About once a quarter, we visit with our container trucker drivers around the Midwest for an update on the situations they are facing. Truckers are an important part of our freight forwarding clients’ international supply chain. They can make or break customer container deliveries.
Drivers busy, even working each day beyond capacity. They’re faced with new federal regulations, and they deserve our respect to ensure your supply chain links seamlessly. It’s important to hear and understand what the drivers are dealing with on the road, so we can educate our clients on what’s happening with their deliveries. Here’s what we’re hearing and customers need to know:
- Biggest problem: Finding and keeping quality drivers. Everyone we visited explained they can’t get new drivers, and the drivers they have are 100 percent busy almost every day. The driver shortage is real and not going away. Furthermore, they lose drivers to domestic truckload carriers because the pay is better and the work is easier. Driver pay is going up, so rates will increase in 2018.
- Electronic Log Device: This new federal rule takes effect Dec. 16, 2017. Years in the making, it requires truck operators to use electronic logging devices to record hours they are operating. Most of our trucker friends are already up and running with their electronic log device, and some have been for over a year. The switch from paper to electronics will not be an industry disruption, but could lead to higher rates as people try to make the system creatively work for them.
- Railroad ramp issues and delays: Every ramp has its own issues, most revolving around chassis, so this is not going away. At some ramps the driver has to go to another location to get the chassis. Other ramps have chassis pools, however, there can be delays in getting the chassis during daily busy periods. Also, the chassis may have an equipment problem that needs to be fixed, which is yet another delay. Here’s an example I just received from one of our good trucker pals concerning the Logistics Parkramp in Joliet: “(Logistics Park) has totally begun putting all loads into the stacks directly from the trains now (instead of putting them onto chassis). This is severely impacting our drivers’ efficiencies in and out of the rail. Our average dwell times in/out of LPC has increased from an hour to over two hours in the last two weeks.”
- Problem customers: Truckers are very aware of customers who make delivering a container a nightmare. Drivers tell us they’re made to wait hours to get unloaded, or they’re just treated poorly. Truckers told me they are refusing to go to these problem customers. They have plenty of work without the hassle of difficult customers (see bullet point one). The message I got: Please treat our drivers with respect and get them unloaded as quickly as possible, or they may not come back.
Bottom line; our trucker friends are very good at what they do and really care about servicing our clients with their freight forwarding requirements. Many go above and beyond to make things happen for our customers. Companies that strive for excellence in supply chain understand how important the “last mile” is. They understand excellence in supply chain drives out costs and improves service. So please be kind, give them a cup of coffee, and get them unloaded. It will pay off in the long