On the road with

Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/T™, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

Contact Henry: Henry.Albert@teamrunsmart.com

It's About Time

+500 MILES

 

We all know that there are 24 hours in a day. Each of us lives by 7 days per week and 365 days a year. How will we manage to spend all that time?


We all go to great lengths to save time by utilizing modern conveniences. Today, we have the microwave, automatic dishwasher, blow dryer, garage door opener, electric wash machine/dryer, electric vacuum, cordless phones and many other time saving devices. The farmer even has a tractor instead of a horse to plow the fields. Modern day airplanes, ships, cars and trains have cut travel time immensely. The internet has made mail and other communication convenient and all but instant.


When it comes to the transportation industry, the US Highway and Interstate Highway System cut transportation time and made the industry possible. Years ago, it took many hours, days, weeks and months to travel around the country. Today’s hours of service rules require drivers to stay under 70 hours in 8 days or 60 hours in 7 days. Drivers can work fourteen hours per day, drive eleven of those hours and we are even required to take a half an hour break before hitting our eight hour on duty. All the regulations add up to make time a valuable commodity in the transportation industry.


Throughout my years in this business, I’ve always heard driver’s complain that our time is not valued. So much time is wasted at the dock attempting to get loaded /unloaded in a timely manner. When shippers/consignees aren’t prepared or organized, it greatly affects a driver’s time. Waiting for a dispatcher to assign a shipment can take away time as well. Traffic jams, road construction, fuel islands and wash bays also combine to take away hours. Unfortunately, all of these unpaid hours result in drivers taking it upon themselves to hide much of this time. Today, there is a lot of pressure to make drivers and carriers accountable for their time. The pressure is on to mandate electronic onboard recorders also known as electronic logging devices. These are being pushed into the industry as a safety device however I don’t feel they will do much for highway safety. I understand the danger of a fatigued driver operating a motor vehicle down the highway and we can all agree that this is a risky practice. Many studies have compared fatigued driving to drunk driving as both of these hamper your reaction and decision making abilities. I remember when split logging was legal and we weren’t under the fourteen hour clock, many drivers would park or sit out during high density traffic hours. I’m sure there are still drivers operating this way but logging it differently on paper. The other issue regarding the fourteen hour clock (which stops for nobody) discourages drivers from taking a nap or sitting out during bad weather or traffic conditions. In regards to safety, the electronic recording and fourteen hour rule causes as many problems as they solve. I truly believe the FMCSA envisioned the fourteen hour rule as a way to combat the detention issues that drivers face at the dock. The FMCSA has no authority over shippers and consignees yet realized that detention time is a major fatigue issue. The thought behind the fourteen hour rule seemed to be if the FMCSA took away our ability to make up for the delays incurred at the shippers and consignees, the practice of detaining drivers would be eliminated. While the intention of the fourteen hour rule may have been good, it really didn’t fix many driver detention issues.


In my opinion, as I stated earlier, the correlation between safety and EOBR’s/ELD’s is minimal at best. However, there may be a positive side to these intrusive devices. Let’s just imagine if tomorrow everybody woke up and magically had an electronic log in their truck. I don’t think we would require coffee to wake up that particular morning! Let’s imagine also on this mystical morning that dispatchers and shippers alike are going about their business as normal. All the routine lack of regard for driver time would be going on as usual. By day two a shock wave would be rolling through the shipping community with more affect than any “strike” could accomplish. Shippers would be calling dispatch wondering where their shipments are. Dispatchers would be calling drivers and asking why didn’t you make it to your destination? Here’s the beauty…the driver would simply respond to dispatch saying “I was out of hours.” The EOBR would also begin to quickly affect the supply side of transportation causing there to be a driver shortage. Whenever supply and demand is affected in this manner, rates should begin to rise.


Maybe… just maybe after all these years, the EOBR might be the agent of change that finally addresses the issue of time and its value to each driver. Just something to think about…perhaps we might be able to make lemonade out of what appears to be lemons.
+500 MILES
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By
Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc. Henry has been in the trucking industry for 30-years.

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COMMENTS +300 miles

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Jeff Clark
Kurt it has been awhile. I thought that I had written about this-yes-It was my June 4th blog on Time vs. Fuel. I think of it as a constant balance, and weigh it trip by trip.
10/12/2013 6:01:32 AM

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Kurt Keilhofer
Much has been written about fuel and maintenance costs of driving at higher speeds, and the savings vs. the slightly longer travel times. But I have yet to see anything mentioned about what an hour of a driver's time is worth, or the value of a logbook hour. I think this lack of concern for a driver's value and time is a significant factor in the outrageous turnover rates among many carriers.
10/10/2013 6:48:36 PM

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Kurt Keilhofer
Much has been written about fuel and maintenance costs of driving at higher speeds, and the savings vs. the slightly longer travel times. But I have yet to see anything mentioned about what an hour of a driver's time is worth, or the value of a logbook hour. I think this lack of concern for a driver's value and time is a significant factor in the outrageous turnover rates among many carriers.
10/10/2013 6:47:37 PM

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Craig McCue
Henry,
That would be great if your schedule work out!
10/9/2013 1:33:23 PM

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Henry Albert
Craig,
Thats exacty the point... if you take our ability to "hide' time lost at the dock we will have no choice other than addresss the real problem. BTW I will be headed out your way in two weeks . Maybe we can meet up some where for a cup of coffee.
10/9/2013 9:29:38 AM

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Linda Caffee
Very nice comments Craig and I also have to laugh at your extra 600 miles in corrections!
10/9/2013 9:25:00 AM

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Frank Doss
Well said
10/8/2013 6:37:06 PM

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Craig McCue
Henry,

Yes the mileage thought crossed my mind when I tried to fix the error. I don't understand what is happening, I can type it here just fine but it changes when I post the comment. It's not a bad word. My American Heritage dictionary defines the word as: 1. The general estimation of a person or thing held by the public. 2. The state of being held in high esteem.

In the context of this article it would be held in low esteem. It gave me a good chuckle. The transformation by the consignor was interesting to watch. It was solely driven by the detention fees. Had the fees not been charged they wouldn't have lifted a finger to make the changes. Since the freight is somewhat specialized, not all transportation companies are willing to take the loads which gave the brokers and transportation companies that were hauling a fair bit of leverage. In the end the transformation was very positive for both sides.
10/8/2013 5:37:45 PM

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Henry Albert
Craig you just got a extra 600 miles in points trying to fix your mistake . Too funny . Your point was well made though. It really is a good thing to be in short supply !
10/8/2013 4:24:58 PM

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Craig McCue
That's too funny. Tried to correct it and it did it again. I give up.
10/8/2013 2:11:29 PM

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Craig McCue
I don't know what happened, re*****tion should be re*****tion.
10/8/2013 2:10:51 PM

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Craig McCue
Very good article Henry. No matter what we do for a living, when you get to the bare bones we trade our time for dollars and that makes our time a commodity.

Driver compensation needs to increase, we all know that and I can see the price of the things we buy increasing in the short term, but I also believe that companies will adapt to drive costs down. An easy way to do that is to get more organized and move trucks through the docks quicker. If EOBR's help to cut detention time then that is a benefit and makes our "time commodity" more valuable.

True story - One place I know had such a bad re*****tion in shipping that trucking companies started refusing to haul their product. It often took over 8 hours to load one truck and they would schedule two or more per day. The drivers sat all day and sometimes all night for free. Because they were actively loading the truck the driver was on the clock and often ran out of hours before the load was complete.

One day an owner operator pulled on the lot to receive a load and was told to get comfortable as he would be there all day. He had a couple comments then got in his truck and left. The load didn't make it to the destination on time. When the trucking companies and brokers banded together, they contacted the consignor and told them they will now get 2 hours to load each truck and the two hour limit started the minute the truck entered the consignor property. After 2 hours the consignor would be charged $100 per hour for every hour the truck sits and the time will always be rounded up to the next full hour.

In all honesty it took two times for the consignor to be charged over $1,000 dollars in detention pay in addition to the regular load pay for them to make substantial changes. Now they can turn 6 to 8 trucks per day with each truck on the consignor property for less than two hours. Now if we could just get that true example to become industry standard then our "time commodity" would be valued as it should be, for transporting rather than sitting.
10/8/2013 2:08:06 PM

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Henry Albert
Joey,

Think of time as a commodity . The shorter the suppy the more its worth.
10/8/2013 7:09:49 AM

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Jeff Clark
Joey -or we can adapt-. That is what I have seen since going with an ELD. What has happened-at least with my company is that we work with the customers on getting us in and out faster. Many of our customers that used to take 3-4 hours to unload have gone to drop and hook with flex deliveries.
10/8/2013 6:13:00 AM

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Joey Slaughter
Nice article Henry. The EOBR is an obstacle for safer roads due to the 14 hour clock that doesn't stop. I got into this business because of the independence and the gov't continues to tighten the vise on us and restrict us more and more. They make the laws for the weakest links in the chain- which hurt those of us who are responsible drivers. However, you got my attention with the economic argument. Clearly, if everyone was required to use EOBRs, the productivity would be degraded industry wide. (Despite what Anthony Foxx says, we know the truth) On a sad note, all products will increase in price as the cost to transport them to customer will increase.
10/8/2013 6:07:42 AM

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Jeff Clark
The 14 hour rule is the rule that gives and takes away. Having an ELD is the same way. But-having some drivers being forced to have an ELD competing with those that don't is untenable. For me it has been both a great thing-When a consignee refused to unload 4 skids because I arrived after 5-then taking them because I could prove a 4:57 arrival time with me ELD! Then having to take a 10 hour brake when I was just 5 minutes from making it home. Looking at them as an Economic-rather than a safety device puts them in a different light.
10/8/2013 4:59:55 AM

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Linda Caffee
It's about time someone wrote this and to think it was someone with their own authority. Nice Job Henry.
10/8/2013 3:07:45 AM

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