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Container Chassis Supply Time and Delays 65 On-Terminal Chassis Supply Once in the container yard there are three principal ways for a drayage driver to locate and hook up to a container or chassis. 1. By locating a container already mounted on a chassis at a wheeled terminal. 2. By locating a bare chassis and taking it to a container stack where a lift machine will mount the container in a stacked terminal. 3. By locating a bare chassis and taking it to a designated zone where a lift machine will bring and mount the container in a transfer zone terminal. The driver must first locate the correct unit. Containers on chassis are identified by an alphanu- meric combination indicating ownership and number, such as APLU 123456. "APL" indicates American President Lines, "U" indicates a container, and "123456" is the number of the specific unit. Most containers also have a distinctive color and logo. Bare chassis also are identified by an alphanumeric combination such as APLZ 245789, where "APL" again indicates "American Presi- dent Lines," "Z" indicates a chassis, and "245789" is the specific unit number. Chassis may or may not be painted and lettered distinctively. If the container is not already mounted, as in a wheeled operation, the driver must choose a chassis that matches the container in length (20-ft, 40-ft, 45-ft, or "extendable") and ownership. In many cases, the chassis must be owned or controlled by the same ocean carrier that owns or con- trols the container. Where there are vessel-sharing agreements or terminal chassis pools, other rules may apply. With a "neutral" chassis pool, any chassis of the correct length may be used with any container. Special containers may have special chassis requirements. For a refrigerated container, the chas- sis must be mounted with a "genset," a motor/generator combination to supply electric power to the refrigeration equipment. Overweight containers and tank containers may require special 3-axle or drop-frame chassis, often supplied by the drayage firm. Chassis Equipment Issues Once the driver has located the mounted container or a suitable chassis, the driver must check the condition of the chassis. An over-the-road container chassis (Figure 81) is a far more complex piece of equipment than a container, and includes multiple systems that must all function correctly to be serviceable. · Landing gear--The chassis landing gear must be intact, straight, and crank up and down easily. Landing gear can be bent or jammed and the "sand shoes" at the bottom are sometimes missing. TWIST LOCKS LIGHTS LANDING GEAR MUD FLAPS Figure 81. Over-the-road container chassis.
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66 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide · Twist locks--The four twist locks that secure the corners of the container to the chassis must be operable. These are fairly robust assemblies, but are sometimes damaged or jammed. · Tires--A 40-ft chassis usually has eight tires, all of which must have adequate tread depth and inflation. The typical practice is to thump the tires with a heavy metal bar for a rough check. · Mud flaps--The mud flaps must be present and in good enough condition that the driver will not be cited on the road. · Brakes--Chassis air brakes must apply and release properly once hooked to the tractor. Some drivers carry simple tools to adjust brake shoes on the spot. · Lights--Lights and lenses must be intact and operate correctly. Lenses are typically set into the rear bumper for protection, but are still vulnerable to damage. The connectors to the trailer must also be in good condition--damage or corrosion from the salt environment can be a problem. · License, registration, and inspection tags--For road service, the chassis license and registration sticker must be current, and any required inspection stickers up to date. · Structure--The chassis must be structurally sound, without damage, twisting, or "racking" (hor- izontal misalignment). In addition to the possible effects of age and traffic accidents, chassis can be structurally damaged when stacked or stored in the terminals (Figure 82). The operating environment for container chassis is inherently difficult. The container load- ing process is often rough. Chassis are often parked in rough ground and stacked for storage in slow periods. At some terminals, they are stored vertically in racks. At customer locations, they are pushed up against loading dock bumpers. In rail intermodal terminals, they often are crowded into makeshift parking areas. Sideswipe and corner collisions are common in all of these facilities. Chassis condition is critical from the following three perspectives: 1. Safety and liability. Drayage firms and their drivers are acutely aware of safety risks and poten- tial liabilities connected with chassis condition. Firms and drivers that perform short transfers in the port area may be less careful, but established professional firms that dray containers over public roads through urban areas have little tolerance for unsafe equipment. 2. Damage disputes. The chassis and the container it carries are interchanged to the drayage firm and the firm becomes liable for any damage beyond ordinary wear and tear. The chas- sis will be inspected when it is returned to the marine terminal, and the drayage company can be billed for any necessary repairs. The cost of even a minor repair, such as a broken light lens, can easily exceed the company's profit on the move. Moreover, the administra- tive burden of dealing with damage claims and repair bills can exceed the amount of the bills themselves. Figure 82. Stacked chassis.