With the holiday peak season approaching, and capacity as limited as ever, shippers need to be looking at different ways to ensure their shipments arrive on time. The rapid surge in e-commerce during the pandemic caused retailers to have to restock inventory. Now with many retailers still playing catch up, the current freight market is a concern.
Truck Driver Employment Issues Abound
Long-standing within the truck driver industry has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which is contributing to tight shipping capacity.
Truck Driver Shortage: The lack of truck drivers is keeping shipping volumes limited. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), trucking employment decreased from 1.52 million in February 2020 to 1.43 million in April 2020. The industry is still short approximately 33,000 workers.
Stiff Competition: One of the biggest issues in the trucking industry in terms of employment is the ability to drive for other industries. Parcel delivery and warehousing employment levels are both up for 2020 and 2021 to date. With the ability to drive easier and shorter (not overnight) routes, drivers are choosing other positions that offer a better quality of life.
Lack of CDL Training: With fewer commercial driver’s license (CDL) trainings that were available in 2020 due to the pandemic, the number of drivers that could even get a license was diminished. It is estimated that 40% fewer CDL’s were issued last year. Social distancing guidelines meant that training centers could only take a certain number of potential drivers at once.
Drug and Alcohol Violations: The FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol database, which was established in January 2020, flags drivers for drug or alcohol violations. About 60,000 drivers are currently not eligible to drive, taking them out of the driver pool until they complete the process to return.
Equipment Shortages: Not only are truck drivers needed, but the lack of equipment is also contributing to the downward trend in shipments. The backlog in microchips that go into the trucks means that manufacturers cannot make enough trucks to meet the demand. Some carriers are refurbishing older trucks to keep their fleet rolling.
What Can Shippers Do?
With today’s capacity crunch, shippers need to have a strategy for keeping their freight moving. Strengthening the relationships with carriers can help shippers get preferred shipper status. Providers are also looking for long-term partnerships with their shippers. The following are ways to help form partnerships with your carriers:
Reduce Dwell Time: Have your shipment and the corresponding paperwork ready to go when the truck driver arrives. Drivers appreciate getting in and out of your facility quickly as driver detention is one of the biggest issues for drivers so do your part to reduce it.
Respect Truckers: A little respect goes a long way. Make sure truck drivers have a clean place to wait with restroom facilities, free Wi-Fi access, and a break room. Ample parking also helps make their pickup easier.
Work With Carriers: Freight is attractive to shippers if it already fits into their route plan. Review how your shipments can be manipulated to make it easier for the carrier. For example, if your ship day is Tuesday, but the carrier is already making a pickup nearby on Thursdays, consider switching your operations to fit that schedule.
Communicate: With so many challenges in the shipping environment, communication is key. Cross-functional planning with forecasting, warehousing, and customer service can go a long way in preventing issues in the future. Schedules and load leveling processes give a carrier consistency so they can match their capacity to your demand.
Utilize Technology: Technology has helped the logistics industry in countless ways. Use data to determine the best carriers to work with, load schedules, real-time tracking, and the most cost-effective ways to ship. If you are not utilizing technology in your shipment and delivery schedule, you will not be competitive or attractive to carriers.
Consider Multiple Carriers: Keep in mind that you are not limited to one carrier, especially with such constrained capacity. Shippers need to consider both asset-based carriers that provide trucks and brokers who have a wider range of capacity. A mix of both will help ensure that freight gets to its destination on time.
Securing shipments with carriers has become increasingly difficult but finding the cheapest truck is not always the best solution. Working with an experienced 3PL like Red Arrow Logistics is imperative when high demand is outpacing available capacity. By leveraging data as well as current trends, the right and best carriers will be chosen to get your freight delivered.
Your Trusted Partner
At Red Arrow Logistics, we provide expertise and white glove customer service with fast-growing, complex, and high-value supply chains. As the next-generation model of logistics companies, we offer tailored transportation and logistics solutions — from single shipments to complex over-dimensional and international orders.
Red Arrow offers the scale and scope of services including air, ocean, and ground transportation to meet the budget and schedule requirements of the largest and smallest companies alike. If we can be of assistance, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 425-747-7914.