Tag Archives: trucking

How to Navigate the Driver Shortage

Why is the drivers’ shortage happening?

According to the survey by American Trucking Association, the driver’s shortage could reach 175,000 drivers by 2024, which is almost five times more than 2014 rate. These forecasts can soon become a reality, as the average age of American truck driver is 55 years. It is easy to figure out that in a matter of 10-15 years, the old generation of truckers will retire, and carriers will have to deal with a disastrous situation, as recruiting young talents is a challenge.

How to deal with the problem?

There are two main challenges in truckers’ recruitment: to decrease leaving rates among truckers and to attract young ones. For the first category, the answer is simple: give the drivers what they want. Usually, they don’t want a lot: simple things like competitive salary, less stress, and comfortable working conditions. To conquer the new generation of drivers, companies have to change their recruiting strategy.

  • Decrease the hauls time. These are primary and evident things that everyone wants to receive for doing a hard job. But roots of the driver’s deficit problem lay deeper than the layer of monetary reward. Changes involve personal approach and attention to important life events, like birthdays and anniversaries. Mere modifications like giving truckers extra time at home will increase efficiency and loyalty to the employer.
  • Provide comfortable equipment. No one wants to drive an old, run-down truck that has lots of issues. If you want the driver to spend a long time on the road, make the route enjoyable. Modern, spare, clean restrooms and small kitchens are vital for staying sane while driving long distances. Sleep deprivation is among the most painful troubles in a trucker’s job. Nutrition matters as well. Short break time prompts drivers to eat junk food, high in fat and sugar. Matching this with an inactive lifestyle will result in a collection of serious health problems and possible weight gain. Investing in the health of truckers will lead to enduring partnerships and can reasonably diminish the shortage.
  • Eliminate side responsibilities. Turns out that drivers are often involved in the time-consuming processes that are not in their direct competence. Equipping the trucks with smart devices like GPS and hands-off control will not only save shippers and drivers from time-consuming processes, but will also increase the safety during the route, as the driver is not distracted and can focus on the trail. Automation of the freight tracking process will also be a major step towards route optimization. If the driver goes to Chicago, you can update him with load offers ahead of arriving, so he doesn’t have to run an empty truck to the start point to receive a new order.

At the end of the day, better results require major changes. An update of all of the strategies that involve truckers can be a useful solution for decreasing the shortage. Optimizing the system, reducing the haul time, raising the payment, providing new equipment, and changing the approach towards drivers’ off-work life altogether will create a principal difference in the current situation.

Why the World Needs Truck Drivers

Technology has completely taken over today’s world. Whether it is going to the grocery store, ordering items online, or just typing a question into Google – we expect products and answers almost instantly. As the demand for products and goods continues to grow, so does the importance of truck drivers.

Without truck drivers, we wouldn’t be able to do or buy half of the things that we need to. Truck drivers move billions of tons of freight each year and are the main reason we are able to walk into a store and purchase what we need. Without truck drivers, we would have to rely on local resources for food and wouldn’t have access to seafood, fruit and other meat options due to location restrictions. This can also apply to other products like oil, gas, and steel that are more abundant in certain parts of the U.S. than others.

importance of truck drivers

During this year’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, we want to take some time to highlight the importance of our truck drivers and say thank you for all of the hard work that they do. Many companies wouldn’t be able to be in business if it wasn’t for the hard work and commitment of truck drivers. Below are some of the main reasons that we should be thankful for truck drivers.

They’re Committed

Many truck drivers have been on the road for years and still enjoy what they do every day. Drivers commit to their work and make sure that their job gets done and deliveries are properly made.

They Help Businesses Run Smoothly

Businesses rely on trucks to bring in new shipments of products. For example, clothing stores would not be able to sell clothes without truck drivers delivering new items to them. Truck drivers are on the road early in the morning and late into the evening to deliver on time so that businesses can run smoothly.

They Spend Time Away from Family

Truck drivers often have to make sacrifices due to their busy schedules. Many truck drivers have children of their own and are away from home on deliveries for multiple days at a time. Being a truck driver requires putting in a lot of time on the road. Being able to balance work, family, and responsibilities at home is an important part of being a truck driver.

A world without truck drivers would be completely different than the world that we know today. Make sure to thank a truck driver this week to show appreciation for all that the drivers do for the world!

 

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3 Ways the ELD Mandate Has Impacted Trucking

The ELD (electronic logging device) mandate is quite possibly the biggest change seen by the trucking industry in over 50 years, and one that many people have mixed feelings about. Since its introduction in December 2017, there’s no doubt it has made a considerable impact on the trucking industry. So, in order to gain a better understanding about this ELD mandate and its effects, we will discuss the implications of the ELD mandate and how it has been impacting the trucking industry since it was put into place.

There are three areas that have been most affected by the mandate, which are:

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1. Cost

2. Productivity

3. Safety

Cost

According to the FMCSA, ELD’s were predicted to save approximately $1.6 billion per year as a result of less paperwork. Ultimately, savings indeed have been found through reduced fuel costs, decreased truck downtime and reduced crash rates.

The savings are surely impressive, but do they make up for the costs of implementing the ELD’s? The most common device costs carriers are about $495 per truck. For a small or medium-sized business, that’s a huge expense. One that could drastically be changing the state of their business.

Productivity

Prior to the ELD mandate, industry experts estimated that ELDs would have a 3% – 5% impact on carrier productivity, especially on trips longer than 450, miles and short-haul operations of up to 300 miles that bump against the 14-hour rule. Larger fleets have additionally found a way to sustain productivity by sending out other trucks to pick up a load if a company driver is delayed or out of hours.

Safety

The driving force behind the ELD mandate has always been safety. The ELD mandate applies to over 3 million drivers on the road. Therefore, these are 3 million drivers that potentially would not cause fewer accidents due to fatigue and inaccurate HOS logging. An analysis by the FMCSA predicted that the ELD mandate would prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year, due to driver fatigue. By ditching the paper and pen method and adopting the ELD method, current statistics have proven that the ELD mandate ensures that all drivers are following specific safety and compliance standards.

Trucking industry experts have predicted this kind of bumpy road following ELD implementation for a long time. If anything, the industry’s current struggles with the ELD could be a correction to the surging freight market.

 

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Minimizing the Impact of the ELD Mandate

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is causing major changes to the industry and is making drivers want to leave the transportation industry instead of using the ELD. The regulation of the ELD rule began on April 1 after a three-month grace period allowing drivers to implement the device.

The mandate requires the use of an ELD to accurately record a driver’s hours of service. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said that the hours of service restrictions were put in place because of increased risk of crashes and chronic health conditions associated with lack of sleep when driving long distances like truckers do.

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This mandate is frustrating truck drivers and making some drivers leave the industry so that they don’t have to use the ELD. Before the mandate, truck drivers were concerned about bad weather, accidents or long detention times because of the potential to miss their next delivery. Now, with the mandate, any form of unexpected delay would put that driver over his/her hours of service mark and force them to stop for the night. This hurts the productivity and profit margins for drivers being paid by the trip.

Before the mandate, a shipper might have taken a six-hour run, made a delivery, picked up a new load and then returned home. Today, the same driver would have to stop because of going over the 11-hour driving limit and secure an overnight parking spot to stop and wait until they can get back on the road. Although this mandate is helping to create a safer environment on the road for all drivers, it is putting pressure on an industry already strapped for capacity.

As a shipper, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of the ELD mandate. You can:

  • Reduce the number of inbound deliveries entering their facilities through consolidation
  • Speed-up driver turn-around in their yards with dock scheduling and order management tools
  • Communicate effectively with promise dates, notifications and issues as they come up
  • Leverage the power of transportation technology to improve operations (a TMS)

 

These tips will help you reduce the number of trucks on the road and save money. It will be interesting to see what comes up in the industry in the coming months.

 

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The ELD Mandate Is Here: What’s Next?

The ELD mandate went into effect on December 18th, 2017, despite the attempts to delay it. The start hasn’t been smooth, many have been feeling the effects of it, but many are getting used to what is now a reality. A big topic of discussion is whether the mandate will remain in place, but it appears it is.ELD_Mandate_1.jpg

Presently, there are remaining questions about the enforcement and technical aspects of the mandate. Issues have been sprouting for fleet managers and drivers that no one expected until the mandate launched.

With some fleets rushing to be compliant by the 18th, some learned that their devices were not meeting the proper requirements that have been outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The problem has been that fleets have opted for a fast and cheap alternative for an ELD device without understanding the requirements needed for that device.

This has left confusion among owners about whether or not their fleet is in compliance. If not in compliance, there is only an 8-day grace period to make the switch to a proper device or they face a penalty from the FMCSA. Many fleets have been complaining about the costs associated.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), who opposed the mandate, has been receiving a multitude of negative feedback regarding the ELDs and the providers for them. They had once received over 50 calls in a day regarding a complaint about the ELDs. It’s assumed that the providers for the ELDs are not prepared to deal with the owner-operators yet as they are only used to dealing with large fleets.

Enforcement for the ELD mandate has been finicky to start. The FMCSA has enforcement personnel that began documenting violations during roadside inspections, and in some cases, issuing citations to those without a compliant ELD. But some drivers have not issued a citation dependent on the situation (i.e. Device not working abruptly, device notice to be switched etc.…). They will still issue citations for hour of service (HOS) violations though, so be prepared for that if it is to happen. Starting April 1st, 2018, enforcement will be allowed to place drivers out of service if they fail to present the required device.

Talking about being finicky, the technology still isn’t perfect. So, drivers who recently have been dealing with issues regarding their ELD have to find a workable solution if they are being inspected. Drivers have had to resort to the previous style of paper logging to record their hours of service because of a failed ELD solution. The fleet usually has records if the device fails but it creates an inconvenience for both the fleet and the driver. Enforcement will no doubt issue a violation if a driver cannot produce logs.

Either way, you put it, the ELD has not been running as smooth as the FMCSA has hoped. It is expected that the problems will continue to persist until the mandate is pulled back as some have hoped. Unless the technology can be perfected, there are still variables of error that can occur.

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How Shippers Can Prepare for the ELD Mandate

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate is happening whether your company likes it or not. There are critics, and there are supporters – no matter the side you’re on, your company needs to prepare for the inevitable. To help, we’ve laid out 4 tips for you to prepare for the ELD Mandate.

ELDs are a hot topic in the transportation industry. What’s the impact on capacity? Do I need to be ELD compliant? Why are we switching?

While there’s no clear consensus on the impact on capacity, it’s important to remember one thing: the hours of service (HOS) each driver has in a day/week is not changing. The mandate is not changing HOS for drivers, rather ELD will change the method of recording the hours.

Previously, we’ve covered what the ELD Mandate means for you. Now it’s time to lay out a few steps you can take to prepare for the mandate.

Truck Driver Holding TabletPlan Ahead

You’ve heard this a thousand times: “Add lead time” –  that’s only because we truly mean it!

Short lead times can mean higher carrier rejection rates. In an ideal world, 48 hours lead time is needed for every shipment. Longer lead times increase carrier commitment and better chances of securing the capacity you need.

Be Proactive with Carriers

If you do business with a third-party logistics company (3PL), the 3PL should assess which of its contracted carriers utilize ELDs or have a game plan to begin utilizing.

If you do not use a 3PL – make sure you’re talking with your carrier(s) to get a better understanding of their timeline for implementation and what it means for you.

 Realistic Transit Time Expectations

Once the mandate is in place, shippers are likely to see an increase in the time it takes a shipment from the time it’s picked up to the time of delivery.

The reasoning? The HOS restrictions will be more successfully enforced. Drivers may be stuck with a full load pending a reset to their HOS if they don’t plan accordingly.

 Expect Price Hikes

The ELD mandate is predicted to severely shrink freight capacity due to the number of carriers who can’t (or will not) comply. When capacity shrinks, prices increase.

The percentage of increase has yet to be determined, but be prepared come December 18, 2017 for a surge in prices.

Ultimately, the decision on how to prepare, act, and recover from the ELD mandate is up to you and your business. As we approach the implementation date (December 18, 2017), PLS Logistics will continue to monitor for updates or changes to the ELD mandate.

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ELD Mandate: What you need to know

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate has been a wildly popular topic of discussion for years. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that motor carriers must begin using ELDs on all trucks and commercial buses. Carriers and drivers have until December 18, 2017 to comply.

What does this mean for you?

The ELD mandate is designed to increase commercial motor vehicle safety, reduce paperwork, and improve Hours of Service (HOS) compliance.

Impact on Capacity

The estimated 3 million drivers who are currently using paper logs, are likely to experience decreased capacity when switching to electronic logs. The drivers that will be most affected by the mandate are the ones that have not been compliant with the HOS regulations. These drivers are estimated to see as much as a double-digit reduction in productivity.

Long-term Benefits

While this new regulation will see negative short-term impacts, the long-term benefits outweigh the costs.

In the immediate future, trucking companies will pay around $500 per truck for the ELD device. The FMCSA estimates the mandate will save the industry around $3 billion annually through reduced paperwork and fewer accidents.

The ELD mandate will also make it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their driving time, consequently reducing HOS violations. By enforcing this policy driver fatigue will be reduced and prevent fatalities and injuries.

The mandate will also reduce liability to shippers due to fewer accidents by non-compliant drivers.

iStock-831064408.jpgDo I need to be ELD compliant?

Drivers who are currently using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) or install those before the December deadline will be grandfathered in – giving them an additional 2 years to update the technology.

Additionally, drivers who operate under the short haul exemption don’t have to comply with the mandate. A short haul driver “operates within a 100 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location,” according to FMCSA. This exemption is only if the driver’s duties are less than 8 days in a 30-day period.

 

Questions about the ELD mandate? Contact one of our truckload specialists today.

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5 Driver Safety Tips That Will Save You Money

Collisions are impossible to predict, and when they happen, they can cost your company millions. To combat this, you’ll want your fleet manager to construct a safety program that makes this unpredictable expense, well, predictable.

Fleetistics iStock-545806984.jpgstated that “investing in fleet safety technology is the most effective way to minimize collisions and all of the expenses that accompany them.”

Settlement payouts, repairs, insurance premium increases, and the harm to your brand’s image are too great a cost to risk. However, implementing technology isn’t a miracle fix. It definitely won’t benefit your business if your drivers and managers aren’t using it effectively.

According to Mobileye, onboarding is the most important factor in this equation, as it’s the best place to begin. The driver is already learning about driver safety during this stage, and since they’re new, they’re going to take it seriously.

Use the following tips and tricks to save your business money, increase productivity and employee satisfaction, and boost your revenue.

  1. Explain how adhering to the safety program benefits the driver. Before even understanding the different fleet safety systems, the driver needs to know why using them is beneficial. Reasons, like protecting their health and boosting earning potential, are sure to encourage new hires to take the learning process seriously and sweat the details.
  2. Empower drivers to look for solutions. Certain fleets will have drivers that travel through desert plains or snow for days. When they’re taught how to seek out safe solutions for situations that are common, they’ll be empowered to critically solve future problems for their team.
  3. Connect new drivers with experienced drivers. Experienced drivers with a record of safety can be an invaluable asset to your company and your new hire. Shadowing is not uncommon among fleets, and if a driver with a record of safety is training the new hire, they won’t be as prone to reckless driving practices as they would be if an unsafe driver had done it.
  4. Provide safety incentive programs. You’d be hard pressed to find a better way to capture employees’ attention than an incentive program. Choose an incentive that works well for your business and that your drivers respond to.
  5. Never stop monitoring. Keeping drivers compliant after training is a challenge, but it can be made easier by staying up to date on their driving history. Don’t stop monitoring and training your employees after they’ve become seasoned.

Read next: 5 Things Carriers Should Stop (Now).

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Can Shippers Beat This Year’s Capacity Crunch?

From 2015 to 2016, freight declined hurriedly, by as much as 15% in the dry van sector. In 2016, freight volume and rates began to rise and shippers had a consistent capacity. Freight demand was strong at the end of 2016; the DAT Freight Index revealed that spot market demand increased for 6 straight months, from June-December 2016. This year, analysts are predicting less capacity, steady freight volume, and rising rates.

According to Sean Monahan, logistics expert, economic and motor conditions are trusted to keep favoring a “shipper’s market” at the beginning of 2017 and a realignment of factors are projected to result in moderately higher transportation rates.

In an in-depth analysis, the State of Logistics report from CSCMP expects that supply chain professionals will be less concerned with paying higher trucking rates than being able to find trucking capacity to haul freight.

Progress in energy, restoring, in-sourcing, e-commerce, and automated manufacturing are expected to grow faster than the rate of GDP, which means more transportation needs in the parcel, last-mile delivery, LTL services, and contract logistics. Capacity is determined by the volume of freight that needs to be moved and the number of available trucks to move it, and in 2017 with the change in government administration and policies, additional regulatory influences and economic developments, the industry is expecting healthy freight volumes to continue but with less qualified capacity and higher rates.

Why?

The ELD mandate, requiring all heavy-duty trucks to use electronic logging devices to log hours of service, is effective this December. Even though many large fleets have installed the technology, smaller carriers and owner-operators haven’t made the switch from paper logs. By this summer, carriers that still lack ELDs will have a problem finding shippers willing to move freight with them. Industry predictions say that capacity will
shrink somewhere between 3-10% after the mandate.

A DAT Rate View report shows that since February 2016, diesel prices have climbed 59 cents per gallon and analysts believe fuel prices will continue to rise in 2017. Fuel is the second-highest expense for carriers. When fuel prices rose sharply in 2008, the number of carrier bankruptcies also skyrocketed.

Political, regulatory and economic factors should yield a rate increase for motor carriers, too. The improvements have already led to declining unemployment rates, increasing real wages for workers and economic growth.

Other Opportunities?

Truckload freight will spill over into less-than-truckload in a more noticeable way, and intermodal volumes will flourish as carriers and railroads build deeper collaborative relationships. Railroads are expected to handle more long-haul freight, which frees up compliant drivers to move freight. The ATA forecasts that intermodal transportation will grow at a rate of 5.5% each year until 2022. With intermodal transportation, shippers can benefit with predictable pricing, dependable capacity, and cargo safety.

Related PLS Logistics s: Shipper Strategy: What to Do as ELD Mandate Threatens Capacity

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Shipper Strategy: What to Do as ELD Mandate Threatens Capacity

The trucking industry is adjusting as fuel prices fluctuate, the driver shortage continues, and new regulations are authorized.

The ELD mandate is causing waves of concern among shippers and carriers. The rule could drastically change the trucking landscape.

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are predicted to bring safety and proficiency to the industry. The DOT estimates the devices will save $1.7 billion and reduce the number of truck accidents by more than 1,800 a year.

Fleets that have already installed ELDs say they’re able to monitor drivers’ hours more closely and make strategic planning decisions to maximize productivity. The availability of data will increase exponentially because ELDs transmit information to and from trucks and operators.

About half of the trucking industry has installed ELDs – the half that has not is made up almost entirely of small carriers who don’t want to or can’t make the monetary, technological investment.

Even though the rule has positive implications, it affects about 3 million truck drivers. When the mandate is official law in December 2017, more drivers and carriers, particularly owner-operators and small carriers, are expected to leave the industry.

Most drivers or carriers will leave the industry because:

  • They’ve failed to adopt or understand the technology
  • Small- and mid-sized carriers can’t afford the initial investment and upkeep
  • They’ve ignored HOS rules in the past and are operating illegally
  • Drivers fear that time at loading docks, traffic congestion, and poor scheduling will chip away at earning time, leaving them with less than they had going into the mandate

ELDs Threaten Capacity

If more drivers and carriers leave the industry, it would result in a serious capacity issue. Capacity could be cut between 3-5% once ELDs are mandatory, and, considerable hikes in freight volumes are projected in the coming years. In 2015, trucks moved 64% of freight tonnage, and by 2045, tonnage is expected to increase to 69 million tons per day.

More freight and less capacity creates competition for trailer space, which leads to higher shipping rates.

With the threat of tight capacity, shippers should create a transportation management plan, accommodate drivers’ needs and schedules, invest in a TMS, and collaborate to create backhauls or other shipping options. Shippers have to consider rates, driver coercion, and pickup and delivery times.

Broader Effects of ELDs

For carriers who don’t leave the industry, once the initial challenges of ELD adoption are overcome, ELDs will offer carriers two serious benefits: 1) more effective asset utilization and 2) innovative routing solutions for freight moves. Then, shippers will benefit from these new carrier capabilities.

As the economy evolves and businesses grow, shipper-3PL relationships will broaden. Expand your relationship with a 3PL to identify solutions to ongoing pain points like capacity shortages and rate increases. 3PLs provide valuable expertise and enable more productivity, better customer experiences and transportation cost reductions.

A 3PL has long-standing agreements with carriers and shipping companies to help increase efficiency of all parties. As smaller carriers are adjusting to the implementation of ELDs, a 3PL will be a valuable partner to help keep shipping costs down.

In the long-run, ELDs will improve asset utilization for drivers and carriers, but in the meantime, it could create headaches for shippers by taking away needed capacity and increasing rates.

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