In my last blog I opined about shippers needing to consider a best practice for documenting the produce you load at origin demonstrating that it has been properly pre-cooled and properly loaded. I recognize it is an investment of time and resources, but like any business decision you need to consider the ROI. This template is merely a suggested guide which you can customize to your own unique business operations. Following establishment of these best practices, it could 1) make you a better shipper of choice in the marketplace by demonstrating you pay attention to the details under your control and 2) provides you an undisputed record that you properly placed the produce in the refrigerated trailer which under normal transport conditions will contribute to the produce being in suitable condition at contract destination.
It is critical that the shipper representative and driver complete and initial the Pre-Load and Loading Check List. Below are some highlights of key areas that you should focus on:
- Confirm from first hand observation that the interior of the trailer is clean and odor free, meaning that nothing is clogging or obstructing the grooves on the floor, walls are free from any residual debris and if the trailer has been sanitized. (This is in line with the FSMA proposed sanitary transportation rule whereby shippers will be required to specify to carriers, in writing, proper sanitary requirements for equipment used during transport as well as temperature requirements).
- Check to make sure that the air chute is intact and free from any damage that would inhibit the flow of air.
- Instruct the driver and make sure that the trailer is properly pre-cooled to your loading and transit temperature.
- With the driver present, pulp the product being loaded on to the trailer for the reasons I outlined in my last blog.
- Make sure the driver properly installs load locks and/or airbags to secure the load so it will not shift in transit.
- If a temperature recorder is placed in the trailer document its location (i.e. which pallet and side of the trailer) so it can be easily retrieved at destination.
- Confirm with the driver the thermostat setting you require, including having the TRU on continuous cycle throughout transit to destination.
- It is imperative that your bill of lading have instructions on maintenance of temperature for transit. Please consider a pre-printed temperature so there is no misunderstanding.
- Trailer Refrigeration Unit (TRU) must meet all regulations of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). This can be accomplished by having the driver sign the bill of lading you provide with the following language adjacent to the signature line: Carrier or its agent certifies that the TRU equipment furnished for loading this Shipment is in compliance with California Regulations. Bill of Lading for your easy reference.
- Make certain that your bill of lading has a no recourse provision (refer to the above bill of lading link for specific wording), which on an FOB shipment places the carrier on notice that you may not be held liable for any unpaid freight charges.
It has been my experience over the years that shippers who institute and strictly follow this policy as part of their regular business practice have fewer complaints. When complaints do arise, they have standing to have a professional dialogue based on documented facts. These are a few suggestions when developing your own Pre-Load and Loading Checklist. Remember the key element is having the driver initial and sign this document. Hopefully you will consider this best practice which can translate to a long term financial benefit for your organization and reputation.
Should you have any questions or wish for me to review your current pre-load and loading documents, please contact me at TommyO@wga.com or 949-885-2269.