Fleet Managers Must Balance Regulation, Costs and Customer Demands
By: Food Logistics March 31, 2014
Today's fleet managers are confronted with multiple challenges, from ongoing driver shortages to complex and oftentimes restrictive state and federal regulations, and that's just for starters. Add to that the specific concerns of food shippers, and the picture becomes even more complicated.
There’s a consensus on the top challenges facing the industry as a whole, with the ongoing driver shortage and rising fuel costs among them.
According to Tom Scollard, vice president of dedicated contract carriage, Penske Logistics: “The top two concerns for fleet managers are controlling costs and sourcing quality labor and drivers. Fuel, the increased cost of equipment due to regulations, and increased employee costs continue to put pressure on cost management,” he says.
Meanwhile, “Food shippers have found particular challenges in hiring the right drivers to deliver food products,” says Scollard. “These deliveries are typically labor-intensive with narrowly defined delivery windows. Drivers have multi-stop routes and they’re also many times in a customer-facing position. They operate in areas exposed to the public, such as congested parking lots and shopping malls, on weekends and holidays and odd hours. Oftentimes these stops don’t have docks. The food industry demands fast and frequent deliveries with freshness a big priority and with low levels of inventory.”
Scollard’s comments are shared by others, including 3PLs and transportation providers.
Derek Leathers, president and COO, Werner Enterprises, emphasizes that, “Drivers are the primary focus; the industry is in need of talented professional drivers more than ever, even for the most desirable positions that offer opportunities for drivers to be home on a weekly basis.” In addition, “The limited amount of governmental and third-party funding available for training schools presents challenges that make it more difficult than ever to attract the talent we need in our industry.”
Leathers also mentions the cost of maintaining and updating equipment as a top concern. “The addition of new age emission engines and the required maintenance associated with them has significantly increased costs.”