The electronic logging device mandate, set to go into effect in the U.S. Dec. 18, will focus attention on companies that habitually make drivers wait long hours to load or unload freight, experts say, adding that many motor carriers who are ELD-ready are becoming less hesitant to drop shippers that slow down freight movement and delay drivers.
Big trucking companies also are revving up so-called “shipper of choice” programs to prioritize working with preferred customers. Independent truckers, often owner-operators, also report sharing names of slowpoke shippers with dispatchers or freight brokers to avoid ever making a return visit.
Shippers already dealing with a freight hauling capacity crunch caused by rising demand and a driver shortage could avoid being dropped by reducing wait times.
“If you’re a shipper that doesn’t like paying detention and you’re a mess to load and unload, carriers will drop [you]. Those shippers could end up paying more or not being able to find carriers,” says Kevin Hill, president and founder of CarrierLists, a carrier database provider conducting weekly ELD compliance polls.
ELDs are putting renewed attention on wait times and other shipper behaviour. Circle Logistics Inc. started requiring the 80 owner-operators it works with to install ELDs earlier this year. Since then, the Fort Wayne, Ind.,-based third-party logistics provider has dropped an unspecified number of shippers that haven’t agreed to adopt practices that speed up freight handling.
“We had to step back and look at what shippers from a time perspective allowed us to be the most cost effective,” said Andrew Smith, the company’s vice president of sales and operations. “Once we focused on putting drivers into shippers of choice, we found our operating revenue on a driver basis was up.”
Shippers that cooperate tend to be manufacturers running just-in-time assembly lines or companies with other production-critical freight needs. “Those time-critical shippers are going to find that the market is going to shift in their favour and the shippers that haven’t adapted will feel the capacity crunch the worst,” Smith said.
As part of its shipper of choice program, Circle created a dedicated division that assigns drivers to specific customers. Those customers are using drop trailers to speed up deliveries, and some have added parking spaces or bought lots for carriers to drop trailers.
“Shippers who are working to become shippers of choice will naturally get capacity that brokers and carriers have to offer,” Smith said.
Dropping bad shippers will become more common once the ELD mandate takes effect, said Ken Harper, director of marketing at DAT, the load board and freight-rate aggregator.
“There are many docks that have unconscionable ways they treat carriers, and that has to stop,” Harper said.
Once the new ELD rule takes effect, it will be easier to track what happens on loading docks, Harper said. “The data will be out there to see how much carriers get held up, how much is it eating into their productivity.”
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