Safety – The Missing Link
Safe Service That’s Profitable.
It’s a core part of our mission statement, but what does it really mean. Safety is one of those words that is used so frequently that few people ever spend the time to really think about its impact.
In more than 25 years in the trucking, transportation and logistics industry, I’ve never met a shipper, an operator, or a manager who didn’t state their desire for safety. Yet, despite this universal desire for safety, few companies operate in accordance with these principles. Why? In our experience the answer is (almost) always: profit.
Think about it. Why do global companies continuously pay lip service to safety, and cut corners time and time again? Evidence supports that companies continuously make short-term decisions to cut costs that result in devastating losses – to both the companies making the decisions and their communities.
While these are extreme examples; for years companies in the trucking industry have compensated for their inefficient systems by taxing safety as well. Are we facing peak demand times? We’ll just work our drivers extra shifts. Are margins decreasing? Not a problem, we’ll just extend maintenance. Capital or cash flow tight? That’s okay, we’ll just use our equipment longer.
While this often had the short-term impact of decreasing costs for shippers and distributors (and increasing profits for trucking companies), it also allowed inefficient and often ineffective legacy systems to survive and it has allowed hidden costs to manifest through the entire logistics process.
Government regulation and compliance has always fought back with the aim of maintaining and controlling as much of the process as possible with the goal of protecting the highways. This effort culminated in December 2010 with the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) laws and regulations. While we are still in the early days of seeing the full impact of CSA, every company with a logistics function will feel it.
In short, CSA takes what has historically been a trucking company’s problem – how to manage their business – and turns it into a shipper’s problem. The net result of CSA is tighter regulation and, more importantly, the monitoring of safety protocols that will prevent the work-arounds that trucking companies have historically used.
What CSA Means To Shippers/Distributors
An industry that is already dealing with a labor shortage will be further limited to how it can use it’s existing pool of drivers. An industry already recovering from the worst recession of our lifetime will be experiencing increased costs of operation.
- Fewer driver hours
- Even tighter capacity
As trucking companies deal with this fallout, their operational inefficiencies will show and that will result in more “crisis” loads for shippers.
Analysts agree that shippers/distributors that don’t proactively adjust to the new environment will experience:
- High transportation costs
- Lower productivity
- Increased supply chain disruptions
- Increased customer complaints
Making The Adjustment
For the record, we are big fans behind the intent of CSA. While many trucking companies look at these regulations as new requirements, we’ve looked at them as minimum standards for years.
We’ve learned that if you want to eliminate the invisible costs that occur in the distribution process and increase customer productivity, then you must:
- Maintain a stable, superior pool of drivers,
- Maintain an efficient, effective fleet of equipment, and
- Look beyond the trucks into our customers’ core businesses to help them develop the systems to win.
This approach has allowed us (and our customers) to grow in good times and bad, it’s earned us the Ideal Place to Work, and several awards from the ATA in support of safety initiatives. It even got us featured in a recent National Geographic documentary.
More importantly, it’s helped us serve our customers and enable them to reduce their cost structure and drive superior results in their supply chain. It is what we mean when we say, Safe Service That’s Profitable.