Monday, February 11, 2013

Truckin' Down the Line

Year ahead holds full ‘pallet’ of issues for the nation’s freight carriers and their customers.

We can’t move our goods without trucks. Despite the rise of intermodal shipping, increased use of air freight for time-sensitive deliveries, and the unquestionable necessity of ocean carriers when you reach the water’s edge, trucking remains king when it comes to the movement of freight in America.

The health of truckload and LTL carriers is necessary for the continued operations of every shipper in the country. So the good news is that the trucking industry just enjoyed its best year since the meltdown of 2008. Even YRC Worldwide went from the verge of bankruptcy in 2011 to profitability in 2012’s third quarter, just a year after new chairman and CEO James Welch took the wheel.

But truckers face a list of daunting challenges in the year ahead. New hours of service regulations are poised to take effect, pending the outcome of a lawsuit from the American Trucking Association. If drivers are able to spend less time on the road, that will exacerbate the chronic driver shortage, that now has many truckload carriers reporting driver turnover rates above 100 percent.

This in turn plays into another perennial issue, labor unrest. With 250,000 Teamsters on its payroll, UPS will see its driver contract expire at the end of July, and is currently in negotiations for a new five-year agreement. ABF, with 7,500 union members, faces a March 31 contract deadline, and is suing the Teamsters over concessions granted to YRC that cut that company’s union wages by 15 percent.

Throw in additional governmental mandate for change from the CSA, or Compliance, Safety Accountability initiative, the long-anticipated capacity crunch as demand increases, and a continuing spate of carrier acquisitions and consolidation. If your supply chain is dependent on motor freight carriers – and it is – you can see that trucking, down the line, is an industry where you need someone who is cognizant of the ever-changing landscape.

Kirk Shearer
TOTALogistix, Inc.
800-989-0054 x103

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