Questionable Sign Usage & Moving Trucks

Posted on May 5, 2012 | in Lean Wastes, Overprocessing, Personal, Small Business | by

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the process of moving south and sorting through belongings during packing and loading.

I came across something that really stuck out to me, with regard to the moving truck. On the right side of the loading door on the rear of the truck there is a vertical aluminum handle with which you can pull yourself up while stepping on the back bumper. However, inside the cargo area on the other side of the truck I saw this:

A sign indicating there is no handle to grab on that side.

And no, the sign is right – there is no handle on the left side of the truck.

My question is…instead of putting up a sign that says there’s no handle, why not put up a handle and let people get in and out of the cargo area on either side?

Yes, it’s probably cheaper to slap a sticker in the box instead of going the extra mile to accommodate movers, but still.

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3 Responses to “Questionable Sign Usage & Moving Trucks”

  1. Safety is our top priority. Thanks for your question about the decal inside of our box truck. This sticker is there for safety. There is no handle on the left side because it is the busy street-side of the truck. We removed the handle there to discourage movers from entering and exiting on the busy street side of the truck. The decal is there to alert our movers to the handle is not there. We’ve also removed the handle on the left because movers were often using both the handles on the left and on the right to tie additional items like bikes, mattresses, or other items to the exterior rear door of the truck creating an unsafe road condition. Again, thanks for your comment and for renting with us during your move.

    • Chad Walters says:

      Thank you for responding – I actually thought about the reason of safety for why the handle was removed, seeing how that side is generally against the street traffic.

      That being said, I disagree with that being the only reason. Not all moves are done in town with the truck parked parallel to the street, and many loads are completed in driveways outside of garages. (I, for one, have never loaded/unloaded along a busy street.) While I can understand deterring folks from being put in danger on that side of the truck, how often does that happen? Why do garbage truck workers hang around on the left (driver’s) side of the truck when loading trash? Loading and unloading large pieces of furniture into a cargo area should not be dictated by the deliberate lack of conveniences (people should not be subservient to “technology”). In addition, having no handle there might deter entering/exiting on that side, but it isn’t foolproof. Because I had to enter/exit on that side sometimes I simply did it without the aid of the handle. All the lack of handle did was make my move less convenient and more frustrating, but no more safe. My stance is that not having a handle in place is more about liability for Penske, and that it inconveniences many for the sake of providing “safety” for a few potential violators.

      On the matter of using handles to tie down items… that is a handle design problem, and here’s why. One of the lean tools is called “poka-yoke” or “error-proofing.” Incorporating this into designs and processes helps to guarantee that there is no way someone can misuse a tool/process/setting. For example, USB plugs can only go into a computer one way – you can’t turn it sideways or upside down, it only plugs in one way. If the design of the handle is causing unsafe road conditions because people are tying items to the handle, change the design of the handle. The reason people use the handle like that is because they can. The loop/ring design facilitates rope tying, but what if the handle was a hand-cup embedded into the wall of the frame? There’s no loop, people can still have a safe place to pull themselves up or let themselves down…but it can’t be used for tying items to it. It’s error-proofed. (And that’s just off the top of my head – I’m sure design engineers can come up with better ideas.) So yes, removing the handle completely is a way to poka-yoke the truck from having things tied to it, but it has also created another problem in the lack of convenient entrance/exit to the cargo area. How can this be done better?

      (Side note, while on the topic – if safety is the top priority and the handle is there for convenience, I have an additional complaint that my truck’s right-side handle was mashed in and almost unusable. The design – extruded aluminum rod bent at 90 degree angles in four locations and bolted to truck – is easy to damage when hit hard or if truck is backed into a wall, which it evidently was before I received the truck. A better embedded handle design would be very hard to damage without damaging the whole cargo area itself.)

      I recognize the sticker indicates the lack of a handle on the left side, but could the sticker instead recommend that cargo area exits be done on the right side? If Penske’s concern is liability, then include that as part of the waiver – all folks exiting cargo area should exit on non-street side – and make it airtight. If Penske thinks a sticker (and possibly a line in the waiver) is enough to fend off liability, then also incorporate whatever can be done to facilitate moving convenience.

      Remember, customers rent trucks from Penske because they need to conveniently pack and load belongings and relocate them. They don’t rent from Penske because of additional safety features. Given the choice between trucks with one handle versus two, I’ll take the truck with two handles.

  2. We appreciate your insightful comments and we will share them with our consumer truck rental team and safety experts for future consideration. Penske is a Six Sigma company. So, we definitely appreciate and promote LEAN thinking and concepts. Thanks again for taking time to share your opinion with us.

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