Pulling up to a loading dock you have never been to before or going back to a loading dock you use frequently is always a potential area of problems for most truckers. Not only are some of the docks not all that well designed for backing into, but other drivers often make the experience as difficult as possible for everyone else, or at least it seems that way.
In addition to the other truckers, you also have to deal with shippers and receivers. Sometimes this occurs when they are just unwilling to work with the drivers and sometimes it occurs when they don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish by getting in and getting out as quickly as possible.
Spending a day at the loading dock is a day without making any money. However, you have to be there, patiently waiting your turn, while you watch mistake after mistake happen that is taking away your precious driving time. To make matters even worse, sometimes the behavior of the shippers or receivers seems to be deliberately targeted at slowing down the process of loading and unloading trucks. The reality is that this can be occurring since they are usually paid by the hour, possibly with the opportunity for some really good overtime money if their day runs long.
This lack of respect for truckers at the start and end of a run is one of the biggest causes of drivers leaving the industry or going into areas of the industry that aren’t associated with those huge terminals and receiving areas. In fact, according to a recent survey of drivers that quit, 30% indicated that they left because of chronically having to deal with lack of respect on the job during loading and unloading.
Dealing with issues for truckers at the docks has a lot to do with developing a positive relationship with the shippers and receivers. For a large freight company this could be a push from management and could be a regular area of review. However, even if your company isn’t doing this, there are still some things that you may be able to do on your own.
Avoid Getting Angry
Getting angry and verbally abusive towards shippers and receivers is not going to solve the problem and may actually create more issues if you have to return sometime in the future. If you are making a regular drop or loading at a specific terminal or dock your truck will soon be recognized if you make the shipper or receiver’s life miserable.
Even if they are difficult or uncooperative you can still treat them with politeness and respect. You don’t have to like them to be professional. Instead, just get loaded or unloaded and get out of the area without making those comments that will lead to further issues.
Talk To Your Freight Company
Not all docks, terminals and freight areas are problematic. Some are run very efficiently and effectively, typically those are ones with adequate supervision on the dock. You may not be able to find a supervisor to talk to about unusual or unnecessary delays, but your company manager, that one is paying the bills and supplying the trucks to get the freight where it is supposed to be, may be able to pick up the phone and have a conversation.
After all, if the workers on the dock are dragging their feet, the terminal is losing money. They are there to make money, not just to make a trucker’s life difficult. Sometimes a call to your company if you have been sitting and waiting is all it takes, especially if your company regularly works with the shipper/receiver.
Be Professional And Ready
If you are waiting to load or unload, be aware of what is going on the yard around you. There is nothing worse than holding up a dock because a driver is not available, asleep or out visiting someone else in their truck.
Following all the rules of the dock is another important aspect of helping speed up entry to the yard, loading or unloading, and leaving the facility. Have your documents ready, park and wait in the designated area and provide any information required. Many docks restrict access by riders or other passengers in your vehicle, so plan ahead if this is an issue and don’t take them through the gate.
Make sure any trash, food or litter is kept in your truck and don’t allow it to blow around in the yard. There are many docks that provide restrooms, break rooms and lounge area for truckers, just make sure you leave these just the way you find them.
Loading dock issues are an issue within the trucking industry. Truckers need to work with their companies, with the shippers and receivers as well as with each other to come up with ways to make the loading and unloading process as fast, efficient and painless as possible.