Within the supply chain, timely shipping heavily influence the success of any business. But at the beginning of 2018, according to DAT, only one truck was available for every 12 loads that needed to be moved (the worst ratio DAT recorded since 2005). Tight capacity is a well-known issue for shippers recently. Carriers have their choice on who, what, when and where they will deliver now.
There are many reasons for the decline of truckers and the ability to retain them — and no simple solutions to the dilemma. Competing for the best freight rates, building relationships with LTL carriers and becoming efficient with automation software like a TMS takes careful planning and thought, but the extra time and effort is well worth the long-term benefits. And while the capacity problem will continue be an issue in 2019, there are other strategies to adjusting to the current industry situation and becoming a shipper of choice.
📑 Have an efficient plan
One important area to start with is identifying and fixing inefficiencies and time-wasters for drivers. Starting with drivers is key to building better relationships with carriers. Because the Hours of Service Rule (13.5 hours max) includes dock and unloading time, not just driving time, look for ways to smooth the delivery and loading process. Time spent at the dock or gate because of internal hangups influence a driver’s time capacity. While traffic and other delays can’t be planned, having a flexible pick up or delivery window allows carriers to plan better routes and optimize loads. By helping drivers maximize their time and treating them well at your facility, carriers are more likely to see your company as a reliable partner.
Bob Costello, an economist with the American Trucking Associations trade group was recently quoted saying “If shippers processed cargo more quickly, they could free up freight capacity as much as 20 percent.” If you have the resources and space, drop trailers could be a great way to speed up a driver’s time at your facility and processing loads for carriers more quickly. Bloomberg reported on Nestle improving their drop-and-hook operations by putting radio transmitters on trailers so they could be located quickly and also working on improving signage. This helped cut loading and unloading time by 18 percent.
“If shippers processed cargo more quickly, they could free up freight capacity as much as 20 percent.”
☕ Enhance the driver’s experience
Make your shipping experience as smooth as possible for drivers. Provide accurate location information — bonus points for maps and extra instructions if the unloading/loading point is complicated. Drivers should know what to expect before they arrive — where they should go, what the procedure is, and any other facility information. If drivers do have to wait at your facility, have a plan for them by providing access to a place to sit, restrooms and even food options as simple as coffee and a vending machine. Being consistent with procedures is important. Building loyalty with carriers means sharing information, especially any updates. Just like customers, treat drivers with respect and care. “Greet [drivers] with a simple ‘good morning’. If the load is not ready, direct the driver to the restroom and break area,” said Jerry Hatchett, a fleet owner. “I told a large shipper if they wanted to make a good impression on the drivers, then build showers and break rooms and hold an appreciation day for drivers once a month.” Investing time into asking drivers and carriers for feedback can also give you valuable information of what can be improved or what should stay the same.
More than ever it is important to set your supply chain management plans for success by becoming a shipper of choice for carriers.