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Where Are All the Trucks?

In May, I was invited to speak at the Houston chapter of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) on my favorite subject, the shortage of dray trucks.

Inefficiencies

I smugly declared, “There is no shortage of dray trucks, just waste and misuse.” Then I supported my seemingly contradictory claim with a long list of examples:

  • Lost in congested lines terminals
  • Parked on congested freeways with commuters, attempting to make that universal 8 a.m. appointment
  • Waiting at the dock for the two hour free time (Why rush, we have two hours to get this palletized load handled?)
  • Waiting for rail billing
  • Waiting for hazardous materials documents to be corrected
  • Waiting for paperwork or data to be prepared
  • Trying to find a road worthy chassis
  • Trying to find someone to fix the POJ chassis, the container was pre-loaded on by a the rail or port
  • Waiting through a roadside inspection by local law enforcement, incentivized by month end quotas
  • Waiting to get yet another empty off the stack our customer will accept (third try)
  • Making an unplanned trip to ditch a container because the broker rolled the booking at the last minute
  • Finding a terminal that will take a chassis because the assigned terminal filled up
  • Rerouting due to an accident
  • Getting to the overflow warehouse that was not on the original order
  • Verifying the weight at the scale house(driver says it pulls heavy)
  • Accommodating for miscommunicated, inaccurate, or not timely information

While all those inefficiencies still exist, the number of drivers has diminished in the last 4 months!

The Fracking Effect

The recent rise in oil prices have rekindled the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale. Their demand for oilfield truck drivers has driven up wages.  Last week a former driver stopped by on a break from the Permian Basin. He told me he loved working for Excargo, but at $6K per week he couldn’t say no to the oilfield. He has a young family and bills to pay. Just last night a fellow fan at the Rockets’ game told me his friend is making $7K a week.

While some drivers are taking advantage of the fracking windfall, some threats and obstacles maintaining successful driver capacity are pervasive and others are changing.

Ultra Large Container Vessels

One of the latest challenges comes in the form of the larger container ships. The inconsistent dray work caused by less frequent sailings uncertainty and irregularity into every aspect of the supply chain, including dray drivers’ schedules. At Excargo, we’ve experienced this challenge firsthand, trying to hold on to our drivers during these peaks and valleys in the supply chain by diversifying services.

Seize the Dray

Dray provides the lifestyle so many safety-minded, family-oriented drivers prefer. Excargo is seeking to diversify with domestic and other freight services to add work for drivers in between vessels. To maintain driver capacity, we must work together with customers to continue to make it make sense for these driving professionals. Eliminating wasted time at customer docks so drivers can have productive, efficient days, and maximum their revenue is key to the success of the entire supply chain. Waiting is neither profitable nor fun. Steady, consistent workflow benefits us all.

Ship Channel Closure Update

About an hour ago, the Unified Command held a press conference at the La Porte Emergency Operations Center to update industry and the public on response efforts following yesterday’s collision of the M/V Carla Maersk and Conti Peridot.  Captain Brian Penoyer, Sector Houston-Galveston Incident Commander spoke at length regarding the work underway to protect the public from potential hazards.

“At first light this morning we were able to conduct air reconnaissance looking for any MTBE that has reached the water.  With the single exception of a trace release from the damaged area of the hull on the Carla Maersk, we were unable to locate any evidence of sheen on the water.”

He also reported that there had been no measurable traces of vapors on the shoreline since sampling begun at 11:30 last night.

While the vessel was carrying 216,000 barrels of MTBE, Captain Penoyer reported that only two cargo tanks were impacted; the wing tanks (voids/ballast) outside of the cargo tanks appear to have absorbed most of the impact of the collision.  “As a result, it gave the crew the critical time they needed to transfer cargo to other tanks on board.”

Regarding the resumption of commerce and trade, Captain Penoyer explained that his first priority was public safety and health.  “I’d like to have an estimate that would be helpful, but we have to proceed step by step (with the response)… candidly, it has to be that way until we’ve secured the vapor.  At that point we can talk about reasonable estimates to resuming commerce.  I would say that certainly we are not talking about hours to a day, we need to recognize that this is an enormously complex salvage operation; in some cases we are talking about specifically configuring firefighting and salvage capability to do this job, so it’s not something that’s going to happen in minutes or even a day, but it’s certainly something that will begin today.”

As a reminder, the safety zone where vessels are restricted from movement extends from Light 86 to the Fred Hartman Bridge.  CPB has issued a blanket extension to departure timeframes of 48 hours, which may be adjusted as needed if the closure remains in effect.

The Port Bureau has an audio file of the press conference at: HERE

In addition raw video from the Coast Guard initial inspection may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIlq7QiwKg4.

We will continue to keep you updated as more information comes in.

Best Regards,

Patrick

Spotlight on Marcia Faschingbauer

Hard work and long hours are things Marcia Faschingbauer, President and CEO of Excargo Services, does not shy away from. Marcia has been working hard her entire life. Starting at her father’s food packing service, to now owning Excargo. Marcia has spent years building a reputation in the Houston community as a business leader and advocate of the American dream.
Marcia’s path to success began as a teenager, Marcia worked at her father’s food packing company, First Prize Foods, where they packaged dried beans and rice. Under her father, Marcia said, she learned “how important it was for the food to be clean,” as well as properly packed and secure to ensure it reached the customer. Marcia’s first experiences at First Prize Foods gave her an early taste of the value of the customer service experience to the customer.Hard work and long hours are things Marcia Faschingbauer, President and CEO of Excargo Services, does not shy away from. Marcia has been working hard her entire life. Starting at her father’s food packing service, to now owning Excargo. Marcia has spent years building a reputation in the Houston community as a business leader and advocate of the American dream.
Marcia’s path to success began as a teenager, Marcia worked at her father’s food packing company, First Prize Foods, where they packaged dried beans and rice. Under her father, Marcia said, she learned “how important it was for the food to be clean,” as well as properly packed and secure to ensure it reached the customer. Marcia’s first experiences at First Prize Foods gave her an early taste of the value of the customer service experience to the customer.