AS MORE efficiencies are demanded for the transportation industry's bottom line, rail, truck, and intermodal companies must develop compatible and interactive relationships to serve shippers and remain competitive, said industry representatives.
Ways to build that philosophy were discussed at the Sixth Annual Transload Distributors Association conference held in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 25-27.
In the audience were representatives from trucking, railroad, and intermodal companies. Featured speakers offered information about individual modes of transportation, North American trade, and ways to establish a more professional industry profile.
The TDA is proposing that the association adopt a best practices certification for its members. Prospective customers would use it as one way to evaluate a TDA member company's service.
"The best practices certification could be used as a marketing tool," said Gary Schlaeger, a partner in the Tamarack Group. He retired as vice-president for marketing of a Burlington Northern Railroad business unit. "It would not be like an ISO#9000 certification, but would provide information to shippers about intermodal facilities and business practices. We are thinking of calling it a registry. We don't want to create a fraternity - not that one facility is better than another - but to provide essential information a shipper would find beneficial."
He emphasized that the proposal was not an effort to develop a regulation or enforcement vehicle. "It would be voluntary for TDA members," he said.
To receive the certification, a company would comply with the standard and pay an annual fee to cover TDA administrative costs.
"The object for our member companies would be to meet and exceed all customer expectations," says Ray Sandford, president of the National Association of Rail Shippers and director of transportation for Plum Creek Lumber Inc.
The certification would be added to other services the association already provides for members, including a long-distance telephone service, web site (www.transload.org), and web site links.