Time has value. The 14 hour rule combined with the ELD mandate, has encouraged us for ways to become more efficient with our time. That includes looking at trailers. It is not enough to have a trailer. You have to know where that trailer is. Is it loaded? Trailers get moved around inside and outside of yards. Some customers have multiple yards within a facility.

Today’s technology can tell a company within several feet where a trailer is. With some limitations we can tell remotely, it it is loaded. Trailer hunts should no longer exist. Technology has to be combined with human competence and effort to make it work. It is at least as frustrating to be sent to retrieve an empty that a customer won’t release, as it is to get an empty that either is loaded, or not there. It is also just as costly.

Time saving trailers go beyond satellite technology. Auto inflating devices have been around a long time. It is better to pick up a trailer with a leaking tire than one with a flat tire. Inflation devices make it so that we can take the trailer to a repair facility, rather that having to get a mobile repair done. This can cut driver wait time significantly. They can also save the money involved with a remote call.

There are also devices that can tell you roughly how much weight is on the trailer axle. That can save a driver the time of actually having to go to a truck stop and weight the wagon. They may also tell you if the shipper is being accurate about the weight of the load.

If we hang around this business long enough, you will have a shipper give you an inaccurate weight. I remember a load that I had from the Philadelphia ports to Wausau, WI. It has been awhile. The statute of limitations has expired. I picked up a load that had 16 bundles of plywood and had a stated weight of about 38,000 pounds. My drive axle gauge was telling me that I had about 32,000 pounds on the rives. I figured that put about 12,000 on the steers. The trailer axle should have had between 29,000 and 30,000 pounds.

As I was pulling the Pennsylvania hills, I was thinking that my truck was not pulling as well as I thought it should. A hundred miles into the load, I scaled it. The customer was about 10,000 pounds off and instead of grossing about 73,000 pounds- I was grossing about 83,000 pounds. A trailer axle weight would have alerted me to this. I could drive it back to the ports on my dollar and hopefully get some taken off the next day. The way the ports operate though, I would lose at least a day, probably more. I drove the load through to Wisconsin. The consignee told me that this was a regular occurrence. I told them that I could take the load again – but here is the deal. You are going to get what the bills say is on the trailer. He told me that would be stealing." Like falsifying the weight on a bill?"

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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