New HOS rules that just went into effect and a possible increase in the federal weight limit are forcing fleet owners to look at their overall operations.
When obstacles get in the way of increasing profits, businesses need to learn how to turn those obstacles into opportunity. Two major shifts in the way freight is moved in the United States afford both obstacle and opportunity, and will spur smart fleet operators to take a fresh look at their transportation plans and fleet utilization. The first change – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new hours-of-service (HOS) regulations – is now in effect. The second is a bill, now under discussion within a Congressional committee that would increase the size and weight limits of trucks.
Both developments, however, bring into focus the tremendous value that Logistics Consulting can bring to a private fleet. By anticipating and simulating how the changes in HOS and overall capacity would impact fleet operations, an owner or manager can get a solid handle on what changes should be put into place to continue to run their fleet cost efficiently.
The new HOS changes require fleets to juggle schedules and take trucks and drivers off the road more often, with the result that capacity will be tightened. The regulations center around new criteria for the 34-hour restart and mandatory rest breaks.
Looking into the future, the Federal Highway Administration’s Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA), which was just re-introduced to Congress, would increase the federal weight limit of trucks on interstate highways from 80,000 to 97,000 lbs. Public listening sessions will continue through next spring, with a final report due to Congress at the end of 2014.
In the case of SETA, fleets need to know how the increase in weight and change in capacity will impact route planning. If freight is being shipped currently through 10 routes, logic dictates that it could be delivered in 9 or fewer routes. Fewer routes mean less miles and less hours, which all fall right to the bottom line. If SETA should be passed and signed into law, experienced logistical consultants using advanced technology can identify new solutions and new ways to get the most productivity from drivers and equipment.
The same major changes that the new HOS regulations bring will also require an analysis of routing and scheduling, how trucks are utilized, and when. Using robust modeling technology to simulate fleet activities, logistical experts can develop alternative approaches that optimize schedules.
For instance, routing tools have resource allocation algorithms that are used to maximize the use of trucks and reassign routes to idle trucks and drivers. If done correctly, this can result in unit reductions to a fleet while increasing utilization time.
Big changes on the transportation landscape demand innovative solutions. Approaching transportation planning with the help of outside, experienced transportation experts and the latest logistics software may be exactly what many companies need to survive and thrive in the marketplace.