TORONTO, Ont. – The capacity crunch in trucking should be a concern for all shippers, according to Mike Cormier, group logistics coordinator, Scotia Investments.
“How do we do more with less capacity? How do carriers plan to get ahead of the driver issue curve? Government has to play a stronger ownership role, i.e. changing outdated laws like cabotage in the US, allowing for more longer combination vehicles through harmonized weight and dimension,” he said.
“As shippers, we have a vested interest and we have to be proactive in dealing with our carriers,” said Cormier, suggesting that shippers get on board with border initiatives. “Finger-pointing doesn’t work. Be dynamic, creative and challenge the existing and traditional methods and business processes. Reward the compliant.”
Mark Schauerte, senior policy advisor, motor carrier, Transport Canada, said that trucking’s capacity issues reflect the low freight rates over the last 20 years and that the situation wasn’t sustainable.
“I think we’re seeing a shift in power from shippers to drivers. It’s very much a safety issue and training issue. I’m not really disturbed by what I’m seeing because this shift is a natural shakeout from deregulation. I think we’re still feeling those effects and we’re going to be feeling them for some years ahead,” he said.
Dan Einwechter, president and CEO, Challenger Motor Freight, also suggested that a chronic driver shortage coupled with new hours of service rules may force the industry to restrict itself and establish more discipline and control.
“The hours of service have caused a push for a more productive relationship with shippers. Now that we’re measuring it, it’s going to get dealt with. In the past, if it didn’t get measured, it didn’t get dealt with. It’s amazing the efficiencies we’ve been able to get at loading and receiving docks through working with shippers,” he said. Motor carriers are also becoming more disciplined in looking for quality revenue through rate increases and accessorial charges, while at the same time preparing reports to share with shippers,” he added.
Shippers who don’t validate carrier selection and who don’t question the differences in prices, are supporting cut-rate carriers, Einwechter warned.
“If you demand excellence from your carrier, be prepared to give us the same. Include us earlier in your decision-making process. It doesn’t mean you need to capitulate in negotiations with carriers but it does mean you need to be informed on the issues,” he said.
Einwechter said he was proud to have been part of a working group on speed limiters, which he said will be on the horizon along with digital recorders as part of a push towards more discipline in the market.