Trucks may be powered by burning diesel, but the successful business plans behind them require fuel of another sort -and it comes in the form of accurate data.
Information about factors such as the number of trucks in a specific region or revenue per shipment can all play a role in determining everything from hiring practices to competitive rates. And the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council’s new basic and advanced Labour Information Highway data tools are pulling together this type of data from a number of sources, making it available to the trucking industry with the simple click of a mouse.
A basic version of the tool provides users with historical, current and projected data (between 1987 and 2016) concerning GDP and employment trends for nine key occupations at provincial, regional and national levels. An advanced version provides historical, current and projected data in categories such as unemployment rates, shipments, weight, distance, tonne-km, revenue and more.
Bison Transport is already measuring its performance against a number of formal Key Performance Indicators that are based on trusted sources of external data. “We belong to a number of truckload carrier associations and collect a lot of benchmark data,” observes Linda Young, the fleet’s vice-president of people development. But it is more than a matter of simply collecting the information, she stresses. Fleets then need to integrate these details into daily processes and business cycles if they want to leverage the opportunities that information can provide. Recruiting strategies involve “a lot of gut, a lot of market scan,” Young says. “Sometimes it’s got to be a little bit of both.”
Now the CTHRC’s basic and advanced data tools help fleets in market scans of their own.
Guidance like this may become more important in the near future. Even though the recession offered a reprieve from personnel shortages, fleets are already beginning to see the human resources challenge return, notes Bob Dolyniuk, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association.
But it is not only a matter of tracking or projecting hiring trends. Insight into vehicle ages in a particular area can help to establish truck trade-in cycles, while those who oversee maintenance needs will be able to identify potential shortages in replacement parts. Senior managers will need to identify an aging workforce when trying to establish a succession plan or recruiting strategies that reach out to a new generation of employees. Accurate data can also play a role in helping a fleet’s sales and marketing teams establish prices for different shipments and services.
Companies looking to explore their market share might need to be aware of factors such as tonnage increases in specific lanes, Dolyniuk explains, noting how the Manitoba Trucking Association regularly fields questions from carriers asking about trends in factors such as freight volumes. “Do I look at my existing business market, my geographic market, or do I look at a different geographic area? Are there sufficient opportunities where I am?”
Industry associations need reliable sources of data as well, as they make presentations to a wide array of government bodies or other related sources of support.
“Any specific data we can get our hands on is useful,” adds Louise Yako of the B.C. Trucking Association, noting how industry groups need the latest data when working with organizations such as the Industry Training Authority, which sets her province’s training standards for apprentices and trades, and the Insurance Corporation of B.C.
Dolyniuk suggests that the new tools from CTHRC will be able to offer that kind of help: “It’s something that a [trucking] association may use for providing statistics to government or support a case or compare trends from a global level.” He adds that, “When I was in industry, I wanted to be able to measure myself against similar companies. I would suspect that industry views have not changed.”
The right information will always be able to fuel accurate business decisions for years to come.
To access the free Labour Information Highway -Basic tool, or to subscribe to the Labour Information Highway -Advanced tool, visit www.cthrc.com.
Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program, the Canadian Trucking HR Council (CTHRC) is an incorporated not-for-profit organizations that helps attract, train and retain workers for Canada’s trucking industry. For more information, visit www.cthrc.com.
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