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Supply Chain Challenges

It's Time to Focus on Reducing Driver Turn Times

Alex Stark | February 08, 2012

The new Hours of Service (HOS) restrictions were a necessary step to make our highways safer.  But HOS limits have intensified the current freight capacity shortfall by taking trucks and drivers off the road.  Carriers must now offset this lost capacity by becoming hyper-efficient and maximizing driver productivity.  But these efficiency efforts are undermined by the ongoing industry problem of lengthy wait times at pick-up and delivery points. In this post-HOS environment, minutes matter.  As an industry, we can no longer accept long driver wait times as standard practice.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) recognize the seriousness of the wait time problem and are co-funding a study to explore solutions.  Initial results were presented at the January 2012 GMA/FMI Supply Chain Conference.  The session, "Transportation Receiving Dock Unloading Predictability," was one of the best attended at the meeting.  Everyone there – from manufacturers to retailers to carriers – agreed we can get better.  Much better.  

While the new HOS regulations were necessary, they indirectly make it harder for shippers to find needed capacity, for carriers to make a fair profit, and for the industry as a whole to keep freight rates down.   Let's view the HOS rules as trigger point to attack inefficiencies at pick-up and delivery points.  Drivers are tired of waiting, and so are we all.