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Continuing on with our intermodal vs. over-the-road series, in this blog we’re touching upon one of the most important processes before the trip begins – checking the equipment.

What unites both intermodal and over-the-road trucking is an emphasis placed on inspecting equipment before the trip begins. Having faulty equipment can of course cause issues like chassis or trailer detachments while on the road, which can have incredibly serious consequences. There are also the less obvious issues like damage to the container or dry van that can seriously derail the trip.

Simply put, making sure that all of the equipment is present and intact can make or break the trip. If there’s damage to the container or trailer, the freight is compromised, and may not even be accepted at the warehouse, wasting many miles for the carrier and potentially costing the shipper if the freight is in unacceptable condition.

For intermodal trips, the equipment that a carrier picks up is the container attached to a chassis. A carrier will almost always be picking up these pieces, because most containers and chassis are owned by the rails. The only time you’d see private containers is if you worked for a larger carrier company that owned private containers. For over-the-road trips, the carrier either provides their own dry van and trailer, or picks this up at the warehouse.

To properly and thoroughly inspect a chassis and container, check out our more in depth look at what to inspect, which can be found here. In general, the main things to look at are the front locking pin, landing gear, tires, container, and the tandems. The front locking pin should actually lock in the chassis to the tractor unit, and the landing gear needs to have all bolts in place and no cracks so that the container can be properly loaded/unloaded.

In general, the main things to look at are the front locking pin, landing gear, tires, container, and the tandems.

The tandems need to slide into place correctly to help distribute the weight of the container across the chassis. If the container’s final destination is anywhere in California, the carrier needs to make sure that the tandem axle at the rear is no further than 40’ from the front axle.

The same precautions should be taken for over-the-road trips, since chassis and dry van trailers are very similar and hold the same purpose: to keep the freight locked in and able to get moved from one place another.

For the container/van and tires, carriers should make sure that there are no glaring issues, like flat tires or holes. The easiest way to check for holes is to close all of the doors and look for any light peering into the container. And don’t forget to make sure that there is a seal on the back door of the container or dry van! If the seal is missing or broken, this could also compromise the freight inside.

This all may sound like a lot, but once a carrier gets these inspections down to a science, it will be just another part of the routine for each trip!

So far, we’ve covered the expenses associated with each type of trucking, what a carrier needs to find loads & where to pick up the freight, how to check in at each location, and now how to check the equipment before the trip begins. What’s left? The actual trip! Next we go over how to complete the trip.

For a visual accompaniment to this information, feel free to watch the video below to get tips for checking the container and chassis.

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