" Finding" An Empty Trailer

Topic 9708 | Page 1

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Frito's Comment
member avatar

So I have found a youtube guy (trucker) that's actually pretty interesting to watch. He's enthusiastic and articulate, actually a pretty good film maker and during his episodes I actually learn something, be it about the industry or the part of the country he's traveling....It's not just 15 minutes of mindless rambling. Anyway, several times he's arrived at a receiver and been asked to drop his trailer. Subsequently he has to go "find an empty". He seems to head off and simply cruise around yards looking for a box with his company name on it. My question for the seasoned here on the forum is - do companies generally know where their equipment is an offer some direction and insight into where to go to find a trailer? The impression I've gotten from the two instances where I've watched him do this is that he's sorta wandering around on a luck-of-the draw goose chase. Seems like an inefficient waste of valuable time if the trailer is, for lack of a better description, essentially lost.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Slim is wondering:

do companies generally know where their equipment is an offer some direction and insight into where to go to find a trailer?

Most big companies can spot a trailer nearly exactly, using a GPS locator on the trailer, and show you a Google Satellite picture. But most of the time that is not necessary.

You mention a receiver office, or the guard, says "go find an empty". Yes, the driver needs to find one of his company' empty trailers. Usually, the receiver person will say the empties are on "row B" or along the back fence or something, so it's not all that bad. (You should always physically look into a possible empty - it might be full of pallets you don't want.)

To be honest, most companies do not actively track all their trailers (they have more trailers than tractors). So, you might notice an empty trailer sitting in the same place for a few days. Or even one sitting in a vacant lot that common sense tells you it shouldn't be there. In that case, it doesn't hurt to pass the trailer number and location in to the DM.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Dennis R. (Greatest Drive's Comment
member avatar

Must be talking about Indiana jack. Even though the company name is on the trailer,and it's empty,it doesnt really become available,until processed through the computer system.If you grab an empty,and move it,it can really get lost.Electronic logs help,but if you move a trailer,it still may show up being at the last location.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Dennis R. (Greatest Drive's Comment
member avatar

I grabbed an empty from walmart,they had just unloaded that day.they would not let me leave with it because it wasnt listed on the empty trailer list yet.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Interesting topic actually.

I mostly worked for dry van companies over the years. Nowadays, to remain efficient, companies try to keep their trailer count as low as possible so finding empties can be extremely difficult and frustrating. Modern GPS tracking is being used by most companies to help locate trailers, which helps, but "My driver needs an empty" is not high on the priority list in the offices of trucking companies. So even if they know where available empties are, it could be hours before you get the message. It's not uncommon to wait half of a day or even a full day for an empty in your region to become available.

What I used to do is keep a record of any customers we had with dropped trailers. As I went about my travels I would find more and add them to the list. It was not uncommon for me to drop my loaded trailer at a customer and see several of our bobtails sitting there in a line waiting to be assigned an empty from somewhere. I would always give a shout on the radio to them, "Hey guys. I'll be back in a bit. I've gotta run up the road to grab some groceries and a bite to eat."

Instead I would get out my list, find some nearby customers, and go browsing for trailers. I almost always found one in no time. I'd hook up to it, send in the trailer number to my dispatcher , and minutes later my next load assignment would come through. I was down the road making money while the other guys, who were empty before me, would sit around waiting for hours and hours.

Now I was an experienced driver and I knew I could bobtail around for a while looking for empties. Nobody noticed, nobody cared. Before anyone tries doing that you have to understand how strictly your movements are governed by your company. They may get warnings if you move more than X number of miles from where they expect you to be, or warnings if you're driving at all when you're not assigned to a load or even a trailer. This will vary from company to company.

If you get a list going and this situation comes up you can try telling dispatch, "Hey, I think I know where an empty might be about 20 miles from here. I'm gonna go have a look." If they give you the OK then you're good to go. After you've been at a company for a while you'll know what you can get away with and what you can't. And of course the more you've proven yourself to be a great driver the more leniency they'll give you. Those are two excellent reasons to stick with a company for a while. You'll get a lot of perks that unproven drivers won't get and you'll learn to work the system in your favor.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jolie R.'s Comment
member avatar

It really depends on who you work for and the type of accounts they have. I drive on a dedicated account for Marten Transport and there are certain locations we cannot take an empty trailer out of because the shipper needs them so they can preload trailers. It is a new account and eventually we may be able to but for the time being, if you don't bring in a loaded trailer you don't take an empty one out.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

It really depends on who you work for and the type of accounts they have. I drive on a dedicated account for Marten Transport and there are certain locations we cannot take an empty trailer out of because the shipper needs them so they can preload trailers. It is a new account and eventually we may be able to but for the time being, if you don't bring in a loaded trailer you don't take an empty one out.

That is indeed a problem you run into sometimes. Those empties are there to be loaded in the future. They're not sitting there after being unloaded.

Sometimes you can get creative and give the shipper a story and get the trailer anyhow. You might have to "fudge the story" a little like tell them dispatch said to pick up this trailer and it will be replaced tomorrow or the next day. That's not entirely a lie. The trailer will indeed be replaced soon. As soon as that shipper calls and tells your company, "We don't have enough trailers. Can you send more?" And they will.

To keep those wheels turning you have to get creative sometimes. And by "get creative" I might mean sometimes you have to flat out lie about it. But hey, are you going to give up a great load and $250 on this week's paycheck in order to let three empty trailers sit there doing nothing or are you going to take one, haul the next load with it, and let your company replace the trailer when they get the request?

Personally I'm gonna do whatever it takes to keep rolling. The company decided to pay me by the mile and I agreed to that so by God I'm gonna run all of the miles I can run. If that means telling a little fib every now and again, so be it. Not everyone will agree, but those who disagree also won't be getting the paychecks I was getting. So you have to decide what approach you're going to take and what priorities you're going to have.

It's a competitive industry and interestingly enough it's one of those rare jobs where employees at a company are actually competing with their fellow employees. There is only so much freight to go around and I intended to get my share of it. Every day there will be drivers that sit for the day waiting on freight, or in this case waiting on an empty trailer. I'm not gonna sit around and wait for things to happen. I'm gonna make things happen. So when I see a row of empty trailers and I need one to make money I'm gonna find a way to get one.

And no, I never got in trouble for doing that. I mean, what are you going to do.....get mad at me for hustling and trying to make all the money I can make? Isn't that why they're paying us by the mile in the first place? Indeed it is! They want people who are resourceful and ambitious. They want people who are ready to hustle, turn some big miles, and get that freight picked up and delivered on time.

smile.gif

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Justin N.'s Comment
member avatar

I remember my CR England dispatcher once sent me to three different places to look for an empty trailer. "Try this place... Ok go try another place..."

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
miracleofmagick's Comment
member avatar

I drive for Werner and almost never have a problem finding empties. I can't speak to how it is with other companies.

As for whether the people at the place you are at know exactly where the empties are, it varies from place to place. Some track exactly what space each trailer is parked at with varying degrees of accuracy. Some just put all the empties in one area and you have to look for them in that area. Others just park them wherever and you have to go around looking for them.

Also, some places will tell which empty to take, while others just tell you to take your pick.

Scott O.'s Comment
member avatar

I work for crst and we are mostly drop and hooks so we have a lot of customers in almost all major cities so I to keep a list of them and when I need a empty I just bobtail over and tell them I'm with Crst and will be taking a empty.... never had anyone tell me no they need them..

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

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