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Tips from the experts: Mobile trailer transportation

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | December 19, 2012
Mobile Imaging
Maneuvering mobile medical trailers requires quick thinking and creativity. Dan Kelly, president of Kelly Mobile Services; Patrick Buchholz, president of Shared Medical Services Solutions Group; and Gary Rawlings, general manager at S&A Operations share the most common problems their teams have encountered and the improvised solutions.

Problem: Hospitals, especially older facilities, often aren’t designed to accommodate mobile trailers.

Solution: Dan Kelly says his team has gotten creative by putting skates underneath trailer wheels and scooting them around corners, and even by using cranes to lift them up and move them over walls.
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Problem: Trees cause trouble. Shrubs, planters and trees on hospital grounds can block trailer movement.

Solution: In general, companies will send a site planner in advance of the truck’s arrival to remove trees and other obstacles. It’s important for the driver not to take tree removal into his own hands and start chopping limbs, Rawlings notes. One of his drivers once did, and ended up taking a saw to a California protected oak.

Problem: Moves are often made at night, when low visibility creates extra challenges.

Solution: Drivers will enlist firefighters, police officers and other public servants to help direct the trailer, Rawlings says. If an equipment problem occurs at night, such as a blown tire, it can be more difficult to get help. Rawlings says his company has relationships with repair companies around the country specifically for these kinds of emergencies.

Problem: New, more energy efficient tractors are heavier, and trailers aren’t getting any lighter.

Solution: Patrick Buchholz says his company works to get overweight permits in some states. When that doesn’t work, the truck may carry less fuel, or if there’s no snow to deal with, chains can be left behind. Usually, modern bridges can handle the increased weight, but if not, the driver is forced to plan out a more circuitous route.

Problem: Driver-hour laws can prevent emergency trailer service from arriving at its destination in time. If the move is twelve or fourteen hours away, for example, a driver would not be able to make it one trip because drive time is limited to 11 hours before a break must be scheduled.

Solution: In emergencies, companies will use a team of drivers on one vehicle so the trailer never stops moving, says Buchholz.

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