D M Bowman Finds Mainstay In Construction Manufacturing
Jan 1, 2002 12:00 PM, Mary Davis
SERVING the construction industry is a mainstay of D M Bowman Inc, a Williamsport, Maryland, trucking company. The tractors and trailers in the bulk division are everpresent as they haul raw materials to manufacturers of roofing shingles, dry wall, and paint.
“Manufacturers are in need of a bulk transportation company that can answer their just-in-time delivery requirements,” says Vincent Alvey, regional sales manager, flatbeds and specialized equipment. “Our services allow us to be an extension of their processes.”
Customer service has played a primary role for D M Bowman since it was established with one truck in 1959 by Donald Bowman. Today, the business has expanded across North America with additional interests in warehousing and real estate. In addition to a large fleet of flatbed and freight trailers, 50 pneumatic tank trailers and five asphalt trailers are active around the clock. The company added the bulk division about 12 years ago in a diversification move. Bulk operations contribute about $8 million in annual revenue.
The bulk division routes span the Middle Atlantic States. Pneumatic trailers haul various products, including crushed stone, talc, lime, and starch. In addition to the Middle Atlantic States routes, Bowman has four bulkers that are dedicated to hauling talc from New England to roofing manufacturers in Maryland.
Asphalt is loaded and transported to a manufacturing facility in Maryland. About 24 loads of asphalt are delivered in a 24-hour cycle throughout the week. “We are a pipeline on wheels,” says Alvey.
To fine-tune deliveries, Bowman monitors customer product supply so that manufacturers can reduce unnecessary inventory. Storage silos are monitored with remote devices through various information technology (IT) programs that report capacity by weight and volume.
The asphalt business is designed for just-in-time delivery to roofing manufacturers so that the cost of heating excessive product is reduced.
“We have taken advantage of the latest technology to assure safe and consistent service,” says Alvey. “The technology is calculated to reduce cost and increase quality performance.”
Dispatchers are based in Frederick, Maryland, where all bulk operations are coordinated, says Matt Hines, terminal manager. Most drivers receive orders by checking their voice mail through a telephone service at the terminal. Three tractors in the bulk division are equipped with Qualcomm satellite communication and tracking systems. Drivers access an integrated voice system to receive orders. Typically, orders are generated on Friday for the following week.
Bowman has developed driver training as a core element of the operation, says Anthony Triggs, eastern region safety supervisor. Part of the program trains drivers to interact closely with customers, which enhances safety and efficiency. To handle driver recruitment, Bowman has employed a full-time driver recruiter based at its Frederick terminal.
New hires must be at least 21 years old, have truck driving experience or completed an accredited truck driving school, and have a safe driving record. Training includes company policies, Department of Transportation regulations, defensive driving, and hazardous materials handling. The company developed its own training video that depicts customer facilities and the loading and weighing procedures used at each site. Triggs credits the video with reducing the time required to load dry products — about 8 to 20 minutes, depending on plant and product.
Drivers receive a three-day orientation, including a half day at a terminal, after which they are assigned to a driver-trainer. On-job training varies from one to nine weeks, depending on the driver. After being put on the road alone and 200 driver hours have been accumulated, the driver returns to the training program for a one-week refresher.
To encourage safe driving, the company presents annual awards. Pay increases are based on driver safety records, as well as personal and vehicle appearance.
Each year, the company conducts safe driving tournaments at each terminal. Winners compete in trucking association state contests.
The emphasis on driver safety and the programs that are used has support from all levels of management. “Safety is at the top of the agenda at every company meeting,” says Triggs. “Our chief safety officer serves on the company's senior management team.”
Stringent hiring guidelines, low turnover, on-going training, and professional development contribute to the on-time performance for which the company strives. In addition to the driver training program, the company lends its safety expertise to customers.
Bowman's safety plan includes evaluation of claims per million miles, accident severity and frequency, and monitoring of driving practices. The data gathered helps managers to improve the safety program, both within the company and at customer locations. With the company's enhanced safety program, Triggs estimates accident injuries and costs have been reduced by 50%. Data covering driving performance is gathered from the Mack and International tractors that are equipped with Tripmaster programs that track speed, rpm, idle, and stop times.
Mack Model CH613 tractors from Interstate Truck Equipment, Hagerstown, Maryland, have Mack 427-horsepower engines. They are specified with ArvinMeritor front and rear axles, the latter with a 3.73 ratio, and MeritorWABCO antilock braking. Also part of the drivetrain is ZF Meritor's 10-speed transmission. Alcoa supplies aluminum wheels, and lighting is from Truck-Lite. The tractors have Fontaine fifthwheels.
Bowman specifies both sleepers and daycabs for Model 9200 International tractors supplied by Grimes Truck Center in Frederick. The tractors are equipped with Cummins engines — 330-hp for the sleepers and 280-hp for the day cabs. Fuller 10-speed transmissions are installed in the sleepers and ZF Meritor 10-speed transmissions in the daycabs.
ArvinMeritor also provides the front and rear axles, the latter with a 3.21 ratio. The antilock brake systems are from MeritorWABCO.
LBT Inc builds the 1,200 cubic-foot Fruehauf bulkers that are designed to operate at 15 psig. The trailers are equipped with Sure Seal aerator systems and butterfly discharge valves. Bayco supplies adjustable safety relief valves. Knappco provides swing check valves.
Reyco supplies the Transpro Model 88 spring suspension. Pro-Par axles are from Holland, and the antilock braking system is from Midland-Grau.
Bowman chose 7,000-gallon Fruehauf asphalt trailers supplied by LBT Stainless. The carbon steel tanks with aluminum jackets are equipped with Homir outlet valves, Milwaukee sampling valves, and Knappco manholes. Ladders, fenders, hose carriers, and ConMet hubs are made of aluminum to reduce overall weight. The running gear includes Reyco Transpro spring suspensions and ArvinMeritor axles with MeritorWABCO ABS. Jost supplies landing gear, and lighting is from Truck-Lite.
Tank trailers and tractors receive preventive maintenance and repairs at the six-bay shop in Frederick. In addition to maintaining the Bowman fleet, the shop operates as a commercial profit center. A Halberstadt maintenance software program is used to track vehicle service. Mechanics fill out work orders and the data is keyed into the computer system.
With the vehicle maintenance and driver training programs well established, Bowman continues to move forward with its services to the construction industry. “This is a strategy we adopted several years ago, and it continues to be updated as necessary,” says Alvey.
Having the right programs in place will help ensure that the fleet is ready whenever an order comes in to move products to the manufacturers. The overall company dedication to safety and efficiency bodes well for future success.
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