Keys To Load Trucks Faster

Jeff Sprang Photography

EZ Route is a cloud-based software program that imports and plans deliveries from a yard management system, calculates the most efficient way to deliver them and then tracks the driver's progress to see if he or she is delivering according to plan. Jim McKinney helped create EZ Route and is the general manager at Milliron Auto Parts in Mansfield, Ohio. He wants users to make sure they are getting the most from the program.

There have been several occasions where new EZ Route customers want to run the program throughout the day and load their trucks as the day progresses. We always advise against this practice as it will cost you more in the end. We believe in staging products in a staging area for the proposed truck throughout the day and loading after you have compiled you routes in EZ Route, and here is why.

They key to EZ Route is planning your routes effectively to best service the customer as well as being efficient in those deliveries, saving money in wages and fuel. It is a win-win for the customer and your business. Since you do not know how the route lays out until you run EZ Route, if you attempt to load throughout the day you are costing yourself money and the customer time. You don’t want, say, an engine loaded at the front of the truck, just because it was on the shelf and processed first, because that may end up being your first stop. The driver will have a difficult time getting it off of the truck, costing you time, and it slows the driver’s day causing late deliveries for subsequent customers.

The other scenario is when the driver comes in and he rearranges the load for the delivery day. Not EZ Route and not efficient. What if the parts that are on his truck are now to be delivered on another truck? Deliveries in our industry are dynamic and ever changing throughout the day - orders cancelled, issues from parts already received that need replaced (I know this doesn’t happen at your yard, but thought I would throw it out there anyway) and on and on. It is next to impossible to know at noon what we are delivering tomorrow with any amount of certainty.

Don’t bog yourself and your staff down with unnecessary doubling of work and chaos that has been suffered through for years. Be methodical and precise and EZ Route will allow you to manage the whole process effectively. Your customers will appreciate your efforts as your precision ultimately causes precision in their business too through consistency and accuracy. Your staff will appreciate it and the morning chaos stops. They have a plan and structure to follow and we all enjoy knowing what to expect.

At our yard we have the drivers load their own trucks. We have everything staged the day before in a staging area by our loading docks. The drivers come in at 7 a.m. and load. It usually takes them a half hour to 45 minutes to load. They are out before 8 a.m. every day. If a driver’s first stop is far away, we may have them come in sooner and load. We want our drivers at their first stop when the shop opens for business. You can have other people load the trucks instead of the drivers - so long as you maintain accountability. We commonly see routes in which the driver gets to a stop and puts in a note that reads, “Part not on truck”. This makes me sick and I have found over the years that if the driver loads his own truck and is held accountable to it, this typically does not happen. He has no one to blame.

Some of the other issues we see are drivers skipping pickups, etc. at their own discretion. This is a very bad choice and it hurts the customer and your wallet. Drivers should not be able to make that choice in the field. You have planned their day with EZ Route and know exactly what they can handle. Even with pick-ups, the customer expects us to show up today and we need to show the customer that we are consistent, even with pick-ups. Everyone likes to have expectations met - even minor ones that don’t really affect their day. If you say you are going to do it - DO IT. The faith acquired will transfer to their trust in your quality and ability to meet their needs in other segments of your business.

Lastly, drivers skip stops in many cases due to their own best interests, not due to the best interests in the company or the customer. Nip it quick or get a new driver because it costs you. It costs you in more than just customer satisfaction too. Someone has to reschedule the pick up, the driver has to go back to that area again, the customer has to be called again, maybe it gets lost in translation and doesn’t get rescheduled, or and it is a brokered part that you need to return for credit and on and on.

If you visit our yard in the morning you won’t see the chaos. If you visit our yard at 5 p.m. you won’t see chaos. We have a plan and it is executed every day with minimal issues and flows like a clock ticking along. Do yourself, your staff and your customers a favor and stop the chaos.

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