Jul 1, 2006 12:00 PM
SAFETY and on-time performance are top priorities for bulk shippers in their relationship with carriers, according to shipper representatives who spoke at the National Tank Truck Carriers annual conference May 7-9 in San Antonio, Texas.
Taking a part in a shipper's panel presentation were Joel Adams of Holcim Ltd, William Patterson of ADM Trucking, Ray Hernandez of Valero Marketing and Supply Co, and David Raden of Eastman Chemical Company.
All agreed that carriers and shippers have to work harmoniously to make their operations more efficient and to reinforce priorities on safety.
“There is no room for error in the US distribution system,” said Hernandez.
Adams added that when his company selects a carrier, it weighs the safety record as much as the price.
The panel discussed other subjects related to the carrier/shipper relationship. Patterson's managers want more advance notice when carriers will be late, as well as the ability to increase payloads. Hernandez said Valero is suggesting carriers use dedicated tank trailers to haul ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD), and Raden discussed the problems of driver recruitment. Adams noted that his company is recommending carriers use muffled blowers in order to reduce noise.
Another point agreed upon is the importance for shippers to recognize driver issues impacting the industry, including new hours-of-service regulations, recruitment and retention, and background checks. “Drivers have to be respected,” Adams said.
“The driver issue is becoming a shipper issue,” said Raden, suggesting that to ease the situation, shippers should become involved in driver recruitment.
Patterson pointed out that the product chain of custody should remain with shippers and receivers and that drivers should not be responsible for sealing trailers.
Hernandez noted that with the entry of ULSD into the marketplace, drivers will require more training to insure product contamination is avoided.
Since just-in-time operations are the order of the day, shippers emphasized the importance of carriers auditing their on-time records and measure the on-time performance. “You should have a documented standard operating procedure,” Patterson added.
He said that technology should be used by carriers to operate more efficiently, and noted that global positioning systems (GPS) are not being used to their full capacity.
The good news for carriers, Raden said, is that they are beginning to have more control in the shipper relationship as a result of economic growth and demand for trucks.
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