Sealed Van Trailers: What Goes On The Truck, Stays On The Truck
It is in everybody’s best interests that things that are put on the truck, stay on the truck until they are properly delivered. It is also in everybody’s best interests that things that are not supposed to be on the truck, are not put on the truck.
Therefore, there are door seals. Preferably high-security, C-TPAT-compliant, bolt seals. But at the very least, tamper-resistant or tamper-proof, numbered seals. When purchased in quantity, a basic tamper-resistant plastic seal costs less than 20¢, and a top-end bolt seal will set you back a whopping $1.50. How does that compare to the value of your shipment?
Copper Run strongly recommends that all full loads, and all LTL loads that are booked to move as full loads, be sealed with an industry-standard, numbered seal, with the seal number recorded on the Bill Of Lading.
Sealing, particularly using bolt seals, offers a measure of protection against theft, and a seal that is applied to a full load by the shipper and is later removed by the receiver provides de facto proof that all of the freight that was loaded on the trailer by the shipper has arrived at the receiver.
This practice eliminates the possibility of freight going missing while en-route: if it is not on the trailer when the receiver breaks the seal, then it was not on the trailer when the shipper affixed the seal.
The procedure for sealing a trailer:
The trailer should always be sealed by the shipper, never by the driver.
Once the shipment has been loaded and the driver has had the opportunity to check the load and verify load security, the van doors should be closed.
Once the doors are closed, and with the driver present, the shipper should close the doors and seal them using a uniquely-numbered seal applied to the door latches.
The seal number should then be written on the Bill Of Lading, with the notation “to be removed by consignee only”.
The Bill Of Lading should then be signed by both the shipper and the driver.
The procedure for unsealing a trailer:
The trailer seal should only be broken by the receiver, never by the driver. The receiver should never ask the driver to break the seal.
When the truck arrives at the delivery point, the driver should present the Bill of Lading to the receiver, and should point out the recorded seal number.
The receiver should check that the van doors are still sealed, and that the seal number on the doors matches the seal number on the paperwork.
If the seal numbers do not match, do not break the seal: instead, call Copper Run, because the mis-match is a potential problem that should be researched and resolved before the van is opened or freight is unloaded.
If the numbers do match, the receiver should initial the seal number on the Bill of Lading, and should then break the seal and commence unloading.
On occasion, a sealed van with be opened while en-route by law enforcement agents for inspection: how is seal integrity maintained in this situation?
Authorized law enforcement officers have full legal authority to unlock, open, inspect and unload vans, if necessary, under certain conditions. When they wish to see inside a sealed van, they have both the authority to break the seal and enter the van. They also have the responsibility to replace the broken seal with a replacement.
The procedure in such cases is that the officer, sometimes only at the driver’s request, will write on the Bill of Lading that he/she has broken the seal and replaced it with a new seal. The officer will record the number of the new seal on the Bill of Lading. The officer will also put some type of traceable identifying mark on the Bill of Lading, such as a government stamp or a badge number that permits later verification that the seal change was authorized.
This universally recognized procedure allows for normal law enforcement activities, while maintain the integrity of the trailer contents.