What's involved in operating tippers and cement mixers?

Hi, I passed my class 2 recently. I was wondering what’s involved in operating the tipper lorrys and cement mixers apart from driving them safely and do they not generally take people on with not much experience? Seems to me that certain companies who sign you up for training gloss over the fact that its not easy to get a job after you’ve passed. In my opinion they have a duty to inform you of all possible issues. Then you can make a considered choice whether to proceed. They say there’s a shortage of drivers, I just think there’s a shortage of good drivers. I want to be a good driver but never realised there was a lot to think about. I basically thought it was driving safely, I was wrong.

Also I was wondering if anyone could come up with a check list of things that
need to be done during the day when driving an LGV. For example. Is there anything that experienced drivers to make sure all bases are covered.

1, Daily Vehicle Checked.
2, Recording Start Mileage
3, Operating the tachograph correctly
4, Making sure you have your equipment maps, hour guards etc
5, Checking load is present - Also see below for question.
6, Obviously driving safely without incidents.
7, Filling in paperwork correctly does this include having to fill in a daily sheet of where you’ve been?
8, Planning routes carefully. On lessons I wasn’t really taught to check bridges and weight restrictions. Although I do have a course booked on 16-17 april that should cover this kind of thing. The school was good but I was mainly concentrating on driving well not thinking about other possible hazards like bridges. Is there a lot of low bridges and weight restrictions about. I live in Essex by the way.

I was also wondering how the trucks are loaded and whether the driver is accountable for making sure everything that needs to be delivered is on board.
This would be a nightmare if you drove somewhere far away and not have the goods you were supposed to be carrying. Also the paperwork side, what’s involved with that, I suppose it would include the signing of documents for delivery of goods but is there anything else??.

Also do you think that when you start a new job you’ll be given any advice. I suspect that you’d just be chucked in at the deep end.

Sorry for this long post.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks, Richard

Hi Richard.

Welcome to the club. As you say. you thought driving was easy, and then you made the mistake of stopping to think about it deeply!

One of the main reasons that tipper firms take on inexperienced drivers is that they tend to avoid many of the new driver problems. Load security, height restrictions, and long distance runs are rarely a problem, so things tend to be repetitive work within a couple of hours of base.

Your daily vehicle check is just an enhanced copy of what you should be doing every time you take your car out. Lights, tyres, oil, water, washers, horn, etc.

Your training firm should have made sure you are aware of the restrictions with your tacho hours, and this again is where tipper firms benefit, with lots of shorthaul work, and very few nights out.

As for your load, mainly you will be taking what you are given, to where you are told. Not very often that you will be responsible for loading, or checking the load for accuracy. Most times someone else has taken that on board, and unless you spot something obvious like not as many pallets as it says on your sheet, then its not your problem.

As a start, why not register with an agency, who can get you the odd day here and there, and so give you the early experience that you seek.

Thanks dave much appreciated advice.

Hi Rich, Dave has pretty much covered it, as regards your question about paper work it’s important to listen to how each individual company does it.
I’ve worked for several different companies lately including most of the supermarket chains and every one deals with their paperwork differently, which is a pain once you get used to one system and go somewhere else to a different system

Thanks also. Is the paperwork diffucult to manage or it just a case of the client needs this product listed on the delivery note they sign it, you give them a copy and you keep one for your company or is it any different you mention different procedures for different companys.

Also say you had to unload in a high street do those horrible b*****d’s give you time to unload with giving you a parking ticket. Surely they’ve got common sense and realise without delivery no one gets anything in the shops. Then again they probably don’t have any common sense hence the reason they’re
doing such a job.

Thanks Roy

Hi Rich, the actual delivery paper work is more or less standard as you say, It’s all the other stuff that’s a pain, vehicle check sheets, debrief sheets, gate passes, run sheets etc, and as I say each company has their own way of doing it.
Also every company that i have worked for have different procedures for handing out and returning tacho discs, some you have to sign for, some you have to use them in order of the numbers, some you have to hand them back in the original numbered envelopes, some you have to hang them up on a hook in the office, everywhere I’ve been it’s been different.
The joys of agency work

the driver is responsible for the loading of the veihcle ie how the veihcle is load, is the veihcle loaded with in the axle weightlimits , basicly the driver is responsible for load you should be checking the correct product is loaded and in the correct qantities, also with tippers they are usually paid on per tonne so you must get the trucked to within a certain tolerance usually set by the operator.

Hi thanks again all useful info.

Going on a course regards tachos very soon. What are the basic steps in order to operate the the tacho. I want an idea before I go in. Printed off the info about the digital tacho gonna have a read of that shortly also.

You mention that the tippers are filled up by the tonne. How are they filled? Are they sitting on a weighbridge to measure the tonneage after being filled.

Also what is in the tippers gravel for construction? You see a lot of them about, normally going too fast but where are they headed? Commercial jobs or what. Sorry if this sounds a bit stupid. Thanks

Tippers are easy.

You could be delivering to private addresses usually to construction sites though. Not many 8 wheeler tippers deliver to homes usually just to bigger construction sites

Then you get 6 wheelers that seem to do more variety of deliverys as they are smaller and can get to tighter spots unlike the bigger 8 wheeler ones.

tippers are loaded by a shovel driver…you weigh what goes into your tipper by lifting up the body of the tipper by about 1 or 2 foot and you signal to the driver that you have enough in usually by blowing your horn or telling him over the CB

you could keep asking questions all day long the best thing to do is to actually do it hands on…not as hard as it might appear

mixers are easier
back under the plant and the batcher man will load you up,
he will know exactly what he should load you up with and will know exactly how many tons.

he will give you a ticket with address on and away you go

Just to add to what tipper-driver01 has posted.

You also get 4 wheelers like i’m on. these are fun because they can get into tighter spaces than the 6 wheelers. These can end up delivering to private addresses.

Loading wise, most have their load weight marked on the side (or the driver has a card in the cab with it) The loading shovels have on board weighers. You then check the weight on the bridge on the way out. 99% of the time you’re good, occassionally you may need to “top up” or “tip a bit off”

You get your paperwork then you go.

Loads depend on what sort of work your firm does. There is a lot of sand/aggregate/stone loads.

You also get “muckaway” which does exactly what it says on the tin, you’re loaded with muck/soil/rubble etc and you cart it off to the tip. Be aware on this that the loader has no weigher and will try to get as much on as possible. (I was once 4t over on a 17tonner when I was new. once I found out at the weighbridge at the tip, the loader got the sharp end of my tongue!!!)

The other main type of load is Tarmac, which is a bit more complecated as you have to “prepare” the body before you load. each firm/quarry has different methods. just ask. Then you line up under the chute, they drop the load then its off to the weighbridge (unless Q.C. want a sample)

I find it is a good crack on the tippers, always a good bunch of lads (and lasses)

Hope this helps

IF you want to run tippers or mixers in Essex, then you won’t struggle too much with weights and heights. Obviously there are a few here and there, but there’s only a handful of briges under about 12’6" and these are easily avoided.

As for weak bridges, I am struggling to think of any. On rigids you are running at 18t (4 wheeler) 26t (6 wheeler) 32t (8 wheeler) All of which are too heavy for the most common weight restriction (7.5t). 9/10 times these say “except for access / loading” underneath and if you have to make a delivery there you are OK to go. It’s a way of preventing big vehicles cutting through.

As mentioned earlier, overloading is most likely when bringing material off site unless you have an on board weigher. I pulled an 8 wheeler with railway line out of Earls Court back to Boreham and weighed in at 37.5t (5.5t over) although this was overshadowed by a roll off driver who weighed in at 56t with his wag & drag combo (12t over)

Also say you had to unload in a high street do those horrible b*****d’s give you time to unload with giving you a parking ticket

Well, it depends. Double yellow lines mean NO PARKING, and as such unloading is not parking and often it’s where you’ll end up.

HOWEVER there are often little yellow signs that say NO UNLOADING or give times when you can’t.

If the company who you work for is good, then you should be there at a time when you are allowed to be. I used to be a relief driver for a food company delivering into London, I used to cover 3 different routes of 20+ coffee shops. It was impossible to get to all 22 stores before 9am and you’d almost be guaranteed a ticket at some shops like Holborn, it was unavoidable due to the time you arrived and the company would pay.

rich i think you over thinking about things like unloading etc. for now id just get your licence and get some experience in the industry before thinking about getting your own truck on any job. get on with a small company as small as you can find youll then learn more aout running a truck than yo would working for a large company

Serveral tipper firms round my part of the world seem to want 5 years experience on tippers for some reason.

I quite fancy a go at tippers myself sometime soon though.

In reply thanks for that info. In response to alix776m, already got the license, getting a job is the hard thing. Registered with an agency and got a course on monday and tuesday about general stuff tachos etc.

Done the course and rung up a company that seemed very good. DW Clark, he was keen to help me get experience and will let me know when I can come and work for him. Nice guy and local firm run by family members. Hopefully I can do well there. Still a bit nervous as its a completely new thing for me. But you don’t try you don’t get. Gonna give it my best shot.

I don’t know what they’re like to work for but DW Clark should be a good bet for a new starter, they’ve got a fair few motors running about (all seem to be tidy) and hopefully will be able to get you out with one of the other drivers for a few days to start with. Plus they run artics as well, so if you want to do your C+E you might be able to stay within the firm and move up.

Best of luck

Rich, tippers are probably the most straightforward things to drive. Load it, sheet it . Once your there, back it up, tip it up and ‘foxtrot oscar’. Easy as.

Just remember if you aren’t sure, get out and have a look. Also, beware people who expect you to get 4 wheelers into spaces you couldn’t get a Mondeo. People seem to think cos’ they’re the smallest they should be able to go anywhere. They don’t…as the bloke found out, whose one tonne stone pillar I removed with the WING MIRROR (no cab damage) of my little FL6 about four years ago!

I found mixers a bit more complicated, more levers, washing out etc but the work tends to be very local (15/20 miles max.) and can be quite repetetive.

Good luck.

Also, beware people who expect you to get 4 wheelers into spaces you couldn’t get a Mondeo. People seem to think cos’ they’re the smallest they should be able to go anywhere. They don’t…as the bloke found out, whose one tonne stone pillar I removed with the WING MIRROR (no cab damage) of my little FL6 about four years ago!

I had a great one the other day…

Builder points between skip and building: “Can you get in there?”

Me: “I don’t think so, it’s too narrow”

“How wide is the lorry”

“About 8 foot”

He gets his tape out and measures the gap then goes round the front of the lorry and measures the width of the cab (it’s an old type Leyland Daf 55).

“You’ve got about 2 inchs space”

“What about the mirrors and the body being wider than the cab?”

“Oh…you better just crane it off right here then.”


I reckon I had about double that!

What made life harder was the steep climb and slight dogleg (RH Down) immediately after the gateway. I decided I’d get in if someone pulled in the passengers mirror to clear the post as I went through. I got a lad from the Tarmac gang in the passengers seat and told him - “pull in the mirror when we get near the post and then push it back out once we’re clear, ok?” “ok” he said. He didn’t seem too confident but I thought all he’s gotta do is pull the mirror in and push it back out.

I knew I’d need a run at it so i got the body lined up between the gate. I checked the lad knew what I wanted him to do, he nodded. In for a penny…

It was all going well, I eased most of the wagon through and the floored it to get up the hill. I knew I was clear on my side and his side if he pulled the mirror in…BANG!

I stopped. I looked over at him. He was sat with his hands over his face. “Sorry” was the best he could do! :unamused:
Once we’d dragged the post out the way (between 6 of us) I got in no problem!