December 23, 2020
While theft is the major cause of commercial cargo loss, other issues can also cause major headaches for trucking companies and their customers. Follow the tips below to avoid them:
Watch out for temperature changes
Many consumer goods – such as fruits and vegetables, meat, and electronics – are vulnerable to temperature changes while in-transit. The bill of lading you receive from your customer will clearly outline instructions for the temperature that must be maintained in the cargo area, so you can make sure the temperature is set correctly before you leave. It’s always wise to manually double check your settings ahead of time, even if you have an automated cooling and heating system in your vehicle that allows for external monitoring en route.
If your heating and cooling system has a mechanical failure, your cargo insurance may cover your liability for the damaged cargo. But you’re still responsible to make sure the system is properly installed, regularly maintained (for example, checking oil levels), and professionally serviced to meet manufacturer specs. Some systems can be monitored remotely by the trucking company, as well as by the driver.
No mixing allowed
Another risk is cross-contamination. While it’s common sense that products such as fertilizers and food grains should not be hauled at the same time, it’s vital to ensure the truck is thoroughly cleaned between loads to prevent contamination. When you get into certified organic seeds being contaminated, that’s when it can get really costly, because it’s essentially rendered useless.
Whether you, the customer, or a shipping company is loading your transport vehicle, always double (or even triple!) check whether the load is fully secured and properly inspected before you leave. This year, with health precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, more shippers are now pre-sealing transport trailers, which means drivers are unable to inspect the loads before they head out. Insurance companies such as SGI CANADA are aware of this issue and are taking it into consideration.
When possible, take photos of your cargo before you leave, so that if something does go wrong en route, you can show your customer the condition of the load when you got it. And once the doors are closed, make sure those are secured, too!
Load security rules are commodity-specific, so review provincial and national trucking guidelines to make sure your cargo securement meet all the relevant regulations. Boxes and other bulky items must be properly stacked and secured, with strapping, tarps, and/or chains holding goods in place. Recognizing and planning ahead for road hazards that can damage cargo is an important part of the service you provide to customers.
Take care out there!