At Perkins STC, we believe in the method to the madness, but unfortunately sometimes the madness wins no matter how hard we fight it! Our processes, no matter how sound and effective, no matter how much paper we use, no matter how many times we’ve done this, there are shared risks due to circumstances beyond our control. This is just reality, but never the goal.
I'm Ron Donahoo, VP of Sales & Contracting, and during my nearly 11 years at Perkins, we’ve had a handful of “Jobs from Hell” and they were truly painful for all parties. No carrier is immune from them because someone’s time and money is always on the line, but things happen. We rely on our experience to push through the unexpected, but it takes teamwork to come out on the other side with unaffected relationships due to misunderstandings and negatively impacted margins. Here are a couple of stories we always hope to avoid.
We had a dryer loaded and secured and our route and permits approved for as far out as the states would allow. In this case, the route was long (over 2,500 miles), so getting all permits in hand before departure was impossible. Instead, we run route surveys and get pre-approvals, so we don’t risk losing valid permits for the routes directly ahead of us. Pre-approvals are beneficial to determine if our loaded combination can make the turns and not be affected by height or other risks along the way. The hardest contender that can derail a plan faster than anything is construction. Shortly after we departed, we received notice of construction along our route in a consecutive state, which took our pre-approved route from 20 feet wide to 11 feet wide, which was not accessible for the 18 foot wide dual lane loading equipment. This required us to re-route the load into four different states around the construction if we wanted to keep moving in order to deliver the dryer to its final destination in any sort of timely fashion. The customer’s client was not willing to accept these unforeseen events and refused to understand, although several attempts were made, that even costlier consequences would have ensued had we waited to move, or worse, approached the construction without alternate options. Most mid- and northwestern states understand there are really only two seasons, winter and construction. While we do consider construction when planning and routing, it is rarely 100% forseeablee to know the extent of these types of events on a trip this long (both in miles and duration).
What if Mother Nature is the evildoer and then who is ultimately responsible? Maybe it’s a tornado 3 states away that keeps utility bucket trucks busy in relief efforts, so private and more costly services are required. Perhaps flooding events upstream washes out bridges that are critical to routing and delays incur because rerouting is not an option. The goal is to always contain the ripple and move forward!
On a routine haul out west in mid-December a delay due to extreme snowfall, ice, and large drifts caused crews to be stationary for a week. This possibly could have been made up during the duration of the trip, but it put the timeline right over a holiday break for most government and businesses that were required for us to move according to the permits. This shut down the job until after the New Year, where even if the holiday weren’t an issue, getting ahead of the weather seemed to be impossible where more delays caused by fog and day/night travel restrictions carried out the job out even further. No one is happy when these things occur, but it’s important to recognize this is NOT the norm and never a desired outcome.
Simply put, we contract and execute superload moves for our clients and the project variables can be overwhelming to understand when you’re not doing it everyday. Our highly trained professionals work hard to eliminate risks and minimize confusion by appointing a single point of contact (a dedicated Project Manager) for all project related tasks. We go so far as to communicate our own expectations daily (yes, even on weekends), so all parties are aware of the tasks set forth and accomplished. We have implemented and enforced vital safeguards within our process to protect the plan, cargo, equipment, crew, customers, vendors, costs, infrastructure, and public at every step along the way. Process-orientated safety protocols are just what we do as standard operating procedure (SOP) and we want our customers to expect it with confidence while finding value in their decision to choose Perkins.
Superload moves are exceptionally large and complicated beasts with attached risks. It has been Perkins’ sole focus for decades and we routinely advocate for our customers by working with permitting and patrol agencies to help control the things we CAN control. Conditions we CANNOT control including construction/paving operations, natural occurrences, and political issues require extreme teamwork by all parties to make every job as LEAST memorable as possible.
Our teams do so much more than can be summed up in a blog, but the respect I have for my colleagues in Sales, along with the Project Managers, Project Coordinators, Engineers, Fleet Services, Metal Fabrication, Field Operations, Human Resources, and Accounting staff make this all possible from a company standpoint. Although I'm sure customers and competitors can relate, it is always a great accomplishment when a project is truly unremarkable. Thanks for coming along for the ride, although I may have given our Project Managers nightmares they didn't want to relive for the next few nights.
If you have any suggestions, concerns, or information that may help in conjunction with these discussions, please email us at sales@PerkinsSTC.com. We are happy to introduce all constructive recommendations and get them in front of the committees dedicated to drive the progress and innovation of superload logistics.
1800 Riverview Drive, Northfield, MN 55057