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Planning is Key for Peak-season Moves

By Mitch Chandran
Surface Deployment and Distribution Command

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., June 15, 2011 – Each summer, about 225,000 Defense Department and U.S. Coast Guard household good shipments are slated for movement, creating a phenomenon in the transportation industry aptly called the “peak moving season.”

Officials from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's personal property directorate, responsible for the DOD’s household goods moving program, want service members to know a successful move during this peak time is possible with proper planning.

Peak moving season runs from May through August each year, with the busiest portion being from Memorial Day through July 4. This peak season creates a capacity challenge for commercial carriers to accommodate moving dates. But with planning and active involvement, service members can have a successful move even during the busiest moving season.

This summer is busier than normal because of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law directing many organizations and units to move by the end of September. This adds an additional 17,000 service members and family members to the normal peak season, stretching the moving industry’s capacity even further.

Making a successful and timely move during an already challenging peak moving season will require added vigilance from both the service member and the commercial companies assigned to move them.

“The bottom line to a successful move is not a matter of chance,” said John Johnson, branch chief for SDDC’s personal property directorate. “It is the result of concise planning and preparation by both the [transportation service provider] and service member.”

Johnson said the directorate has been aggressively posturing for this year’s “peak of the peak” moving season since last summer. The directorate, he added, has been engaged with service representatives and the moving industry to prepare for this unusually busy moving season.

Carrier capacity is an issue because the sheer volume of shipments this time of year can exhaust the moving industry’s resources. The DOD shipments compete with corporate and private moving requirements throughout the country, and carriers must manage schedules and resources to meet demand.

Officials advise service members to book their shipments early in the process and stay within their weight entitlement.

Most importantly, service members should become familiar with the move.mil website at http://wwww.move.mil and visit their local personal property shipping office. Once a carrier is assigned to perform the move, servicemembers should remain in continuous communication with these contacts throughout the process.

On the move day, service members or a designated representative need to be at the residence when the carrier arrives. Otherwise, they may be liable for an attempted pickup or delivery charge.

A rule of thumb to gauge the weight of household goods is to figure about 1,000 pounds per room as an initial estimate. Service members are encouraged to dispose of any unnecessary items to reduce the weight of their shipment as any weight shipped in excess of their entitlement will be charged to them. If service members are close to or over their weight allowance, they can request a reweigh at delivery.

For questions, service members can visit http://move.mil or contact their local transportation office, personal property shipping office or joint personal property shipping office.

The success of DOD’s household goods program is, officials said, a result of the commitment of SDDC’s commercial partners in the household goods moving industry. The commercial carriers range from the largest moving companies down to small, regional local companies and agents. All Defense Personal Property Program carriers are DOD-approved and supply a wide range of moving options and capabilities to meet the needs of individual customers.

Peak moving season is a challenging time for the moving industry because its capacity is pushed to the limits. This responsibility is not taken lightly by the vast majority of carriers, but the fact is, some sign up for more than they can accommodate. Already this year, one major carrier was suspended for 90 days for failure to meet contracted obligations, officials said.

“It’s a tough call to remove a [transportation service provider] from DOD business,” Johnson said, “but it’s also important we adhere to our contractual responsibilities. If we are to provide a quality program for deserving service members and their families, then as the policy managers of the household goods program, we should remain consistent with our expectations from the TSPs.”


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