SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Each summer, about 225,000 Department of Defense 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.”

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Personal Property Directorate, responsible for the DOD’s household goods moving program, wants servicemembers to know a successful move during this peak time is certainly possible with proper planning.

Peak moving season runs 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 move dates. But with planning, and active involvement, servicemembers can have a successful move even during the busiest move season.

This summer is busier than normal because of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law forcing many organizations and units to move by the end of September 2011. This adds an additional 17,000 servicemembers, and families, to the normal peak season stretching the moving industry’s capacity even further.

Can servicemembers still expect to have a successful and timely move during an already challenging peak moving season? The short answer is yes, but it requires a little more vigilance from both the servicemember 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 TSP and servicemember.”

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

The two common issues servicemembers need to be aware of are booking their shipments early in the process and staying within their weight entitlement.

The most important thing servicemembers should do to become familiar with MOVE.MIL and visit their local Personal Property Shipping Office, or PPSO. Once a carrier is assigned to perform the move, it is very important servicemembers remain in continuous communications with them throughout the process. Also, during move day, servicemembers, or their designated representative, need to be at the residence when the carrier arrives. Otherwise they may be liable for an attempted pickup or delivery charge. Remember, the PPSO is the FIRST stop for any customer service questions.

A rule of thumb to gauge the weight of household goods is about 1,000 pounds per room as an initial estimate. Servicemembers are always 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 a member is close or over their weight allowance, they can request a reweigh at delivery.

For questions, simply go to MOVE.MIL or contact your local Transportation Office / Personal Property Shipping Office / Joint Personal Property Shipping Office for assistance.

The success of DOD’s household goods program is, without a doubt, 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 very challenging time for the moving industry because their capacity is being pushed to the limits. This responsibility is not taken lightly by the vast majority of carriers, but the fact is, there are some who 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.

“It’s a tough call to remove a TSP 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 servicemembers and their families, then as the policy managers of the household goods program, we should remain consistent with our expectations from the TSPs.”