The U* index has been used for load transfer analysis to show its capability in giving general awareness regarding performance of structure. Although U* index and stress values have been proven to be useful indexes as structure design criteria, a thorough comparison between conventional stress analysis and loads transfer analysis (based on U* index) is lacking. In this study, we evaluate load transfer behaviors of a parcel rack of multiple passenger vehicles under different loading conditions using the U* index. Then by demonstrating the unique capabilities of U* as an index for stiffness, it is shown that the load path concept can be combined with the stress analysis results to provide comprehensive information about the structure responses to loading. In addition to the agreement between stress analysis and the U* analysis, it is shown that U* can provide additional information about the structure response that stress analysis fails. Such information includes: interpreting high and complicated stress distributions in structure and detection of questionable stiffness in certain parts of structure. More importantly, the load path index U* can detect the area where significant changes in the structure stiffness occurs. Such information can be used as a guideline for structure design with the goal to reduce the weight while still keeping the structure integrity.

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