Trailer unloading and the delays that attend the job often top the list of complaints for truckload carriers, their drivers, and supermarket and wholesale grocery distribution center executives. Just as tractors and trailers are working assets for motor carriers, distribution centers are tools for grocers. The doors along the receiving dock are the choke points to warehouse and truck productivity.
The carrier cannot make another productive use of a tractor and trailer until freight moves off the trailer to the dock. The warehouse operator cannot prepare loads for shipment until freight is received, processed into the warehouse control system, and slotted for order selection. Standing in the way of these two goals is the seemingly simple task of moving freight through a door.
Carriers and grocers want quick unloading: carriers, so that equipment can begin rolling under load again; grocers, so that additional freight can be moved through a given door into the warehouse. And this is where disagreements crop up. Nobody can agree on who should perform the labor or who should pay the workers. In the immensely competitive truckload environment, most motor carriers sold their services as delivered freight; that is, the delivery was not considered complete until freight sat on the dock.
Unfortunately, drivers are paid by the mile; therefore, the time spent lifting boxes or moving pallets doesn't generate wages. On the other hand, warehouse managers are reluctant to provide unloading, because taking workers away from order selection and other tasks adds labor costs and slows down warehouse operations.
In certain parts of the country, unloading by drivers is complicated by labor agreements. Almost without exception, truckload drivers are nonunion labor. In militant labor markets, warehousemen refuse to allow nonunion truck drivers on the dock. In other cases, drivers are simply too tired to unload. In either case, the solution has long been an independent third party known as a lumper. The worst case scenario for these independent unloading workers has drivers coerced into purchasing their services, nearly always in cash. In one famous and lengthy court case, the Internal Revenue Service claimed that lumpers were actually employees and attempted to collect withholding and Social Security taxes from a motor carrier, arguing to the court that lumper pay was net income, not gross, and that the carrier owed the difference to the IRS.
That problem mostly is past, but other difficulties with unloading still exist. Lumping fees remain high. Some carriers report paying 10 cents per carton for palletized loads. Others report set fees of $50 for unloading 24 pallets. If the load is stacked on the floor, lumpers routinely charge $110 to $120. Some drivers report being asked for up to $150. Cash with no receipt is still the rule rather than the exception for lumper transactions.
Two new situations have appeared in the unloading drama. In the first, some large grocery manufacturers have offered to pay wholesalers for unloading as long as motor carrier equipment is handled on an expedited basis. Typically, these manufacturers will pay for unloading if the carrier is away from the dock within two hours.
The second change has turned lumping into a legitimate business. Entrepreneurs have determined that carriers will pay for lumping service as long as it is organized in a businesslike fashion. They have arrangements with distribution center operators and carriers for their services. Workers for these unloading services are uniformed, insured and, most important, readily available. The unloading services work from an established list of charges and bill clients on a weekly or monthly basis, providing documentation that allows customers to deduct the charges from their taxes.
In general, these services are local or, at most, regional. For this reason, the Internet is a good place to look for them. In a short search, we found 11 web sites promoting these services. Those sites ranged from elaborate companies that unload trucks, provide contract receiving, or slotting services in warehouses to the simplest unloading. Some claimed to specialize in refrigerated freight; others made no mention of freight categories at all. One elaborate site was still under construction. What follows is a look at five sites from the most complex to a simple three-page solicitation for business.
www.freighthandlers.com The site for Freight Handlers Inc opens on a simple page that describes the basic unloading service. It notes that revenue for Freight Handlers is extracted from existing funds in the distribution chain. Access to succeeding pages of the site is found through three buttons along the top of the page. The links are repeated in two other places on the opening page.
Selecting the Services button takes the visitor to a page that lists the four main services provided by the North Carolina-based company. Each of the service descriptions is linked to a succeeding page that provides details. For instance, follow the Unloading link for a description of Freight Handlers' work in 24 distribution centers with 625 employees unloading an average of 2,700 trailers daily. The company provides service for all warehouse departments including produce, meat, dairy, deli, and frozen foods. The unloading page notes that employees are certified to operate materials handling equipment.
The page devoted to Freight Running describes company activity inside a warehouse, notably moving freight from the dock to aisle locations for slotting. Another page describes the Drop Yard services provided by Freight Handlers. The web site says that use of a Freight Handlers drop yard can turn a difficult delivery into a 30-minute drop-and-hook operation. The fourth service page describes the Transportation Logistics activities available from Freight Handlers, including carrier selection, load tracking, and performance reporting.
Clicking the History button on the Home page leads to a series of pages describing the company and its founders Chuck and Jayne Beth Wall. The page details the company's moves through three office buildings to the present headquarters occupied since 1998. Follow the Operating Locations link on the History page to a US map with 12 Southeastern states highlighted. Click on one of those states for a list of clients.
Follow the Goal link on the History page to a description of how Freight Handlers selects clients. The company says it is focused on its employees because unloading trucks is the hardest job in food distribution center. It also says that all parties to a transaction must benefit. If the shipper, carrier, receiver, and Freight Handlers cannot benefit from a transaction, the company will not take a contract, the page says.
In common with nearly all web sites, clicking the inquiries button on the Home page leads to an e-mail form.
www.gandrunloading.com G & R Unloading Inc in Seattle offers a simple web site with almost all its information on the Home page. The company says its client list ranges from food distributors to paper companies. In addition to trailers, G & R unloads marine containers and rail cars. The Home page says employees are trained and able to operate materials handling equipment. Service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Payroll and billing is automated. For more reasons for doing business with G & R, follow the Click Here link at the bottom of the home page. The page offers a rationale for setting up an account and for using an in-house unloading service at receiver locations.
The page has four links across the top for more information. Follow Clients We Serve for the names and addresses of major clients. Click the Trucking Companies on Account for a list of 26 truckload and LTL carriers. Several names on the list are well-known refrigerated carriers. The Contact Us button provides a page with the names and addresses of G & R officials with e-mail links. The page also contains the names and telephone numbers of contacts at major clients.
In an unusual move, G & R displays an image of its Washington state business license on the site. Click the Business License button on the Home page to view the license.
www.labormanagementservices.com This address leads to the simple, informative web site of Labor Management Services Inc in Monroe, Michigan. The opening page asks visitors to review the company's service offerings. Those can be reached with four buttons along the left edge of the page. Click About Us to learn that Labor Management Services operates in Detroit and Toledo. The company provides uniformed employees for long-term contracts or single jobs. If a customer is not satisfied with the quality of service offered, it doesn't pay, the page says. This page also provides a short resume of two company officials, although names are not given.
The Services page lists safety, efficiency, accuracy, organization, and savings as things to look for from Labor Management Services. It says that billing is done weekly and that no cash is needed at the receiving dock. The services page emphasizes the handling of refrigerated products.
Clicking the Resources button leads to a page of other links. These include the web sites for Intuit, Dunn and Bradstreet's Small Business Page, and Truck.net. The Contact Us button provides a postal address, telephone numbers, and an e-mail address. The page also has a guest book where visitors can sign in.
www.loadingservice.com The web site for D&D Loading Service Inc in Memphis opens on a text page with five links. Follow the Services link for a description of company capabilities, especially unloading trailers, containers, and rail cars. The page notes that D&D is not a temporary labor agency. It says that D&D operates with trained personnel and provides complete documentation of its services.
Follow the Our Company link for a history of D&D, which was founded in 1986 with four freight handlers and has grown to four cities-Memphis, Chicago, Orlando, and York PA-and 300 employees. This page has two links. Click Our Owner for a profile of David Hamilton, founder and president. Follow the Our Philosophy link for a list of the principles governing operations at D&D. This page also lists charitable activities the company supports.
Follow the Client Testimonials link from the Home page for letters from a variety of customers. This page provides a short quotation from each letter along with a link to the entire letter. The Newsletter link from the Home page leads to an electronic version of the company's internal newsletter featuring company activity and recognizing employee actions.
The Contact Us link provides e-mail access to D&D.
www.truck.net/redleg/The web site for Redleg's Lumper Service Inc is reached through a link from Truck.net. This is a simple three-page site for a service in central Ohio. Images on the site indicate that the founder was in the artillery at one time; thus the term Redleg, referring to the color of the stripe down trouser seams used to denote branch of service. Artillery was red, infantry blue, and cavalry was yellow.
Click the Who is Redleg's link for a page that says the company was founded to help carriers avoid disreputable lumpers and avoid tax problems. Follow the What Makes Redleg's Better link to a page that says Redleg's gives quality service at a reasonable price and has special rates for more than 100 loads a month. The Contact Us link provides telephone, pager, and fax numbers, along with an e-mail address, but no contact names.
www.advanceonline.com Forklift Safety Course Training Goes Online AdvanceOnline Inc has formed a partnership with J J Keller & Associates Inc to transform Keller's videotape-based "Forklift Safety" course into web-based training. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all forklift operators have formal instruction, along with practical training and evaluation in the workplace. The new Keller course, available through the AdvanceOnline network of Online Institutes at www.advanceonline.com/forkliftsafety.htm, meets OSHA requirements for formal forklift instruction.
www.trafficstation.com www.esri.com ESRI, TrafficStation Team Up ESRI and TrafficStation Inc have announced a technical relationship to develop alternate routing, true time-to-destination, and traffic forecasting services. The companies will collaborate to integrate ESRI's mapping, data visualization, and routing capabilities into TrafficStation's proactive services.
Using ESRI's ArcIMS and ArcSDE software, TrafficStation will deliver real-time traffic information and alerts on detailed, multi-tiered area maps. ESRI's developers' toolkit, NetEngine, will provide routing services to the mobile user via voice recognition and wireless application protocol (WAP) browser interfaces.
Initial application of the ESRI/TrafficStation collaboration will be implemented in the upcoming Trips 123 federal model deployment initiative (MDI). Trips 123 will provide real-time traffic and public transportation information as well as intelligent route planning services to more than 18 million people in the Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York areas.
www.roadnet.com GroceryWorks.com Expands Roadnet Use UPS's Roadnet Technologies Inc has announced that GroceryWorks.com, an online grocer based in Dallas TX, has expanded its use of Roadnet's MobileCast delivery management system with the purchase of an additional 400 mobile clients.
Roadnet Technologies specializes in packaged and customizable tools that enable e-businesses to offer online, customer self-scheduling of deliveries; web-based, available-to-promise (ATP) delivery time planning; backend systems for dynamic route planning and optimization; and real-time, wireless delivery tracking and management via MobileCast.
www.tmwsystems.com TMW Releases eLink TMW Systems Inc has released eLink for both the Client/Server platform and the IBM AS/400, designed to let shippers place orders and track their own loads via the Internet.
With eLink, shippers have direct access to the carrier's system to view their own loads. The load information they see includes an up-to-date status of each load as determined from check calls, fuel purchases, mobile communications, or GPS reports. They can find the details of any trip order or display the precise location of their loads on a map.
Shippers also can place their orders through the same system. Orders are completed electronically and go directly to the dispatcher's screen for assignment. Reporting is based on the customer's own criteria, access via the Internet, and automatically e-mailed to an end-user. The customer service report gives notice on early and late loads.
www.freitrater.com FreitRater Software Designed for Carriers Commercial Transportation Services has released FreitRater Version 4.5.1 software designed for carriers who want a fast, accurate rating system that interfaces with existing accounting systems for freight bill rating, rate analysis, and rate publishing.
FreitRater software can resolve systems that cannot handle complex rating, as well as inaccurate rate information entered or stored in the system. This software handles both contract rates and tariffs, and allows carriers to enter negotiated rates.
The FreitRater base package ships with more than 70 units of measure (UOM) built in. Additional UOMs can be added to the system to allow for greater flexibility. External mileage systems are interfaced seamlessly, allowing the user to make calls to any mileage system from within the FreitRater application. For more information, contact Commercial Transportation Services, 12487 Plaza Dr, Cleveland OH 44130.
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www.descartes.com Descartes, Teletrac Partner A distribution arrangement has been announced between the Descartes Systems Group, a provider of business-to-business Internet logistics solutions, and Teletrac, a company involved in the wireless metropolitan location and data solutions market.
Teletrac will offer Descartes' web-based route optimization software, which provides routing and scheduling on a fee-per-transaction basis, to subscribers over the web. The service will be offered to Teletrac's existing customer base, as well as new prospects for its fleet management services.
www.sterlingtrucks.com Sterling Web Site Launches Enhanced Dealer Locator Sterling Truck Corp has upgraded its www.sterlingtrucks.com web site's dealer locator to give additional information for each Sterling dealership. The web site now gives contact information for each facility, as well as detailed information on hours of operation for sales, service, and parts departments at each location, plus a listing of the Sterling product lines available at each dealership. The site also lists dealers' parts and service agreements with engine manufacturers. It also includes driving directions to each location from the nearest main highway, as well as interactive maps.
www.iccokc.com www.tchek.com T-Chek, IES Access Service Innovative Computing Corp and T-Chek have announced the availability of interactive fuel and cash advance functionality for fleets using T-Chek cards and IES Access. Real-time transaction processing is the first in a series of services the two companies will make available during the next several months.
IES Access is Innovative Enterprise Software accessed via PC and Internet connection. This software supports batch interfaces with all major third-party billing services. The partnership with T-Chek is exclusive for an interactive interface for small carriers.
Cadec Provides TransLinc Cadec Corp has made available a mobile logistics management system called TransLinc. This system can be configured as a basic vehicle monitor or a complete in-cab office with a seamless connection to a company's computer network. It offers multimode communications options, which allow data and messages to move real-time both to and from the vehicle. TransLinc also offers a handheld option, enabling the driver to leave the cab and still have the ability to receive and enter data. Other capabilities include onboard printing, signature capture, and bar-code scanning.
The new system will incorporate all of Cadec's onboard computer features, such as GPS, electronic DOT logs, and automated state line fuel tax reporting.
For more details, contact Cadec, 8 E Perimeter Rd, Londonderry NH 03053.
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Reyco/Granning Has New Suspension Version Reyco/Granning Suspensions introduces a new version of the L225 auxiliary air suspension. The new model L225P9 series is for pusher applications on single-drive-axle trucks. It features an axle with a 9" center drop. The deep drop lets the installer install the suspension onto straight trucks in front of the single drive axle without the need to use frame spacers to lower the suspension for driveline clearance.
The L225P9 has a weight capacity rating of 22,500 pounds and fits dump trucks, construction vehicles, refuse vehicles, transit mixers, block haulers, and other straight trucks. Its design maximizes payload capacity while the air-ride/air lift provides positive holding and smooth operation. The axle alignment slot and pre-assembled, compact unit simplify and speed limited-space installation. For more information, phone 800-255-7824.
GPS Tracking System Accuracy Grows Effective May 1, 2000, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) has halted its practice of "selective availability," thereby increasing accuracy of Global Positional Satellite (GPS) tracking systems from football field-size errors to tennis court-size accuracy. Before May 1, selective availability reduced ability of GPS receivers to obtain exact position, velocity, and time data. Ending that practice should increase accuracy from 100 meters to 12 meters 95% of the time, and to six meters half of the time.
Fleetboss distributes The Boss fleet management system, which uses individual vehicle GPS units, precision mapping programs, and computer software to monitor vehicle data, including start and stop times, number of stops by address per day, vehicle speed, service equipment used, and exact routes traveled.
The Boss system allows companies with sales, service, or delivery vehicles to monitor driver efficiency and productivity 24 hours a day. Fleetboss Autographics software presents the data in chart formats, allowing companies to compare a single vehicle's weekly or monthly activities or compare an entire fleet against established benchmarks.
For more information, phone 877-265-9559, or visit the web site at www.fleetboss.com.
Magline Inc Provides Drum Brake Hand Truck Magline Inc introduces its new drum brake hand truck designed for foodservice ramp applications. This truck provides maximum hand truck control while increasing safety.
The sealed automotive-style hub and drum brake is effective in wet and/or greasy conditions, and the spring return system prevents brake hang-ups. The self-monitoring brake activation system promotes equal brake activation without adjustment. For more information, contact Magline, 503 S Mercer St, Pinconning MI 48650-9310.
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