The transportation industry, both trucking and railroads, is changing with the economy and with shipping needs. In America, managing director of Nicolaus & Co. John G. Larkin, who has more than twenty years of experience in the transportation and civil engineering industries, was interviewed by the senior editor of DC Velocity, Mark B. Solomon. Larkin was asked about changes in shipping volumes, how carriers can make their changing needs more known to shippers and receivers, and what changes he has seen in the transportation industry, due to the economy as well as simply watching it for nearly three decades.
Because of the downturn in the U.S. economy during recent years, shipping volumes have fluctuated, but have remained relatively steady even during the past four years. Solomon cited one of the large problems not being driver recruitment, but driver retention, the most recent data showing turnover rates as high as 90 percent. Larkin responded that drivers need to be paid more, carriers need to keep trucks on the road more consistently, and that drivers need to get home more frequently. The need of companies to remain under the hours-of-service regulations means that some drivers are being pushed too hard while others are not being put on the road. Consistency is key in this situation and the carriers need to keep trucks rolling on a regular basis, so that both hours-of-service regulations and carrier goals are being fulfilled.
The transportation industry deals with many different specialized teams and operations working together, and it is important to have and maintain a cohesive plan in order to stay inside the law while also getting the maximum productivity out of trucking and railroad commissions. One of the things that the transportation industry must consider is keeping its carbon footprint as small as possible, and that requires some innovative thinking. Eco friendly fuels, fuel treatments, and degreasers are all examples of how this industry can improve its environmental support, as well as its customer base.
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