Looking Both Ways
A Look Both Ways at the world of Semi-tractor Expediting.
This post of Looking Both Ways will enter the world of Expediting in the larg est freight moving vehicles on the highway – the semi-tractor trailer combination. The tractor-trailer combination is trucking in the superlative form. Writing about these rigs almost encourages consideration to use a double superlative – the “ most best” truck.
Merriam-Webster defines superlative as:
1suÂ·perÂ·laÂ·tive adjective suÌ‡-ËˆpÉ™r-lÉ™-tiv grammar : of or relating to the form of an adjective or adverb that is used to indicate the great est degree of a particular quality: of very high quality
Full Definition of SUPERLATIVE
1: of, relating to, or constituting the degree of grammatical comparison that denotes an extreme or unsurpassed level or extent
2 a: surpassing all others : supreme
b: of very high quality : excellent <superlative work>
Examples of SUPERLATIVE
The superlative form of “nice” is “nic est”; the superlative form of “bad” is “worst”; the superlative form of “interesting” is " most interesting.”
Recalling my grade school English classes, I learned that
most words used as adjectives to
describe a noun in the superlative form end in the letters “
est”, or are preceded by the word “
most” or even “
So what is a semi-tractor?
I’d like to answer simply a “super” truck. Semi tractors can haul cargo van freight, straight truck freight or tractor trailer freight. Semis are able to haul something as small and light as an envelope to a 53’ trailer packed to the brim with 46,000 pounds of freight, and make money with either load. Semi-trucks are surely the most versatile freight moving vehicle. Actually, the true definition is a truck having a cab and no body, used for pulling large vehicles such as vans or trailers.
How does use of a tractor for Expediting differ from use of a tractor for normal trucking operations?
The difference is the type of freight that is moved and the amount paid to move that freight. Expediters move the hott est, time sensitive, plant shut down type freight. “Regular” or normal truckload operations utilizing tractors to deliver “planned” or “scheduled” freight. An Expedited shipment usually has some or all of the following characteristics: it is extremely time critical, is exclusive to a single customer, is driven straight through and may require additional special services. Normal truckload operations are typically delivered when the driver gets the freight there, or even over dedicated lanes. Pay to the tractor for moving dedicated, scheduled freight may be as little as 90 cents per mile plus a fuel surcharge. Pay to the tractor moving expedited freight can be ten-fold dedicated freight pay. Miles operated by tractors running dedicated lanes or scheduled freight can be ten-fold those operated by expediters in tractors. Think of it this way, do you have the mindset to be able to run only 1500 miles week to make $4,000 to $7,000, or are you that driver that needs to run 3,000 miles a week to make $3,000.
Other differences may be:
Â· Most trucks hauling expedited freight will be sleeper equipped. Trucks on dedicated runs may not necessitate the need for a sleeper berth.
Â· Dedicated or scheduled loads may require trailers as short as 28 feet, others up to 53 feet. Most expediters haul 53 foot trailers to be able to accommodate the specifics of any expedited load – envelope to 24 full weight skids.
Â· The correct mindset of the driver is the bigg est difference.
What are the similarities of tractors that operate running expedited freight to the tractors that haul typical truckload, scheduled or dedicated freight?
They are the same! Following are some characteristics of any tractor:
Â· Tractor and trailers are combinations of two vehicles where the two individual units share an electrical system and wiring for lights, and air lines for brakes.
Â· All tractors move product or freight from one point (the shipper) to the destination (the consignee)
Â· The trailers used are typically dry vans, but some expedited freight can also be moved in reefer, flatbed, and other specialty type trailers like tankers – just as are used in normal tractor-trailer operations. Again, most expedited freight is moved in dry vans.
So what is a Dry Van?
The most common style of trailer in the tractor-trailer combination is the box trailer or Dry Van. Dry Vans commonly vary in length from about 28 feet to 53 feet and are often totally enclosed except for the door at rear end. Some may equipped with a smaller door on the sides. Dry vans are intended to hold and transport generally palletized freight while protecting that freight from the elements – thus a “dry” van.
What are some descriptive superlatives to describe semi’s?
o Bigg est
o Badd est
o Larg est
o Tough est
o Long est (most are 70 to 80 feet in length)
o Heavi est (commonly licensed for 80,000 pounds, can be more!)
o Hard est to drive
difficult to stop
o Cool est (to big boys, little boys and even girls!)
o Most difficult to park
o Most difficult to back
o Most gears (up to 18)
o Require the most experience
o Least fuel economy (generally 5 – 8 miles per gallon)
o Most scrutinized (by DOT and the public)
o Most taxed (IRS 2290, Kentucky Weight-distance tax, New Mexico Weight-distance tax, New York Highway Use Tax, IFTA fuel Taxes, Oregon Ton Mile tax, Federal Excise taxes...)
o Most versatile (envelope to trailer full of 46,000 pounds or even more)
o Most money (many expedite tractors average $5,000 to $7,000 per week)
o Most wheels (18)
o Most expensive license plates (IRP Plates – at least $1400 plus per year)
Jerry Reed co-wrote and recorded the ultimate (a superlative) in open road big rig songs – East Bound and Down. His lyrics bring to mind more superlatives to describe driving these big rigs. “We're gonna do what they say can't be done” evokes thought that driving tractors can be most challenging. “We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there” may conjure thought that semi-tractors could be the most effective means of moving a load.
Though many superlatives used to describe semi-tractors, such as “ most taxed”, could be viewed as disadvantages, let it be known the king of expedite vehicles may very well be the tractor trailer – the ultimate and simply the best!
Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.
Till the next blog, Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!
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©John Mueller, CDS, COSS