Remarks to MAP-21 from Internet Truckstop

September 24, 2013

Much discussion and controversy has accompanied the signing of the Highway Bill referred to as “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” Act, or MAP-21. While it covers highway construction and maintenance, the bill includes a number of provisions that will have direct impact on brokerage and trucking companies.

Requiring brokers to post a bond of at least $75,000 will go into effect October 1, 2013. While there is pending litigation, there is no indication that this will change. With the deadline now upon us all, we encourage all of our users to closely monitor the situation and be informed and up to date of all requirements. It is reasonable to assume there will be challenges presented in this season of change and we advise all to be careful in their dealings.

At Internet Truckstop®, we have always worked hard to provide a platform where our trucking and broker customers could come do their business with a feeling of security. Our Assurance Services department will continue to be dedicated to monitoring usage of our services to provide as much safety as possible to all of our users. We will continue to uphold those high standards as we work through this time of change so that you can continue to receive the service you expect from Internet Truckstop®.

For additional information please click here for the FMCSA website.

Can a 3-day strike change government?

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“Truckers To Shut Down America” is calling for a general trucking and consumer strike for the weekend of Oct. 11-13, asking truck drivers to refuse to haul freight and consumers to avoid purchasing goods and fuel that weekend.

The movement is also calling for truckers to make their way to Washington, D.C., the same weekend, in a massive convoy to call attention to corruption in the U.S. government.

Let me emphasize that I am a huge proponent of the Constitutional right to assemble and to peaceably demonstrate for or against what we believe is affecting our given rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  However, let me say, too, that while the strike and convoy are well-intended, the event is poorly planned.  Here is why I believe what I believe:

Planning the event on a weekend will have less impact than if it took place during the work week.  Many truckers already do not work on the weekend (and I realize that many do work), which will lessen the severity.  Taking part in a protest such as this — designed to have an impact on the economy — by not driving or hauling on a day or days when you would not be on the road anyway has virtually no impact.  Asking drivers who are not independent owner-operators to take part in this type of strike, which may be against the will of an employer, can also put their means of employment at risk.

The reasons behind the strike have little to do with the trucking industry.  Those who are calling for the strike are using an agenda that calls for the removal of President Barack Obama from office, citing crimes of treason and misdemeanors; the call for Congressional hearings on Benghazi and the recent attack which killed 25 members of Seal Team 6; a belief that Lois Lerner of the IRS should be imprisoned with no amnesty; the removal of all Muslims in U.S. government who do not uphold the Constitution; the removal of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder from office for crimes against the people and the U.S. Constitution and, finally, escalating fuel prices.

Obviously, the only item on the agenda that directly affects the trucking industry is the continued rise in fuel prices.  The remaining items are a matter of personal opinion and whether a person agrees or disagrees with those statements is, again, their given right in the U.S. Constitution.

Yet, organizers of the event estimate if just 10 percent of America takes part in this general strike, it will have a major impact on the government and the U.S. economy.  That would equate to somewhere around 31.6 million Americans refusing to purchase commodities during that weekend and approximately 350,000 truckers refusing to haul goods that weekend.

On a Facebook page started by Truckers To Shut Down America, it states, “The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a GENERAL STRIKE on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers!”  As of the afternoon of Sept. 19, 2013, the Facebook page had slightly more than 54,000 likes.  Likes doesn’t necessarily mean they will take part in the event and it is still far short of the estimated 10 percent needed to make an impact.

That type of participation may well capture of the attention of many politicians in Washington, D.C.  It would also have a strong impact on the U.S. economy which, ultimately, would affect mostly middle class Americans.  That would be because politicians would not take any action concerning the protest until after the fact, at which point the damage would already have been done.  The blame for the impact on the economy would lie solely with those who created the action and not those who make the final decisions concerning the demands of those behind the protest.

That being said, I do not expect a three-day trucking strike on a weekend to have that type of effect on the economy, not do I feel it will plunge the United States back into a recession.  I also do not believe that our politicians will pay any attention to the protest as far as the demands put forth by Truckers To Shut Down America.  Protests take place every day in Washington, D.C.  The majority of them receive little attention by the government or by the media.

In my gut, I like the idea and support the protest, but I have to logically believe that it will do little to change the circumstances within our government as they remain currently.

About the Author
Larry Hurrle is the editor of IT Magazine. He has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years at both daily and weekly newspapers in the Northwest.

Truck Driving is a Deadly Job (and it’s not why you think)

When you hear that truck driving is a deadly job, your mind inevitably travels towards visions of horrible accidents. You may be surprised, then, to find out that accidents aren’t the first cause of trucker death. The truth is this: Because of the lifestyle of truckers, ill-health is the leading cause of death in the profession. Here are the facts:

1. Accidents

There is no doubt that accidents are a concern in the trucking industry. Of all occupational deaths, deaths of truckers resulting from accidents account for 12 percent of work-related deaths in the nation. Consider that truckers drive an average of 14 hours per day, and take one day off each week. Though there are laws that dictate how many hours a trucker can work, these laws are routinely broken. So much time spent on the road puts truckers at a higher risk for accidents than the average driver.

2. Obesity

Obesity leads to heart disease; it’s a truth that we are all aware of. Not only do truckers spend long hours on the road, but they rarely eat healthy meals. Even more rarely do truckers eat three meals a day. Instead, these men and women live off of interstate food and high-calorie snacks. Eighty-six percent of the three million truckers in America are overweight or obese. Ninety-two percent of these men and women report not exercising regularly. It should be no surprise that heart disease is a leading culprit in the death of these professionals.

3. No Health Care

It is not that truckers do not have access to the same health care as the rest of us; it’s that they don’t have time to stop driving to keep an appointment. It is not unusual for truck drivers to simply ignore symptoms of poor health, no matter how serious.

Depression is also a very real problem for truckers. Turnover in the trucking industry sits at a staggering 100 percent. Part of this turnover can be attributed to depression caused by long hours spent away from home, loneliness and the inability to establish work relationships.

4. Inability to Sleep

All truck drivers are not insomniacs, nor do all truckers have the desire to push it through the night. Unfortunately, with the number of truckers on America’s highways, there are only so many spots at rest areas. Think about how difficult it can be to find a parking spot in your small car. Now imagine trying to find a parking spot with 60 extra feet traveling behind you.

Truckers simply may not have the time to travel dozens of miles off of their chosen route to locate a place to park their rig. This often forces drivers to choose between sleeping in unsafe areas or driving through the night.

People outside of the profession have a romantic notion about driving over the open road with the freedom that it entails. People within the profession know how dangerous truck driving can really be. From accidents to deadly health problems, trucking is one of the most deadly occupations out there.

Article submitted by Dan Nielson

3 Gadgets Every Trucker Needs to Stay Connected

Every trucker knows the annoyance of seeing the bars on their gadgets dwindle as they cross into a stretch lasting hundreds of miles in the middle of nowhere, and having to hunt down hotspots at diners and coffee shops can be burdensome.

Every trucker knows the annoyance of seeing the bars on their gadgets dwindle as they cross into a stretch lasting hundreds of miles in the middle of nowhere, and having to hunt down hotspots at diners and coffee shops can be burdensome.

It can be easy to forget how much life has already changed for truckers on the road. There are those of us who still remember the days when CB radio ruled supreme, yet find ourselves today with internet-enabled mobile phones and tablets. Many have been upset with the impending necessity of EOBRs, which feels a little too “big brother” for some truckers’ comfort. Given that a mere six percent of truckers are estimated to be below the age of 35, it’s not surprising that there are those in the industry who are more resistant to change than those in other industries. But passing a CDL test is no longer enough in qualifying to be a good trucker in the 21st century, and modernizing in our tech-savvy new mobile economy isn’t an option; it’s a necessity.

Despite the resistance some might feel in adapting when something already feels tried and true, there are conveniences that make keeping with the times accessible and comforting. Some of the perks of these devices are obvious, such as voiced step-by-step directions, being able to communicate at all times via mobile phone / internet communications, and instantly logging hours with the click of a button. But for when these gadgets are inaccessible, there are other accessories that every driver should consider to smooth out the bumps of using technology on the road. Here are 3 affordable gadgets for truckers to stay connected through technology no matter what happens.

Electric Power Inverter

If you aren’t already an owner of an electric power inverter, they are one of the least costly ways to make sure that you are never away from your gadgets. It’s essential to be able to access your GPS and phone at all times, and having a backup power supply such as an electric power inverter gives you some leniency so that video chatting with family or watching television shows on your phone now and then won’t become an unreasonable use of your power.

Portable Solar Panel

For those with a green thumb, portable solar panels can be a reasonably priced alternative for charging your gadgets while on the road. While they don’t carry as great of a charge as an electric power inverter typically does and take a bit longer to charge, they can keep your essentials ready to access whenever you need them. For the truly budget-friendly or DIY obsessed, there are even directions online for creating your own portable solar panel.

Mobile Wireless Internet

Every trucker knows the annoyance of seeing the bars on their gadgets dwindle as they cross into a stretch lasting hundreds of miles in the middle of nowhere, and having to hunt down hotspots at diners and coffee shops can be burdensome. But with the availability of mobile wireless internet packages, these inconveniences are only optional. As connectivity becomes a greater concern for an increasingly connected industry, it’s crucial for drivers to have a contingency for when they lose availability for an extended period of time.

In addition to these three accessories, consider improving your mobile availability with longer lasting batteries on your equipment, protective shells and cases for each piece of tech, and phone / tablet / GPS holsters for your cab to ensure that you can easily reach any of your devices whenever you need them. With the safety and longevity of gadgets no longer a concern, truckers can experience technology as a convenience rather than a complication.

About the author:

Mike Curts is a marketing director of Driver Solutions and a cofounder ofeGears, a CDL practice test authority.

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/recompose/2303691635/

You don’t know about the new HOS rule? Really?

It never ceases to amaze me just how many people do not know about the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administrations Hours of Service rule that began mandatory compliance on July 1.

I’m not talking your everyday person off the street, mind you.  I’m talking about professionals in the trucking industry.  It seems like every day we are fielding questions and comments at Internet Truckstop from people who did not know the FMCSA was putting in this new rule.  “When did they decide to do this?”  “I didn’t know anything about it.”  “What will I have to do?”

I must admit that my first feeling when I hear this is that the person must have been hiding under a rock.  I can understand when something slips by, but this has been a big issue for several months.  It has a huge impact on drivers in the industry and especially on long haul drivers.

In all actuality, the Hours of Service rule took affect when it was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 27, 2011.  The industry was given 18 months to become compliant with the new rules.  Mandatory compliance took effect July 1.

Most of the rules put in place by the FMCSA concerning hours of service are relatively easy to understand and simple to follow.  Let’s take a quick recap of those rules and they affect drivers each week:

Property-carrying drivers

  • 11-hour driving limit:  Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours each day, after 10 consecutive hours of off duty time.
  • 14-hour limit:  Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty each day, following 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time.  Off duty time during the 14 hours does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • Rest breaks:  A driver may not drive more than eight hours without taking a 30 minute break, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth.  Drivers need to be aware that this does not mean they have to take only one 30 minute break in the 11-hour driving limit.  For example, if a driver begins his or her shift and takes a 30 minute break after two hours of driving, he or she would have to take another 30 minute break before reaching the 11-hour maximum of driving time that day.  Plan your break carefully.
  • Sleeper berth provision:  Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty or any combination of the two.
  • 34-hour restart: (This is possibly generated the most questions and confusion concerning the HOS rules.)  A driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.  At that point, a driver may restart the 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty which includes two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time.  The 34-hour restart may be used only once each week and the restart period begins 168 hours from the beginning of the previous restart.  (I will talk more about this below.)

Passenger-carrying drivers

  • 10-hour driving limit:  Drivers may drive a maximum of 10 hours after eight consecutive hours of off-duty time.
  • 15-hour limit:  Drivers may not driver after having been on duty for 15 hours, following eight consecutive hours of off-duty time.  Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.
  • 60/70 hour limit:  A driver may not drive after reaching the 60/70-hour limit on duty in a 7/8 consecutive day period.
  • Sleeper berth provision:  Drivers using a sleeper berth must take at least eight hours in the sleeper berth and may split the sleeper berth time into two period, provided neither time is less than two hours.

As I said before, the 34-hour restart seems to be the area with the largest point of contention.  Because a driver must be off duty for 34 consecutive hours and that period must include two consecutive periods of between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. home terminal time, some are confused about the best way to handle the requirement.

Planning, once again, is the best way to use the 34-hour restart.  For example, if you complete your 60/70 hour limit and begin your 34-hour off duty requirement on a Friday at 7 p.m., your second two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods will end on Sunday at 5 a.m., allowing your new work week to begin at that point.

One of the questions that we fielded recently was from a driver who was concerned he could not get back to his home base by the end of his 60/70 hour maximum to begin his 34-hour restart.  The phrase “home base time” does not mean the 34-hour restart period has to take place at your home base.  It simply means the time with which the driver is working is the time from his or her home base.  For instance, using the example I stated above for the restart, if a driver is based in South Carolina, but is in California and reaches the end of his or her 60/70 hour maximum at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, it is only 4 p.m. Pacific Time.  The official time for the restart is based on Eastern Time.  Therefore, the driver could legitimately begin the next week of hours at 2:00:01 a.m. Pacific Time Sunday, because the home base is situated in the Eastern Time Zone.

Likewise, a driver from the West Coast who finds himself or herself on the Eastern seaboard when their hours expire at 7 p.m. Pacific Time (10 p.m. Eastern), would have to wait until 8 a.m. Eastern on Sunday to begin their new week of hours.

Time, ultimately, will tell whether FMCSA’s prediction of cost savings and a reduction in fatalities and injuries will take place with the new rules that are designed to strengthen safety.  There have been many arguments back and forth on those topics.

For now, drivers must concentrate on complying with the new rules and finding out what works best for them.  I wish each and every one of you good luck and prosperity.  Use a little bit of planning and make the new rules work for you.

 

About the Author
Larry Hurrle is the editor of IT Magazine. He has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years at both daily and weekly newspapers in the Northwest.

Towns and truck parking: Problems continue

Well, I finally caught up on my Facebook page, only to find out that while I was away, big things happened in the Midwest. In fact, a note left on a trucker’s window in Coon Rapids, Minn., has truckers spewing anger that I haven’t seen since the Warner Robins, Ga., parking restrictions incident early in the year.

This is the third such incident I have seen since I made my way into the trucking industry about six months ago. First was the parking restrictions, and eventual rescinding of the ordinance in Warner Robins. Then there was the Wal-Mart incident in Texas as blogged about by Overdrive’s online magazine blogger Wendy Parker and now the Coon Rapids conundrum.

CoonRapidsTrucking

“Attn: Trucker! Find a new city to park your rig. We do not like these eyesores in our city” -Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Anyway, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the post on Facebook concerning the note, and a picture of the note taped to the trucker’s window. I know the picture of the note is small and if you haven’t already seen the contents, here is what the note said:

“Attn: Trucker! FYI! Read sign posted no overnight parking in this shopping center lot. FYI! The Coon Rapids City Council passed a(n) ordinance this spring to crack down on all semi trucks etc. parking in any of our shopping districts. The police dept. will (now) issue expensive tickets. Just a friendly reminder for you. Find a new city to park your rig. We do not like these eyesores in our city. FYI: I have called the police.”

At first, my knee-jerk reaction was to think how woefully sorry this town of about 62,000 residents in southeastern Minnesota was going to be when truckers started boycotting the city because of parking restrictions at shopping centers and when the residents began discovering how difficult it was to find items in their locals stores because truckers would no longer deliver. Then I thought, “There’s got to be more to it than this.”

There was. The Coon Rapids city code reads as follows:

9-204 Parking and Storage of Recreational Vehicles, Trucks, Semi Tractors and Trailers in Commercial and Office Districts (1) Purpose. The maintenance of certain vehicles in areas outside of designated loading bays and loading zones is unsightly, causes public safety concerns, impacts site parking and traffic circulation, and degrades surrounding property values. Regulation is necessary to alleviate these impacts, and to provide land use uniformity for businesses to operate competitively.
 
(2) Violation. It is a misdemeanor to stand, park, store, or allow to stand, be parked, or be stored, in a place affected with a public interest, a recreational vehicle, a truck whose gross vehicle weight is 26,000 pounds or more, a semi tractor, or a trailer, between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., except when the vehicle: a) is in a queue approved on a site plan or by the Community Development Director, for a loading dock or loading area, for not more than eight hours; or b) is being actively loaded or unloaded.
 
(3) Enforcement.
a) Community Service Officers may issue citations for violations of Section 9-204(2) and may be processed in a Citizen Awareness Project diversion program.
b) Violations may also be subject to civil process and abatement under Chapter 8-1100. [Adopted 12/18/12, Ordinance 2100]

 

My next thought was, “Well, I wonder if Wendy Parker had anything to say about this?” Acutally, I knew the answer to my question even before I called up Overdrive online to check out her blog. Sure enough, there it was. So, I set off reading to see what she had to say about the situation. I often read Parker’s blog because she makes me think. I find, more often than not, that I don’t agree with her or even like her writing, but I always find that she makes me step back and assess the situation before jumping in.

If anything, I knew she would fly off the handle and go in with guns blazing, like she did with the Wal-Mart fiasco. This time, I was wrong. She took the time to write to a city council member and even got a response on the situation. This time, I actually agreed with most of what she had to say.

But I digress. The thing that really bothered me about the whole parking situation was the fact that one resident of the city decided to take it into their own hands to chastise this trucker with an anonymous note and inform the trucker they don’t like these “eyesores” in their city, even going so far as to tell the trucker to “Find a new city to park your rig.”

It was later explained that the city is trying to crack down on idle semi trailers or tractors being parked for extended periods of time in areas such as shopping center parking lots. The city ordinance does allow for vehicles in service to have a certain amount of time to be parked, while waiting to be loaded or unloaded.

My biggest concern is that the citizen that left this message has no idea how much the trucking industry means to the retail industry in the United States. The two go hand-in-hand. The retail industry needs product to be delivered. Whether it is by air, by sea or by land, that product must be delivered. If it is delivered to a port, that product still needs to make its way to the retailer — and that is done by truck. Trucks also transport goods across this nation daily, whether short haul or long haul. With new regulations hitting the trucking industry hard, truckers will need places to park their trucks. At times, those stays may have to be more than 24 hours to comply with the new regulations.

I agree that unattended tractors or trailers should not be left in public or semipublic areas for days or weeks on end. I also agree with provisions put in place by the Coon Rapids City Council to make sure overnight or extended parking for trucks loading and unloading can take place.

Unfortunately, those who do not understand the importance of the trucking industry to this nation have their proverbial head stuck in the sand and have no clue how items get to their supermarket, department store or any other retail outlet. Without those trucks loading and unloading and possibly parking in a parking lot for a night, we would all be up that well-known creek without a paddle because the truck wasn’t able to deliver it to our local retail outlet.

About the Author
Larry Hurrle is the editor of IT Magazine. He has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years at both daily and weekly newspapers in the Northwest.

Nevada is newest state to outlaw indemnification clauses

Nevada is newest state to outlaw indemnification clauses

Nevada has become the latest state to stand up for trucker rights.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed a bill that will eliminate indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. In essence, shippers will no longer be able to force truck drivers or trucking companies to agree to contracts which hold the shipper harmless for anything that happens with a shipment.

The new rule will take effect on Oct. 1, 2013. Arkansas (Aug. 1, 2013) and Idaho (July 1, 2013) also approved bills that were signed into law that will make indemnification clauses illegal and take effect this year, as did Montana and Utah. Those laws in those two states were enacted earlier this year.

With the five states enacting legislation that became law this year, it brings the total number of states with similar legislation to 39.

Truck drivers have long called indemnification clauses in contracts wholly unfair, but had little room to argue the case. States including Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont still do not have laws against the unfair practice on their books.

In Nevada, the new law states that contracts are an agreement or understanding between a motor carrier and a shipper covering the transportation of property for hire by the motor carrier, entry on property to load, unload or transport property including the story of that property.

It excludes intermodal chassis, containers or other intermodal equipment.

States that join Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah by having some sort of law banning indemnification clauses include Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

About the Author
Larry Hurrle is the editor of IT Magazine. Hurrle, 51, has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years at both daily and weekly newspapers in the Northwest. He attended Boise State University and has served as editor of the Kellogg Evening News in Kellogg, ID; the Argus Observer in Ontario, OR; and the Independent-Enterprise in Payette, ID.

Estimated 25,000 truck driving positions to go unfilled in 2013, who can fill them?

Take a look. Almost anywhere you look in the transportation industry, you will see some sort of report concerning the projected truck driver shortage. With the trucking industry well on the road to recovery from the recession, 2012 showed some favorable gains. According to the American Trucking Association, truckload activity was up 1 percent, truckload intermodal loads were up 20.1 percent and less-than-truckload tonnage increased 4.3 percent from 2011.

Predictions for 2013 show continued increases, but at a slower rate than 2012.

Overall, though, the shortage of truck drivers still looms. The industry will need more than 96,000 new drivers every year for the next 10 years, according to ATA, to offset lost drivers and older drivers getting out of the business. Fewer and fewer young people are moving into the industry as a way of life. An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 driving positions could go unfilled this year, according to projections.

So, where can the industry turn to fill the void?

Women.Rosie Riviter

According to statistics from 2008, 8.8 million people participated in one way or another in the trucking industry. Of those, only about 15 percent were female, of 1.3 million. That, however, involves the entire trucking industry, from offices to drivers.

There were about 3.4 million truck drivers in the United States in 2008, of which only about 166,000 were women. That comes down to about 4.9 percent of the total driver population.

The trucking industry has always been thought of as a predominantly male-dominated industry. The female presence in the industry, though, has been increasing over the past decade with more women drivers, owner and managers.

Several studies indicate that women are well-suited for leadership roles within companies. Those studies show that women are better at communication, engaging employees and overall planning than men. The same, I believe, would be true for the trucking industry and truck drivers. While the stigma of the industry stereotypically places a male behind the wheel of a big rig, women are well suited and perfectly capable of doing the same job.

The image of men being behind the wheel of big rigs, though, is perhaps the first and most difficult hurdle to clear when talking about women filling the gap. Another issue that could have an impact on women driving is the time away from home. This has also become an issue with male drivers, who want to spend more time with their families. The same would be true with female drivers and may develop the industry to consider shorter routes and delivery schedules to reduce the time spent on the road.

One area that will help in getting women more involved in the trucking industry, though, comes from the Women in Trucking Association. In 2012, WTA formed a separate, charitable organization known as the Women in Trucking Association Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to provide funds for members seeking training in areas vital to the trucking industry.

After spending a year obtaining funds, the organization is now ready to award its first scholarships. The $500 scholarships will be awarded in four categories: leadership, safety professional, technical skill and professional driver. Applicants for the scholarship are able to submit a request for funding online at www.WomenInTruckingFoundation.org. To be awarded a scholarship, you must be a member in good standing with the organization.

Scholarship applications will be accepted through the end of July and scholarship recipients will be notified in August. Funds will be dispersed to the educational facility of the woman’s choice on behalf of the grant recipient.

It is a good start. Women and the trucking industry are a great fit. It is an employment pool the industry can draw from to overcome some of the shortages that are predicted and would benefit both the industry and women in the long run.

 

About the Author
Larry Hurrle is the editor of IT Magazine. Hurrle, 51, has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years at both daily and weekly newspapers in the Northwest. He attended Boise State University and has served as editor of the Kellogg Evening News in Kellogg, ID; the Argus Observer in Ontario, OR; and the Independent-Enterprise in Payette, ID.

Avoid the Ill-Planned Innovative Rollout – Plan, Communicate, Execute

It happens repeatedly. A company adopts a new technology platform that ostensibly will ease the workload, streamline operational processes and result in overall gains in efficiency and budget spending. The intention is spot-on, but the execution is decidedly less so. A post-mortem will usually reveal errors in the execution but will miss the real culprit: planning errors. While “Garbage In-Garbage Out” (GIGO) is true for any process, it is especially apparent in any change initiative. If the initiative is not planned properly, the end result will almost always reflect that lack of planning.

I frequently observe companies that attempt technology-based change initiatives with the latest and greatest new technologies (i.e. EOBM, TMS-rollouts, etc.). Many companies believe that the provider of this technology will also ensure that their technology will successfully effectuate the intended changes. They effectively defer the planning, execution and, most importantly, control to this third party. More times than not, this recipe fails and along with it goes the change initiative. The result: Blame the technology and try to find a “better technology.” In other words, they blame the equipment and not themselves.
When my clients engage my consulting services to help effectuate change, I advise them that successful change involves a three-step process: Plan, Communicate and Execute. These are not mutually exclusive as each step comprises elements of the other two steps.
Step 1 – Plan
Since planning is the most critical step, most of my attention will be here. Successful planning means an objective discovery of the real problem driving the change. Frequently the stated and/or obvious problem is not the real problem, but rather a symptom of a bigger, underlying issue. We can better discover the real issue by channeling our inner four year old and repeatedly ask why. In Total Quality Management (TQM), the 5-Why Process is a useful tool to achieving real issue discovery. For example, if we are having trouble staying compliant with the Unsafe Driving portion of CSA:
Q1: Why are we having this trouble?
A1: We’re ticketed too often for speeding, illegal lane changes, etc.
Q2: Why are we getting ticketed so often?
A2: Because our drivers are rushing to make their deliveries
Q3: Why do they need to rush to make their deliveries?
A3: Because their schedules require them to make “x” number of daily deliveries
Q4: Why do we need to schedule so many deliveries per driver?
A4: Because otherwise we can’t meet our service commitments
Q5: Why are our service commitments so tight?
A5: Because the competitive landscape requires them.

The 5-Why Process doesn’t have to repeat 5 times and it could actually be more than 5 questions. When we hit a why, that we don’t have a clear answer for, we likely are at the real issue.
Once we have discovered the real issue, we need to properly define the scope of both the problem and its intended solution. A frequent planning occurrence is when the problem is clearly defined, but the solution slowly expands to include more than just the problem. In project management terms this is called “scope creep.” While it is admirable that a solution goes well beyond its intent, if the “well-beyond” is not planned, it could compromise the entire initiative. The signs of scope creep will usually include budget and time overruns.

Once the scope has been established, proper risk management must be employed. What are the risks involved with rolling out this new technology? If it is an EBOM rollout, will our veteran drivers have trouble with it? If they do have trouble, can we provide them the proper support? With the difficulty in finding new drivers, what is the risk with rolling out this initiative and possibly losing some veteran drivers? What is the plan if we do lose these drivers? While we cannot possibly plan for every contingency, we can plan for every category of risk. This will give us a significant head-start in successfully addressing the problem and continuing unabated.

Step 2 – Communication
There is no such thing as “over-communication.” The key is to provide honest, constant and relevant communication between the change team members, upward to senior executives and outward to those that will be affected by the change. This communication must take place in every step of the change process for the initiative to be successful. Since most of us resist change primarily because of the fear of the unknown, we must make special and concerted efforts to combat this through every form of organizational communication (i.e. face-to-face, email, video conferencing, etc.). Most importantly, if we don’t have an immediate answer, we must honestly and in a timely fashion, communicate this as well.

Step 3 – Execute
Assuming that we have planned and communicated properly, we still must execute according to plan. If we have planned properly, then the likely “hiccups” inherent in any change initiative will have been planned for and can be addressed according to plan.
The end result will not be an ill-planned innovative rollout, but a rollout that encompasses the best of change management and most importantly, accomplishes its intended goal(s).

About the author

MoeGlennerMoe Glenner is a twenty year plus veteran of the logistics and supply chain industry, a highly volatile and frequently changing industry. Throughout this time, he has served in a variety of management and senior management roles as well as an outside consultant. As a one-time entrepreneur, Mr. Glenner founded 2 separate privately-held transportation companies.

Mr. Glenner holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History from Northeastern Illinois University, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (Lake Forest, IL), Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification from Villanova University (Philadelphia, PA) and is an professional general aviation pilot.

As Director – Global Logistics for Steel Warehouse Company (a $2 billion major enterprise in the steel industry), Mr. Glenner transformed both the culture and finances of the previously ailing transportation department from a cost center to a profit center, earning him the respect and accolades of colleagues and senior management.

Currently he is President of PURElogistics, LLC, a leading change management, logistics and supply chain consulting firm entirely dedicated to providing best practices in change management, logistics and supply chain strategies. He is an in-demand and frequent speaker at industry trades shows and conferences, speaking particularly on leading organizational change.

Mr. Glenner, a longtime Chicago native (and die-hard Bears/White Sox fan), currently resides in South Bend, Indiana.

***This is an article written for IT Magazine, you can view the full  March/April 2013 magazine at itmagazine.truckstop.com

Ben Bernanke Continues to Pedal Liquidity up a Growing Fiscal Hill

As the federal government spending sequester begins, fiscal policy is currently stealing the headlines, but Ben Bernanke discussed future monetary policy at two important appearances during the past week. Somewhat ironically, the two broad methods by which government policy influences the economy are working in opposition: even as fiscal activity deflates, the Federal Reserve is actively working to keep the economy from submerging into another recession.

Bernanke’s first major appearance of the week was in his Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress. In this speech, the Chairman of the Fed provided Congress with an assessment of the current economic situation before outlining policies that the Fed is using to help boost economic activity. In particular, Bernanke outlined two “tools” that the Fed is wielding: “forward guidance” for the federal funds rate, and “large-scale purchases of longer-term securities.”

Both of these tools aim to promote economic growth by reducing uncertainty about the future financial environment. I’ve previously discussed how economic uncertainty can hinder business activity, and the Federal Reserve Bank is acting to provide a more stable outlook for U.S. businesses.

In a second appearance last week, at the Annual Monetary/Macroeconomics Conference in San Francisco, Bernanke extended his discussion of the Fed’s current policies. In this longer speech, the Fed’s Chairman outlined four “prongs” of the strategy, which he characterized as relying “primarily on monitoring, supervision and regulation, and communication.” Again, the underlying motivation is to reduce economic uncertainty so that businesses feel more comfortable about expanding their operations.

But, the Federal Reserve’s actions to reduce economic uncertainty are easily undermined by the whirlwind of obscurity being produced on the Fiscal Policy side of government. In his report before Congress, Bernanke called out the Legislature directly:

“Although monetary policy is working to promote a more robust recovery, it cannot carry the entire burden of ensuring a speedier return to economic health. The economy’s performance both over the near term and in the longer run will depend importantly on the course of fiscal policy. The challenge for the Congress and the Administration is to put the federal budget on a sustainable long-run path that promotes economic growth and stability without unnecessarily impeding the current recovery.”

Indeed, Mr. Chairman. It is very challenging to promote financial liquidity when pedaling up a Fiscal hill.

-Jeremy West, Internet Truckstop Economist