Diversification pays off for Bulk Carrier Services Inc
Nov 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Mary Davis
Tank trailer repair
Tank trailer maintenance and repair is out-sourced to various repair facilities where the vehicles are based in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. Although Las Vegas is the central location for the company, vehicles in other sectors operate from leased parking areas such as tank wash racks.
To coordinate the operation, dispatch stays in touch with drivers via MotoroRazr cell phones from Motorola. The carrier has special long-range antennas installed on the trucks for added ease of communication. Other fleet management aids include a ProMiles software program for calculating mileage, a driver log management program from J J Keller, and QuickBooks accounting software.
BCS designed a bill of lading that indicates a shipment has been properly loaded and seals and placards attached. A signature from the shipper verifies the information. “This has really paid off for us,” says Miller. “We know that when we leave the loading rack, the load is secure and the appropriate placards are in place.”
Another security element calls for specifying password-protected codes to start the truck engines. “We just had concerns about security and protecting the products we haul,” says Miller. “With this system, only the drivers and the dispatchers know the codes.”
Many shippers require driver training on site as well as identification badges. BCS training includes company policies, Department of Transportation regulations, defensive driving, and hazardous materials handling. Emphasis is placed on the use of personal protective equipment, including full-face respirators. Bennett, Warrilow, and Tina Mettke, safety and dispatch department, are all qualified training instructors.
Driver applicants must have two years of tank experience and hold a hazardous materials endorsement on their commercial driver license in order to be considered for a position.
The current driver hours-of-service rules have complicated the company's operations, because waiting and loading some products may require up to 12 hours, she says. Driving time also is used up with drivers testing product, handling material safety data sheet information, time spent for tank cleaning, and delays in traffic. “Tank cleaning is required after just about every load,” Miller says.
Despite the challenges, the future looks bright for BCS. Miller says plans call for enlarging the fleet in order to keep up with customer demand.
“We expect to buy more tank trailers in 2008,” she says. “As for now, I think we need to stay pretty much the same size company as we are now. I don't want to grow too fast.”
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