No one who has heard this from a child should have any illusions about children’s brains being fully developed. They’re not, otherwise they’d recognize that the fact the car is still moving means we’re not ‘there’ yet. So, maybe, a child’s “are we there yet” just means they are tired of sameness. The same position in the same seat in the same automobile with the same scenery going by. Yuck, boring.
But as adult, DG professionals, most of us prefer sameness. We like having work processes and operating procedures stay consistent, without repeated revisions. We like it when recurrent training reinforces what was taught two years ago, instead of contradicting it. We like that long term consistency usually means fewer errors, and that fewer errors means increased compliance and higher levels of safety. And harmonization of regulations globally means we have a chance to have that long term consistency. So, yahoo to our newly harmonized ‘little amount’ exceptions, such as Excepted Quantities, Limited Quantities, and De Minimus. It sure would be nice to be entering a period of sameness.
Just think about the different ways we have done things in the past decade around the globe. Limited Quantities packages might have had a label for all modes, or labeling that was mode-dependent, or surface mode labeling that was class-dependent. Limited Quantities may have been marked with a Proper Shipping Name or an Identification Number, or neither, or both, or maybe a diamond-shaped mark alone, a diamond-shaped mark beside an Identification Number, or even that diamond-shaped mark underneath an Identification Number. In some places in the world, Small Quantities have been allowed only a long marking statement, or only a short marking statement, or for a while, either the long or the short marking statement. Then the short marking statement became either a third marking statement or a sticker (Excepted Quantities). And sticker requirements changed, with different information marked on the stickers in different places. Even the amounts and the materials qualifying for the various ‘little amount’ exceptions have been updated more than once in the past decade. Whew! Again, yeah harmonization!
But before you, too, join in my initial euphoria, there are a few questions I’ve been pondering. First, why would a surface shipper continue to use Excepted Quantities (EQ)? Limited Quantities (LQ) offers lesser packaging requirements than EQ, and easier, more consistent marking, too. Why use EQ for one size and LQ for another, when LQ would apply to both sizes? Heck, unless there are more than a very few materials that only qualify for EQ and not LQ, why would any surface shipper use EQ for any size, ever? Oh…
So, should EQ be modified for all modes, or should it disappear altogether, or should it maybe be moved into just the air mode? Are there other options, or will we leave it just as it is, even if unused? And I’m not naïve enough to think that as industry gets used to our newly harmonized ‘little amount’ exceptions that there won’t be more questions raised.
Although children may ask “are we there yet” to mean they don’t want more of the same, when I ask “are we there yet”, it is with the fear that we aren’t there, the fear that we aren’t yet into a period of prolonged sameness. I want, we want, long term consistency. I think I know the answer, and I think I won’t like it. Please let me be wrong about this.
Are we there yet?
Written 4/18/2011 for HCB Magazine