View From The Driver’s Seat
On April 12th, Freightwaves hosted the Enterprise Fleet Summit ‘22. I spent the morning taking notes from the presenters and thinking about “How does this apply to a common driver just working his 14-hour shift?” So here are a few takeaways from each guest and my thoughts on each.
FIrst off, we had James Reed, President, CEO and Director, and Tim Guin, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer of USA Truck appear and give the Keynote Address. They gave a nice talk about company values and working for a company you want to work for. My personal opinion is, “If you don’t want to work there, don’t drag everyone else down with the negativity. There are always more fish in the sea.” They also spoke about “getting to know the customers better than they know themselves.” That is useful. I know of a few business deals made because another company recognized an opportunity to shore up a customer’s issue and create some profit for them both.
At 09:30, we had a fireside chat between Thomas Wasson and Bill Wettstein, President and CEO of Nussbaum. They talked primarily about the drivers in the fleet now and the changes that have occurred over the last few years. From hiring drivers with 2 years of experience, down to those with just a CDL, to opening their own training schools, Nussbaum has adapted to the situation. With the average age of drivers approaching 50, they spoke about how more graduates are going to college than trade schools or directly into jobs. The nomadic, always-on-the-move lifestyle of trucking does not appeal to them, but increasing home-time opportunities and pay packages might. Walmart’s recent pay increase for its drivers has been making news.
At 10:00, we had Freightwaves Founder and CEO Craig Fuller with Richard Greening, Global Tech Director of DDC FPO. In this episode of Fuller Speed Ahead, they spoke about bill processing, getting that BOL completed and everyone getting paid faster. Why do we still have Net 30 billing when the tools we have now allow instant updating of all aspects of the industry? DDC is building an app that allows all steps of the process – from brokering through to driver submitting signed BOLs – to be instantaneous and even GPS tag key moments. Anything that gets everyone what they need faster and simpler is a plus in my book.
Transforce has an app called “TF1” that is helping fleets hire drivers. Driver candidates can build a profile, add important information like their CDL and look for jobs with the hours, pay, and workloads they want.
Tremble is working on tightening the Geofencing on automated information entries, which makes collecting that precious detention time easier with a neutral third-party marking the timesheet. Tremble’s geofencing moves from the old circular radius style to a more realistic property line style. The company has even added gate points to help with routing through particular locations.
Uber Freight gave a demo of the system for its web portal. It has the iconic Uber look to it. From contracted dedicated lanes (I saw that 12-week commitment) to some spot market listings, I’m impressed with how the system has grown. Uber Freight even has a ratings system to hold shippers and receivers accountable. I think driver experiences are now starting to be a big part of booking freight, especially with the lawyers getting involved with driver bathroom privileges. No one likes paying lawyers.
Next up we had PowerHouse TL CEO Elane Levin talking about fuel and the wild ride in prices that has occurred over the last couple of months. Lots of small trucking companies do not have buying programs in place and are at the mercy of prices at the fuel pump. They don’t have the capital to buy fuel in bulk contracts.
Following Elane was a fireside chat between Thomas Wasson and Beth Howard, Transfix Director of Carrier Development. They discussed growing fleets in this climate. Dedicated fleets are the goal of most company drivers, with loss rates as low as 15%, compared to the 100% to 300% at some mega-carriers. Dedicated fleets are guaranteed capacity for businesses, taking away the headache of cancellations on mission-critical/plant shutdown loads.
After the lunch break, Joe Antoshak, Senior Editorial Researcher at FreightWaves, speaking with Mike Hayde, VP of NFI, about breaking barriers for new drivers. Women in Trucking is a big talking point now, as well as immigrant drivers with the Ukraine battles ongoing. One issue that was brought up was the Clearinghouse and how it has removed and blacklisted a multitude of drivers. With pay rates improving, it might be a good time to get into trucking.
At Noon was “What The Truck!!! with Dooner and The Dude! Topics for today’s show were the collapsing spot market; geometry of geo fences; how tech is enabling large fleets; the power of location analytics; and becoming a broker of choice. They also, FOR SCIENCE, had a Rest Stop Review of Beyond Meat Jerky. Hey, where’s my free samples??? Special guests on the show were Dennis Cooke, President and CEO at Transforce; Jay Gustafson, EVP of Brokerage Operations at Echo; Bob Chappuis, GM of Carrier Operations at Uber Freight; Rishi Mehra, Director of Operations & Strategy at Trimble MAPS. You can find the full show here on What The Truck!!!
Finally, we had Grace Sharkey, Freightwaves Writer, with Dr. Mark Manera of The Trucker Fitness Company. His main talking point was about getting drivers into better condition, physically and mentally. Drivers now have a life expectancy 16 years less than other people. Obesity and diabetes are becoming rampant in the driver pool, causing insurance premiums to increase and making those nuclear verdicts easier to drop on us. The Trucker Fitness Company has spent the last two years building a program to help get drivers in shape and find the issues causing the health problems.
Overall, it was an informative event. My take is we will be seeing more automation in the cab and on mobile devices, better opportunities for drivers in both fleet types available and in the payscale, and more focus on driver well-being. Spring ‘22 has been a wild ride already and it looks like the wild ride will continue into the summer season. Find more articles from the Enterprise Fleet Summit at Freightwaves.com
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