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Drop trailer vs live loads

Drop trailer vs live loads

We’ve done the work so you don’t have to.

Below we discuss the pros and cons of each type of load so that carriers can make informed decisions when it comes to selecting their equipment.

What is a Drop Trailer Load?

A drop trailer load is as simple as it sounds. It means that a load is delivered and the driver drops the trailer off and picks up a new one. It’s an alternative to live loads, which require drivers to wait as loads are delivered and unloaded. It may also be called a drop and hook as you drop one trailer, hook up another full one that needs to be taken elsewhere and you go. You would think that drop and hook would automatically be the preferred choice when this option is available, but are drops and hooks really better than live loads?

What Does a Live Load Mean in Freight?

This is when the trucker delivers a trailer to a shipping facility and has to wait for the trailer to be loaded up with the cargo. You can already see a problem here… waiting is not always ideal. You can even have a situation where you have a live load followed by a live unload – you wait for your trailer to be loaded at the shipping facility and then unloaded at the destination. This sounds like a lot of time wasted, why shouldn’t I always use drop and hook?

Drop and Hooks Aren’t Always Simple

Drivers new to the drop and hook concept may assume it’s more convenient than dealing with traditional live loads. In some instances, this is true, but this isn’t always the case. For one thing, you might pick up a trailer that’s all set on one end and have to do a standard unload on the other end. Plus, you may also experience other issues due to:

  • Having to wait for other trailers to be moved out of the way until yours is accessible
  • Having to wait for a trailer to be brought from a different location
  • Having to hook up a trailer with an especially heavy load or ones with difficult dolly handles

You Do Sometimes Get Help

Truckers are awesome and generally make an effort to help one another when possible. So, if you are struggling with a particularly heavy trailer, you may get help from a nearby driver. Some places also have yard assistants (“yard dogs”) that provide assistance. However, not all customers have loading/unloading areas set up this way.

Drop and Hooks Can Be Time-Consuming

Live loads typically take about 2 hours, on average. Yes, drop and hooks may be completed sooner, but this doesn’t always happen. Some drivers have issues with receiving an incorrect trailer number, which could result in delays. Other times, a trailer may be located in the wrong spot or it might be difficult to find. This could result in several hours of waiting and other time-consuming hassles that could throw off your schedule.

One thing that you should always bear in mind is concurrent activity – what else can you get done while you are waiting? You could be planning ahead, checking out freight brokers to plan the next moves. You could even be thinking about whether or not your fuel card gives you the best deals or getting your load factored with the highest rated factoring company.

Drop and Hooks Sometimes Become Live Loads

You may also run into instances where a customer simply doesn’t have an available trailer ready. If this happens, what was supposed to be a drop and hook could turn into a live load. This can cause issues if you don’t have an appointment time for a live load and have to wait.

Ready to Pick Up Trailers Could Have Weight Issues

With a live load, you usually have more control over how much weight you carry, which can help you avoid weight issues. But a drop trailer already loaded can sometimes be a bit too heavy. Unfortunately, you might not be aware of this until you get to a certified scale. You may then find yourself having to contact the shipper and remove items to get down to the right weight, which could leave you with an unhappy customer because of an incomplete delivery.

Realistically, you’ll likely end up doing a combination of drop trailers and live loads. There are pros and cons associated with each option, so there is no clear answer when trying to decide which method is “better.” It’s ultimately a matter of how your customers prefer to set things up and what’s appropriate based on the kind of hauling you normally do and how much time you have to work with.

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