What Does a Cargo Supervisor Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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A cargo supervisor is a senior member of a cargo team that is responsible for calculating load distribution on cargo aircraft, boats, or trucks. He or she will also coordinate the loading and unloading of that cargo to ensure it is done safely and securely, and to ensure that all items are accounted for at all times. Sometimes the cargo supervisor will be responsible for traveling with the goods being transported to ensure they are safe and secure during transport. If changes to the load distribution need to be made during transport, the supervisor must coordinate any movement or changes.

A cargo team will usually consist of several loaders and unloaders, as well as the cargo supervisor himself or herself. This senior member is responsible for overseeing all cargo operations from start to finish, including securing manifests, analyzing them to determine the best packing order, and taking note of any necessary safety precautions that should be taken with hazardous or fragile cargo. Aside from simply loading and unloading cargo transport vehicles, the cargo supervisor must learn the different characteristics of each craft so he or she understands how weight must be distributed or transferred during transport. This keeps the craft stable during operation and ensures the safety of the cargo.


Weight restrictions and general regulations regarding cargo must also be observed by cargo teams, and the cargo supervisor is directly responsible for ensuring such regulations are adhered to at all times. This means the cargo supervisor must be familiar with all items being loaded or unloaded. If hazardous materials are being transported, the supervisor will be responsible for securing the proper clearances from relevant authorities.

Before cargo can be loaded or unloaded, it must be transported to the cargo vehicle. The cargo supervisor will be responsible for this transport, and the cargo will often be arranged or organized on land before it is transferred to a cargo vehicle. The supervisor can then make changes to the order in which the cargo will be loaded, and he or she can take an inventory of all items. This inventory can then be cross-referenced against the shipping manifest provided to the supervisor.

Some of the skills a supervisor must develop include basic math skills, communication skills, an ability to delegate responsibility, and the ability to manage several complex tasks at once. A knowledge of the industry in which the supervisor works is exceptionally important as well; an air cargo supervisor, for example, must have a thorough knowledge of different cargo planes so he can load them safely and effectively.


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