Trucking chief urges Great Lakes manufacturers to work together on border, capacity issues

by Canadian Shipper

DETROIT, Mich. Speaking to an audience of Great Lakes manufacturers and policy-makers from the United States and Canada in Detroit last week, the president of the Ontario Trucking Association, David Bradley, said the next six months will be critical in determining the future of border crossings.

"We’ve got to get it right. We cannot simply accept that things have gotten a bit better. Attaining an efficiency level equal to that, which existed on September 10, 2001, cannot be our ultimate goal. Problems at the border pre-dated 9/11," Bradley said.

Just-In-Time inventory systems and predictable and reliable supply chains are essential to support the Great Lakes Region integrated manufacturing processes which cross not only state and provincial boundaries, but national boundaries as well, Bradley reasoned.

"The trucking industry is an essential component of those supply chains. JIT was built around the trucking industry. Therefore, it is essential to look at the trucking industry as your partner. Our problems become your problems," Bradley said. "Ongoing problems at the borders need to be addressed. Manufacturers have a large stake in this and none of us can take our eye off the ball or become complacent. The costs of meeting the spate of new security requirements, the costs of managing customs processes on behalf of shippers and the costs of delays are significant. We need to work together to ensure that our legislators create rules that are practical, fair and effective. We need to urge them to invest our tax dollars in border and highway infrastructure."

Bradley added that industry and motor carriers must also work much more closely together to maximize the efficiency and productivity all along the supply chain.

"There is a changing dynamic in the trucking industry, brought about in large part of a shortage of capacity. Not only are delays at the border or being stuck in a traffic jam, costly and frustrating, there is a growing intolerance for delays at shipper or consignee docks," Bradley said. "That is why we are seeing freight rates going up, more accessorial charges."

About a third of shippers are currently paying detention surcharges, a quarter are paying a surcharge for border delays and another quarter are paying a surcharge to reimburse motor carriers for costs related to the new border security programs, indicates the recently completed Transportation Buying Trends Survey, conducted by Canadian Transportation and Logistics’ in partnership with the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association and CITT.

New hours of service rules in both Canada and the United States are compressing the time truck drivers have available to make their deliveries and to earn a decent wage, Bradley added, reasoning that carriers need to maximize the utilization of equipment and drivers.

"We need to look at freight transportation as part of a system and work together to address bottlenecks wherever they occur," he said.

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