A Superload Challenge
Puzzling load? Landstar has solutions.
A puzzle can simply be defined as a challenge – something that is designed to test ingenuity and knowledge. Every puzzle requires the solver to put the pieces together in a logical way, in order to arrive at the correct solution. It’s when the pieces of a logistics puzzle are extreme in size, the challenge requires the support of the Landstar network and the company’s unique ability to tailor a proportionate solution.
Connecting the Pieces
At JBP Agency, independent agents Steve and Teri Chandler act as “puzzle masters” for one of their top customers, Oshkosh Specialty Vehicle company Frontline Communications. The manufacturer of large command and control vehicles relies on the Landstar agency’s support to plan the moves of its high-value, oversized and over-dimensional freight.
“When it comes to moving high-value products from our manufacturing facilities to our customers’ locations, we turn to Steve Chandler and his agency,” says Frontline Communications’ Allen Nalley who manages business development for military and defense. “Our customers actually request Landstar business capacity owners (BCOs) for these hauls, because of the experience and knowledge the BCOs have of our products.”
In need of multiple oversize moves, Nalley contacted the agency with his request to coordinate six Landstar owner-operators to travel in convoy across six states, hauling six superloads from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Columbia, Maryland, to Florida’s Naval Station Mayport.
“We are very good at moving big freight. Usually we move two of the units at a time, never with any issues,” says Steve Chandler. “To move six of these at one time across multiple state lines took a lot of planning and coordination, but we are always up for the challenge.”
For this move, each load weighed 38,000 pounds, was 34 feet long, more than 16 feet wide and over 12 feet tall. But, more important than the dimensions is what the pieces would create when assembled. Each of the six pieces when put together make one of the largest flight simulation shelters in existence used by the Navy for pilot training.
“The equipment we transport for this customer is used for training the men and women who fight for our country,” says Chandler. “Successful delivery is always our goal, but knowing the importance of these shipments took it beyond the usual challenges and adds a sense of duty to my country as a U.S. Navy Veteran.”
Chandler has more than 25 years of industry experience under his belt – first as a Landstar BCO, then as a Landstar employee in the BCO services department, then a BCO AA&E team with his wife, Teri, and now as an independent Landstar agent. In his opinion, the key to every successful superload move is having the right team of BCOs.
“We laugh about this, my first call when covering loads like this is always to the ‘Bills,’” Chandler says, referring to Landstar BCOs Bill Dobrie and Bill Martin. Chandler describes the duo as his top BCOs for every strategic superload. “After that initial call, I let Bill and Bill go to work securing the rest of the BCO team needed.”
“We regularly haul this type of freight for this customer. Steve knew we’d find the best, most experienced BCO team for the move,” says Million Mile Safe Driver Bill Martin. “Safety is our main focus during the whole process, starting with finding a strong core group of heavy haul BCOs.”
Dobrie and Martin went to work lining up Landstar BCOs Ronnie Brantly, George Hayden, David Proctor and Jim Ratcliff for the haul – all owner-operators with a combined 85 years of experience moving large freight.
“These are some of the best heavy/specialized owner-operators in the business,” says Rusty Cody, Landstar Transportation Logistics vice president of heavy/specialized hauling and intermodal services. “It is expertise and experience in the heavy/specialized sector that makes Landstar a premier provider.”
“Our customers request Landstar BCOs with good reason. Their communication from the field is fantastic, they are courteous, knowledgeable, and our customers trust Landstar BCOs to deliver safely and on time, every time,” says Nalley.
Once the BCO team was in place, Dobrie and Martin planned the specific travel route and loading order for freight.
“We worked closely with Steve and the customer to put in place a great checks and balance system in order to assure each load was properly secured before we left the pickup location,” says Dobrie. “After each load was lifted by crane onto our trailers, we went back behind each other to check, then recheck the load securement. Those things make a difference. That’s how you put safety first and that’s why the customer trusts us.”
The 737-mile trip from Maryland to Florida would take the owner-operators south, traveling 55 mph through six states, each requiring separate and specific safety measures, permits and escorts.
In addition to the 12 civilian pilot escorts assigned, two for each superload, the convoy traveled with state patrol and local police escorts.
“Timing was crucial for this move. Everyone had to be on time and ready to move during the allotted time frame,” explains Chandler. “For safety and security reasons, the BCOs could only travel at night in certain states and in others, because of local laws, they could only move during the day.”
Executing his plan down to the minute, the superloads’ arrival at the Georgia/Florida border proved to be the most crucial part of the convoy’s delivery plan. For the final stretch into Florida, the BCO convoy would require state, military, local police and civilian escorts and could not begin moving until after 8 p.m.
“There were several reasons for that late start time. Because these superloads were so large, Florida State Highway A1A had to be shut down. They also had to wait for the Mayport ferry to finish running that evening in order to shut down all outbound traffic at the gate, so the massive loads could pass through,” says Chandler.
The Final Pieces
Nearly two hours after leaving their border location, the convoy of superloads escorted by two Florida Highway Patrol vehicles, four Jacksonville police officers, two military police and 12 civilian escorts, arrived at the gates at Naval Station Mayport. One by one, the trucks slowly rolled through the gates onto the military base.
“It was a great feeling to pull into those gates,” says Martin. “It’s not every day the customer, the agent and members of Landstar corporate are there and cheering for us as we make a delivery.”
Because no puzzle is complete without the final piece, the day after delivery the BCO team coordinated once again for the unload. The trucks lined up and a crane lifted the 38,000-pound loads off each trailer.
“Knowing what went into getting each unit to Mayport, watching them go through those gates was a very proud moment in my career,” says Chandler. “Another safe, on-time and damage-free delivery and a haul that wouldn’t have been possible without the support and resources available at Landstar.”
Watch as the convoy of Landstar BCOs arrive at Naval Station Mayport for delivery: