The domestic shipping industry sits at a crossroads. With economic growth increasing demand for trucking capacity and an aging population of drivers not being replaced by the younger generation disinterested in trucking as a career option, something is going to have to give. Transportation planners and managers have long suffered the pain of capacity crunch and recent government regulations have only exacerbated the challenges. UltraShipTMS was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article last week on this very subject and the interview with WSJ’s Loretta Chao got us thinking about ways shippers can gain and retain access to capacity. Here are three ways Ultra experts recommend.
Use Technology to Benefit Drivers
The longer lead times and better scheduling enabled by TMS solutions help to minimize unpaid dwell times while fostering quicker load and unload times. The upside of this is more efficient utilization of hours of service and less time spent away from home due to HOS impacts.
TMS users can engage in much more robust route planning with the goal of building routes that get the drivers home more frequently.
TMS users are better equipped to become shipper of choice with their common carrier base. This designation, yielded by the visibility and replicability driven by TMS-based planning, leads to the more stable and predictable routes and lanes that drivers can plan their home lives around.
Develop Private Fleet as a Strategy for Retention
As covered extensively in the recent Wall Street Journal article, more predictable routes, better optimization and the use of strategies like relays and trailer swaps result in shorter distance routes for fleet drivers and more frequent returns to domicile. Drivers who are able to spend more time with their families are less inclined to seek work elsewhere.
Expert Ed Burns shared an interesting strategy in a recent interview with the Supply Chain Collaborator on the subject of leveraging private fleets. According to Burns, “Properly managed using efficiency-boosting logistics planning and management tools like some TMS solutions (not all TMS platforms support private fleet functionality), optimizer tools and other software, the private fleet can actually become a profit center.” Burns suggested the revenue driven by backhauls generated via a private fleet should be ploughed into purchasing new, state of the art equipment. A private fleet comprised of new trucks with modern amenities is very attracted to the younger generation of drivers and can be a great way to retain talent.
Re-imagine the Freight Yard
Utilizing robust yard management systems like UltraYMS, shippers can – through better planning and up/downstream visibility – alleviate yard congestion. Better dock door scheduling, increased control over the location and readiness of trailers and other equipment, quicker gate in/gate out procedures and other yard-based actions can be significantly improved using YMS tools.
The managed yard can also be leveraged in innovative and retention-boosting ways. Use YMS tools to allocate a section of the yard for truck parking. Again, financed using backhaul revenue, the forward thinking shipper can differentiate by providing truck parking which is in critical demand. UltraShipTMS president, Nicholas Carretta recently participated in a broadcast on BlogTalkRadio on how current TMS technologies could be leveraged to address the parking problem.