PRESCOTT, Ont. — A successful pilot project that allows Kriska Transportation Group drivers to park overnight at a major customer’s facility is proving that collaboration between shippers and carriers can be more than just a buzzword.
The idea originated this spring when Unilever approached Kriska – its largest cross-border carrier – and asked what it could do to become a shipper of choice and to ensure capacity availability in a tight market.
“The memory of the winter of 2014 was still fresh in most peoples’ minds in the shipper community and capacity was a hot-button topic, so they said, ‘What can we do to make us more attractive as a customer so if things get tight, you keep giving us your capacity’?” Jonathan Wahba, chief operating officer of Kriska Transportation Group told Trucknews.com.
Kriska director of operations Tammy Cryderman brought attention to some of the challenges related to servicing the customer, primarily the lack of truck parking in the area of Newville, Pa., where Unilever’s distribution centre was located. The nearest truck stops are located 20 miles away and often fill up by 6 p.m.
This put Kriska drivers in a tough spot – do they park in Carlisle, Pa., stopping short of their allowable driving hours and risk a late delivery? Or do they park illegally closer to Unilever’s DC and risk their personal safety and/or a ticket?
“Our drivers would often give us feedback and say ‘This is a tough load for me to cover because I’m going to be out of hours right at the finish line and there’s nowhere to park’,” Wahba says.
Cryderman suggested that creating a limited number of overnight parking spots at the distribution centre would allow drivers to make their deliveries on time and would give them peace of mind, knowing a safe parking spot was waiting for them at the delivery point.
“Many big shippers don’t allow drivers to sleep on site,” Wahba says. “Unilever decided they would tackle this problem with us on a pilot project to allow drivers to sleep on-site in a ‘safe haven’ environment when needed.”
For a global company such as Unilever to obtain the necessary permissions wasn’t easy, but Wahba said they were committed to the project and managed to do so, initially on a pilot project basis. Two truck parking spots were set aside at the DC, which is managed by Exel. Kriska dispatch is responsible for determining who gets to use the parking spots, which are allocated based on need. Kriska forwards the tractor numbers of the trucks that will be using the spaces to Exel and they, in turn, direct the drivers to the designated parking spots. Facilities are available for the drivers to use.
Certain rules were put in place. Drivers must wear safety vests at all times, carry a flashlight at night, follow on-site safety rules, must de-couple the tractor from the trailer prior to parking for the night and may not move the tractor on-site once parked, except to back into the loading dock at their appointment time. As often as possible, Kriska gives the parking spots to trucks equipped with no-idle cab comfort systems, to comply with Unilever’s anti-idling policies.
The project was so successful, Unilever permanently adopted the program and expanded the number of overnight truck parking spots in Newville to six. It has also rolled the safe haven parking project out to other locations across its network. And as a result, the Newville Unilever run has become a driver favourite at Kriska, meaning Unilever has achieved its goal of becoming a shipper of choice.
“For drivers, it has become our most requested lane because there’s no stress for the driver,” Wahba says. “We offer a choice dispatch model, not forced dispatch.”
Kriska is now hoping the safe haven trucking project with Unilever can be used as a model for other shippers to follow.
“The hope is, we can share this with other shippers and that they see the positive impact it has had,” he explains. “Right now, the market is pretty balanced in the cross-border space – not too oversold or undersold. But if the market tightens, what a great strategy a shipper can employ that doesn’t cost them much.”
Kriska created a video to thank Unilever and to bring attention to the project.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies