Executives from four major carriers — Werner Enterprises, Swift Transportation Co, J B Hunt Transport Services, and Schneider National — all believe the industry will have its hands full dealing with new hours-of-service (HOS) rules that go into effect next year. Minimizing their impact, however, may relay in large part on how much support trucking companies get from shippers.
“The shipper community has the most opportunity to help mitigate the impact of these new rules,” said Kirk Thompson, J B Hunt's chief executive officer. “A driver's time is a meager and limited resource — we can't afford to waste it anymore.”
Speaking on a panel at a special HOS productivity summit hosted in Atlanta GA by truckload carrier Schneider National and Georgia Tech's Logistics Institute, Thompson said shippers can help drive out the hidden costs in trucking operations today by eliminating what he calls “non-revenue activities” truck drivers deal with.
“Poor information about appointment times, inaccurate ready times, and missing drop numbers takes time away from driving,” he said.
Thompson said increasing shipping and receiving time windows, pre-booking loads, allowing drivers to sleep in their rigs on a shipper's premises, re-engineering dock practices, minimizing wait times, and forming efficient trailer pools so empty trailers can be located quickly can all help minimize non-driving time for drivers.
“We can't stop the clock by going off-duty anymore,” said Dan Cushman, Werner's executive vice-president. “We now have to find ways to run drivers without stopping so there are no productivity losses.”
These efforts are also critical to making sure drivers themselves don't lose money, said Bill Riley, Swift's senior vice-president. “Drivers can't come out on the short end,” he said. “They will be much more limited in work hours. Taking two hours to change a flat tire, fueling up at a truckstop for an hour, waiting three hours to get their truck in and out of a maintenance bay — all of that now counts against their work day and drive time, their ability to make money.”