That scenario opens up the opportunity for customer complaints, Hooper said.
“Somebody that’s on the truck will claim every time with day-late delivery or incompatible temperatures — just anything,” he said.
“I’ve seen six, seven, eight pallets at a time among the customer that should be taken two, three full loads a day. When you get slow business like that, there’s going to be somebody out there with two sharpened pencils trying to make money on any side of bill of lading he can.”
The trend toward consolidating loads does have its up side, said Mauro Moreno, owner of Nogales-based truck brokerage Aviva International LLC.
“I think it’s a very good market for storage facilities and warehouses,” he said. “It works out great and it keeps produce on the road here.”
Extra deliveries and pickups are just part of doing business today, Moreno said.
“It will never stop. It’s normal business,” he said.
“Some don’t need the straight loads. There are some orders for half-loads. It makes the truck go.”
Consolidating is more of a customer challenge and not a trucking-industry problem, said Kenny Lund, vice president of support operations for La Canada, Calif.-based Allen Lund Co. Inc.
“You can get help from the customer to get that stuff taken care of. It used to be all the time we shipped partials for customers,” he said. “We don’t do that much anymore.”
Yakima, Wash.-based fruit grower-shipper Columbia Marketing International Inc. is consolidating more loads than ever, but it does have its hurdles, said Bob Mast, vice president of marketing.
“It’s having the right product at the right place when you need it,” he said.
“Obviously, with the centralization of most of the buying that we’re seeing now, we’re probably seeing more adjustments to orders than we ever have.
“You can move product around and find the order has been adjusted and you need to move some more. It’s somewhat of a challenge. You almost have to have a buffer at each pickup location to adapt to changes — some residual of each of the products on hand with different sizes and grades.”