As the owner-operator for your new trucking business, you will learn that time isn't always on your side. For you to be successful at trucking, it's crucial that you have time-management skills so you can get your work done as efficiently as possible at every opportunity. Obviously, traffic often dictates how much time it takes to travel from one destination to the next and, therefore, isn't very controllable. Since it's best to expect delays while you are on the road, working efficiently while unloading and loading is essential. Here are a few things you can do to successfully manage your time.
Develop Standard Operating-Procedure Checklists
Without checklists, you can accidentally forget to perform necessary tasks, such as forgetting to release the rear-tensioning mechanism of a rolling tarp system. This would cause you to have to backtrack, and that would waste precious time. Organizing your checklists will largely depend on the type of systems you have for straps and tarps. Check the operator's manuals for your systems and combine the instructions into one checklist for loading cargo and another checklist for unloading cargo.
While your setup may be unique, it's important to include the following items in your checklist for loading:
- load cargo for even distribution of weight
- secure cargo using straps and chains
- tighten the winches of straps and chains
- engage and secure the tarp system
- do final inspection of your control equipment
Consider including the following types of safety issues in your unloading checklist:
- do visual inspection of the tarp to look for damage
- release the tarp system
- loosen the winches to remove the straps and chains
- unload the cargo
- thoroughly inspect each system after unloading
The reason you'll want to thoroughly inspect each part of the cargo-control system and tarp system immediately after unloading cargo is so you'll have time to find replacements or get repairs done before you pick up your next load. The last thing you'll need for your reputation is to arrive to pick up cargo with faulty and unsafe equipment.
After developing a standard operating procedure, you should have the procedure checklist printed out so you can check off each item as you go through the list. Over time, the checklist will be committed to memory and become second nature. However, it's still a good idea to continue using printed checklists, as they can help keep you from accidentally missing important steps due to being in a hurry or having too much on your mind.
Immediately Confirm Your Itinerary
After unloading cargo and before leaving to pick up your next load, it's a good idea to confirm your itinerary. First, check the address of your next client. Confirm the address with a phone call to their office or to your main contact. Check the Federal Highway Administration's website to make sure no construction has started along the route and that there are no detours in process or scheduled. If you have found items in your cargo control and tarping systems that need to be repaired or replaced, check your GPS for a supplier location near the route or call the manufacturer for assistance.
Also, ask your next client to confirm their operating hours and your scheduled arrival. If, by chance, you expect to arrive at the next destination after hours, ask your client whether it will be possible to park your truck at their facility. If parking is unavailable, knowing this beforehand will help prevent you from having to double back to the highway or drive around looking for a suitable place to park and wait for the client to open their facility. Knowing the exact operating hours will help you save time and fuel.
Talk to a company such as Glider Systems Inc to find out what equipment is available to you as you do these things.