Back at the Loading

By Edward Cone  |  Posted 2002-10-10 Email Print this article Print

The freight company has been tracking every action its workers perform to avoid the potholes that have sidelined its competitors.


Back at the Loading Dock

At the Copley breakbulk, Major opens another trailer. The data-collection terminal by the dock door prompts him to answer a quick, eight-question survey: Was the trailer loaded high and tight? Were heavy objects braced properly? and so on. It's an annoyance, but he's lobbied the programmers to cut back on the number of questions they have the system ask, so it won't slow him down too much. The answers may help Roadway become just a little bit more efficient. But Major has his own priorities. Not having to get his pencil out is, to him, a significant advance.

After all, when winter rolls around, there will come the zero-degree nights when the wind whistles through the cracks between the dock doors and the backs of the trailers. Then, he won't just be identifying his activities when he punches in codes. Yes, he'll keep helping Roadway save money, by showing how his work affects its costs. But he'll be saving his fingers as well.

"I won't have to take my mittens off," he says.

Senior Writer and author of the Know It All blog

Ed Cone has worked as a contributing editor at Wired, a staff writer at Forbes, a senior writer for Ziff Davis with Baseline and Interactive Week, and as a freelancer based in Paris and then North Carolina for a wide variety of magazines and papers including the International Herald Tribune, Texas Monthly, and Playboy. He writes an opinion column in his hometown paper, the Greensboro News & Record, and publishes the semi-popular weblog. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, two kids, and a dog.

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