We’ve spent a lot of this month looking at the importance of location in fulfillment.
From alternative ways to leverage location in a digital world to the physical reality of bringing ever-larger vessels through the Panama Canal, it’s clear that where we are and the routes we choose to move cargo through have a direct impact on product availability and customer satisfaction.
As the clocks fall back and the nights draw in, Halloween is over and the holiday season is about to get into full swing.
Retailers and parcel carriers are already weighing up their holiday staffing requirements, facing the crucial balancing act of maintaining high service delivery levels while not overloading on labor costs.
Last month we wrote about the resurgent U.S. trucking industry, as well as the challenges facing hauliers as their services experience increased demand. One challenge that we didn’t mention is that of identity fraud, and it’s catching attention outside of the industry this week.
These articles detail the way in which con artists scour the web for desirable shipments, posing as truckers, then simply hooking up to a load and hauling it away. Often, the first the supplier hears about such thefts is when a customer calls to complain about a missed delivery, by which time the thieves are long gone with goods valued in the six figure range. This for a ruse that can cost them as little as $300 for a carrier ID and some time at the wheel of a big rig.
But are these trucking scams as simple and widespread as the articles suggest?
Haulage Theft: Reports vs. Reality
What may seem like a common problem after reading the reports, in actual fact comes down to that old adage, “you get what you pay for.” Trucking scams undoubtedly do occur, just as do thefts in our personal lives, but the quality of security must be examined whenever covering these cases.
More often than not, this quality comes down to robust procedures and verification systems that are rigorously adhered to.
For example, our facilities at Capacity LLC implement multi-step verification processes, both off and on site, before any shipment is permitted to leave our premises.
These checks and measures include:
First and foremost, any and all pick ups must be scheduled. Without an appointment on the books, no hauler will be allowed on site.
Driver’s license number and/or trailer identification number must be verified before a vehicle is permitted to enter.
Once on site, the following shipment details must be verified:
the delivery pick up number,
order number (incl. piece count),
the carrier’s PRO (Progressive Rotating Order) number, which also links back to subsequent invoicing checks, and is the equivalent of a package tracking number.
Managerial presence and sign off for high value shipments worth more than $100,000.
For loads travelling across the country, C-TPAP and ISO-17712 compliant high security seals, similar to the one pictured here.
Guard Against Trucking Scams
With strict adherence to protocol and procedure, thefts become extremely difficult and certainly far more involved than some of the scenarios described.
Given the value of most shipments running into five or six figures, it almost always pays to opt for expertise, rather than less expensive alternatives that almost inevitably adopt a lower level of security. In the end, this is by far the best protection against the kinds of trucking scams being reported at this time.
As the U.S. economy begins to haul itself back into the black, American trucking companies are facing up to a series of challenges. Some are positive, such as racing to meet the increased transportation demands of a resurgent North American energy sector. Other challenges, though, are proving to be more of a burden, like a lack of qualified drivers or the burden of ongoing changes to safety regulations.
Expanding into new areas and taking on more routes for clients is of course welcome by trucking companies after several lean years, brought on by the financial crisis in 2008. But this expansion becomes a frustratingly missed opportunity if insufficient driving talent exists to take advantage of it. Reports of increased competition and a massive employment churn of 97 percent (American Trucking Association figures) are not uncommon, making it difficult for owners to stick to a plan in an industry that literally runs on reliable scheduling.
The life of a trucker is well known to be a difficult one, away from family for weeks at a time and peppered with all the dangers of the road. It can also be very rewarding, with experienced drivers in the right field able to make upwards of $80,000 per year. If you can handle the time alone as well as you can a heavy load vehicle, now is the time to apply!
That said, truckers and trucking companies are quick to point out that not all of the job’s barriers are personal ones. Some are put in place by third parties and are out of the hands of individual drivers, like the contentious health and safety restrictions that many say can seriously impact their efficiency and earnings. From understandable limits on driving hours, to more officious restrictions such as poorly completed forms or minor maintenance quibbles, breaches of the federal CSA (Compliance Safety Accountability) program carry penalties in the form of points against a driver. Some they can control, others less so, but all add up to a blot on the individual’s record that could come back to haunt them on future jobs.
Some positive developments on this front were made last month, when Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx promised to reduce red tape and help both haulage companies and their drivers to save time and money. Safety must obviously remain a prime concern for those of us operating in what can be a complex and dangerous industry. Implementing only those measures that truly improve safety and effectively training new driving talent are two key areas of focus for the haulage sector, if it is to successfully handle the extra business that is rapidly coming its way.