Posts Tagged “claims”

Preventing Rejection of Refrigerated Loads – Part II

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By Jennifer Brearley Transportation Broker, ALC Richmond

In Tuesday’s article, we discussed some of the most important things to consider when selecting a carrier for sensitive, refrigerated loads. In addition to carrier vetting, it is also crucial to ensure that hot product is not being loaded into the trailer and equipment failure or human error are avoided. Below are some tips that could help you steer clear of these issues leading to rejected loads and claims.
Prevent hot loads before they get on the truck.

  1. Refer trailers are not designed to set product temperature. They are designed to maintain it.
  2. Freshly picked loads that sit on the dock in extreme heat waiting to be loaded may be out of temperature tolerance at loading. According to the article, The Keys to Preventing Rejected Loads in Refrigerated Transportation, “as much as 32% of all cargo is loaded at the wrong temperature. Poor loading practices like these can result in loads spoiling in transit if the temperature is incorrect. No matter how chilled the reefer is, the temperature is going to rise – this causes condensation, which results in spoilage.”
  3. Ensure the driver understands proper pulping practices. Prior to loading, and during unloading drivers should pulp and record temperatures of at least every other pallet of the product loaded on to their trailer.
  4. Drivers should be instructed not to accept the warm products at the shipper. Once they sign for it, they are responsible for it.
  5. Document all communication with the driver and the shipper regarding temperature discrepancies prior to loading.
  6. In transit pulping when possible is preferred as well. Newer refrigerated trailers have advanced temperature monitoring that will notify the driver and dispatch if something is wrong which is helpful in today’s world where most loads are sealed.

Avoid equipment failure and human error.

  1. Proper routine maintenance is a must. Loading an unknown carrier with a sensitive product is a huge risk. The vast majority of loads hauled pick up and deliver without incident. A temperature claim resulting from poorly maintained equipment will result in unrecoverable costs and damaged relationships. Ask drivers you are unfamiliar with about their maintenance routines. You will be able to tell pretty quickly how diligent they are about it. There are up to 200 possible alarm codes in newer reefer units. That can be 200 potential problems. Add to that a damaged chute, leaking trailer, or damaged seal and the risk of loss multiplies.
  2. Incorrect unit settings can happen for a number of reasons. Human errors can result in a ruined load. -20°F instead of 20°F are vastly different and such errors result in a disaster for the cargo inside the trailer. Regular communication from pick up through delivery is crucial. It is easy to assume that the temperature today is the same as it was yesterday. This is a dangerous assumption.

Educate yourself on the products your customer ships, the methods the shipper utilizes for loading trucks, and the general function of refrigerated trailers. This is the most important part of the vetting process. In order to effectively communicate with the carrier, you have to know what you are talking about.
Rejected loads are undoubtedly something we want to avoid. While these vetting processes may not prevent every rejected load, they can certainly help to lower if not eliminate the avoidable ones. (Part I was published on July 28th.)


Jennifer Brearley began working for the Allen Lund Company in February of 2019 as a transportation broker. She joined the company with five years of domestic and international shipping experience. Brearley attended Western Governors University and received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies.

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Preventing Rejection of Refrigerated Loads – Part I

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It’s the middle of summer and 97° here in Virginia and throughout the country. The summer demand for refrigerated fresh products under tight deadlines is at its peak. Allen Lund Company specializes in moving this type of product, successfully transporting thousands of produce loads a year. But, what happens when your load is rejected? This is one of the most frustrating challenges in refrigerated transportation. Rejected loads can lead to insurance claims, contract loss, and a damaged reputation.

How can we prevent avoidable cases of rejected loads and the claims associated with them?

Vet the carriers and drivers moving the loads. Allen Lund Company’s database employs a rigorous vetting process. There is a wealth of resources available when choosing a carrier to represent you.

  1. Verify that the chosen carrier has reefer breakdown AND spoilage coverage on their policy.
  2. Seek product exclusions from the carrier’s insurance company.
  3. Refer to internal notes regarding the carrier’s communication practices, past performance, and on-time percentage. A late perishable load rarely works out well.
  4. Consider known history the carrier has moving refrigerated product.
  5. Ask the potential carrier/driver the right questions. Verify that they are experienced in moving temperature-sensitive products.
  6. Trust but verify. You will come across the good, the bad, and the ugly. Take it all into account when considering whether to do business with a carrier.

In addition to ensuring that you entrust your load with the right carrier, it is also important to prevent hot loads before they get on the truck as well as avoid equipment failure and human error. On Tuesday, August 4 in Keeping it Fresh article, we will continue to discuss the best ways to avoid these problems and guarantee your refrigerated load makes it to the final destination unharmed. 


Jennifer Brearley began working for the Allen Lund Company in February of 2019 as a transportation broker. She joined the company with five years of domestic and international shipping experience. Brearley attended Western Governors University and received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies.

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In-Transit Issues – Part VI: Reducing Claims and Rejected Loads

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Hauling fresh produce tends to provide much higher freight rates than dry freight, obviously because of the perishability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the extra care required with temperature, humdity, air circulation in the load, etc.

The higher risk to which truckers are exposed, also includes the possibilites of claims that reduce a driver’s pay check, or even worse, having the load rejected.

The degree of exposure to problems upon arrival at destination can depend on the honesty and integrity of the parties involved.  Did the shipper pre-cool the product?  Did the driver maintain proper temperature settings?  Did the buyer or receiver pay too much for that product five days ago when the order was placed, and now the fruit on the market is worth $2 a box less?  All of these examples can lead to claims or rejections with produce loads.

There have been studies over the years including the recent one titled Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality During Transport which provides some interesting information.  For example, this research concludes that TransFresh Corp’s Tectrol process reduces fruit decay  by increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in pallets covered by bags. 

With CO2 levels increased by 11 to 16 percent, Tectrol beats its competitors in the important area of decay in strawberries by up to seven percent following delivery and two days on the shelf.

So how does this translate into a reduction in claims and load rejections for the produce trucker, if there is less decay in product being transported?

“That’s an interesting equation,” states Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. ,  Salinas, CA.  “No one will ever talk about that.  No one gives us their data.  We’ve never been able to prove that (fewer claims, rejected loads), because we get it (information) by hersay.”

Macleod  says experienced drivers know if they pick up a load of strawberries covered with bags, they are confident there will be no problems with that load.  The expert in controlled atmosphere loads has been told by retailers “…their strawberry program is much easier” since using Tectrol.

However, when he asks that customer  for data relating to load rejection and claims for strawberries comparing shipments with and without CO2 infused bagged pallets, he hits a stone wall.  Those receivers acknowledge the benefits of Tectrol, but refuse to provide any statistics.

(This is the last of a 6-part series featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.  He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)




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Northwest Providing Loads of Potatoes, Apples, Pears

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Washington state has new crops of potatoes, pears and apples now being shipped to point across North America.

In the Skagit Valley, located just north of Seattle, red, yellow, white and even a few purple potatoes are now providing loads.  Much of the activity centers around the town of Mount Vernon.  This isn’t the heavest volume produce area in the state, but it has a reputation for having consistent quality.  That reduces chances of claims and rejections for the trucker.

Washington’s main potato shipping area is in the Columbia Basin in the southern part of the state, that also extends into the Umatilla Basin of Oregon.  This region is averaging nearly 900 truckload equivalents of potato shipments a week.  The Columbia Basin also is shipping dry onions.

The Yakima and Wenatchee valleys are now shipping the new crop of pears.  Oregon shipments will be up slightly from a year ago with 10.6 million 44-pound equivalent boxes forecast.  Washington state may be down slightly from last year with about 19.1 million 44-pound boxes.  Although the Northwest is expected to have six percent fewer pear loads this season, it still exceeds the five-year average for shipments by about two percent.

Between Washington state and Oregon, the two states account for about 75 percent of the nation’s pear volume.

As has been reported in several recent stories on, a huge apple crop is still being forecast, with loadings expected to be brisk this season as Washington state works to fill voids in Michigan and New York state, who are shipping less apples due to weather related problems.

Columbia Basin potatoes and onions – grossing about $5600 to New York City.

Washington apple and pears – about $3700 to Chicago.


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Grapes are Among Best California Fall Produce Loads

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California fall produce shipments are in full mode, although this certainly does not mean the volume is there you normally find during the late spring and summer.

One of the best hauls continues to be table grapes out of the San Joaquin Valley.  It is providing big volume and is one the finest quality crops in recent memory.  That  shouldstranslate into a reduction of claims and rejected loads.  Grapes are averaging about 2,000 truck loads per week.  Good volume also continues from the San Joaqun Valley with peaches, plums and nectarines although shipments are now in a seasonal decline.

If there is one segment of the produce industry capable of over producing on a scale of the potato industry, it is the growers of tomatoes.  Vine ripe tomatoes abound in California with shipments coming out of Ventura County, the San Diego area, as well as Mexican product originating from Baja California.  However, the biggest tomato volume is with mature greens grown in the San Joaquin Valley as well as areas located between the valley and the San Francisco Bay area (such as Tracy).

In the Salinas Valley, vegetable loads remain pretty consistent, led by head lettuce, then celery, plus broccoli and cauliflower.  Plenty of other vegetables help fill partial loads as well….Although strawberry shipments are lower from the Watsonsville District, they are still accounting for over 600 truck loads per week.

Salinas Valley strawberries and vegetables – grossing about $7000 to New York City.

San Joaquin Valley grapes – about $4800 to Chicago.

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Tracking Devices Can Reduce Claims

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The food and pharmaceutical industries are rapidly moving towards returnable transport items (RTIs) and reusable plastic containers (RPCs) for shipping goods through the supply chain.  Why?  They’re lighter, more durable and now can be made intelligent.  By adding temperature monitoring capabilities directly into the RTIs and RPCs, growers, manufacturers, shippers and retailers can both track and monitor the quality of their products as they move through the cold chain to improve quality and operational efficiency while lowering costs.

Press Release:  Intelleflex

(Editor’s Note:  This also can provide protection from claims for owner operators and transporters)

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Wisconsin Potatoes Loads Coming, But be Aware of Quality Questions

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Wisconsin  ranks No. 4 in the nation for potato shipments an estimated 22.32 million hundredweight (cwt) of potatoes loaded last season.   The Badger state growers harvested 62,000 acres of spuds.  The harvest got under way in late August.

Crop quality concerns do exist across the state, and we have a long way to go to harvest conditions for storage,

If you are a produce hauler looking to transport Wisconsin potatoes for the 2012-13 season, there are some potential quality issues with which you should be aware.  This is essential to help avoid potential claims and rejected loads.

Warm temperatures may have triggered heat necrosis (resulting in death of plant tissue due to disease, etc.). Hot soils also may result in black heart (where internal plant tissues blacken).  Furthermore, insect damage [such as wire worm] has been seen that is also triggering defects.    You also need to watch for late blight.  Some early potato blight (a devastating disease of potatoes that caused of the Irish potato famine of the mid- 19th century) has been noted in early August, which is caused by cooler, wet weather.

Most Wisconsin potato shipments orginate from the central area of the state.  From Antigo to the Stevens Point area and southward around Bancroft and Friesland.


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Eastern Apple Shipments will be down This Season

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There will be fewer apples for hauling in two of four of the leading eastern states this fall.  New York got hit the hardest by frost related weather earlier this year, but there also will be fewer loads available for produce haulers in North Carolina.  Pennsylvania and Virginia will be up in volume only slightly.

New York state’s Western and Central apple shipping areas were hit the hardest, with less frost damage occuring in the eastern part of the state, home of the Hudson Valley.  Still, New York’s volume will be down 52 percent from last apple season ( 590 million pounds compared to 1.2 billion pound a year ago). 

In Pennsylvania, apples are forecast to be at 481 million pounds.  It shipped 458 million pounds last year. 

North Carolina took a beating.  This year it expects to load 40 million pounds of apples compared to 140 million pounds in 2011.

The leading apple shipper in the mid-west, Michigan will ship 85 percent fewer apples this season.

Ironically, Washington state, which normally ships about half of the nation’s apples every year, is expected to account for 77 percent of the nation’s apple loads for 2012-13.  This is despite suffering some hail damage.  The state was on track for historic volume, until the fowl weather hit.  Still, Washington state is expected to have its second largest amount of apple shipments on record.

One difference produce haulers can expect out of the Northwest this season is for Washington shippers to be packing more apples than normal in the smaller, consumer bags.  This is because Michigan normally is heavy with bagged apples, and Washington packers will be looking to help fill this void.

Produce truckers should always watch what is being loaded, not only for proper count, but for quality and appearance of the product being loaded.  This is especially true if you are hauling apples from most shipping areas this season.  Expect shippers to be loading some fruit with pits or hail damage marks on it.  Just make sure whom you are hauling for is aware of this situation to help reduce changes of claims or rejected loads.   Also, be sure and note it on the bill of lading.

Washington state apples grossing – about $5600 to New York City.

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Duane Riendeau: Makes a Good Living Hauling Produce

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If you want to make it in trucking, you should take some pointers from a real veteran, Duane Riendeau.  Although he’s now a company driver, for most of his career he was a successful owner operator.

He’s still running over the road, but he takes off a couple of months each year, raised five kids, and still enjoys what he is doing.

The resident of Grand Forks, ND  began trucking at age 26.  Until seven years ago when he became a driver for Troy Pecka Inc. of East Grand Forks, MN, he was an owner operator.  Now 65, Duane doesn’t want to work as hard, pretty much selects his hauls, and still does his share of trucking.  Yet, he usually takes off around January and February each year and relaxes in Arizona.

“I owned a truck for 25 years.  I really enjoyed it.  I paid for every truck I bought and I can’t complain.  I had five boys and one girl and most of them went to college.  I don’t have a lot of money left, but I accomplished that anyway,” he says in a modest, soft spoken voice.

“All my kids are grown and they are doing pretty darned good,” he says.  The only kid involved in trucking is a son with a couple of trucks that run locally for a business his son owns.

So how does a guy raise give kids, vacation two months year and pretty much set his own driving schedule?

Duane says if you are a produce trucker, you have got to be “connected” and “be careful because a lot of people are out there who won’t pay.”  For the young, inexperienced persons entering trucking he suggests relying on the credit and rating services such as the Blue Book and the Red Book.  These will give one a good idea of how reputable a company is and show their pay practices. 

“When it comes to rejected loads or claims, you sometimes learn as you go.  I look my loads over when I’m being loaded.  You can telll when the produce is fresh, or if it is ‘iffy’.”

When it is “iffy” with quality or appearance concerns, Duane stresses the need to tell your customer about its condition.  It is better the load be “kicked” by the buyer at the loading dock than after you have delivered it to the customer.  The shipper may not like what the trucker is telling the customer, but that shipper will also realize the product isn’t what it should be.

Duane says there are a lot of good trucking companies to work for, but that Troy Pecka was an independent trucker himself, plus his father and brother were in trucking.

“Troy understands the whole business.  I go (on hauls) when I want to go with his truck, just like it was my own.  All he expects is that the truck makes money.  There are five or six guys my age that work for him and he wouldn’t have it any other way.  He knows when you leave with a load it is going to get there,” Duane says.

Duane actually leased his own truck to Troy Pecka Trucking for four years, before selling it and becoming a company driver.

He is now driving a 2007 Kenworth T-600 with a C-13 Cat engine with 475 h.p., pulling a Great Dane trailer.

Duane has nothing but praise for the Great Dane, saying “you pay for what you get.”  He cites the Dane’s heavy insallation and sturdy floors, noting some cheaper brands of trailers “are throw aways” because they are not built as well.

“I haul quite a bit of produce,” Duane relates.  “I’ve hauled everything you can possibly imagine.  We do haul some frozen items.  I haul a lot of raw (fresh) potatoes out of the Red River Valley.”  However, he also hauls everything from watermelons to lettuce, cabbage and other vegetables and citrus out of South Texas.

“I’ve always hauled a lot of produce and always made a living at it,” he states. 

That’s pretty obvious, having raised five good children and vacationing in Arizona during part of the winter.




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Truckers Need Protections, But Produce Industry Fights It

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In a nutshell, produce truckers too often receive the shaft in unfair claims and deductions from the produce industry.  And the produce industry, which has protections in disputes, won’t even consider allowing these same truckers the protections they enjoy.  More about this in a moment.

It is turning into a relatively uneventful produce shipping and hauling season, as far as total produce volume as well as supply and demand for refrigerated equipment.  Rates remain strong from the major shipping areas, but not setting any records.  Any produce shipping area that may be reporting a shortage of trucks is probably experiencing this shortage primarily due to not increasing the rates enough to attract more equipment.  Often the shipping areas are off the beaten path, and providing more lower cost, basic or “hardware” produce items.

Also, when I describe the summer produce shipping season as “relatively uneventful,” I qualify that by saying there still are the usual unfair claims and deduction on loads at destination.  Combine this with the fact, there have been a number of produce companies file for bankruptcy this year, it increases the odds that the trucker will be the last to paid, and probably not receive a dime of what is owed.

Many if not most produce companies receive protections under the Perishable Commodites Act (PACA) that provides protections and arbitation in disputes between members of the produce industry.  However, as I’ve “preached” for decades now, truckers are not afforded the same protections.  So if you are owed money by a bankrupt receiver, you are pretty much on your own in trying to collect monies owed.   Even with a receiver not involved in a bankruptcy, and there is an unfair claim or deduction,  unless you have an exceptional carrier, shipper or broker behind you, or you can afford a lawyer to represent you, mostly likely in a state hundreds if not thousands of miles away —  you are out of luck.

Meanwhile, the produce industry continues to have meetings, conferences, teleconferences, etc. now and then, that promote good and fair treatment of produce truckers.  This is honorable.  There are actually some people in the industry that care and would love to see produce haulers receive the same protections as members of the produce industry.  But they are easily in the minority and lack the clout to do much about it.

Large produce companies with political clout and money generally won’t consider PACA protections for truckers — and until this changes — no one in the Federal government has the will, stomach, or abililty to fight for this needed change. — Bill Martin

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