Drop & Hook vs. Live Loads: Which is Better?
Waiting is one of the most frustrating aspects of a truck driver’s job. Every day, drivers lose hours of their working time and lose money when they’re forced to wait for hours or even days at a shipper or receiver for a live load.
Although some carriers offer detention pay to make up for lost time, many don’t, leaving drivers feeling frustrated and financially strained. This is why many drivers consider drop & hook operations as a solution to this problem. However, the question remains: are drop & hook operations truly superior to live loads?
What is Drop & Hook?
A drop & hook is when a driver “drops” their trailer at the customer’s yard and gets a new one before driving off. Drivers will get an appointment time for these drop-offs, meaning they won’t have to wait for any loading or unloading of the trailer like they would with a live load. Aside from taking less time, drop and hooks are no touch, which is always a bonus for drivers.
What is Live Load?
Live load, also known as “dock bumping”, requires a driver to back their trailer up to the warehouse doors and then wait for the workers or jockeys to unload the truck. If a backhaul is scheduled, then the driver will also have to wait for the trailer to be loaded back up. Similarly to drop and hooks, drivers are given appointment times for when to be at the customer’s facility for a live load.
The average time for a live load is around two hours, but it can take more or less time depending on factors such as the number of warehouse workers on duty, the cargo type, and how busy the yard is. While live loads may be more time-consuming than drop and hooks, some drivers may prefer them because they can get a chance to rest or take care of other tasks while waiting.
Which is More Common?
The type of freight being transported plays a significant role in determining the frequency of live loads versus drop and hooks. Reefer and flatbed hauling tend to have more live loads than dry vans, although there are no strict rules. It’s not wise to assume that drop and hooks will always be available for dry van hauling.
Drop and hooks are typically favored by larger carriers that have a large number of trailers. Smaller carriers, on the other hand, are more likely to rely on live loads. Moreover, space limitations can also impact the availability of drop & hooks. Many facilities lack the space required for trailers to sit around waiting to be picked up, which can limit the use of drop and hooks.
What are the Pros and Cons?
While most drivers would agree that drop & hooks are generally quicker and more favorable than live loads, this isn’t always the case. Experienced drivers know that there are many things that can go wrong with shippers or receivers, resulting in drivers waiting well past their appointment times to get a new trailer. These situations are incredibly frustrating for drivers because there is not much they can do to control them aside from arriving at their appointments on time.
Despite the advantages of drop and hooks, live loads have their own set of benefits. One advantage is that drivers won’t run the risk of receiving a worn-down trailer. If drivers do many drop & hooks, they may eventually end up with a less-than-ideal trailer, which could have electrical problems such as faulty brake lights or tires that lose air. Dealing with these issues can add more time to the trip, which could have been avoided if drivers kept their original trailers.
Drop and hooks also take a bit more skill than your traditional dock bumping. Drivers need to carefully line up their fifth wheel plate with the trailer’s kingpin. This isn’t an expert-level maneuver or anything, but it’s something that you wouldn’t have to worry about with a live load.
There’s also the issue of an overweight trailer. Some shippers may not do their due diligence in making sure a trailer is under the 34,000 tandem axle weight limit. You’ll only realize this when you hit your first weigh station. You’ll then have to go back to the shipper and start the whole process over again, which could add hours to your trip.
Which One’s Better?
The logistics chain involved in getting a product from point A to point B is complex and involves numerous moving parts. Any one of these components could fail, and the truck driver is often the one who has to wait for the issue to be resolved, whether they are dealing with a drop and hook or a live load.
However, with a live load, there is almost a guarantee that the driver will have to wait for at least some amount of time. In contrast, a drop and hook can be faster if everything goes smoothly, and the driver should be able to leave the customer’s facility with a new trailer quickly. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that unforeseen issues can occur during both types of operations, and drivers may still experience delays even with a drop & hook.
And our experienced team is always ready to help you find the right used truck, no matter what type of transportation you choose. We have the most extensive inventory affordably in North America. Contact us for purchase, and gain peace of mind with your extended warranty and financing.
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