Managing Carrier Relationships Effectively in the Age of Electronic Logging Devices

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has had a major impact on the trucking industry. While hours of service (HOS) constraints are certainly nothing new, the level of enforcement that ELDs bring is something shippers and carriers alike are still adjusting to. Combined with the lack of capacity caused by the driver shortage, the ripple effects of the ELD mandate can sometimes put a strain on shipper-carrier relations.

Struggling to keep their transportation costs low, shippers are naturally resistant to rising rates and pushing back at every turn. Drivers, meanwhile, grow frustrated with inefficient processes at shippers’ facilities that cause them to lose valuable time on the road. The detention fees triggered by such delays only serve to cut deeper into a shipper’s bottom line, leading to even more resentment on both sides.

At a time when there are fewer trucks on the road and for fewer hours, it’s vital that shippers and carriers work together. Here are a few steps shippers can take to forge and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with their contracted carriers.

Acknowledge that driver safety is the number one priority

It’s easy to become fixated on rising shipping costs and view ELDs as an unwelcome intrusion into a shipping ecosystem that was working just fine. And it’s not just shippers that are guilty of this—many drivers initially protested their implementationn for fear it would hurt their salaries.

But ELDs serve a very important purpose, and it’s important for both parties to acknowledge that. By limiting the number of hours a driver can spend on the road to 11 within a 14-hour period, they help keep drivers and other road users safe.

And that’s good for shippers, too. When drivers aren’t incentivized to work an unsafe number of hours, they’re less likely to be involved in an accident that can damage cargo and delay shipments—let alone risk lives.

Focus on streamlining pickup and drop off

Rather than fixating on the effect HOS constraints have on transport costs, shippers should focus on what they can do to maximize a driver’s time on the road. And one of the biggest steps they can take is to streamline the loading and unloading process.

Lengthy detentions do not benefit either party. Most drivers are required to spend up to two hours at the shipping dock unpaid while their cargo is loaded or unloaded. But detention times frequently exceed this window. This can cause drivers to have to rush to reach their destination while remaining HOS compliant, ultimately undermining the goal of ELDs by increasing the likelihood of speeding and unsafe road practices.

In some instances, when detection times are egregious, drivers may miss their window of opportunity altogether—or miss their next pickup and lose the load.

Shippers can ease these difficulties by loading and unloading promptly, thus minimizing the amount of time drivers spend in limbo at their facilities. This requires goods to be ready for scheduled pickups, and for there to be enough bodies on the ground to get them on or off the truck and ready to go. A robust transportation management system (TMS) can make order management and shipment execution much easier, significantly boosting efficiency.

These strategies can pay off for shippers in spades. Not only will individual drivers and carrier partners appreciate the streamlined experience at the shipping dock, but shippers can avoid incurring pricey detention charges. Since these charges often range from $50 to $100 for every additional hour a driver is detained, the potential cost savings are high. And when trucks go out at the scheduled time, the likelihood of a delayed delivery is greatly reduced, helping protect a company’s reputation.

Strong relationships, serious savings

The capacity crunch has meant that accepting any and all available freight is no longer in a carrier’s best interests. This makes it essential for shippers to build strong bonds with their preferred carriers if they want to ensure the best rates and consistent service. If shippers don’t work to create a mutually beneficial relationship, carriers can simply take their trucks elsewhere.

At CTSI-Global, we aim to facilitate better shipper-carrier relations by enabling more efficient processes and seamless transportation management. Our fully integrated TMS solution helps ensure that shipments go out on time, without any hassle, and always using the optimal route. And by opening our vast network of trusted carriers to the companies that partner with us, we help shippers get rates they won’t find elsewhere.

Relationships matter more than ever. Make the next one count by partnering with CTSI-Global today.

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