Trailer Management

The company that I am leased onto has more than 1,000 trailers. The company that I was picking up from may have 1,000 trailers in this one facility. That is a lot of trailers to keep track of. Communications and cooperation are essential. Drivers have limited time. Having the loads ready to go for the drivers is everyone's goal. The idea that a driver can pull into this facility, check in the empty trailer, get assigned the loaded trailer, hook the loaded trailer, secure the load, axle out the trailer, seal the trailer, sign the bills and leave the facility within 30 minutes sure beats live loading. Efficiency takes everyone's efforts.

The driver has to bring in a trailer that is ready to load. The trailer has to be clean and free from defects. I know that I have had to sweep out trailers that others have dropped. That is not a big deal, if it just took me the 5 or 10 minutes to do it. It is a big deal, if my next load isn't ready because the shipper didn't have a trailer ready to load. This shipper has gotten pro active They check the trailer when it gets dropped off.

Now, they have taken to having drivers clip on GPS location devices when the trailer gets dropped off. This makes sure that everyone knows if there are enough trailers there to load. We have about 10 trailers dropped at this shipper. We have a general area to drop them in. Occasionally a trailer might get dropped outside this area. A spotter may go to this area to pick up an empty, and there isn't one there. It could be that a trailer was spotted in the wrong part of the drop yard. With these new gadgets, they can at least tell if there is a trailer in the yard. Unfortunately they may have to look a little harder for it.

One business that I looked into was a shuttle operation. That is going about 120 miles from Green Bay, and bringing these loads to a warehouse in Green Bay. In theory, I could run 2 of these loads round trip per day. If I had 3 trailers, I could constantly drop and hook. Once every few weeks, I could drop one off for routine maintenance, and that would involve at least one live load in order to rotate the trailers. Would it be worth having 3 trailers? Could the consignee live unload me fast enough to justify only having 2 trailers and leave one at the shipper? In theory, I would only have to live unload once a day, in the middle of the day. At the end of the day, I could drop the trailer there and pick it up the next morning.

With stricter enforcement ot the 14 hour rule, driver time has become more important. Good trailer management saves driver time. The cost of the trailer always has to be weighed against time. Technology is helpful. It still comes down to good interactions between trucking customers, drivers and customers.

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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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