The trucking industry may be sitting around waiting for the big bang, when all of the proposed reforms come together and we enter into some form of nirvana and all of our petty problems have gone away. They are in for a long wait.
This is the real world, it is not a single problem solving solution we are going to get, but, hopefully a process of changing the environment in which we work to improve the situation to move slowly towards consistent regulatory enforcement, improving productivity outcomes and an overall improvement in safety outcomes.
Any progress is not going to happen on its own. The cumbersome government system we are dealing with is consistent in only one regard, its inconsistency. Those involved in the process need to have constant pressure pushing them in one direction just to make any sort of progress. They may understand the need for change and empathise with the trucking industry, but if we are not always vociferous about what we need to change, they do not have the ammunition to fight the fight for us.
At the same time, the other elements of supply chain, who we deal with as suppliers, clients or partners, are in the game to improve their outcomes not ours. These are often large powerful corporations which are used to calling the shots.
A good example of how these entities think is the imposition by the stevedores of charges to trucking companies who are providing a service to them by hauling containers in and out of the shipping terminals. Another is the supermarket chains who are endlessly demanding of their transport suppliers, while cutting rates and playing firms off against each other, with minimal accountability.
At the same time, the vast majority of transport operations have a similar attitude to how they want to do business. They want to make money, but they also want to do it right and safely. This desire is often compromised by the pressures from both customers and regulators muddying the waters for them.
What do these large entities who are creating these issues for us understand? They understand strength and power. The trucking industry is as diverse as it is possible to be so, even though we have common problems, we do not come up with common solutions. However, the causes of our problems will not move if they are getting a series of diverse mixed messages.
The only thing that will keep up the pressure on both government and corporates is if we are all talking the same language. They need to hear the same basic message every time they interact with trucking. If the message is repeated enough times, it might get through to the real decision makers.
That’s how to do it. Now, all we need to do is work out what the message should be…