Dear Valued Sweetener Supply Customer,
As many of you are aware, there is a growing concern with the availability of liquid and dry bulk trucks, as well as a decline in the availability of drivers. The decreased availability of both drivers and equipment has been a continuing factor for several years and has reached an alarming rate. The declining labor pool of drivers has been well documented and continues to shrink as seasoned drivers retire or simply exit the industry. At the same time, the trucking industry has experienced enormous challenges in recruiting and maintaining new talent in the face of long hours away from home and relatively low pay.
On July 1, 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for all truck drivers. These new HOS regulations were put into law to reduce accidents and improve road safety for all drivers. Under the new guidelines drivers are now mandated to take additional “rest breaks” as well as a newly instituted “34 hour restart period” which requires drivers to take two (2) consecutive nights of rest.
While these laws address safety concerns, they have had a negative impact on the ability to service customers at the same level as we have experienced in the past. Once these laws were enacted, it was estimated the industry would experience a 3 to 8% reduction in truckload capacity while also increasing the time it would take to deliver a load. At the same time, it has negatively impacted weekend and holiday deliveries because of the mandated rest breaks. As you can imagine, the labor shortage and reduced HOS have greatly reduced the ability to procure drivers and equipment. It has made it even more challenging to make changes to delivery dates and times as the entire process is carefully choreographed to maximize efficiencies. Once we factor in traffic, weather and any other issues, problems compound.
Sweetener Supply continues to work hard to improve efficiencies within our own organization and with all our partner carriers. Unfortunately, the outlook for positive improvement is not bright and we anticipate these problems increasing. In addition, we have seen carriers begin to implement charges for weekend and holiday deliveries. We are also experiencing carriers charging for time and date changes and for any and all demurrage. These charges are meant as a way to retain good drivers and maximize the best use of both personnel and equipment. We do anticipate these charges becoming standard throughout the industry.
We are working with our customers to be as proactive as possible and kindly ask for your support. Lead times and accurate planning are the best offense to procure drivers and equipment and to provide the level of service you have come to expect from Sweetener Supply. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thomas W. Speck
Vice President of Sales & Marketing