How The Right Logistics Partner Will Improve the Health of Your Chemical Hauling Ecosystem
The logistics of chemical transportation – managing the movement of sometimes life-threatening, hazardous materials from one place to another – presentsva high level of risk and liability, both for shipper and carrier.
This ecosystem of chemical manufacturers, chemical logistics experts and tank truck drivers is much more complex than your typical over-the-roadvtrucking operation. Moving toilet paper or empty boxes from point A to point B provides minimal risk for the shipper, the trucking company and thevdriver. When transporting potentially hazardous chemicals, risks increase. Special care must be taken in filling and emptying tank vessels, and especiallyvwhen driving; spilling a load of lumber obviously causes a problem, but spilling chlorine or any other hazardous material that’s flammable, combustible or poisonous creates a chemical logistics nightmare.
The production of chemicals and resulting transportation needs for shippers will continue to increase. In fact, it is predicted that $125-150 billion dollars will be spent on chemical plant expansion between 2016-2018..
With this increase in chemical production and subsequent need to move it, what logistic challenges and solutions exist for chemical manufacturers and shippers, and how will they keep the chemical hauling ecosystem running smoothly? There are two important components to the system that require attention.
Driver Shortage in Chemical Trucking
One of the biggest challenges in the trucking industry, particularly in chemical hauling is the training and retention of qualified drivers. It’s no secret that there’s a driver shortage – according to American Trucking Association (ATA) over the next decade, the trucking industry will need to hire a total 890,000 new drivers, or an average of 89,000 per year. Replacing retiring truck drivers will be by far the largest factor, accounting for nearly half of new driver hires (45%).
In addition, drivers that transport chemicals require additional training through the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and OSHA to comply with the myriad of state and federal regulations and safety requirements that (understandably) accompany chemical transportation. Drivers that transport chemical products also assume a higher level of risk, taking responsibility for safely transporting potentially life-threatening substances from one place to another.
How can companies ensure that they have the most professional, well-trained drivers to transport their chemical product?
- Make certain that drivers of the highest caliber are hired and trained for the job – and then pay them well. Drivers need to be responsible, professional, and completely aware of the risk and responsibility associated with transporting chemical freight.
At Dupré, the driver turnover rate is only 25% compared to 100% nationwide. Part of the reason for such a low turnover rate is our payment strategy. Dupre drivers are compensated in ways that encourage them to drive at safer speeds and get the rest needed to stay alert on the roads. Pre-trip inspections, wait time while loading and unloading is considered paid time, increasing driver satisfaction.
- Be sure drivers are included in the chemical logistics planning. Instead of handing them their marching orders, include these critical team members in the development and execution of the whole chemical logistics process, relying on their hands-on knowledge of the potential challenges that are faced with a specific procedure or customer. This inclusion makes them familiar with the shipper and their processes and requirements, creating buy-in and trust.
Chemical Logistics Expertise/Strategic Partnership
The level of expertise and commitment required of a chemical logistics company is critical in providing solutions for this growing subset of the trucking industry. It’s imperative that shippers work closely with the logistics company to map out all of the options, and develop the best solution.
Using a collaborative approach to determine the most efficient logistics solution produces the greatest benefit – for shipper and carrier. In the chemical trucking industry, the logistics challenges that need to be addressed include:
- Safety – requirements from state and federal agencies, shipper, manufacturer, chemical transportation provider; HSSE (health, safety, security and the environment) concerns
- Regulatory needs– federal and state agencies
- Driver training, certification and expertise
- Equipment– best tank truck match for the product being moved; fuel efficiency; most current safety equipment installed
- Supply chain efficiencies– assessing time constraints and delivery based on product and manufacturer need
A coordinated chemical logistics solution needs to be developed including everyone involved with the logistics function – shippers, drivers, plant operators, etc. – to create an efficient way to safely and efficiently transport the product.
The chemical hauling ecosystem poses unique challenges. Increased chemical manufacturing and the ongoing driver shortage means that chemical manufacturers need to make smart, intentional decisions regarding their logistics partner. A forward-thinking, experienced logistics partner can make a significant impact on the success of the chemical trucking industry and the health of your chemical hauling ecosystem – creating safe, efficient transportation of our nation’s resources.