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What Is A Drop Trailer?

Row of white semi truck trailers on a clear blue sky to demonstrate drop trailers

In today's world, customers expect timely deliveries of their orders without excuses from carriers and shippers. Hence, it is becoming mandatory for shipping companies to perfect efficiency and minimize dwell time. One of the most effective ways for shippers and carriers to restructure their supply chain is by utilizing the drop trailer program, which aims to bridge the gap between truck driver shortages and hours of service restrictions. As a result, utilizing drop trailers in your shipping processes ensure Drivers stay on schedule and reduce unnecessary downtime. But what exactly is a drop trailer? Read on to find out.

What Is A Drop Trailer?

A drop trailer is part of the "drop and hook" method of shipping. Drivers bring a trailer to a location and leave it onsite. Employees at the site then have a window within which to load or unload the trailer. Once that window is closed and the trailer is ready for transport, the same, or new, Driver will arrive to hook their tractor onto the trailer and carry on with the shipment.

What are the Benefits of a Drop Trailer?

The classic method of shipping, Drivers pulling into docks and remaining with trailers throughout loading and unloading, using Drop Trailers enables employees to work more efficiently to handle higher volumes of work. The program is designed to improve the efficiency of shipping and transportation, reduce Drivers' workload, and provide site workers with more flexibility to prepare trailers. Here are the key benefits of a drop trailer:

Better Service Levels

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to drive for a maximum of 11 hours per day. However, drivers have to be on schedule and this can affect their next shipment or appointment, especially when detained. A drop trailer prevents such events experienced by drivers, giving them an alternative location to drop or pick up trailers. This streamlines shipping, promotes accurate timing, and fosters fast shipping.

Convenience and Flexibility

The FMCSA introduced the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate to restrict house of service for carriers and their Drivers to reduce the safety risks caused by fatigue. While a restriction, the intention was to ensure proper time management on the road and in facilities. The aim for better time management and more efficient use of systems is to prevent delays and detention onsite, because these disruptions impact the revenue per truck, including service delivery. The drop and hook program allows shipping companies to provide smooth, flexible, and convenient shipping for their drivers and support facility employees. Enabling site employees to determine their preparation of trailers within a time window means seamless loading/unloading, prevents delays, and gets rid of wait time because Drivers are free to make another run while the trailer is prepped.

Possible Low Shipping Costs

A drop trailer offers multiple ways for a shipping company to cut down on shipping costs. First, warehouses tend to cut down most or all detention and demurrage charges. Shippers often include a must-arrived-date for each shipment, and a drop trailer can cut down on fines associated with late arrivals of shipments. A carrier can also achieve precise pricing commitment through a defined loading and unloading schedule and a standard volume of the shipment.

Does Your Shipping Company Need the Drop Trailer Program?

A drop trailer program is ideal if you need to restructure your supply chain to help manage higher volume, inefficient loading/unloading processes, mitigate shipping delays, and ensure your company avoids issues caused by a shortage of Drivers. While offering several benefits, a drop trailer doesn't necessarily apply to every shipment. Consider multiple factors like trailer type, time limits, freight type, and destination when deciding if using a drop trailer is right for your business.

When Not to Use A Drop Trailer

  1. Shipping Perishable Goods: Since a drop trailer involves certain delays when waiting for another driver to hook the trailer, it is difficult to ship perishable goods.

  2. Shipping Time-Sensitive Goods: Some trailers may carry goods that must be delivered within a tight deadline. This makes it hard to involve them in a drop trailer program due to the increased time flexibility.

If you are hesitant about working with carriers, this might prevent you from experiencing the benefits of drop trailers because carriers are often employed for drop and hook shipping.

At Veltri, we understand the value of a drop trailer and how it can benefit a shipping company. We can help you learn more about how drop trailers can improve your business's efficiency, answer your carrier questions, and provide options for how to best integrate this method into your current shipping processes.

Talk with an expert at Veltri to learn more today!

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