DELTA, B.C. – Freight idled on the roadside while the powers-that-be poke around your equipment may not be the trucking equivalent of a colonoscopy, but – whether they’re a royal pain or a minor irritation – they still throw a monkey wrench into your schedule.
Yet it’s hard to make the case that vehicle inspections are a bad thing; they do keep the vehicles, owners and drivers they snag on their toes. And good companies needn’t fear them.
But since time is money, such inspections also affect your bottom line. And that’s what prompted one B.C. trucking company to poke at fate with a pointy stick, actually inviting the authorities to their base of operations so they could give its fleet the once over.
The idea came from Tim McGee, general manager of Delta’s Harbour Link Container Services, and was basically an extension of a scheme he dreamed up while working for a previous company when he had to absolutely, positively get a load across the US border on time.
“I had a relationship with both the CVSE and the Delta police,” McGee told Trucknews.com, “and we had a time-sensitive run where we couldn’t afford to be stuck at one of these impromptu inspections at the scales. So basically, I made the call and asked if I offered a truck and a trailer up for inspection, would they come and inspect it?”
The police were a tad baffled by the request, McGee recounted, but he explained to them that he had a load of fresh donuts going from a bakery in Delta to Kent, Washington – from which point they’d go to every 7-eleven within five miles of the I-5 between the Canadian border and Portland, Ore.
“I said ‘My guy has to be in Seattle by four o’clock and he can’t leave until 11:45-12 o’clock,” he explained, “so if he gets stuck doing an inspection, it won’t be good.”
His request granted, McGee sent the truck over for the inspection, which it passed. Precedent set, they did this a couple more times, leading to a situation in which “when it came time for the random inspections – the big blitzes that they do – they wouldn’t touch our guys because they knew they’d already been inspected and they’re good to go.”
Once ensconced in the centre seat at Harbour Link Container Services, McGee thought about taking the idea to the next step: scheduling inspections for the whole fleet, on-site.
“Instead of them getting stuck for an hour-and-a-half inspection for both the truck and the trailer and then, if there’s any out-of-service issues, you have to worry about your load,” he explained, “we just took a proactive stance, and made sure that the proper pre-trips and post-trips were done, that the driver maintained the equipment, that his brakes were set all the time. We just went really hardcore to ensure we weren’t stuck at any roadside inspections, and that if we were, it was quick and easy.”
Delta police were once again a tad bemused, but, said McGee “We met a couple of times and expressed what our intent was – I think they were caught a bit off-guard by our request – but they thought about it and talked to the superintendent and then came back and said they’d do it.”
The inspections were done over a three-day period, and were the same full-meal deal they could expect from a roadside pull-over.
For a full report on Harbour Link’s unorthodox approach to vehicle inspections, check out the feature in the March issue of Truck West.