ESTABLISHING SAFE AND LEGAL WOOD RECEIVING POLICIES
INTRODUCTION: The Forest Resources Association Board of Directors recently recommended that "individual FRA member companies review their current wood receiving policies and consider establishing a goal of working with wood suppliers to develop (or revise) wood receiving policies that encourage safe and legal transportation of all forms of wood fiber."
WHY ESTABLISH POLICIES? Wood suppliers who haul at or below legal weight limits are economically disadvantaged when they have to compete with other wood suppliers who consistently haul overweight loads. A hypothetical example for a forest products trucking company in Wisconsin that hauled every load one cord overweight during the year increased its annual revenue by nearly $11,000 (see this month's Technical Release 01-R-6).
Mills often establish wood receiving policies due to concerns about safety. Some mills establish wood receiving policies as a result of local or state DOT pressure. Others adopt wood receiving policies that encourage safe and legal hauling because it's "the right thing to do."
Wood consuming companies that consistently accept overweight loads can be accused of being "negligent" in a tort liability case involving a log truck accident. Mills may have their scale house records subpoenaed to find out whether the log truck driver involved in an accident had consistently hauled into the mill overweight. This is another good reason for establishing a wood receiving policy to encourage the delivery of legal loads.
STRATEGIES FOR ELIMINATING OVERWEIGHT LOADS: Most contracts between wood consumers and wood suppliers have clauses which stipulate compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, including the delivery of wood by trucks at or below the legal weight limit.
Some wood receiving facilities take additional steps to discourage the hauling of overweight loads by: providing continuous feedback to wood suppliers on the percentage of legal loads delivered, offering the opportunity to "off load" overweight wood fiber, or establishing penalties for overweight trucks. Penalties for overweight deliveries may include: reducing orders or refusing to do business with suppliers who habitually deliver loads exceeding an established maximum weight, accepting the load but refusing to pay for wood over an established maximum weight, or rejecting the delivery of loads that are grossly overweight.
SAMPLE TRUCK OVERWEIGHT POLICY: One FRA member wood receiving facility has devised the following policy to encourage the delivery of legal loads. Four truck weight categories were established:
Category 1 - Target load weight
Up to 100 of state permitted load weight
Category 2 - Target margin of error range
100 - 105 of state permitted load weight (e.g., if the permitted weight is 80,000 pounds, the range is 80,000 to 84,000 pounds)
Category 3 - Above target margin of error range
105.1 to 107.5 of state permitted load weight (e.g., 84,000 to 86,000 pounds)
Category 4 - Unacceptable loads
Over 107.6 of state permitted load weight (86,001 pounds and higher)
The goal of this consuming mill's Overweight Policy is to have all loads within Category 1. The vast majority of deliveries are expected to fall within Categories 1 and 2. Additional communication efforts are directed at suppliers who have loads within Categories 3 and 4. This communication effort includes a data sheet profiling the supplier's percentage of loads within the four weight categories as well as the targets within each category. Consider the following example:
In the example shown in Table 1, High Roller Roundwood Supplier would have a specified period of time to lower the percentage of loads in Category 4 to five percent or less. If High Roller did not meet the target for Category 4 during the next measurement period, further actions would be taken to address the problem with the out-of-policy supplier.
STAFF COMMENT: Encouraging wood suppliers to haul 100 of their loads at the legal weight limit requires a commitment from the consuming mill. Each mill should base its cut-and-haul rates on legal hauls. Each mill should work with its wood suppliers to develop safe and legal wood receiving policies, to consistently implement the policy, and to provide continuous feedback to each supplier on his or her level of compliance.
In addition, hauling underweight loads needlessly costs wood suppliers potential income (see Technical Release 95-R-46 "Is it Worth the Trouble to Assure Trucks are Fully Loaded?"). FRA offers a workshop titled Improving the Profitability of Trucking Wood with the objective "to inform wood suppliers about the financial benefits of improved average payload weights using various types of truck scales while assuring compliance with federal and state weight laws." Each wood supplier should strive to haul each load at, but not exceeding, the legal weight limit to improve the safety and profitability of trucking forest products.
FRA Director of Forestry Programs