If necessity is the mother of invention, the new hours-of-service rules will no doubt force carriers to come up with creative ways to move America’s freight.
Take Michael Milasuski, general manager of Double D Express, Peru, Ill., for example. He’s considering collaborating with other trucking company owners to have his drivers unload trailers for their drivers when they are out of hours. Milasuski admits that to be successful, such a scenario would require the perfect fit of geography and logistics, but he’s still contemplating moving in this direction. “It’s a way to be more efficient,” he says. “If your trucker is out of hours but still has multiple loads left to unload, one of my fresh guys can pick up the slack. It’s certainly an idea worth looking into.”
Like most carriers, the 130-truck company is also looking at more traditional ways to overcome productivity losses inherent in the new rules. Milasuski is working with his customers to uncover ways to get trucks loaded and unloaded more efficiently. He’s also struggling with how to get customers to accept accessorial charges. “It’s still a work in progress as we figure out how to charge shippers for delays,” he says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of formula.”
Well in advance of Jan. 4, Milasuski’s company worked hard to ensure its drivers would be prepared for the new rules, providing them with a minimum of 16 hours of classroom instruction. While nobody is perfectly happy with all parts of the rules, complete compliance is essential, Milasuski says. “It’s a matter of constantly communicating and re-telling the story,” he says. “We are here to help them understand.”
For himself, Milasuski continues to seek ways to become more educated on the new rules. “I’m reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m attending conventions and shows, reading industry publications and keeping an eye on what the big carriers are doing,” he says. “Staying informed is mandatory as everyone figures out how to adjust.”
Although companies like Milasuski’s will continue to struggle to find ways to stay competitive on a changed playing field, the rules are forcing them to work with their customers to weed out waste and find new efficiencies in the system. And who knows? The mother of invention may just invent a new, better way for America to move freight.