1) Compliance issues. A number of challenges exist in compliance. The CSA and the FMCSA both have regulations that promote safety. These regulations are changing though.
2) Shortages in drivers and driver retention. Recently the ATA reported a shortage of drivers. Carriers are dependent on drivers to move cargo from one place to another. Not everyone is looking to get into an industry where they are living in a cab or spending hours on long roads. This is a problem for the industry and again- it is being addressed carefully.
In addition to new drivers not entering the market, long-standing drivers are opting out of continuing their careers. A good number of driver turnover is consistently plaguing the market. Because of the higher rate of turnover, there are higher costs for motor carriers in terms of recruitment and training.
3) Parking. There are rules dictated by the HOS that regulate how long a driver can remain behind the wheel. Unfortunately, there is not always adequate parking to maintain this. It forces drivers to keep driving until they find a place where they can safely rest. Though it is a hot issue with regulators, finding a solution may be a long way off.
4) Transportation infrastructure. This by far is one of the biggest carrier concerns. How can we get from point A to point B cost-effectively? Carriers are hitting their heads against walls trying to find ways to address these issues. They want to streamline the process but, with congestion and road repair issues hampering change, the process is difficult to solve. Considering how many locations a driver can move through, it isn’t a one-stop solution either. It includes many cities and routes that need some viable solution.
5) Fuel costs. Fuel costs are worth an additional mention. This is also a huge issue for the carrier world. Any rise in fuel can impact the budget. Even a few pennies of an increase can change the money needed for transfer if the driver is logging thousands of miles. This is a concern for businesses and they are trying to increase loads to make up for the added mileage cost.
So how can a freight broker eliminate, or at minimum mitigate, these issues. A freight broker is a person or company that specializes in shipping services. They are logistic specialists. Here is how they address problems that carriers bring to them.
1) When it comes to compliance issues, a broker is adept at understanding them. Their job is to know what regulations are out there and how to maintain compliance. For carriers in need of answers, brokers can be the go-to. Not only are they aware of the latest changes, but they are also aware of the latest solutions.
2) Shortages in drivers and retention is also a concern that brokers are aware of. Because of this, they stay as plugged into the market as possible. Their goals are to get carrier’s loads from one place to another. They know about the man power needed to make that happen and work hard to network for solutions. Retention isn’t directly related to a broker, but they do make good consultants for companies and add value this way.
3) Parking is something that a broker knows well. Consider that a broker or brokerage coordinate multiple moves every day. That means they know exactly what space is available in what locations. It’s easier for them to keep this information than individual carriers. A carrier concerns themselves with one trip. A broker concerns themselves with multiple trips for a range of companies.
4) Fuel costs are also something that brokers have to address. While a single carrier has to send a driver on a specific route, a broker has options. He can double up loads, or even triple them, to get multiple deliveries to one location. This can cut down on the fuel costs. Rather than one carrier paying for the move from point A to point B, three carriers are sharing the cost.
Overall, brokers are helpful. They are paid to understand the market and do it so frequently, they have an insider’s view of issues. If you’re looking to minimize costs, use a logistic specialist like a broker. Likely, in the end, they are going to save you a lot of time and money.