The fight to secure trucks continues into late January, even after the expected loosening of post-holiday capacity when volumes ease and drivers return to the road. While tender rejections are following a seasonal downward pattern, the levels are much higher than two years prior and carriers are still rejecting almost one out of every four tenders at contract rates.
What makes this capacity issue even more complicated is that driver employment levels are down. In November 2020, the trucking industry showed 500,000 fewer people employed than in the same month the prior year. A contributing factor to this decline in drivers on the road was the initiation of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse last year, which removed thousands of drivers off the road.
“The market is experiencing high demand for the movement of cargo, much of which is driven by essential goods, pharma distribution and the general increase in e-commerce’s direct role in supplying businesses and consumers alike,” said PowerFleet Chief Product Officer Elizabeth Elkins.
Utilizing additional modes of transportation, such as intermodal, is an obvious way to solve the complex capacity equation, Elkins said, but another inefficiency to address is driver detention or the amount of time it takes for trucks to receive cargo and exchange empty containers, whether at port, rail lines or distribution centers across the globe.
“The need for efficient dual transactions in fast truck turns impacts shippers, receivers and drivers,” Elkins said. “The formula for getting the most out of existing resources and ensuring we respect the incredible work and time of our drivers requires several coordinated inputs across all players in the supply chain. These inputs include seamless integration of telematics devices, fork truck and in-cab interactive solutions, back-office logistics management portals and advanced analytics that create transparency and efficiency at each point in the supply chain.”
At a base level, PowerFleet’s telematics solutions help carriers keep track of their assets’ locations, which is foundational in driving efficiency. But beyond tracking, PowerFleet’s advanced intelligence combines location data with route planning and appointment scheduling so carriers can keep track of when their drivers are nearing their destinations or running late.
“This transparency creates opportunities for everyone in the chain to schedule resources appropriately, course-correct if required and give drivers the ability to maximize their allowable drive time,” said Elkins. “Driver detention is a leading cause of lost earnings and driver dissatisfaction. In an environment where carriers must retain and attract talented operators and drivers, ensuring drivers can maximize their compensated driving miles within their allotted drive time is key.”
PowerFleet’s advanced cargo sensing capabilities also allows carriers to keep an eye — literally — on the contents of a trailer or container, the degree to which it is full, as well as if cargo has shifted or been damaged.
“Identifying empty containers, validating available drop-and-hook opportunities or alerting a receiver of cargo shifts in transit that will require additional time to inspect, reload or unload are all important elements in optimizing turns,” said Elkins. “To that end, the role of the distribution center or cargo handler is critical in maximizing capacity and reducing dwell time. Armed with the comprehensive data provided by PowerFleet’s intermodal telematics devices, distribution centers can now proactively prepare for the truck turn.”