Piling Canada

Choosing a Hauling Partner

Equipment carriers need to know the type, size and weight of the equipment they'll be moving and whether it's been modified - surprises can lead to problems, delays or fines
Written by Barb Feldman
January 2021

Equipment carriers need to know the type, size and weight of the equipment they’ll be moving and whether it’s been modified – surprises can lead to problems, delays or fines

Some deep foundation contractors have in-house hauling fleets, but many don’t. So, what should firms consider when selecting a hauling partner to deliver the equipment and materials they need to their jobsites?

“A customer wants service, especially in the foundation business,” said Frank Ciavaglia, an account executive at DVL Logistics, headquartered in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Laurent. “Who’s going to be punctual, who’s going to answer the phone when I call, who’s going to listen to my problems and help with my issues?”

A freight broker is “like a travel agent for freight,” he said. “You tell us where you want to go, we’ll find you the best deal and the best way possible. Communication is key in this business. We need to know the urgency of a load, the type or specifications of the equipment that we’re moving – whether a customer’s crane is bigger or heavier than they said it was, modified in a certain way, has extra counterweights, is set up differently than to manufacturer’s standards or has something optional on it. Surprises can change a lot of things and lead to problems, delays and/or fines.”

Bigger and heavier equipment

“Everyone is using bigger and heavier equipment, like excavators now, and superheavy loads make interprovincial transport harder,” he said, since every province and state has different road conditions and requirements, and might not allocate the same amount of weight per axle or recognize a booster or a jeep dolly. “If you’re doing it on your own, you might not know that you’re going to need a pilot car or to modify trailers or to lighten up loads.”

For instance, some jurisdictions might impose different rules in the months of spring thaw or for superloads, which might entail delays in obtaining permits or arranging for pilot cars or police escorts in certain areas, he says. For example, on Alberta’s highways, heavier winter haul weights only apply when frost penetrates the ground to 1 metre. Specialized permitting companies will also plan routes and obtain all the necessary permits.

Ciavaglia said, “At the superload level you might go as far as getting an engineer to inspect everything on the route,” including bridges and overpasses, to ensure up-to-date weight and clearance allowances. For example, if a road has been paved over several times, a carrier might not have the inch or two clearance they were counting on.

Customers “will give us all the information, the weights, width, height, how long the piece is,” said Dave Hurley, safety and compliance manager at Don Anderson Haulage Ltd., a member of the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, which represents more than 1,300 companies worldwide. “We’ll also look at the drawings or dimensions right from the manufacturer,” which are often available on the internet. “If a customer needs us to go up and have a look-see we will, and then decide what equipment we’re going to use.”

Hundreds of specialized combinations

Anderson offers hundreds of its own specialized trailer and equipment combinations, Hurley says.

“It could be a flatbed, a removable gooseneck trailer, a float-type trailer, a roll-off or a tilt-load unit,” he said. “You have to make sure you know what you’re going to be hauling.

“We have annual permits for special dimensions – good for 105-feet-long, say, or 12-feet 6-inches-wide or 14-feet-high – that’ll give you a little more weight, and for every county and every region and province. That way, when a customer calls and says, ‘We’ve got to go tomorrow,’ we can just go. But if it’s a special permit over our annuals,” such as interprovincial, cross-border, overweight or wide-load permits, “we have to order [those] and may have to wait five to seven days; [it’s] a little quicker in the west. If you’re a superload up to about 200,000 pounds, it may take you 30 days.”

That timeframe is a little faster when it’s 100,000 to 120,000 pounds and not a superload. For high loads, from 12- to 16-feet-high, a route might need to be authorized by the city or provincial ministry of transportation.

“And if they don’t like the planned route, they’ll send it back,” said Hurley, “Once we put the permit in, they’ll tell us whether they need police for the move or not.” Anderson Haulage can also supply its own certified escort cars when required.

“We’re just hired to bring it from A to B,” Ciavaglia said. The contractor is responsible for the laydown area or working platform, and for planning for the unknowns. They’re also responsible for supplying a route plan to the hauler if the location is remote or difficult to access because of impassable roads or for environmental or safety reasons.

“They’ll sometimes have to redo the road just to get us in or lay down mats because of the terrain,” in remote locations, said Hurley. “And we really have to watch where we’re going because of the weights,” during two months of spring thaw in Ontario. “We get to some awful places where you could get stuck or hung up, but 90 per cent of the time we can get into the jobsites.”

It can get pretty intense down in the cities, he says.

“If you have an 80-foot piling on a trailer and can’t get around the corners or into a tight jobsite using just a regular trombone semi flatbed or a highboy,” Anderson Haulage will provide steerable trailers, “and an escort [vehicle] or someone to run behind the load and steer the trailers in to where they have to be,” he said. “We can travel from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but then are shut down, although we move certain loads at night because of the size.”

Different provinces and regions may also impose specific curfews that depend on certain conditions or the size of the loads.

Saving $10 an hour on a carrier might cost much more

Although haulage brokers all use similar software to see in real time where people are looking for trucks or loads, each company prices differently, says Ciavaglia. Some haulers charge hourly rates for regular and oversize loads, and some might add fuel surcharges or other fees for special moves or for special permits, escorts, police or utilities.

“Moving equipment becomes very costly when it can’t be broken down to a certain weight,” he said, but such costs are sometimes unavoidable since, “obviously, the more time it takes to break the machinery down and then rebuild it, the more downtime there is. The construction business is very time sensitive. A lot of times when one job’s done the equipment is demobilized and moved on to the next, so even though you might save $10 an hour on one guy,” if he can’t be at the next jobsite on time, “it might cost you an extra day with three guys and a crane.”

Cost is only one factor to consider when choosing a carrier. The availability of specialized equipment, well-trained and reliable operators and a company’s safety record are also important considerations.

“For a lot of specialized piling equipment, unlike a straightforward freight load, they need properly trained employees to handle it,” Hurley said, and experienced haulers will be aware of a customer’s special needs for tiedown and load securement. The Anderson Group, based a half-hour north of Toronto in Gormley, Ont., maintains a facility in its yard to conduct whatever training its approximately 250 employees will need.

In the past year, Covid-19 has presented its own set of challenges. Although it would be difficult or even impossible for haulers to quarantine since “there just aren’t enough drivers to go around,” said Ciavaglia, both haulers and their construction-company customers take their own safety and the safety of others seriously. Implemented Covid-19 protocols are carefully observed on jobsites.

“Masks and proper PPE, handwashing, observing safe distances, staying in your trucks if you’re not doing anything,” Hurley said. “Some of the sites we’re going into will do a temperature check and you might not be able to go into certain areas.”

“Transport is always changing and there are a lot of moving parts – literally!” said Ciavaglia. “For the most part carriers are generally on time and do a pretty good job, but you’re only as good as your last move.”  🍁

Category: Business

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

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