Expertly navigating the logistics of moving oversized loads from state to state and coast to coast requires a special skill and unique mind. Our in-house expert, Mary Busby, has spent a lifetime cultivating just those things. She will tell you that masterminding the transportation logistics of over-dimensional freight and oversized loads is in her blood. We sat down with Mary to pick her brain about the intricate and precise needs of these loads, and share exactly why once customers work with Mary on their oversized haul, they never go back.
What’s your first experience with an over dimensional or oversized load?
Well, I’m a truck driver’s daughter. My father almost exclusively drove oversized and over dimensional loads and my brother still does it. I’ve been on that road, making those runs sitting in the passenger seat since before I could see over the dashboard all the way. I grew up watching countless in-the-moment decisions being made that all come from knowledge and experience at how to best get a shipment delivered, safely, securely, and on time. And there was just always something special, something magical about the large hauls.
That’s interesting – what is that magical feeling?
Doing oversized and over dimensional is so self-satisfying. To know that you put something that big on your machine, moved it X amount of miles across the country, arranged everything so that it gets there perfectly and makes the customer happy. No matter what, that is always the biggest part. It’s what makes me smile and feel like it’s a job well done with a little bit of creative magic to pull it off.
Tell me about a time you felt that magical feeling with a load?
It was for a leading entertainment studio and it was called the Flying Dragon. It went from the West coast to the East coast in pieces. They had to take the wings off because it was so oversized. They got it down there, got it off the truck and reassembled. When it premiered, the first evening was only for employees and their families. Well, they recorded it as the dragon was flying over the park with its lights on and with flames coming out of its mouth. It was just so cool and so impressive what they had built and how we had moved it.
It also stands out because there were absolutely no hiccups with that one. And there are always hiccups – little challenges that make oversized and over dimensional freight such incredible puzzles to put together. One time we had a shipment where they continuously told us it was 102” wide, but by the time they got it in the crate, it was 103”. So we had to re-order permits, release the truck we had lined up and order another truck. But we had that truck there within a couple of hours and the shipment was still able to move on time. Those challenges are usually always present and always come down to the tiniest details. So often it all comes down to the person operating the tape measure.”
That does seem like a heavy burden to need to accommodate.
Everything we do is at the mercy of the process and accuracy of others, no matter what. Our truckers, our eyes, our ears, our hands, they’re just everything out there for us, and our success with oversized and over dimensional freight comes from building very close relationships with them and seeing things through their eyes so we know how best to plan and prepare with the customer.
Does it always work out so smoothly?
No, and there have been some real doozies. A few years ago, we had a load that consisted of three oversized trucks. Well these trucks sat at a port for almost three and a half weeks because of permit issues that came down to inaccurate measurements. The size of the freight was 103” long. They had to take out gates and polls to get these trucks out of the port the back way. There was no way to go through the front because of the automatic meters installed. So they had to take down fencing and gate and create somewhat of a new road leading out the back way. And then by that point, the local apple festival was going on, so we couldn’t transit through the town, we had to drive completely around the town adding about another day of time. We got that freight to its destination, but it was a minute by minute experience. So when I say it all comes down to the details, it’s absolutely true. An inch off will completely change the picture.
Then what have you done to figure out the best logistics for these loads?
What is a game changer for why we can be so successful and stay ahead of the game for strategically planning oversized and over dimensional freight is that we have access to Landstar’s heavy haul system where we are able to run incredible accurate rates for the permitting. So for example, it will incorporate all of the most current information about frost to accommodate Michigan’s frost laws. Every single year it changes as to when the frost law is enacted and when it’s lifted, so that changes weight and size viability. And for states like Virginia, they require two to three weeks to acquire permits, so planning that far out takes on a whole new dimension. And there are certain things to do with the equipment that can’t travel everywhere. So three axle trucks with the adjuster set of wheels on the back, they can’t get into California. You can take them all across the United States but the extended axle cannot get into California – no way around it.”
It just doesn’t seem like there’s any comparison to make to how unique each oversized load is and the type of creativity it takes to move them.
There just isn’t. For standard freight, you take a van, back it up to a dock, it’s loaded up with some thirty pallets, close the door, put a lock on it, sign the paperwork and say ‘here you go sir, have a nice day.’ The heavy haul, no way. I mean they get there, they get out, there’s chains on the ground, there’s tarps on the ground. They’re trying to get a big crane positioned where they can get this piece on. It may take them all day. I’ve seen them rearrange things and it’s taken them all day; half a day, half the night to get it absolutely correct with the right width and height to be exactly what the permit said. They’ve even let the air out of the tires of certain things because they have said it was 14 feet five inches and you get there and it’s 14 feet nine inches. Well that ain’t gonna work! So they’ve let the air out of the machine to get the tires down to the proper height to meet those permits.
What would you say is the single most important quality for approaching planning and strategizing for these loads?
You cannot be afraid to ask questions with oversized and over dimensional loads. If you’re afraid to ask or don’t know what to ask, guaranteed you’re going to get a surprise during that shipment, sometimes multiple surprises. My experience has taught me to always ask for a visual, a picture or detailed description of what it is. Then I can envision what the piece is, how it may have to be disassembled, how it needs to be secured, and I can brainstorm all the creative ways to get this shipment where it needs to go exactly when it needs to get there based on what the options are for that particular piece. I want to do everything right the first time; it’s just the way I was raised. And the questions are important, asking them to measure three times is important. And in the end, the questions and the creativity always save the day.
The next time you’re moving oversized or over dimensional freight, contact the experts at Pride Logistics for your smoothest delivery yet.