The following is an industry update that came from a Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing of one of the largest ports in North America. A bit of sarcasm injected but I think his message demonstrates the overall change of perception the industry has taken towards truck drivers.
During a symposium attended by the Port X Team, this representative spoke of the many difficulties that presently belie the supply chain. They spoke of the rigid bureaucracy that stands in the way of erecting critical infrastructure that would drive efficiency and increase product throughput. In addition, the ever-present struggle of keeping the ILA/ILWU satisfied and on the docks working. The Covid concern, the “X” factor if you will. Will there be another surge? When will it be? How will it affect the international supply chain?
There are a myriad of difficulties and reasons that stand in the way of global supply chain success. So many things are seemingly out of our control. Then they arrived at a critical talking point, something that is in our control. Driver retention. Driver recruitment. Driver experience. How do we retain them? How do we make them more efficient? How do we attract them? I think it was indicative of the importance the international supply chain has come to place on drivers. We have always needed truck drivers to be sure. But from our standpoint at least and would seem to be of the speaker’s as well, they have been commoditized. Not treated as individuals. Not treated the way we would expect to be treated.
So, the speaker implored the audience to work from the front, the flank, up and down and in between to make life better for drivers. Yes, pay them more. But all participants in the supply chain need to collaborate better so drivers are getting emptied quicker. Make shipper facilities more attractive to load and unload. Treat the drivers like customers. Give them an incredible experience and they will repay that in hard work, commitment and passion for the job. The speaker gave all of us an outline, a framework, to improve the driver experience. It is up to all of us to treat our drivers better, to work for a more inviting loading and unloading experience, and strengthen our human connection.
~Adam Cunningham, Partner