Truckers have been bound by the limitations of the hours of service (HOS) rules for a while now. But now that the industry is fully experiencing full enforcement of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, where do shippers fit into all of this? And how important is it that they are held accountable for long wait and loading times going forward?
“Whenever I talk to somebody, especially shippers, some don’t understand what’s going on and why all of a sudden this is impacting everything and what we’ve been doing for them,” explained Gary Cardenas, CEO and president of TOC Logistics.
Cardenas, who has worked in international freight forwarding and with some North American 3PLs for the last 30 years, started TOC Logistics back in 2009 as a logistics management organization.
“There’s a lack of capacity when it comes to drivers,” Cardenas said, noting that the driver shortage is only expected to worsen. “You’ve got a lot of baby boomers that have been truck drivers that are retiring or it’s gotten too difficult to go ahead and make a buck or to run the miles needed to live their lifestyle.”
So, if shippers want to remain competitive in the new era of electronic logs, there are some challenges they need to overcome, particularly for drivers.
1. Watch that HOS clock
For one, shippers are now obligated to watch the clock because they are cutting into the drivers’ driving time. And one delay will end up having a ripple effect on everything.
“These shippers really need to stay a little bit more focused when they’re ordering a truck to come in,” Cardenas noted. “They have to make sure they’re not taking an hour or two hours to get trucks in and get them out loaded, especially if they’re looking for a specific transit time to be made.”
2. Keep an eye on pickup times
On top of watching the clock, shippers should keep an eye on when they are ordering and releasing cargo because previous pickups will impact the next pickup for drivers.
Shippers should also be concerned about the capacity crunch and trucks “falling off the road” to take higher paying loads, Cardenas explained. “Some of these drivers will refuse to pick up a load when they know they’ve had challenges with certain shippers,” he added.
3. Avoid detention, delays
And then there’s the detention problem, which has been a major headache and concern for drivers under strict enforcement of the ELD mandate. Many carriers are now beginning to charge shippers directly for detention time and delays of more than an hour or two.
Because of this, Cardenas noted, some shippers are dropping their wait and load times, though no particular time standards have been etched in stone at this point.
“Carriers are [charging detention] to compensate the driver because the driver is taking a hit now because they are not able to drive as many hours as they were before the ELD mandate,” Cardenas pointed out.
When it comes to the detention problem in the era of the ELD mandate, Dan Serewicz and Eric Weidl, co-founders of Dock411, believe they have found the solution.
Dock411 is a way for drivers to see details about shippers and their stops before they make them. A free app for drivers allows them to look up their next stop and see any information there is about a shipper so they are better prepared for that stop. The app also allows drivers to comment on their experiences at that facility.
Dock411 tracks more than 75 different attributes about each facility – things like wait times, pictures of the facility, actual dock/load/unload location on a satellite map, bathrooms available to drivers, lumper fees, hazards in the lot, hours/phone numbers, parking available, and whether or not pets are allowed.
“One question we get from drivers is, ‘Is it only for docks?’" noted Serewicz. “No, it is for anywhere anything gets picked up or dropped off: flatbed, step decks, dry van, reefer, ag, ports, etc. We are here to make drivers stops faster, easier, safer and less frustrating. So we are doing everything we can to accommodate all those drivers.”
With the ELD mandate now in full effect, drivers can leverage Dock411’s platform to better help them plan their day. Through the app, drivers have visibility to things like parking and wait times at that stop, they know if they need to park before, after or at that stop.
“We are hearing from drivers that they will have to check in with the shipper to make sure they can get them in and out of their facility before their clock is up and they have to park,” Serewicz explained. “We have even heard of drivers pulling out of the dock half way loaded and having to come back for the other half after their 10 hours because they were afraid they wouldn't get to a safe parking spot by the time the load is done. That is not good for either party.”
The company’s founders also announced their plan to officially launch a shipper platform that allows shippers to include all the necessary information about their facility into Dock411 for drivers to find. This will include a facility map so the shipper can show drivers the preferred route into their facility, entrance, check in location, hazards, dock location and exit of yard as well as those 75 facility attributes.