Truck News


It’s time for shippers to work as partners

Ed: No other lobbyist in the trucking industry has David Bradley's profile. Love him or hate him, he never leaves any question about the stance of the associations he represents. Seldom is a major nat...

Ed: No other lobbyist in the trucking industry has David Bradley’s profile. Love him or hate him, he never leaves any question about the stance of the associations he represents. Seldom is a major national or Ontario story about the trucking industry aired in the mainstream media without quoting his comments.

He now has a forum in the pages of Truck News. The column will appear monthly.

By David Bradley

They may be three of the most over-used words in today’s business environment, but I want service, quality and partnership to be the focus of this first monthly column.

Most businesses claim they strive to achieve these regardless of their industry. We all say these words are essential to the success of our companies. But they must be more than buzzwords.

Trucking is the dominant mode of freight transportation because service, quality and partnership means something to truckers. Trucking offers incomparable service and price packages compared to other freight modes. Our customers are the chief beneficiaries. Shippers, particularly those time-sensitive inventory or delivery systems , rely almost totally on motor carriers for the efficient, flexible and safe shipment of freight.

The booming North American economy has created a welcome surge in the demand for trucking. However, at the same time, the trucking industry is facing a number of significant challenges. We have a shortage of qualified truck drivers. While this is being felt more deeply in some sectors of the industry than others, the next decade promises a deepening of the driver shortage. Regulations governing truck sizes and weights and driver hours of service are under review and the outcomes of those reviews and their impact upon trucking productivity is uncertain. Fuel prices have skyrocketed.

Shippers know that motor carriers will do almost anything to ensure their customers continue to receive the high-quality level of service they rely on. Maintaining these levels of service will require greater involvement and understanding from shippers.

A strong partnership between carriers and shippers is needed. This recently prompted the Ontario Trucking Association to issue a statement aimed directly at shippers on these issues:

Non-Compliance Charges – Many large shippers and/or their suppliers are attempting to collect non-compliance penalties from motor carriers, imposed when a truck is late for an appointment, there is damaged freight, labeling is incorrect, or paperwork is not in order, even when the shipment is on time.

Most motor carriers will accept responsibility for events within their control. There is no need for additional non-compliance charges.

Shippers need to recognize that there are going to be times when carriers may not always be able to meet their pre-specified appointments.We are concerned that some shippers/receivers have seen these charges as a new source of revenue.

Loading/Unloading – Many shippers are expecting drivers to load and/or unload their trailers. Drivers are also often expected to spend an inordinate amount of time in other load setup activities, such as blocking and bracing.

Waiting Time – More and more, carriers and drivers are frustrated over the long waits at loading docks, especially when the carrier and driver have got the shipment there on time. Multiple small shipments can compound the waiting time. Many shippers are scheduling multiple deliveries for the peak rush hour traffic periods in major cities. Our vehicles are able to operate during non-peak times of the day to avoid the costs of sitting in traffic.

Vehicle Utilization – Shippers will often hold on to members’ trailers for extended periods of time, sometimes appearing to hoard them.Or the receiver will stagger small shipments where one trailer load would have been a much more efficient way to deliver the freight.

Carriers wish to partner with their customers to resolve these concerns. In the meantime, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) suggests that carriers should not feel obliged to pay non-compliance fees or provide loading/off-loading services to shippers unless agreed to (including a fee) in advance and in writing.

Shippers should our drivers have access to clean, safe facilities and waiting areas. Partner and cooperate with carriers to expedite the unloading/loading process and facilitate the movement of our equipment and drivers.

OTA also calls upon shippers and their associations to become more involved in helping to shape the regulatory environment impacting the movement of freight by truck.

Carrier and shipper partnership needs to be more than a buzz- word. n

– David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

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