Dropping Trailers to Pick Up Efficiencies

Back in my truck-driving days, “dropping a trailer” meant that you forgot to crank the landing gear down, resulting in a trailer that fell flat on its nose.  Fortunately, that is NOT what this article is about–although I could probably write a book about number the times I have seen it happen (only once to me, thankfully, and the trailer was empty.)

Both shippers and carriers derive value from utilizing a drop trailer program.  If the customer has a ready supply of trailers on their yard to load—or, in the case of inbound freight, unload—rather than loading or unloading for whoever shows up at the door first, the customer can decide which trailer’s contents are most needed.  For example, if one trailer contains routine replenishment items, and another contains material needed for the day’s production, the customer has the flexibility to unload the production trailer first.  In the case of outbound freight, most urgent customer orders would be loaded first and prioritized for pickup by the carrier.

Dropped trailers are simply a part of a larger scenario known as yard management.  The actual dropping of the trailer in a customer’s yard or staging area is the simple part of the equation.  The more complex aspect is managing those drop trailers so that a variety of problems do not arise.   It is very important that these basic points not be overlooked:

1) There needs to be a clear understanding regarding liability.  It is not uncommon for insurance companies to require that the carrier’s insurance policy names the customer as a “named insured” on the policy.

2) The duty of jockeying the trailers (moving them around the yard) must be clearly spelled out, in terms of who is responsible for doing this and the involved liability as well.

3) The freight rates agreed to between the parties must clearly state the volume of truckloads in a given period of time that are required to maintain no-charge drop trailers.

Drop trailers provide a great savings for both the customer and the carrier if the program is carefully designed and managed.  Customers can prioritize their loading and unloading, which is particularly important if there are limited door spaces.  Long load-time freight is more efficiently managed by not having to pay detention time to waiting drivers. Driver turnaround time is reduced substantially, hours of service become less of a problem due to not having to sit and wait for loading, and fuel is saved as well, since the yard jockey is dealing with multiple trailers where there is no power attached.

To find out how you can create your very own pool of trailers or increase your efficiencies of existing ones, contact our Design Solutions team today for a free freight consultation.