Saturday, April 27, 2013

Freight models, what will happen now?

I talked the other day in another blog about how the new HOS (hours of service) rules will be going into effect here.  I also posted a few things on my companies Facebook page and was dismayed at some of the responses I had gotten.

From what I can tell, the few that responded seem to be focused on just one or two issues, and not looking at the whole scope and picture of what will possibly happen when these new rules will kick in.

I've been driving off and on since 1993, so I remember the older HOS rules that we had, along with how the freight model worked back then.

Back then, you had more warehouses storing goods to be shipped on a reasonable schedule.  More goods were stored at the end of the warehousing model with the receiver since trucks took more time with load transit.

That all changed in 2003 when we went to the current HOS rules we run on now with the 34 hour restart.  Shippers and receivers quickly figured out that they could operate on more of a JIT (just in time) basis and not hold as much inventory in their warehouses.  It was a win-win situation for them as it lowered their costs on storage, inventory etc.  This is the freight model we are currently running on.

So it begs to question, what is going to happen with the new HOS rules when they go into effect in July?  How will this effect the current freight model.  When you have a drop of available trucks, the JIT model will not work as well.  I'm not completely sure if the industry has studied this as I am looking for articles on it, but I don't think its going to be a good thing.  There is going to be some disruptions as they try to reorganize things.  When I can get definitive answers, I'll definitely put them on here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Will freight rates rise with new HOS rules starting in July?

I have recently read a few articles about this and they all basically came to the same conclusion.  Here is a link to one of them that I thought was interesting.

Right now our economy is not very strong.  That is very evident in the amount of freight that is moved from point A to point B.  This in itself is a very good barometer of where the economy is.

You have to look at the different types of freight being moved to get a good picture and right now we are just barely moving along.  The economy is not as robust as it needs to be which brings us to a new situation.

Most analysts believe that once the new HOS (hours of service) rules go into effect on July 1, 2013 that it will quite possibly have a very detrimental effect on the economy.  Why do you ask?  It's simple mathematics really.

Right now you have a set number of trucks, or power units that are able to service the transportation sector.  We are not seeing a large increase in fleets at this time to add to this simply because there is not enough freight to justify it nor are there any massive new drivers to operate the trucks.  When the new rules go into effect it could affect productivity by at least 5% which was a number given in this article.  The FMCSA estimated it to be 1.5%. There are other analysts that are predicting productivity to drop in the mid to upper single digits.

So what does this mean?  Simple, it means with fewer trucks able to haul available freight, the rates for that freight will have to increase to get the freight moved.  What will this do to the economy?  It will be a hit, since I know as a business owner I won't be eating the cost, and that cost will be passed on to the consumer.  When it is passed to the consumer, they have less money to spend, which will slow down this sputtering economy.

So are these rules going into effect at a bad time?  Yes they are.  Should they delay it?  I would think so but remember we are talking about the Federal government.

Will I take a higher rate?  Of course!  My productivity will be dropping so I have to make the revenue up in some way shape or form.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life can be short

I had found out some rather distressing news today.  I haven't heard from a good friend of mine in the last few months.  So after I had not received any messages back from IM, email etc I decided to call.

I found out she passed away last month.  She was 41 years old and in good health as far as I knew.  I didn't have the heart to ask how it happened, I was too stunned.  This, along with my father passing away recently got me to thinking here today.  Life can very very short for you.

You have no idea when your time is going to be up.  A person should not think that they have all the time in the world to be able to take care of things, put things off and not worry about them.  You never know if you will have the time to right that wrong, tell them that one thing, or just say hi.

If you need to talk to someone, do it as soon as you can.  If you get into an argument, make things right.  LIVE.....  You never know if tomorrow will ever come.  You need to have fun, enjoy life live it to the fullest. Love the people you love, let them know, don't hold grudges, don't lose contact, your never too busy for a simple hello.

So although you might not live very long, live it like that cat above.  Everyone knows the story of Leroy Jenkins in WoW.  He enjoyed life and lived it (although the rest of his party died lol)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What does a company consider overspeed?

Ok, I saw this today on a discussion board that I frequent.  A person was basically complaining why a driver was fired after going just a mere 3 miles over what was considered the overspeed limit.  They thought the policy was outrageous.

Let me explain a few facts of life to you oh unenlightened one....

First, since he was a lease(owner) operator, he signed this neat little thing called a 'contract' or 'lease agreement'.  In this LEGAL document, he agreed to follow the company rules etc.

One of those rules is that the truck WILL be governed at 68 mph.  That is part of said contract, no negotiation.  The next one is the fact that you will be given a 'overspeed' violation if you go over 71 mph for any length of time.

Now there are a few reasons for this.

First lets talk about it on purely a physics level.  As a driver, you have control, using the accelerator to control your speed up to the 68 mph mark.  In legal terms this means you have full control of the vehicle.  Now, if you let it 'coast' up beyond that point, you DO NOT have full control of the vehicle since you are not directly controlling the speed of the vehicle.  Now the company does give you a buffer, of 3 mph off of that governed speed before they give you a violation.  Heck, they could be asses and hand them out at 69 mph if they wanted to.

Now lets talk on the enforcement level.  If at any point it is determined that you were going over the governed speed of the truck (which these days is pretty damn easy to do with today's technology) you can be given various citations for not having FULL control of your vehicle at the time.  This in some states is basically considered reckless driving, a MAJOR violation.  You can lose your driving privileges over this.

On the insurance side (for the company) this is just nothing but bad news if you allow your drivers to coast like this.  If they get in any type of accident the insurance claims can be huge so it is looked at from an insurance and economical viewpoint.

I guess it boils down to this....

READ THE DAMN CONTRACT BEFORE YOU SIGN IT!!!!  If you don't agree with the conditions and they won't change them to something more agreeable, then don't sign it.  Once you sign it you are LEGALLY obligated to follow it or they reserve the right to cancel without notice. (which that is usually written in the contract, go figure)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The end of the run

Ok, this one is going to cover a few things lol.  I am coming up to the end of my standard '3 week run' that I normally do when I'm driving out here.

I had discovered that 3 weeks allows me to make a good living vs coming in every 2 weeks which can shorten the paychecks.  4 weeks is just too long to stay out here, it will drive you nuts.

One of the bad things though about staying out for 3 weeks is that it severely limits what I would have for a social life.  I keep telling myself that its no big deal, the person for me is out there I just need to find them, but at times I do wonder.  Heck, the last two relationships I was in, my ex's are now either married or engaged.  I can look at it in two ways, either I was that last bump or stop before they found who they needed, or I am just that bad.

I would like to try and look at the positive portion of that, but its hard at times.  I have times when I just want to throw in the towel and become the reclusive 'truck driver cat guy' that everyone whispers about but that's just not me.

You would think with social media it would help make things easier to find someone, but what I am seeing is that it almost makes it harder.  There are so many scammers, idiots, users etc out there that a person can quickly get burned out and I'm no exception.

Right now though, all I know to do is to continue to improve my business, and hope someone does by chance come my way.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wacky Weather

I swear I'm going to hunt down that groundhog and skin him alive, or should that happen to his human interpreters lol.

Anyway the weather here lately has been plain crazy out here.  Part of the day you can be in wonderful 70 degree weather, then by the end of the day its below freezing with blowing snow, go figure.

So who pissed of Mother Nature? Seriously lol

I'm sitting here in York Nebraska waiting for them to open the roads back up so we can move on.  I can already tell its going to be a 'traffic nightmare' as soon as they give us the green light.  When I took this load I knew there was a small chance I might get caught by the weather.  Well, I lost that bet.

The thing that is killing this area right now is not snow, but the freezing rain that fell.  They are just not equipped to clear up ice off of the roads up here right now.  The other problem is that there are rumors of another storm possibly moving into the area.

I'll admit, I haven't listened to the CB in a long time and it has been interesting listening to some of those guys as I watch the weather on the computer here.  There are still quite a few idiots out there I swear.

I am glad though that I drive for a company that does not push the issue when they are told how bad the conditions are.  They actually put out a message about how the roads were in a five state region, letting us know to shut down if possible.  It's easier to reschedule a load vs pulling it out of a ditch somewhere.

Well, back to the radio entertainment.  I hope everyone stays warm.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gun control, one step closer to losing all of our freedoms?

I have to admit this debate has gotten pretty old.  This week our 'leaders' in Washington are attempting to push gun control legislation through Congress.

One of the main problems I have with this though, is the FACT that we have many laws on gun control, registration etc currently on the books that are NOT being enforced.

Take for example the simple fact of lying on the background check form when you purchase a firearm from a FFL dealer.  That is a FEDERAL felony.  In 2010, nearly 80,000 were denied by the system.  Do you know how many convictions there were from those 80,000?  44...... Yes a whole 44 convictions were made from what should be considered an 'open and shut case'.

Some say the system is broken, that it doesn't work properly.  Well, if the background check system in its current form isn't working properly, don't you think you should fix that BEFORE adding an additional workload with the so called, 'universal background check'?

Technically, the power to regulate weapons is suppose to be a STATE power, not a federal power.  Many states have already passed good, (and bad) laws for their areas.  I believe a state has just a slightly better idea what its citizens want to be done within its borders vs the overreaching federal government who wants to do a 'blanket approach' to the whole country.  I'm sorry but it has been proven time and time again when you try this approach it just flat doesn't work.

Heck, take the trucking industry for example.  There are SO MANY different segments or types of trucking out here that trying to use one huge blanket approach just doesn't work.  For example, the NW part of the US allows heavier trucks to run on the roads.  Those same trucks would not be able to safely do it in the NE part of the country where there is a huge population density, and the road conditions are different.  But right now there is a push to raise the weight standards across the board.  It doesn't work everywhere.

The same goes with the different gun laws.  What works in Oklahoma, my home state, might not work as well in others.  But you know what?  That is for the citizens of that state to decide, not an over reaching federal government that refuses to even simply balance a budget let alone run anything else.

So the crux of the matter I think is simple.  FIX the current background check system, ENFORCE the current laws, and allow the states to adjust their laws as they see fit an move on.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A long week

I swear my whole week felt like one unending, long Monday.......

I needed to take some time off when my dad passed away so that the family, could get a few things done, etc.  I'll admit it was nice to be home for more than a day or two, but the bank account can only handle that for so long.

On another note, the shop FINALLY got a few major issues fixed on my truck.  I've had a major coolant leak that no one could figure out.  It turns out what was suspected all along, the EGR cooler on that wonderful ISX engine I have, and here I thought Cummins fixed that defect a few years ago.

The cooler was causing a few other issues, plus they took care of another major issue on the fuel rail.  Its really nice to be able to drive and not have the engine check light on constantly.  Between being home and the breakdown that drained all of my available funds down to near nothing, so I gotta get back to work.

As far as the whole week feeling like a Monday, I had 2 out of my 4 loads this week turn into live load or live unloads that went well beyond the gratuitous 2 hour limit we give them.  They have no idea how bad this screwed up my schedule, not to mention that one of those loads went up into the New England states where I hate to run.  I'm now sitting here in wonderful Osseo Wisconsin to end my week. I did drive over 3500 miles (I got paid 3261 loaded and empty), surprisingly with all the issues I had on the east coast, but boy did it wear me out.

Here is to hoping that the next week goes better, and I can guarantee this truck will not grace the New England states with its presence for quite some time, no offense guys.