“You don’t need that stuff! It’s just holding us up!” yelled the dock worker. The driver kept to his work as if not to hear the man yelling in the background. To him it was important, it meant pride in his load, excellent customer service, ownership of his position, the difference between mediocre and outstanding, it meant he was organized, he placed the plywood in between the skids as the forklift set in the final piece. He strapped the rear of the load and proceeded to count and sign off the paper work. The shipper becoming more impatient by the moment and was already starting to get the next driver lined up to back into the dock. To the shipper it was all about finishing at 4:00pm. To the owner operator who had just loaded the freight it meant the difference between a damage claim and a profitable run. The freight was now in his control and as far as he was concerned this was now his own customer.
How many of you have run across this situation out on the road? In my 25 years of driving I have seen this many times. To most shippers it is all about getting the freight out the door so they can go on break, or go home at the end of their shift. Some places you are not even allowed to watch the shipper load your truck. But when you think of if who is responsible for that load once it leaves the dock. I can tell you it is not the shipper. Even worse if it is loaded improperly it can cause everything from damage to overweight fines, to possibly death in the event of a crash or rollover. Even if you make it safely to the customer’s door if the freight is all over the floor what does that do for your company’s customer service or insurance record.
The truth is organization and being orderly starts with you. How you set up your truck from the beginning, the type of equipment you carry and so forth all shows the shipper and receivers the type of driver you are and how much you care. Now some operations it may be harder to do, but for many especially those that are running dedicated equipment this shouldn’t be a problem. Carrying things like plywood on your truck, extra straps and load bars all go a long way to being a successful driver. It is your right to know what is inside your trailer and how it is loaded; in fact it is your responsibility.
So what can you do when arriving at shippers to make sure you are loaded properly? The first thing is to have a well organized trailer from the time you back into the dock. Ask to watch the load loaded and count the pieces going on the truck. Educate the shipper on the type of equipment that you have and the best way to load it for maximum weight. A 10 foot one inch axle spread is loaded completely different to a tandem dry van trailer. Secure your cargo even if the shipper doesn’t feel it will move on you, it will! Finally confirm your piece count and if you can’t sign the bill of lading stating count unconfirmed by driver and have the trailer sealed. If you just sign what is there you are now responsible if the freight count is short at the other end. Being an organized driver is up to you and may seem like more work right now, but in the end your career and pocket book will be better off for it.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant for the transportation industry. He has over 30 years experience in the industry and helps drivers and owner operators be more successful in their careers. For more information visit www.outridge.ca