Archives for February 2019

Improve Efficiency on the Dock with an Electric Trailer Dolly

By Contributing Author | 02/27/2019 | 8:57 AM

By Dawn Felker, Senior Sales Engineer, DJ Products Inc.

At a typical distribution or manufacturing center, shunting trailers from one spot to another takes up a significant amount of time and labor during the work day. In fact, this activity can account for a substantial portion of a yard’s operating budget and can create significant inefficiencies.

To outsiders, that may sound like an odd statement—why would such an apparently simple activity lead to so much hassle? A lot of it has to do with driver availability and the difficulty of maintaining the right equipment to do the job.

That’s why keeping an electric trailer dolly on site can go a long way toward boosting your yard’s efficiency – unlike other outdated, expensive, and time-consuming trailer-shunting “solutions.”

Traditional Ways of Moving Trailers

Legally, if your driver ever needs to leave your trailer lot, a standard yard truck can be operated only by an individual who possesses a valid Commercial Driver's License (CDL). For yard managers, this makes the act of moving a single trailer significantly more challenging. It’s not possible for just any available employee to shunt a trailer. Other solutions are available, but unfortunately - most of them have serious drawbacks.

  • Relying on inbound truckers: A lot of sites depend on inbound truckers to help them with trailer-shunting responsibilities while they’re on the premises. But this isn’t a reliable solution. You have to wait for the truckers to arrive—which means that your trailers may sit on the dock or in your yard, which can keep dock doors plugged for hours. All that idle time can have a detrimental effect on your yard’s efficiency and your bottom line.
  • Using a third-party shunting service: Another option is to hire a third-party company to dispatch a driver to your yard. Not only does this require advanced planning, but these services can be costly. In fact, many shunting companies charge around $100-$200 per trailer or require a minimum time commitment (e.g., three or four hours).
  • Keeping a semi-tractor on site– This may sound like a convenient solution… until you factor in the maintenance costs associated with these vehicles. Diesel maintenance expenses are no joke, and you can expect these expenditures to increase as the vehicle ages.
  • Keeping a licensed truck driver on the payroll - Having a licensed full-time driver will eliminate your dependence on outsiders – but at a steep cost. CDL drivers are in high demand and without a lot of effort, OTR drivers can find a job paying over $70,000/year or more. You’ll have to pay a competitive wage to keep that driver around. Do you have the budget for a skilled driver who could easily make a good salary elsewhere? For a lot of yard managers, the answer is no.

How an Electric Trailer Dolly Can Help

Remember all those costly, inefficient practices you just read about above? With the right electric trailer dolly, they’ll become a distance memory. 

  • At a moment’s notice: With an electric trailer dolly on-site, you have access to a means to move trailers quickly and easily at any time – by just about anyone. That’s right, no CDL required.  
  • Reduced maintenance costs: In addition, an electric trailer dolly eliminates the pricey maintenance demands of a diesel powered semi-tractor. Battery power is less expensive for you and friendlier for the environment.
  • Size does matter: The compact size of a trailer dolly will also work to your benefit. Compared with yard trucks, an electric trailer dolly is much easier to maneuver through crowded yards, and less likely to cause costly damage to trucks, buildings, and property. Smaller, battery-powered trailer movers are capable of tighter turns and more precise operator control.
  • Forward-facing operation: A related benefit that is offered by many trailer dollies is forward-facing operation, which removes the dangers and challenges involved with backing a trailer into tight spaces or narrow loading dock.

Any yard manager owes it to themselves to consider adding an electric trailer dolly to their operation. You’ll soon find that adding one to your site will change the way you think about shunting trailers altogether. Instead of worrying about who can do it, how much it will cost, and when the trailer will get moved, with a little bit of training, just about anyone on staff will be able to move trailers in and out of the docks. This will help your keep your yard operations running smoothly and profitably.  


Picture1Dawn Felker is a Senior Sales Engineer at DJ Products, Inc., a manufacturer of power tuggers and trailer movers, including the TrailerCaddy Terminal Tractor. This vehicle, powered by a 48-volt battery system, can move loaded and empty trailers, and can be operated by almost any employee – no CDL required. Dawn has 15 years of experience specializing in helping manufacturing and transportation companies improve efficiency with products such as the TrailerCaddy. Dawn can be reached via email at dawn.felker@djproducts.com. Find out more about the trailer moving products that DJ Products manufactures by clicking here.

Green is the New Gold: The upcoming electric revolution that will shake the logistics industry

By Contributing Author | 02/08/2019 | 5:22 AM

By Andrew Edwards, Process Assistant, Amazon.com

Paris is burning. The protests, known collectively as the “Yellow Vest Movement,” are in response to the new fuel tax in France that has caused gas prices to surge. The protests have now even begun to spill over into other European countries that also have rising fuel taxes due to the Paris Climate Accord. In the business world the protests shine a light on the rising costs of fuel worldwide and the battle against them. Some are looking at Tesla’s Electric Semi as the answer while others are looking at other electric modes of transportation. One thing is for sure though – green is the new gold.

Fuel taxes are no new thing, and certainly not just a European phenomenon. In the United States the first state fuel tax was enacted in Oregon in 1919, and a federal fuel tax went into effect in 1932 with its last increase being in 1993. The effects of the state and federal fuel taxes are different thought. While the federal fuel tax is an excise tax that is paid at the time of manufacture, state fuel use taxes are paid by the end-user styled as a “Highway Tax” which is paid based on the calculated amount of fuel used while passing through that particular state. This makes electric commercial vehicles all that more appealing. The questions going forward are how will states enact fuel taxes on vehicles that don’t use fossil fuels? And how many companies will buy into this new logic?

The secret has gotten out, though. Vehicle manufacturers realize that commercial electric vehicles are a sure bet for companies wanting to save money on fuel as well as wanting to lower their carbon footprint. On November 16, 2017, Tesla unveiled the prototype of their groundbreaking Tesla Semi with the first pre-orders coming in that very same day. This Class 8 tractor will run solely on electricity and will be backed up by a nationwide network of solar powered “Mega-Chargers” which will also be set up by Tesla. Tesla is not alone in the race for an Electric Semi’s, though. Plans for electric trucks have also been announced by companies such as Daimler/Freightliner and the new startup Nikola Motors, the latter of which already has its first pre-order from Anhauser-Busch.

This green revolution is not just happening on land, though. In December 2017 China’s Guangzhou shipyard launched the very first all-electric cargo ship – a 230 foot long vessel with a 2400 kWh lithium-ion battery to power it. Just like the fierce competition to push the world’s first electric Semi’s the battle in the ship building field is heating up among companies as well. In the Netherlands shipbuilder Port-Liner has received a €7million subsidy from the European Union to build what it calls “Tesla Ships” which it says will be capable of carrying 280 containers – with the goal of replacing over the road transport in the country. Another contender is a collaboration between Yara International (a Norwegian fertilizer manufacturer) and Kongsberg Group (a military and autonomous technology developer) to build the Yara Birkeland – a ship which will be able to carry 120 containers and be autonomous as well as being electric. Yara has also stated that their end goal is to reduce the number of over the road vehicles they operate.

Lest we forget, the race to build electric trucks and ships is not just about the cost savings, but about climate impact. There is a push among companies, particularly in the logistics field, to lower their carbon footprint with each company vying for the lowest emissions. UPS in the past two years has added more than 700 compressed natural gas vehicles to its fleet, spending more than $90million. Not to be outdone in the green arms race Amazon.com has spent over $1billion on green initiatives including using wind power for Amazon web services and 100% solar fulfillment centers in the United Kingdom. What is apparent is though there is a fierce debate over the impacts of climate change and global warming, companies want to reduce the effects of smog on large cities.

We are seeing the very beginnings of the green revolution, in some places boiling down to actual revolts. The protests in Europe highlight the fact that there will be a large price for the continued use of ever smaller reserves of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the fight among companies has been to have the first or greatest green technology on land, sea, and now even air with aircraft such as the Boeing Fuel Cell Demonstrator. One thing this abundantly clear though – the field of Logistics will be the forefront and the battleground of this upcoming revolution.


Andrew Edwards is a Process Assistant at Amazon.com as well as a Logistics & Operations Management student at We

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About One-Off Sound-Off

Welcome to "One-Off Sound-Off," a blog page devoted to guest commentary on all things supply chain. This is a space where industry leaders can share their opinions and expertise with the logistics and supply chain community. If you have an article or commentary you'd like to share, please consider sending a guest blog proposal to feedback@dcvelocity.com.


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