By Jack Porter – The ‘Trucking Activist’ and Managing Director – TCA Profitability Program
As this virus spreads, the driver community becomes more at risk. This presents an unthinkable challenge to our food chain. As I follow the industry on social media, the support from TCA in their efforts to be the front line to support their members, and the national news, I believe the trucking community needs to stay vigilant in their current plans and strategies as well as coming up with Plan B strategies to adapt to the changing situation with COVID-19: strategies which may even allow for increased opportunity when we turn the corner on this pandemic.
Currently, heed the words of the professional truck drivers themselves. Quit hoarding those scarce resources that drivers need now. Drivers need sanitizer available in stores, masks, heat checks at terminals and loading docks; food supplies, and parking and restrooms.. National news also must continue to cover these issues and supporting their cause to the general public as maybe the next immediate critical workforce behind our great healthcare professionals.
Brian Fielkow said in his most recent interview, we need plans for drivers that become infected. This recent article from CCJ shares operational strategies that the fleets need to employ when drivers become affected. Maybe consider fleets sharing capacity as their business starts to become idle due to business closures. The food chain capacity will continue, especially with federal influx of cash to support people’s essentials. Then, the capacity strain that the whole industry will be feeling due to reduced recruiting of new drivers will add to the capacity constraints. The load-to-truck ratios are already skyrocketing, and the fleets are having a tough time covering the needs of their customers already.
When we do turn the corner, the food chain being covered and more businesses reopening (especially the restaurants) will add to the pent-up demand in the channel. The reduced capacity of drivers and trucks will be a new challenge the industry will have to address. Hopefully, those days are coming, and I believe they will come, just a matter of when. In the meantime, thank you drivers, fleet operations and support people, that are working around the clock to keep our food chain safe and supplied!