Is your DC ready for the new hours of service (HOS) rule?
There's a good chance it's not, and that could prove costly.
Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation issued a long-awaited rule governing the maximum number of hours truck dr ivers can work in a shift. As veteran logistics professional Cliff Lynch points out in his column on page 25, while truckers and perhaps many traffic or transportation managers understand the rule's implications, many DC and warehouse managers do not. That's particularly true of those with mainly supervisory responsibilities who may not work directly with their motor carriers on a daily basis. But if they've written off the whole hours of service matter as the carriers' problem, they couldn't be more wrong.
Briefly, here's the rub. Under the new rule, the clock is running against a driver's time even while he's idle—say, waiting to get to a customer's dock or for a truck to be loaded. That's in direct contrast to the old rule, which didn't count that time against his hours. As Lynch points out, this new rule threatens to substantially reduce drivers' productivity. Fifteen hours after their day starts, it ends.
What's that got to do with DCs? Quite a lot. DC operations that keep their appointments, load or unload quickly, and send the driver on his way have little to worry about. But those that miss appointments, aren't ready to load or unload when the truck pulls up, and can't do it efficiently when they do get around to it could end up wasting hours of the driver's time. Waste the driver's time and you run up the carrier's costs, which will inevitably be reflected in higher freight rates.
On a more fundamental level,this whole issue brings us back to the importance of the DC's position as the hub of logistics processes. Internal and external logistics operations are intimately linked. DC managers who focus on keeping operations running smoothly inside the box while ignoring how goods get there or get to customers are like blind men encountering an elephant. They may understand a small part of what's going on, but they risk getting crushed until they can figure out the whole picture.