Tree Products Hardwoods has been delivering quality lumber, plywood, and mouldings to markets throughout the Pacific Northwest since 1978. After partnering with another regional wood supplier in 2014, which expanded their inventory and market area, the company realized they needed a more efficient process for loading their growing fleet of Class 8 tractor-trailer delivery trucks.
To better manage their vehicle weights and optimize operations, Tree Products installed LoadMaxx on-board
tractor and trailer scales. The result has been a dramatic improvement in loading efficiently, lowering fuel costs, and eliminating overweight fines.
A Growing Business with Growing Challenges
Rob Woods, Tree Products’ Transportation Manager and a veteran in the industry, saw this kind of rapid growth at a small company before and recognized the problems straightaway, with one issue being particularly costly.
“We were underloading and losing time looking for scales to check weigh once they left the terminal,” he says of their curtain side tractor-trailer delivery trucks. “It was just eating up our drivers’ hours.”
By constantly underloading, they also had to run extra routes to make all their deliveries, which drove up labor and fuel costs. They also had no way of knowing if they had accidentally overloaded a particular axle group weight, which could put their trucks out of service by the DOT.
The Tree Products team knew they needed a solution and began searching for something that would allow them to know both their tractor and trailer weights at any given time. After evaluating many options, they decided to try LoadMaxx, the on-board digital scale solution from Air-Weigh.
The abundance of valuable data, the ability to install on both mechanical and air ride suspensions, and its drop-and-hook capabilities all equated to LoadMaxx being the perfect solution for Tree Products.
LoadMaxx tractor and trailer scales measure individual axle group weights using patented deflection and air sensor technology. Real-time on-the-ground weights are displayed on the in-cab display including steer, drive, trailer, GVW, and net payload. If the net payload feature is zeroed out before loading, the driver can also see the cargo weight.
Air-Weigh scales help customers avoid individual axle group weight fines on top of preventing gross vehicle weight violations. “The number one response we hear when talking to fleets is, ‘We have in-ground scales where we load’. Most in-ground scales don’t weigh axle groups, or by the time they have arrived at the scale with their secured freight, they find that they have under or overloaded and it is too late. If the vehicle is overloaded, the driver has to return to the loading site to readjust or remove freight. Rarely will a driver go back to add more freight if under loaded, which is leaving profit back at the loading site” says Christy Brown, Air-Weigh’s Trailer OEM Sales Manager.
Air-Weigh scales also integrate with fleet management software and talk to the truck’s onboard computer, which is a big deal for many customers. The ability to gather that kind of weight data for every load is valuable information and is what sets LoadMaxx apart from other on-board scale systems. “One of the biggest advantages we have over our competitors is that LoadMaxx has the capability to send trailer weight data to the in-cab display through the existing 7-way between tractor and trailer, requiring no additional driver interaction. This is not the case with other scale systems” says Brown.
Air-Weigh customers consider the scales to first be an investment that pays for itself and then quickly begins to pay towards the bottom line going forward. Once Tree Products had LoadMaxx installed on their tractors and trailers, the optimized loads and fine reductions provided a very quick ROI. “The biggest benefit for us has been the ability to max out loads for every route, every time, without having to worry about fines or risk being put out-of-service” says Woods.
The LoadMaxx Mobile App: An Innovative Value-Add with Big Benefits
After seeing the benefits of LoadMaxx, Tree Products decided to further improve their operations by testing Air-Weigh’s mobile application that syncs with their tractor scales via Bluetooth.
Dave Allen, the company’s head loader, installed the LoadMaxx app on his iPhone and began tracking axle group weights while loading delivery trucks before their scheduled routes the next day.
“While I’m loading the truck and considering even weight distribution across the trailer to make sure the load is legal, I can actually use the LoadMaxx app in real-time as I’m loading,” says Allen. “We carry a variety of materials with a variety of sizes and weights, and knowing how to fit it all together on the trailer as I’m loading is beneficial”. There is also a big time and safety benefit in using the app. The driver or loader can be outside the cab managing the load weight from their smart device, avoiding the need to get in and out of the cab to check the in-dash display, which takes time and increases their chance of injury.
Dave also uses the sharing functionality in the app to email the details of each load to the corresponding driver before their route the next day. “It’s just an easy way to communicate. It has a lot of innovation and delivers a lot of data that we wouldn’t be able to get any other way.”
Now that they have optimized loads and reduced overweight fines with the tractor and trailer scales, Tree Products is planning to use other features of the app to help drive their business intelligence and route optimization.
“We would eventually like to have dedicated routes set up,” says Allen. “A lot of our deliveries are spread out over a large area, and right now, there is a lot of wasted time driving to the same area several times a week. Eventually, we’d like to stop that, and the app gives us the data we need to see which routes are creating the biggest loads on a given day. That’s all we need to start optimizing.”
By combining LoadMaxx tractor and trailer scales with the mobile app, Tree Products has streamlined their operations, boosting their bottom line and has given them the tools they need to strengthen, grow, and continue their success.
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