Creative solutions demand collaboration. It’s trite, but true and far easier said than done because what collaboration really means is revision—the painstaking task of developing a product until it fits a specific need. Consider live chicken hauling: The working environment is tough, the loading demands are specialized, and the load is delicate. When J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. wanted to improve its live haul trailers, the company knew the only way to get the results it wanted was to create a new design that catered to customers’ needs.
The Challenges of Live Haul Trailers
“Three specific problems we were trying to solve were the longevity of the cage dividers, longevity of the side rail, and the robustness of the rear bulkhead,” said Rodney Nye, Vice President of Ag Services at J.B. Hunt. “We approached Great Dane on their interest to make a trailer for our chicken hauling business because of their good track record with us on other products. We have to have equipment that is safe and reliable, and Great Dane worked with us to solve a specific problem.”
The process wasn’t a string of emails or trading text messages; it was a hands-on approach to understand the problem and engineer the solution. “This was a team effort with site visits so that Great Dane could understand the harsh environment and loading practices of this equipment,” Nye said. “Great Dane utilized their existing engineering resources and previous live haul trailer knowledge to make design improvements in these areas. The solutions were provided to J.B. Hunt and the design changes were implemented.”
Implementing changes is a key ability when navigating uncertainty in the market. Nye noted that shifting customer demand has been the biggest challenge over the past five months.
COVID-19 Throws Another Curve Ball
“Consumer buying habits have shifted and changed rapidly due to COVID. It has had a major disruption to supply chains,” he said. “I think we already knew this, but this pandemic has confirmed the importance of diversification. We have learned that our ability to be nimble and responsive to customers’ changing needs can be a real strength and a competitive advantage, especially the ability to shift assets from one customer to another.”
Nye added that technology is crucial to advancement and explained how collaboration plays a large part in the success of new technology. “We included business owners in the decision to help ensure we are buying things that are relevant and needed,” he said. “Opening communication lines during the buying process helps early adoption. The new technologies have to work, and training on how to make the most of them is crucial.”
The right solution doesn’t happen at the flip of a switch. Whether it’s delivering a much-needed load or a much-needed product, collaboration is what can set you apart from those that try to go it alone.
Whatever you’re hauling, Great Dane has the trailer solutions to help you get it done. View our entire line of open deck trailers.