Container Driver Information
Interchange Issues Container Inspection
Drivers who work with Containerized Freight represent the largest single group of Drivers that are associated with Titan Transport and its operating group Veterans Express Transport Services.
Container drivers generally fall into two categories; drivers who are owner Operators and are leased directly to Titan Transport or drivers who work for an individual who owns one or more trucks that is leased to Titan. In either situation you must meet all of the qualifications for a driver for Titan Transport. If you have any questions you should contact the Safety Department in Monroe at 800-444-4168 ext 245 and speak to Ida.
Occasionally Container Freight is brokered to a third part carrier, but this is a special arrangement and should not be done without the approval of the General Office in Monroe.
One final statement with respect to everything below. In all respects, information given to you verbally is generally can be meaningless and no one can usually be held to any statement that they make. In all instances, and with all situations, "If it is not written, It does not exist". Protect yourself, get everything in writing.
All Drivers are required to be registered with the port or ports where they take containers out of or into. Each Port has its own procedure and the steps to obtain port registration must be followed. This does not mean that you cannot handle a container once it is removed from the port. It does, however, restrict you access to that port. If you pick-up or deliver a container to a port in another city it is very likely that you local Port registration will not be valid until you complete the registration steps for the additional port. These steps can sometimes take days instead of hours so be sure that you are registered with a distant port before beginning a trip. In most instances access to Rail yards like CSX, Burlington Northern and others that handle containers require the same detailed registration process that the ports use, so it would be very smart to check out the requirements prior to terminating a trip at a Rail Yard in some distant city.
In most instances, the UIIA, provides a registration database that Rail Carriers accept. Before you terminate a trip at a Rail Yard ask the local agent to confirm that you are approved and registered. A one minute phone call could save you many hours.
Port Access (Near Future)
In the near future Port access will be restricted to only those individual who have completed a detail registration process including background check and interviews by a contractor for Homeland Security. So far only two ports are involved but the process is coming to all US ports in the immediate Future. There is a fee for the process and a separate Registration card with a microchip will be issued. At this point, the fee for the process is thought to be approximately $150.00. It may be more or less.
Once the port initiates the new registration process, none will be allowed past the gate without the New Registration Card. Whether or not the existing registration process must also be done for each port is still not known.
Titan Transport and Veterans Express have signed contracts with all of the Container Lines. These contracts are called Interchange Agreements. The Contracts specify all of the terms and conditions that we and the have to meet in order to do business. These conditions include the following:
1. The Trucking company listed "Out Interchange" is liable for anything that happens to a container including damage, repairs per diem, liability and just about anything else.
2.Drivers taking a container out of the port must do a complete inspection of the Container prior to it leaving the gate. Any subsequent damage to any part of the container will be the responsibility of the company listed on the "Out Interchange"
3. Repairs to containers including tires have to follow specific rules. We might get reimbursed for some repairs, but if we do not follow the rules exactly, reimbursement is automatically denied.
4. Per Diem charges usually begin after the 5th day including the day it left the port. Some companies however may allow as few as 3 days. With Refrigerated or Open Top containers the free days are as few as 2 days including the day that the container left the port. Per Diem charges average $100 per day. Some customers have arranged extra per diem "free" days with what is known as a service contract. Unless you have a Service Contract number and have the days verified with the container company in hand, you cannot honor this type of agreement. It is your responsibility to ask the dispatcher who is giving you a load exactly when a container has to be back at the port. container must be back at the port.
A Titan or Veterans Interchange can be used only for Titan or Veterans Business. Taking containers out of a Port for someone else using a Titan or Veteran Interchange is a violation of your contract with Titan Transport. If this happens your contract will be terminated.
A driver is required to inspect the container prior to leaving the Port Gate. Any conditions that are present on the container or chassis including damage, bad tires, lights not working, brake issues or anything else that is important must be noted on the "Out" Interchange. Bad or questionable tires must be replaced prior to the Container leaving the Port Yard. The container and chassis must be "Road worthy" prior to leaving the Port Gate. When the container comes back in, if there are any issues including those listed above, the container company will charge Titan and send us a bill to Repair. Tires are a particularly bad situation, because any questionable tire that fails on the road has to be repaired at Titan's expense. We may or may not get reimbursed by the Container Company. They make the final decision. Should a repair have to be made, any parts removed have to be returned to the Port including tires to get a Receipt. In addition an "on road" repair receipt has to be secured from the repair vendor.
All repair requests have to be called in to the Dispatcher who will contact the proper repair company, call you back and give you any additional instructions. Drivers are not authorized to make Container or chassis repairs on the road.
In addition to your CDL Drivers License, Truck Papers and any necessary Insurance Documents, at a very minimum a driver should have an assigned Pro Number for the current load, a delivery receipt which may be a copy of the Bill of Lading, delivery address, telephone number, Logbook, and directions to the delivery location. If permits are required, then an original or copy whichever is required, must also be in the possession of the Driver.
Competed paperwork to be turned in includes a Signed and dated Delivery receipt, In and out interchanges, any required Bills of Lading, receipts for Scale, lumper fees, tolls, Inspection Certificates and any other paperwork that is required to properly bill a load to the Customer. Logs, Fuel receipts, Mileage Logs, repair receipts, tire receipts and other items not directly related to Billing should be turned in separately. It is recommended that the driver keep a personal copy of all paperwork.
Unacceptable Customer Conditions
Sometimes a Customer or Broker will attempt to get out of any responsibility for Per Diem Issues by placing statements on the Delivery Order that they will not be responsible for any Per Diem that occurs. Work Orders with this inclusion can not be accepted. If an agent accepts a load with this language, then all subsequent charges that occur will be deducted from their settlement as the invoice is received.
Signed BOL or Delivery Receipt
This may sound like a detail but a signed BOL or Delivery receipt is our only proof that something was actually delivered or picked up at a location. With no signature a customer can actually say that whatever we were supposed to do never happened, and we have no defense. Without a date somewhere on the form, they can say were late, left too soon, or failed to fulfill our agreement, and we have nothing to prove otherwise. They can bill us for charges and we likely will have to pay or have them deducted from the freight bill that they are to pay.
The driver must secure a signature from someone at the delivery location or we have no legal footing for future claims or problems. Lack of proper signatures can be a reason to not pay the driver for a load until the company gets paid.
Drop & Hook
Dropping a container at a location and picking up a different one sounds like the most efficient, time saving process that was ever invented, and that can be true. However, it is also the source of more lost containers, huge per diem bills and misunderstandings than any other process in handling containers. The dream can rapidly turn into a nightmare.
Drop & Hook can only be done when the agency involved accepts the responsibility to keep daily track of all containers involved to be sure that all containers taken out are returned during the "Free Time" allowance by a container company. Drivers are never allowed to make the decision to "drop and hook" any containers. Per Diem charges for Drop & Hook arrangements are the responsibility of the agency and it would be highly recommended that they secure an agreement in writing from the customer as to who is responsible for the charges prior to any drop & hook occurring.
Some customers have what is known as a "Store Door" delivery arrangement with a container line. This means that the customer accepts full responsibility once the container is dropped at their location. All Store door agreements will so state on the Work Order or Delivery Order with a service contract number for reference. If there is no such indication of a Service Agreement and the Service Agreement number on the Work Order or Delivery Order, then a written confirmation must be received from the Container line before it can be honored..
Detention is always a touchy issue. Bottom Line, most companies will refuse to pay detention if they can get away with it. What we have to do is raise the issue as soon as possible in order to either get you loaded/unloaded or get them to agree to pay detention. How do we do this.
The basic policy is that we allow 2 hours free before they are required to unload you provided you have an appointment and provided you are not late for you appointment and, if you are early, they can extend the free time to the appointment time.
Here's a example. You have an appointment for 10AM, you arrive at 8:30 AM, they don't have to begin unloading until 10AM and they can still enforce the two hour free time and not unload until Noon.. Same situation you arrive at 10:02, all holds are off; you are late and they can do anything. They do not have to be reasonable, regardless of your reasons. If you call ahead when you are going to be late, things can be different. Keep in touch with your dispatcher, maybe they can work something out.
Some companies require special procedures before detention will be considered, Crowley requires a notification 30 minutes prior to going into detention and signatures of appropriate people. Some simply refuse to authorize detention. As we become aware of special requirements they will be communicated to you dispatch office.
Detention pay is always variable, we charge between $75-150 per hour up to a maximum of $500.00 per day, plus any layover expenses you might incur. Your agency may charge more or less, that is between the two of you, but we will only bill what gets approved.
Detention must be authorized and approved in writing by an authorized person at the destination, prior to us billing the company for the detention. Your agent has detention forms that can be sent to the company. We will accept an e-mail from the company issuing the Work order as long as the person sending the e-mail is acceptable to the Agency Owner. Generally No signatures, No detention pay.
Fines for loads that are overweight or oversized are really high, sometimes in the thousands of dollars. Some recent fines in North Carolina have reached $25,000. Plus, if you are stopped, you then have to purchase the permit before you can move. Permits cost you nothing, your agency is charged with the responsibility to provide the proper permits. If you suspect a load is overweight, get it weighed before leaving for your trip and contact you Dispatcher immediately.
The container companies are notorious for overloading the containers, a work order or BOL may not accurately reflect the weight in a container and if it is marginal, the weight may not be properly distributed. The maximum allowable weights posted on a container do no reflect legal weights, those are ocean vessel maximums. And remember one important point, if you get caught going down the road with an un-permitted overweight container, you pay the bill, not them.
Reefers present a whole new area of issues that have to be addressed. The important steps are listed below:
1.I know that this sounds stupid but, first check to see that a reefer unit is actually on the container that you are picking up from the port. We have had two containers leave the port in the last year without refrigeration units even being installed on the container, It can and will happen.
2. Anytime you pick up a reefer it should be running, if it is not, you should contact the yard mechanic to restart the unit and check everything out. You should never restart a unit yourself at the port.
3. Check the fuel level, most units carry a 25 gallon tank and it should be sufficient to run for three days. If you are picking up on Friday for Monday delivery, there will not be enough fuel to keep the unit running over the week-end. You are required to re-fill the tank at your cost for excessive running, what ever that is. The last thing you want to happen is to be 200 miles down the road and a reefer not start. If that happens, and you have previously shut the unit down, taken the unit out without it being running, or you run out of fuel, all costs for the service call will fall back on Titan and may be charged to you.
4. Full loads require that the refrigeration be running at all times. Check the temperature requirement on the Manifest or Work order. Check the temperature of the recording thermometer. The temperature maximums have to be maintained. Refrigerated loads should never be allowed to go below the minimum (usually 32 degrees) or above the maximum on the manifest.. Frozen loads should always be maintained below the maximum specified on the Manifest. Keep a written record of your temperature checks on the delivery receipt. If you have any problems, call your dispatcher immediately, do not open the doors without authorization from the Customer, make them give the authorization in writing either via fax, e-mail or by signing the Delivery receipt.
5. If you are picking up a refrigerated or frozen load you should always arrive with the reefer running unless you have it in writing from the customer and they take responsibility for any damage to the product. Watch the loading process to insure that the load is distributed properly, frozen loads are generally heavy. Many require a permit for overweight.
6.Reefer Temperatures on load containers should be checked every 2-3 hours and recorded on the Delivery receipt.
7. Do not attempt to handle any type of reefer problem without authorization. Call you dispatcher to get that authorization.
8. Finally, Refrigerated Containers do not not carry the same number of free days as regular containers. Refrigerated Containers are allowed only 2 Free Days including the date of interchange. Extra days are charged at a minimum of $100 per day, many are at $150 per day or more. Drop & Hook on a reefer unit should never happen except under extremely rare circumstances. Per Diem charges must be assigned and agreed to in writing prior to any arrangement of this type.
No Delivery/Failed Delivery/Refused Delivery/Late Delivery
Should you be in a position where you are unable to deliver a load for any reason whether it be for being late or the customer refuses to unload or accept the load for any reason, you should call the Dispatcher immediately. The Dispatcher is in the best position to resolve the problem. No exceptions.
Tire Repair Issues/Requirements/ On Road Repairs
1. Flat tires are your responsibility. When you pick up a container you are required to inspect the tires. Container companies do not reimburse us for flats or flat repairs. The average cost to repair a flat tire on the road is $160.00.
2. On road repairs are very expensive. Any repair of less than $50.00 is not reimbursed by the container company. The cost of a Tire repair averages between $275.00-$300.00. Run Flat Tires are not reimbursed by the container company. Abused tires are not reimbursed by the container company. Flat Spotted tires will be charged back to the driver by the container company if they exceed the minimum DOT requirement. If multiple tires fail on a single axel only one will be reimbursed.
3. Anytime an on road container chassis repair is needed, you must contact your dispatch office to notify them of the problem. The next step is to contact a repair shop in the area or one of the national repair companies to get the repair done. Multiple tire replacements or repairs that exceed $500.00 must be authorized by the container company in order for reimbursement to be possible. Get back to your dispatcher if complications occur or additional repairs are needed.
4. Once a repair is done, the tire (s) and any other parts that are removed must be taken back to the port for a tire inspection and Tire Receipt. Also, the repair technician must give the driver an "on Road Receipt" for the repairs. Both the Tire Receipt and the On Road Receipt must be turned in to your dispatch office.
5. If problems occur or if the Repair Technician does not cooperate you are to call your dispatch office and get instructions