (rather than volume) constraint applies.


In this instance we will proceed to Draw the container layout on screen by select Draw.

Following this, a three dimensional view of the empty container is displayed, together with a menu of possible commands which can be used to display the arrangement and, at the same time, select which views will subsequently be printed (if any) on your printer.

The Packing Display Phase.

The problem facing both those viewing a three dimensional screen display of a container packing, in which one views the cargo as it is 'loaded' from a point to the side of the container opening, is the appreciation of which case types are to be placed where, and in what orientation.

This problem is obviously of equal importance to those using a printed copy of the arrangement to perform the actual packing. This is particularly a problem when those case types placed near the front of the container in such a three dimensional view hide those packed nearer the rear of the container. The facilities provided on this screen allow the user, aided by the computer, to select one or more three dimensional views of the loaded container so that the complete packing can readily be appreciated and successfully packed.

The view currently displayed on the screen should be of the empty container as illustrated below.

A set of options buttons on the left hand side of the screen displays the single character commands (e.g. NA etc) which can be used to select different options. A subset of these will typically be available to use.

To the top left of the screen a 'mini-view' of the loaded container is presented. This not only shows the complete load arrangement in miniature but also is shaded / coloured to show the orientation of cases. When details of each case in the consignment was originally entered one dimension was stated to be the natural height, and this may or may not have been fixed as being vertical when packed. In the above miniature most cases are placed with their natural height vertical, but a few cases in the middle of the packing have been placed on-side to improve the packing. Printed diagrams use both descriptive labels as well as shading / colouring to denote case orientation.

Selecting All allows us to gain an overall impression of the arrangement.

Whilst the descriptive labels (A, B etc) may be sufficient for you to interpret some screen displays in other instances the Case Codes and Descriptions may be of immediate interest. (These will always be shown on printed diagrams). At any time you can select 'Tables' (at the top of screen) to display a window showing Case Codes or a Summary of the cargo loaded to date.

At any time the mouse can be used to point at the main 3D diagram and display details of the item under the mouse pointer and its precise position in the container as shown below. Line 1 has the description, Line two the item dimensions as placed in the container and Line 3 the rear left bottom co-ordinate of the item when placed.

[If this function does not function then please ensure that, as described in the installation instruction, your computer display is set to High Colour / 32 bit colour mode - Start / Control Panel / Display / Settings.]

 Having drawn all the cargo, select Redraw. This will allow us to return to the 'empty container' screen and then select other options. 

When the 'empty' container is again displayed, select Next. This will display, working from the rear of the container, a group of cases which DO NOT OBSCURE one another. The number of cases and their position is determined by CARGOMANAGER and is dependent upon the drawing mode selection made on the Packing Options screen.

Thus pressing Next repeatedly will result in the complete cargo load being drawn in a series of stages. After each group of cases has been drawn press Next to draw the next group of cases until all have been drawn.

Once all the cargo items have been drawn, use the Back option to step back 'unloading' the cases - effectively reversing the operation of the Next command. This can be used at any time during drawing to remove the cargo loaded a group of cases at a time.

So far, although we have been able to draw on-screen parts / all of the cargo, we have yet to consider the printing of loading diagrams which will enable those stowing the items to successfully pack the cargo.

Specifying Information to be Printed.

The two remaining menu items (Print and Hidden), when used in conjunction with the keys already described, allow you to easily specify which views of the container are to be output to printer. Those views selected will be output in a similar graphical form to that on-screen but with the addition of descriptive information indicating case orientation and the full descriptive information input by you to describe each cargo item.

Select Redraw to return to the 'empty' container view, then select Next to display the first group of cargo. This section consists of identical case types in a 'block' and a cargo loader presented with a printed detail (including descriptions) of the current screen view is likely to be able to pack all the cargo loaded so far without problem.

Select Next once again.

This time the case type used is different, and the cases just drawn as a result of the last Next command have partly obscured those previously packed. We would therefore like to produce a printer diagram of the section of the container as packed PRIOR to the last Next command.

Select Back and the cargo packed will be re-drawn, with the exception of the last section drawn (i.e. that which obscured our view).

Now press Print and all the cases drawn so far will be displayed in a shaded pattern. This indicates that, at a later stage, when printing of loading arrangements on the printer are selected, the portion of the load just shaded will be output to the printer as a separate sectional diagram, together with details of the number and type of cases of each type in the drawing.

You could now continue typing Next to add groups of cases to the display, however, you could well find it difficult to decide at what points to select further printer drawings without making frequent use of the Back option to remove the last group of cases drawn.

This can be rather time consuming, especially when the container holds a large number of cases. A more powerful facility to cater for this situation has also been provided.

Select Redraw to return to the 'empty' container screen, and then select Next TWICE to re-produce the 'obscuring' group of cases.

As before, we wish to select a print-out of the portion of the container load PRIOR to the drawing of the last section which Hid from view the case arrangement we would like to obtain a printer drawing.

Select Hidden. The sections of the container layout which have just been hidden are now shaded (and will later be printed), and the group of cases just drawn remains in the normal display colours (as shown on the facing page).

Therefore the Hidden option is a way of selecting to print the cases drawn on screen PRIOR to the last selection of Next. It is equivalent to you typing Back (to go back 1 case group), Print (to print the view then displayed, followed by Next (to draw the next section).

So far you have selected just ONE printer picture - that including the 4 identical sections of case type D. Continue, to fill the container (using for example the Next option), and select a number of sections to be printed using the Print or Hidden options.

Continue until all the cases have been packed. If you wish to start the drawing / printing selection again (from the 'empty container' stage) then you can, of course, press Redraw at any time.

Once all the cases have been drawn on-screen, the option menu will indicate that End may be selected.

CARGOMANAGER will always have available, in addition to any views that you have selected, a view of the final, fully loaded container. Select End and the screen display will indicate the options now available to you.

The options now available include:

The screen also indicates the number of pictures which will be output if Print is selected - and indicates that it is possible not only to produce 3D pictures of the packing but also 2D pictures (including floor plan and views from the side). This is discussed in more detail in Section 8 of the manual.

The printed view(s) provide information not only on which case types are to be placed where (using the case codes A, B, C etc), and, in addition, an indication of the orientation of each case.

During data input a 'height' dimension for each case was entered. This may have been the only valid vertical dimension in packing, or others may have been acceptable. In addition each case was defined as having a 'length' and a 'width'. In order to place a case in the container so as to match the three-dimensional drawn view it is necessary to identify:

The direction in which the dimension defined as 'height' is placed and the direction in which the dimension defined as 'length' is placed.

Each of these could be vertical in the container, widthwise across the container, or depthwise into the container. In order to identify the orientation, a code is printed for each case placed, in addition to the letter coding (A, B, C etc) used to identify the case type. These are detailed below:






Height vertical, length depthwise.


Height vertical, length widthwise.


Height widthwise, length depthwise


Height depthwise, length widthwise.


Height widthwise, length vertical


Height depthwise, length vertical.

(This key is printed on all reports)

In addition the user can select at print time whether just a 'line diagram' together with case codes and orientation codes is to be output, or whether the diagram should in addition provide further indication of case orientation using colouring / shading (as per the on-screen display). 

During printing an on-screen view of the diagrams being printed is presented. After printing you can return to the 3D/2D screen drawings or select Exit or Restart (from the top menu) to exit from CARGOMANAGER or tackle a new problem.

In this Section you have successfully carried out an investigation using CARGOMANAGER. In doing so you have become familiar with many of the features of CARGOMANAGER, though to avoid confusion some of the more sophisticated features of the software have not been covered in this Section, but are covered in Section 4.


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