Keeping the automotive industry growing during the truck driver shortage

Aerospace, Automotive, Dedicated Transportation, Industries
November 7, 2014

Revised requirements and driver development help grow the driver pool.

With the automotive industry seeing solid growth throughout the United States and increases projected for 2015, the challenge is to find drivers and equipment to deliver cars and parts for companies to keep their automotive supply chain running as efficiently as possible.Automotive Supply Chain Driver Shortage

The truck driver shortage is sending a ripple effect throughout the trucking industry. One of the positive signs for the automotive industry is that the shortage is not as magnified as it is in other sectors.

Active truck utilization is at an all-time high, but the number of active trucks for auto transport has dropped significantly since 2008.

For an industry where leading the competition means driving out costs and speeding products to market, planning how to keep supply chains moving during the driver shortage is what will drive results.

What are the effects of the shortage?

Across the automotive industry, routes need to be run. If drivers are not available, the next option is leasing or procuring transportation from another carrier.

This option is used more frequently throughout the industry. The issue is, cost will go up and you can really get upside-down quickly. Supply chain companies and carries eat that cost drastically affecting the bottom line.

The solution is finding a dedicated contract carrier (DCC) that can guarantee drivers and capacity.

The automotive industry is seeing a lower driver turnover than other sectors. The reason is much of the industry uses DCCs so drivers are familiar with the routes they are running. Drivers have predictable home time and know they will be running routes consistently.

Retention isn’t as much of an issue, but the opportunity for growth is greatly affected by the driver shortage. A few years ago, there were pockets where you knew that it would be difficult to find drivers. Now, the struggle is everywhere. Even temporary agencies are having issues recruiting drivers.

One solution for companies has been to find drivers and relocate them to where they are needed. Companies are also working with drivers, putting them up in a hotel for a week and then letting them go home. This still gives them predictable home time they are looking for.

Companies have also made driver requirements less stringent. Some companies required 12 months of experience, now they are requiring 9 months.

Companies are also using driver development to bring in new drivers. This is for drivers who meet the minimum requirements. They are placed in a 6-week training program that is known as the “crockpot” process.

With continued growth on the horizon for the automotive industry, transportation companies are looking to grow their driver pool. With a commitment to drivers of predictable home time and consistent routes, as well as, new requirements and investments in training, the driver pool could be getting deeper.

Written by Mike C. Russell. Mike is Director of Customer Logistics for Automotive at Ryder Systems Inc.

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