It took Erik Törnblom a nearly 3,000-mile bicycle trip to fine tune the plan for Cargoplanner.

A Swedish startup called Cargoplanner is attempting to load information technology into ship holds. The Web-based software optimizes cargo space, and stowage. The company launched its initial product aimed at containers and trucks a year back. Its newest offering focuses on break bulk, a particularly tricky exercise when cargo is in wildly varied shapes and sizes.

Cargoplanner is the brainchild of a young software engineer, Erik Törnblom, who previously developed a mobile app aimed at documenting vehicle damage on ro-ro carriers. Törnblom got the idea for Cargoplanner from his father, a sea captain and company director with 30 years experience in break bulk and project cargo. “He always told me it would be nice to have this kind of software,” said the younger Törnblom.

Erik Törnblom – Cargoplanner
Erik Törnblom – Cargoplanner

Törnblom spent several years developing the product including stints done during a two-month bicycle ride from New York’s Time Square to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. While most facets of logistics, inventory control and ship management have been highly dependent on IT for years, ship-born cargo space optimization remains almost quaintly old-fashioned and can be extremely time consuming. It’s tied to cumbersome Excel sheets and relies on the trained eyes of highly experienced cargo loaders.

Törnblom’s Göteborg-based company democratizes the task with software that it claims is so easy to use, it doesn’t require much support or special training. Users copy and paste cargo dimensions and weights from Excel and the software displays the needed units and space. Due to be released in a few weeks time, a new version allows users to quickly design actual cargo shapes and sizes, including ones that are relatively complex, attach them to a packing list and the software will load the images into a hold.

The software enables a number of parties to plan where cargo will be stowed, before the actual loading. Because it is Web-based, it allows freight forwarders and shippers to see exactly where their cargo will be stowed.

Customers include shipping operators, freight forwarders and ship operators.

As Törnblom explained, his software helps automate the step before weight and load balancing, which has relied on software assistance for some time, technology now well developed.