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Expedite Trucking 101

By Sandy Long
Posted Dec 12th 2014 2:38AM

Expedite trucking to be by most not in the know, as only straight trucks doing rapid freight movement.   While yes, there are many straight trucks in expediting there is much more to the story.

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Starting with equipment, one might be surprised to see that all sizes of vans, straight trucks and yes, even semi trucks are used in expediting.   The following list of accepted equipment is from FedEx Custom Critical and will differ from company to company, however it will give you an idea about the diversity in equipment.

B Unit (cargo van) - Not be older than 5 years to sign on.   Must be able to scale 2500 lbs payload and have a GVW of 7500 lbs or greater, have a minimum 8.5 foot cargo bed, be 48” between wheel wells, have a minimum of 48” inside height, have a minimum 48” high door opening by 48” wide.

C Unit - Straight Unit with completely weather tight box.  Must be able to legally scale 5000 lbs pay load. Must have a minimum 14’ cargo bed, must be dock high, have a minimum 88” door opening by 85” wide, inside 90” wide by 92” height, dolly legs with a minimum rating of 25,000 lbs and have a legal sleeper between cab and box.

D Unit - Straight Unit with completely weather tight box.   Must be able to scale 13,000 lb of payload.   Must have a minimum 22’ cargo bed, must be dock high, have a minimum 88” door opening by 85” wide, inside dimensions of 90” wide by 92” height, have dolly legs with a minimum rating 35,000 lbs and have a legal sleeper between cab and box.

E Unit - Double Axle Tractor.   Must be able to legally scale 44,000 pay load and have a legal sleeper behind cab.

Add to this list that there are temperature controlled boxes, cargo vans and then dry boxes and vans.

Types of freight operations are where there are many variations in expediting.   Probably the most two well known are white glove and Department of Defense freight.   White glove is freight that has to have special handling.   In this type of freight, it might be a priceless work of art, medical supplies or highly sensitive electronics.   Special knowledge of freight securement and protection is necessary to haul this type of freight along with temperature controlled boxes or vans, special securement devices and the ability to unload the freight.   A lift gate is usually required for specialty freight.

Department of Defense freight might be anything from ammunition to federal documents.   Hauling this type of freight requires high security clearance through the Department of Defense, hazmat endorsements for class A&B explosives and a lot of patience.   One will have to go into military installations and other high security areas.   At times one will have military or security escorts along specified routes.   Special communication equipment will be mandatory for one to have.

Most expedite freight is ”˜dry’ freight but is always time sensitive.   For instance, one driver related about a pallet of booklets that were late from the printer he had to haul to an important meeting in Washington state in time for the meeting.   Pallets of auto parts are often shipped in expedite trucks when specific parts are needed quickly to keep an assembly line running or the assembly plant wants to only keep a small amount of inventory of a certain part.  

Dry freight has its moments, another driver spoke of what he hauled in his dry van with lift gate.   “We hauled many large Dewars (gas filled large containers on wheels used in MRI machines) which can weigh as much as 800lbs each and gas cylinder bottles to be delivered to hospitals, usually from the basement dock up a few floors to the MRI room.   They got very heavy by the time we got them to where they were going.   Did I mention they had to get there right away?”

Cargo vans work both locally and over the road hauling everything from a pallet of freight to drop on desk documents.   Many are in the auto parts industry and will haul up to 4 pallets depending on the size of the van.   While couriers are not specially designated as ”˜expediting’, many folk that are retired go into cargo van courier freight to supplement their retirement especially in large metro areas.

While there are semi trucks and trailers in expediting, not all expedite companies will have them.   There are occasions where something big has to be shipped quickly or require special handling, but at times the deadhead to get to the loads is great.   Since expedite freight is time sensitive, team drivers are usually preferred not only in the semis, but in the straight trucks too.

Expediting is a niche in the diverse world of trucking and in it has many niches.   There is something to be found to satisfy and provide a good living to drivers in expediting perhaps greater than any other type of trucking.  

If you are interested in getting into expediting, go to www.expeditersonline.com, register for the free Expediter University Workshops and attend a workshop, or plan on attending the Expedite Expo next year in Wilmington Ohio.

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