At the time of this writing, we are now three months out from the implementation of the dreaded electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Implementation has caused some rough spots, but the trucking world has not ended. The sky has not fallen either. You could even make the case that the mandate is helping drivers and motor carriers in their relationships with shippers. It all boils down to that moment in time when shippers actually feel the heat of ELDs.
C.R. England, a transportation services company based in Utah, explains that motor carriers sometimes have a love-hate relationship with their shippers. That relationship is explained below. The important thing to know first is that the ELD mandate, while it legally applies to motor carriers and drivers, also has an effect on every point in the supply chain.
Shippers are suddenly discovering they are affected by ELDs as well. Many are not happy about it. Their unhappiness just demonstrates the foolishness of thinking that one regulation aimed at truckers will not affect the rest of the industry. It will. One simple regulation completely upends logistics from start to finish.
That Love-Hate Relationship
Moving on to the main point of this article, the love-hate relationship between motor carriers and shippers is all about scheduling. Let’s say a C.R. England driver schedules in 9 AM pickup at a distribution warehouse. It is possible the driver will sit at the warehouse dock for at least some amount of time, waiting for the load to be ready. The worst-case scenario would have the driver waiting around for five or six hours.
Motor carriers love their shippers inasmuch as they provide the business that keeps carriers going. But they hate the fact that a shipper’s inability to keep to agreed scheduling puts their drivers behind. Drivers are limited to 14 total hours of on-duty time, of which only ten can be spent driving. Waiting around for loads wastes precious time.
How It Used to Be
Before the implementation of the ELD mandate, shippers called all the shots in terms of scheduling. Dispatchers would set up pickup and delivery times knowing full well that shippers and receivers may, or may not, adhere to those times. If a truck driver ran out of working hours while waiting for a load, it was his or her problem. After all, he/she should have done a better job scheduling his/her day.
How It Is Now
So what has changed with the ELD mandate? It has created a situation in which motor carriers and independent operators have to be very particular about their time. They must insist that loads be ready when the truck arrives; they must insist that unloading commences as soon as a truck reaches its destination.
Shippers and receivers unable to keep to scheduling immediately incur the displeasure of carriers. Miss enough appointments and a carrier is likely to stop servicing a shipper, or at least bump that shipper down in terms of priority. Carriers are now telling shippers, “Stick to the schedule or find yourself another carrier.”
Using the ELD mandate as a way to influence shippers and receivers to be more timely isn’t likely to hurt carriers. There already exists a lack of capacity in the trucking industry, so there are shippers more than willing to do what it takes to get it right. They are the ones that get first shot at the best drivers. It is a win-win.
The ELD mandate may have created some very serious problems. However, its effect on shippers and receivers is at least a fringe benefit drivers and carriers can take pleasure in.