Devil’s in the Details


Devil’s in the Details

Your company does it every day: load components and deliver them to jobsites. Ben Vadnais, assistant plant manager at Windsor Building Systems, has a few tips for keeping your loading and delivery operations running as smoothly and safely as possible.

Prioritize your paperwork

The paperwork needed for certain deliveries might seem overwhelming, but taking the time to get all of the right permits can make or break a delivery. “It would be difficult to keep track of all of the rules and regulations for each place we go, so that’s the point of the permit,” Vadnais said, especially if you’re crossing state lines with a wide load.

If a delivery requires special care, just roll with it! “On one job in particular,” Vadnais recalled, “we had to have a police escort because we were two inches too tall.” That might seem like too much trouble to be worth it, but police or other escort vehicles can ensure you avoid hazards like road construction and low bridges.

Choose the right truck

It’s likely you have more than one truck or trailer to choose from, and deciding which will best fit each oddly-shaped load often takes care and creativity. “The biggest issue is space,” said Vadnais. “You have to match the trailer with the load and then package the trusses in the most efficient way possible for placement on the trailer.” He recommends thinking ahead about how to stabilize and strap down everything you’re transporting.

Plan first, then stack

Many factors can affect how a load travels, from bumpy road conditions to lousy weather. “In most cases, we build a pyramid to make the load easier to handle, with the biggest trusses on the bottom and the smallest on top,” Vadnais explained.

Sometimes customers ask for trusses to be stacked in a specific order, based on how they will be installed or because of space constraints or other conditions on the jobsite. “We certainly try to accommodate them,” Vadnais said, but he turns them down if what they are asking for isn’t safe or practical. “We have to stack in the best way possible to keep everyone safe and happy. And sometimes it’s out of our control: municipal restrictions or a permit will dictate what we can and can’t do.”

Use good straps

Over time, cargo straps can fray and rip. They’re doing a tough job to begin with, and they don’t always get treated with care. They’re tossed around, run over and dragged through the mud. To prevent potential problems, Vadnais said, it’s important to start with really good straps. Then, “make sure the drivers are regularly inspecting them and replacing them as needed.”

See the jobsite

Getting there is only half the battle. Once you’ve made it safely to the delivery location, “it’s all about common sense and communication with the people on the jobsite,” said Vadnais. It’s important for the driver to ask questions: Where should the load be placed? What are the conditions on the jobsite? “That’s particularly important at this time of the year when it’s potentially muddy,” he said, emphasizing how critical it is for the driver to get out of the truck, “look around and make sure it’s safe. He shouldn’t just trust what he’s being told; he needs to investigate the situation himself.”

Vadnais has found one simple way to make sure this happens: require photos. “We always take pictures of our truss loads when the trusses are on the jobsite. That way, if there are any questions about whether everything made the trip or whether the driver broke something, we can look back at those pictures.” In some cases, being able to validate your work is just as important as actually doing it correctly.

“Every job is different,” said Vadnais. “Even if you’re building the same things over and over, there’s still something that’s different.” Whether that’s a new location, someone different loading the trusses or simply the weather on the day you’re delivering, something changes with each job. Checking the details on every delivery makes the road from yard to jobsite a safe one.

About the Author: Molly E. Butz worked with CMs to develop the original SBCA Operation Safety Program and has over 12 years of experience helping CMs develop and maintain safety best practices.