"Hey Blah Blah, I need a load of packaged frozen miniature elephants for a fabulous new project."
The shipper prepares an order form for the load and passes it on to it's distribution center. If the shipper has multiple distribution centers such as Wal-Mart or Kroger's, the order form will be sent to one of these distribution center. The selection of the distribution center may determined by the availability of product, the location, the type of product and how soon it needs to arrive, etc. The shipper then contacts an interstate trucking company.
The trucking company, having been notified, sends out the nearest unloaded truck available to take the load. This may or may not involve a "dead head" or the truck traveling many miles empty to reach the shipper.
An appointment is also set with the shipper at this point, and the shipper may or may not start preparing the load for transport. This depends largely on the type of product being shipped, for example, boxes of product are usually loaded on pallets and shrink wrapped.
On arriving and going through any security check points, the truck driver will check in with the shipping office. If the load is ready the driver will be assigned a dock door to back into. If not, he or she may be sent to a staging area or parking area to wait for an available door or the load to be ready.
5. When the drivers door is ready, he or she must open up their trailer doors and back up to their assigned dock door. Most dock doors will latch to the trailer on contact and the door signal will turn red to alert the truck not to remove the trailer for safety reasons. Some companies also ask the driver to disconnect from the trailer for various legal reasons.
6. Getting Loaded:
At some point after this the trailer will be loaded by either a forklift driver or a lumper (contracted loading professional). When the product has been fully loaded into the trailer, the person loading the trailer will turn in the necessary paperwork to the shipping office and they will prepare the Bill of Lading (official shipping papers). The driver will be required to sign the paperwork once it is ready and from then on is officially responsible for the load.
After receiving the paperwork, the driver will then pull forward of the dock door, secure the load with load locks, close the trailer doors and secure them with seal and a padlock. Then the driver will shift the axels on the trailer to balance out the weight. Finally, the driver will then leave the shipper and head toward the receiving point. The trucking companies sales department will then set up an appointment with the receiver.
The driver will then drive anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days, until he or she arrives at the receiver.
9. The Receiver:
As it was with the shipper, the driver after arriving will check in with the receiving office. They will hand off the bill of lading which will then be processed into the receiving companies computer system. After this, once again the driver will be assigned another dock door to back into.
After backing into the door, the trailer will be unloaded, the product will be un-packaged and accounted for on the bills. Any damaged products, overages (too much of a product) or missing product will be noted down and the driver will need to speak to their claims department so that the situation may be dealt with. Usually, damaged products are usually blamed on the trucking company, while overages and missing products on the shipper. Damaged products are often left to the driver to deal with.
Once all this is taken care of, the bills will be signed by the receiving company and the driver will be handed a copy. The driver will then turn in the loads bills just before the next pay period in order to get paid.
The receiving company will then distribute the load out to their customers and Mr. Smith receives his packaged frozen miniature elephants for his new project.