Truck capacity nationwide could increase by up to 5 percent just by shippers and consignees improving their internal processes to enable drivers to pick up, transport, and deliver freight more efficiently, the president and CEO of truckload and logistics company Werner Enterprises Inc. said Monday.
Speaking on a CEO panel at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, Derek J. Leathers said that the impact of the year-long rise in freight rates could be mitigated if shippers and consignees examined how their freight flows between themselves and their carriers. "Freight rates went up, but costs didn't have to," Leathers said. "There are more efficient ways to move our freight."
Truck rates have escalated dramatically since the fourth quarter of last year, as capacity has tightened while demand has picked up. Part of the blame falls on the shortage of qualified drivers, notably at large fleets such as Werner. But Leathers said responsibility also lies with the lack of consistency in how, when, and where freight gets moved. Improving those processes will keep drivers more productive, and capacity more available, he added.
Another major problem is traffic congestion, caused in large part by an over-utilized infrastructure that keeps trucks and cars in perpetual traffic jams, Leathers said. Infrastructure-related congestion poses a bigger challenge for trucking productivity and capacity than any other problem, Leathers said.