If you’re in the trucking industry, you might have heard the term drop and hook and live load.
Both terms refer to the process of picking up and delivering a load.
Find out below what is the difference between live load and drop-and-hook.
What is "live load" in trucking?
A live load in trucking is a method used to load or unload freight on a tractor-trailer where the driver has to wait for the site workers to finish the loading or unloading process before he can receive the paperwork and leave the facility.
Sometimes, truck drivers may wait from 40 minutes to 3 or 4 hours at the facility. In the worst-case scenario, they can wait at the facility for up to a day or two.
If a backhaul is scheduled, the driver has to wait for the trailer to be unloaded and then loaded for their next destination.
And you can see how extended waiting time becomes a problem.
All this waiting time, for truck drivers and fleet managers, is wasted because they don't do any money out of it. The only money they can request is detention time, which, in trucking, is a standard industry pay after a two hours waiting time at the facility.
What does “drop-and-hook” in trucking mean?
Drop and hook is an alternative to the live load loading and unloading method. And many truck drivers and fleet managers claim that this is a much better loading/unloading process.
Here is how this drop and hook process works:
- This shipper pre-loads a trailer.
- The truck driver arrives at the shipper where he pulls the power unit to the loaded trailer, hooks it up, and leaves the facility.
- When the truck driver arrives at the receiver, he drops the trailer and is done with the load.
In the case of drop and hooks, instead of waiting for the freight to be loaded or unloaded into the truck, drivers simply pick up the pre-loaded trailer or drop it off.
After dropping off the trailer, the driver is ready for the next load.
Usually, these drop and hook loads are round trips. That means that they pick up a pre-loaded trailer in Miami,FL, and move it to Portland,OR. At the receiver, the driver drops the trailer and picks up the next outbound pre-loaded trailer ready to be moved to Miami,FL.
If everything goes well, the driver spends 10 to 20 minutes at the facility.
Drop and hook loads significantly reduce the waiting time for the driver at the facility.
Still, it’s an option that only opens up when you own a whole fleet of trailers.
Benefits of drop and hook loads:
- No need for tight scheduling
Drop and hooks don’t need to be scheduled as tightly since they don’t require time at the loading dock or a team ready to load or unload.
- No waiting times
Average wait times for drop and hook trucking are less than an hour.
Drop and hook loads can be better for some shippers because they can pre-load trailers when they want instead of sticking to a tight schedule of live loads.
- Trailer interchange agreement
To allow these yard tractors to move your trailers, you need to have a trailer interchange agreement with the companies that can move your trailers. That’s also true if you hook up to a trailer owned by another company.
Some brokers and shippers require a drop-and-hook relationship. These opportunities may include steady routes, in which you both drop off and pick up loaded trailers at either end of the journey. That’s the kind of ongoing business relationship that provides long-term stability.
- 24h open facilities
Shipping and receiving facilities may only have dock staff available for eight hours of the day, but they’ll probably keep their gates open longer than that. If you’re just picking up a trailer, you don’t need to schedule an appointment or wait in line. Many facilities have round-the-clock security, which allows them to operate the yard 24/7.
Going through the steps of a trucking career
This is a common progression for owner-operators and growing fleets.
- 1st phase of growth - bobtail
You might start your carrier business with a power-only truck. In this scenario, you'd haul someone else’s trailers.
But that limits the jobs you can take.
- 2nd phase of growth - bought a trailer - live load
So once you build capital, buy your own trailer. That sets you up for live-load work.
Once you get a trailer of your own, you can move on to live-load trucking.
That gives you more control over who you want to work with.
- 3rd phase of growth - multiple trailers per truck - drop and hook
When you start to get a fleet of trailers together, you’re set up for the third way to collect freight: drop-and-hook trucking.
You’ll need at least two trailers to accept most drop-and-hook contracts: one at the facility (shipper or receiver) and one on the truck.
Build capital from power-only and live-load jobs, buy a few trailers, and you’ll greatly expand the brokers and shippers you can work with.
Drop and hooks are usually utilized by larger carriers that have a lot of trailers. If you’re running for a smaller carrier, you’ll probably be looking at a lot of live loads. Space is another constraint for drop and hooks, since a lot of facilities simply don’t have the room for trailers to be sitting around waiting to be picked up.