From time to time you may run into a drop trailer with one of your
A drop trailer is a trailer that is left at a location for an indeterminate
amount of time. It’s “dropped,” and picked up later. Most of the time, a drop
trailer is used at locations that ship or receive often enough to fill up or
unload a full trailer in a week or even a day, depending on production. The
location doesn’t matter as much as the amount of freight that is moving in or
out of the specified location and the agreement in place with each LTL carrier.
Think about it like this: Let’s say you have a shipment going to a warehouse
that multiple manufactures ship to as well. This warehouse has pre-established
relationships with a handful of LTL carriers. In order to save time and money
they will consolidate and reduce traffic flow to their receiving docks by
collaborating with LTL carriers and advise them to only “drop” a trailer at
their location when the LTL carrier has a full trailer. This could potentially
delay your expected delivery date.
There are numerous ways in which the LTL carriers can handle a drop trailer
situation, but the main thing to keep in mind is that your shipment may not
deliver on time due to it being a drop trailer which may also change the way in
which the PODs are received from the consignee. Due to the nature of drop
trailers, PODs are usually handled differently and will almost always take
longer to receive considering the consignee is unloading a full trailer of
shipments from multiple shippers.
Though the use of drop trailers isn’t exactly common, it’s not something to be
afraid of when it comes to your LTL shipments. A little understanding goes a
long way. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with drop trailers:
Drop trailers can sometimes lead to delays. Before
you panic about delays, remember that the manufacturer is often very aware
a drop trailer is being used, and so should the buyer. Don’t be afraid to ask
if the shipper or consignee have any drop trailer processes in place so you can
educate your customer as well. Most drop trailer situations do not revolve
around freight that is time-sensitive. If your freight is on a tight schedule,
make sure to use a different carrier.
Not all carriers do drop trailers. Just
because one carrier uses a drop trailer at a certain location doesn’t mean that
EVERY carrier uses a drop trailer there. Trailers belong to carriers, so if you
can’t afford to have a drop trailer on a shipment, simply look at using a
different carrier. It may not be the cheapest of the bunch, but there will
always be options available.
Stay away from
perishables. For obvious reasons, if you’re shipping perishable items,
make sure you’re not dealing with drop trailers.
How many kinds of inspections are there?
- There are 3 types of vehicle inspections
- Pre-trips … done every working day before you start driving
- On the road inspection or in route
- After the first 50 miles
- Whenever a change in duty status is made
- And every 150 miles or 3 hours
- Post trip inspection (this is the one you must document on you Driver Vehicle Inspection Report or the DVIR)
What is the point of all these inspections?
- The driver must be satisfied that the vehicle is in a safe operating condition & meets all safety requirements
- If the vehicle doesn’t meet DOT safety requirement, don’t drive it. Get It Fixed First.
Tips for doing a good inspection as quickly as possible
- First start at the same place every time you do an inspection. The driver’s door for instance.
- Work your way around the truck in the same direction every time
- Always check under the hood …
What should be checked under the hood?
- Fluids like coolant, and washer fluid
- Belt and hoses for signs of wear
- Nuts and bolts for rust leaking out
How do you keep from missing something?
- Always check everything … it’s the thing you skip that will cause breakdowns and delays.
- If you check everything, every time, you will be alert to little problems before they cost you time, money and violations. Your eyes will begin to catch things that have changed.
What about tires, what are you looking for?
- Check tire tread depth at the lowest spot … that’s where the DOT will check it
- Tires with cuts or exposed cord material are an out of service violation and must be replaced on the side of the road at a very high price
- You only need a penny to check the tread depth on your tires the distance between the edge of a penny and the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head is 2/32” the minimum tread depth for drive tires. Steer tires are 4/32”.
- Don’t forget the wheels… if they have dirt and oil in them, there is a seal leaking and it needs to be fixed. If you feel heat coming from the hub (careful not to touch, they can be very hot) you may have a bad bearing or it may be low on hub oil.
There are a lot of lights on a truck … if one or two are out is that ok?
- Be sure all lights work… If it’s on the truck it must work, even if it is a light you added that is not required.
- A single light out on the truck give the DOT a reason to pull you over and look at everything.
- Check your low beam and high beam headlights
- Check your lights every time you stop… they can burn out during the trip
Are drivers responsible for the lights on a chassis?
- Yes… you are responsible for the lights on the trailer or chassis, be sure they are working before you leave and check them whenever you stop. If they don’t work fix them.
What else should we look for on a trailer or chassis?
- Check the sliders on both trailer and chassis and the locking pins on chassis
- If you don’t bend over and look you don’t know if the slider’s pins are locked in the holes.
Is it possible wheels could come out from under the trailer?
- Yes the wheels can come all the way out from under the trailer or chassis…
- If you use zip ties to secure the locking pins on the 4 corners of the container you can be sure they stay locked and an added benefit is the DOT will see the zip tie and leave you alone.
What else should we check on the truck and trailer?
- The DOT is looking at brakes very closely…it is important that drivers check them on every trip.
Any tips on checking breaks?
- Check your brakes using your eyes, ears and nose.
- Using your eyes … are the brake pads at least 1/4” in thickness? Are the brake drums cracked or grease? Do the push rods travel more than 2 ½ inches? If the answer is yes to any of these questions you could be placed out of service and in for an expensive roadside repair.
- Use your ears… air up the brakes and listen for air leaks if you can hear it the DOT inspector will be able to hear it too.
- Use your nose… if you smell a burning smell it could be oil or grease dripping on your hot brake shoes; this could be a warning of a leaking wheel seal.
ABS Malfunction Indicator
- There are two Antilock Braking System malfunction indicator lights, one on the dash for the truck and one on the lower left rear corner of the trailer.
Should the lights be on or off?
- These lights should come on when you start your truck and go off when the truck starts moving. If they don’t go off you have a problem with the ABS system on your truck which needs to be fixed before you continue your trip. If the ABS light on the lower left rear corner of the trailer is on … it is like having a sign on the truck that says,”Pull me over I have violations”
- Remember the ABS lights should come on when you start your truck and go off when you start moving.
- Fire extinguisher
- Windshield wiper
- Emergency triangles … you should have 3
- Is the floor neat and clean, so nothing that can get under your feet
- Is the dash clear of item that could slide off and distract you
- Is your truck clean… a clean truck is a happy truck and it is not inspected as often by the DOT