Dealing With Load Planners

by Karen
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Sometimes it can be very difficult dealing with dispatch, and especially the load planners that are behind the dispatchers. I've been with my husband now on a few trips and I've seen some of the crap that he has to go through when dealing with certain people. I'm telling' ya……..I guess all I can say is "WOW". Being with him the last couple of trips, he's had to T-call loads when they could've been delivered because of the miscommunication where scheduling is concerned. There it is again - I've said it before - communication is key!

In my previous stories I haven't addressed this issue, but I think it needs to be done and now's the time. For all of you "newbies" that are just coming into this career, I'll bet that if you ask any "old timer" that's been behind the wheel for a while about dispatchers and load planners, they'll tell you that when their mouths are moving, they're lying about something. Well, I'm here to inform you that sometimes it's not the dispatchers that are lying, they're just following the directions of what the load planners are telling them. So if you want to get angry at someone for how you're being dispatched, it may be the load planner that's to blame. I've heard so many truckers bitch and complain about their dispatchers, but not often is it directed at the planners for what they do (or don't do for that matter.)

Too bad these load planners can't be put into a truck and ride along for a trip (or several, for that matter). It's too bad it's not a job requirement, because if it was, I think y'all would be scheduled more appropriately. And that ride-along policy should go for dispatchers as well. They would know how to schedule loads so that it wouldn't interrupt your sleep time for pick ups and drop offs, so that you wouldn't have to push yourself to get to your destinations on time, to be able to have less stress while out on the road and you wouldn't have to tear pages out of you log books to make your time requirement look legal when in all reality you don't get to drive that way.

What they don't seem to take into consideration are factors that affect the level of fatigue a driver will feel regarding things like weather conditions, times you have to sit because your load isn't ready, or times you were given the wrong time of arrival. Situations like this are very tiring and affects the truck driver's level of fatigue, which is a safety hazard to all involved.

For all of the load planners out there reading this - please - communication, communication, communication! Find out what the driver's daily schedule is, how much sleep he/she has gotten, and when their 10 hours of sleeper time is up before you set them up with a load. My husband just got done going through that kind of crap.

Being Pushed To The Limit

It all started out that we had to get up at 6am one morning last week to make a delivery in Sparks, NV coming from California and our delivery was supposed to be at 8am. We arrive at the consignee to find out that the load wasn't scheduled for delivery until the following day at 6am. It was a miscommunication by the load planner to our dispatcher and then to us. We had to drop the trailer in the Sparks company yard and drive to McCarran, NV to pick up an empty to get loaded back in Sparks. The load was to be picked up at 8pm but when we arrived we were told that it wouldn't be ready till 10pm ( more miscommunication by the planner to our dispatcher and then to us). We had already been up since 6am with very little sleep due to the heat, so when we were able to pick up the load at the given time, we delivered it to Stockton, CA. We only got to have 4 hrs sleep when we had to get up at 6am and deliver the load to the consignee which took 4 ½ hrs to get unloaded (by the way there wasn't any detention pay for that).

With all this happening, the company expected us to sleep in 103 degree weather (that being in the shade – in the truck it was estimated about 110) without being able to idle the truck for air conditioning because of the "no idle" law that the state of California has in affect. Evidently, they don't know that weather that hot can hospitalize a person, or in some cases kill a person. Then, from that point we were scheduled out to pick up a load for transport to Auburn, WA and we couldn't get it until 5pm that evening. Now remember, we hadn't had but 4 hrs sleep in a 24 hr period of time trying to relay these loads and doing all this run around for an empty. By the time we were able to get the load and head out we only had 3 more hours of nap time (in all 7 hours within a 24 hour period) because of the weather conditions and how we had been planned and dispatched.

My husband had tried to explain his sleep time to his dispatcher so that he could relay the information to the planner. Earl told his dispatcher that he was going to refuse the load and his dispatcher told him to get as much rest as possible because he had to take this load (he couldn't turn it down). Mind you, Earl had been out the first two weeks of May without me and got a load to drop into the Portland yard so that I could meet up with him there and go out back out on the road. From that point we had been out for two more weeks before this all took place, hoping to get back to the Portland yard so that he could get some time off. What a screwed up situation that was! Then, when Earl was talking with his dispatcher, he was told that he could only get a couple days off. NOT! Earl informed him that he'd been out a total of one month to the day and that he got one day off for every week he was out. I'm happy to say that he has 4 days off and is resting.

I understand that some of you who'll read this will let me know that you do communicate with the drivers and dispatchers, and I'm not saying that you don't. Some do. But there's a lot that needs to be done to help the load planners and dispatchers understand what a truck driver goes through during the course of the day. It's hard for me to have to watch my husband (or any of you for that matter) go through all of this just because the planner doesn't seem like they know what the hell they're doing.

At times I get angry and I'd want to yell at his dispatcher because my hubby would getting frustrated, but Earl told me that his dispatcher is only going by what the planner is telling him to relay to us. So this is the reason I'm writing this article - to let y'all know that if you want to choke someone to death because you're frustrated by the load schedule, don't kill the messenger (me – lol) - it may be the planner that's to blame.

I know that not all of them aren't dumba**es, but the ones that are, please - change some things so that the expectations can be reasonably met by the trucker doing the toughest part of the job - living on the road and moving the freight. That way they truckers will be safer, and more productive. For the truck drivers that are experiencing this kind of situation - please speak up if you haven't already. That way maybe some changes will be made, and your lives and careers in the trucking industry will run more smoothly.

But in the meantime…………

God bless, stay safe and you're in my prayers,


Karen Smith

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