TOP 10: Shippers can help carriers be more efficient

Jan. 17, 2002
There are 10 ways chemical shippers can help carriers optimize performance, according to John Conley, vice-president, National Tank Truck Carriers. He

There are 10 ways chemical shippers can help carriers optimize performance, according to John Conley, vice-president, National Tank Truck Carriers. He provided the Top 10 at the 7th annual Transportation & Distribution Conference held January 14 and 15 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The list was developed from suggestions made by NTTC members: 1. Expand pickup and delivery windows. This was the most frequent request. Do not automatically mandate the 8 am delivery time. Work with consignee to arrange more delivery flexibility, perhaps with a price incentive. Use the whole day and whole week. Try to reduce the Monday and Friday spikes.

2. Coordinate requirements of both the purchasing and distribution departments to help the carrier increase loaded miles. Coordinating inbound and outbound movements will improve equipment and driver utilization and benefit all parties.

3. Develop well-written procedures for loading and unloading at customer facilities. Ensure that the customer’s receiving site is as described. Ensure that the proper equipment—in terms of tank configuration, transfer equipment, vapor recovery requirements, etc is specified. Standardization within the industry on trailer configurations, transfer equipment and delivery procedures would help everyone.

4. Release equipment prior to completion of lab sampling, at least back to the carrier’s terminal. If there is a problem, the driver can be contacted to return to the plant. This would allow better driver and equipment utilization and better chance for on-time delivery.

5. Look at “short notice to carriers” and “delays in loading/sampling” as part of the shipper’s own quality process. Identify and correct these problems with input from carrier. How often does the shipper push the load “outside the window?” Other segments of the trucking industry have been successful in charging a premium for last minute or “panic” orders. Tank truck carriers look at it as service.

6. Eliminate or minimize pre-loading and spotting of trailers. Strive for maximum “load and go.” Realize that a $65,000 cargo tank is an expensive storage vessel. Also, loaded and spotted trailers may be a security concern. (In some cases, strategic pre-loading could benefit both parties if mutual commitments are honored.)

7. Allow carrier to work with shipper and consignee to look for areas to improve efficiency and safety. Perhaps let the carrier work directly with the consignee to arrange for delivery times. View carrier as a team member that can provide reliable service that will increase business for the shipper.

8. Work with carriers in reducing tank cleaning costs. Top load where possible. Provide technical information for proper cleaning. Let carriers pass on actual tank cleaning costs and take them out of the rate. Work with carriers and consignees to eliminate or significantly reduce tank truck heels.

9. Establish long-term, meaningful relationships with carriers. Revert back to real partnerships that germinated problem solving, rather than adversarial relationships.

10. Pay invoices within seven days of receipt. Realize that carriers are relatively small business and that delays in payments are impacting carrier cash flow.