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TCA/Fleet Owner Webcast Attracts Hundreds Seeking Ways to Survive Outrageous Fuel Prices
Eager to hear experts’ ideas on how to improve carrier operational efficiency and beat this summer’s outrageous fuel prices, more than 350 people participated in a June 17 webcast called, “Survivor’s Guide to the Fuel Crisis.” The program was organized by Truckload Carriers Association® (TCA) and Fleet Owner magazine at no cost to participants, thanks to TMW Systems, Inc., the sponsor that covered the cost of the event.
Industry consultant George L. Edwards spoke at the beginning of the webcast, telling participants that nothing can be left to chance in today’s economy. Carriers must evaluate their customer base, analyzing where, when and how the customer needs the freight. Anything that reduces profit needs to be re-examined, streamlined, and/or eliminated, including those special services/extra touches that customers love, but wind up costing more in the end than the revenue being generated. Carriers also need to analyze their operating network quarterly, according to Edwards, since traffic patterns change seasonally. All costs must be reviewed, from fixed expenses (e.g., salaries and terminal maintenance) to accessorial costs (e.g., toll charges, fuel surcharge, and driver loading and unloading cost). A plethora of technologies are available to carriers, such as in-cab scanning, imaging, EDI and electronic port entry systems. If any of these can enhance company profit, differentiate the carrier from the competition and add value to the customer, consider making a purchase.
The second part of the webcast focused on specific, more immediate steps a carrier can take to save fuel. Ray Haight, TCA’s chairman and the executive director of MacKinnon Transport of Guelph, Ontario, shared his company’s Fuel Management Initiative, along with two experts from his staff: Rick Miller, vice president, operations, and Richard Sharpe, vice president, fleet services. The six-page document, which was provided to participants during the presentation, outlines MacKinnon’s specific strategies for purchasing fuel efficiently and for consuming the least amount of fuel possible. For example, the company designates one employee with the title of “fuel clerk” to be the primary resource for everything concerning fuel procurement and management. MacKinnon sets its company speed limit at 62 mph, with drivers being allowed to drive up to 65 mph, but only 10% of the time. By using electronic control module (ECM) downloads, the company monitors excessive tractor idling and uses the information to change/correct the daily habits of its drivers. It also eliminates middle-man fees by purchasing its own terminal fuel in bulk and negotiating special fuel rates with specific independent truckstops for times when MacKinnon drivers must fill-up on the road.
Participants found the webcast to be highly informative. “This program was a great investment of my team’s time,” said Don Hayden, president of M & M Cartage Co., Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky. “It has inspired me to go back and take a look at some of the basic principles of our operations – just because you’ve been doing something for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it.”
A recording of the webcast, including a Q & A session, will soon be available for viewing at no charge through either TCA’s Web site (http://www.truckload.org/) or Fleet Owner’s Web site (http://www.fleetowner.com/).
Part 2 of the free Survivors’ Guide series will focus on driver issues related to fuel economy and is scheduled for August 5 at 2 p.m. EDT. The third and final webcast will examine fuel-saving truck technology and maintenance programs and will be held on September 23.