On the Road to Success

An Andy Ahern blog

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REPOST: Firm keeps on trucking

Recycle force is proof of how good the trucking business is.  Read this article from Northamptonshire Telegraph for further details:


Image Source: northantstelegraph.co.uk

Recycle Force has added three Scania hook-loaders, provided by TruckEast Ltd, to their existing fleet of 14 HGVs.

Recycle Force was founded in 2004 by Rob Kirk as a one-van hazardous waste collection operation. Following heavy reinvestment of profits, Rob was joined by Trevor North, and expanded into trade waste and wheelie bin collections. This expansion included relocating to new premises on Earlstrees Industrial Estate, as well as acquiring more vehicles. In recent years, Recycle Force has gone from strength to strength, enjoying consistent growth, with turnover this year expected to be in excess of £8m.

Currently, Recycle Force processes more than 3,000 tonnes of recyclable materials per month including cardboard, papers and plastics. Recycle Force is keen to work with other local businesses and employ local people, and as a result of extended contracts with Kettering Council and Corby Council to deal with the region’s waste, will be creating new jobs at their Corby site in the coming months.

Recycle Force’s recent expansion has included the purchase of three new trucks from TruckEast Ltd, the Scania dealer for the Eastern counties. TruckEast’s managing director, John Biggin, said: “TruckEast are delighted to be supplying the first new Scanias into the Recycle Force fleet. The Scania P-series are the first new trucks purchased by the company since it was formed.”

It was the exceptional levels of service TruckEast has provided over the last five years that prompted Trevor to consider adding new Scanias to the fleet through the firm. He said: “Scania is our marque of choice and the support from TruckEast in the early days was critical to keeping our vehicles on the road. We’re now starting a vehicle replacement programme, beginning with the new Scania vehicles.”

Since 1987, Ahern and Associates has specialized in helping buyers in the acquisition of trucking and logistics companies and in reducing overall operating costs of trucking business.  For more information, visit this Facebook page.

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REPOST: How GPS Transformed Trucking and Made the Open Road a Lot Less Open

In just a short span of time, technology has “transformed truckers from free-range rebels to carefully monitored employees.” Raymond Fisman and Tim Sullivan write in The Wall Street Journal about how advancements in monitoring technologies, such as GPS, redefine the work of American truckers.


Image source: wsj.com

One icon of American popular culture of the 1970s was the long-haul trucker, a free-range rebel in jeans and a Peterbilt hat. Think Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, hauling a load of Coors beer eastward from Texas. Or Clint Eastwood (and his orangutan Clyde) in Every Which Way but Loose. Or of the truckers in the song “Convoy,” tearing up their log sheets, triumphing over Smokey, and rockin’ into the night. The reckless spirit of the American West firmly relocated itself from pioneer to cowboy to trucker, at least for a little while.

Fast-forward 30-some years: That untamed maverick is harder to find and the open road has gotten a lot less open. In one short generation, technology, from onboard computers to GPS systems, transformed truckers from free-range rebels to carefully monitored employees whose lives are a lot more like cubicle-bound office workers than the iconoclasts of yore.

In the days before GPS, a driver could, if he chose, take leisurely breaks at truck stops then make up the time by racing at 80 miles an hour down the highway, endangering himself, other motorists and company profits.

So most companies that had to get stuff across the country refused to take on the risk and hired freelance drivers who owned their own rigs. Owner-operators, the logic went, would be responsible because they had to account for the cost of wear and tear on their trucks—and the consequences of reckless endangerment. Or, at the very least, any screw ups would cost the driver, not the company.

But this situation of owner-operators hauling on a contract basis was less-than-ideal for companies. Drivers did little to help out with loading or unloading at the warehouse or taking care of special loads, something the company could ask drivers to do if they were full-time employees.

Along came better monitoring via onboard computers or GPS. This fundamentally changed the playing field. Companies could keep reckless behavior in check and benefit from more coordination and extra help at the warehouse. Companies dumped the freelance operators and once again hired their own. (A 2004 study confirms this.)

Call it a victory for the productivity-enhancing effects of information technology, and a loss of autonomy and independence of the trucker on the open road.

Gary Bojczak, who worked for a construction company in northern New Jersey, discovered the personal effects of these tradeoffs. Earlier this year, Bojczak got his 15 minutes of fame (and a $32,000 fine) for jamming the satellite signals of a newly installed air traffic control system at Newark Airport. Bojczak hadn’t procured his illegal GPS jammer for the purposes of disrupting civil aviation. He merely wanted to keep his boss from tracking his whereabouts at all times.

If workers aren’t doing anything wrong, one might argue, they shouldn’t mind being tracked.

And the benefits – at least for the company’s bottom line – are being felt across many industries, particularly those involving tasks like stuffing envelopes or making telemarketing calls where performance can be monitored real-time. Increasingly sophisticated software is able to detect employee misbehavior even in the absence of direct monitoring by flagging suspicious patterns in, say, the drink and meal transactions of restaurant servers. (One recent study found that such surveillance technology increased restaurant revenues by 7%.)

But, perhaps, like Bajczak, we all feel entitled to our privacy and security, whatever our bosses might think, and the effects on productivity be damned.

And maybe – just maybe – workers might feel more empowered and motivated if left alone to do their jobs a little more often.

Andy Ahern of Ahern and Associates, one of the most progressive consulting companies in the country, is a respected trucking executive. Like this Facebook page to receive regular updates about the trucking industry.

Filed under trucking industry trucking truckers work surveillance GPS

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REPOST: Overweight trucks not only illegal, but hazardous to county roadways

Apart from attracting accidents, overloaded trucks wear down roads, too, creating more problems for the commuting public. Lawerence Synett of Northwest Herald discusses how some localities are addressing this issue.

A select group of law enforcement officers in McHenry County monitor trucks.

They comb county and municipal roadways identifying overweight trucks and other violations with loads that are not only illegal, but also safety hazards.

“When a truck is overweight, they take longer to stop, and they wear roads down quicker by putting all that weight on one section at one time,” said John Birk, deputy chief at the McHenry Police Department. “This damage can be seen through raised asphalt, cracking and potholes.”


Image Source: nwherald.com

It is the responsibility of trucking companies and their drivers to adhere to the long list of state and local laws, which include weight and size restrictions, as well as equipment and safety requirements, to name a few.

Enforcing trucking laws has improved over the years with education and training for the trucking industry and law enforcement agencies alike, local experts agree. That effort has led to decreased citations and safer roadways.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office issued 191 citations for overweight trucks between 2009 and 2012. That includes fines totaling more than $422,000.

The department has one dedicated truck enforcement officer who also handles accident investigations and several deputies with specialized truck enforcement training.

The most overweight citations (74) were issued in 2010, which brought in more than $191,000 in total bonds. Last year, the sheriff’s office issued 48 citations, and through June of this year, 12 overweight trucks have been ticketed.

The largest bond was issued in 2006 at a hefty price tag of more than $36,000, and the smallest – $95 – was issued in 2009 when 53 citations were doled out.

The money collected is then broken down and distributed to the court system, Illinois State Police, the state of Illinois and whoever maintains the roadway where the violation was committed.

“Commercial motor vehicles and roadway safety are key to our economic recovery,” Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said. “If drivers are operating illegally or unsafely, it is our responsibility to educate them and protect our community.”

Load weight limits for 18-wheelers cannot exceed 80,000 pounds — one truck placing wear and tear on the roadway equivalent to 9,600 passenger cars doing the same thing.

The fine structure is based on two categories – overweight on registration and overweight on gross weight. Other safety violations include bad tires, spilling on the roadway or no valid safety test, which is required every six months for trucks weighing more than 8,000 pounds.

The McHenry Police Department’s Truck Enforcement Unit issued a total of 50 citations for overweight on registration and four citations or overweight on gross weight in 2011 and 2012. That also includes about 655 citations for safety violations.

The unit carries two portable scales as well as equipment capable of leveling out the truck. Officers are trained in the state and local requirements, as well as other “red flags” often associated with violators, such as bowed-out tires, flattened-out springs or tires rubbing against each other.

“It’s an experience thing,” McHenry Police Department Truck Enforcement Unit Officer Mark Fisher said. “You get better with time.”

The majority of violators simply don’t know the state and local requirements, which in McHenry includes weight restriction on Riverside Drive and Orleans Street.

“Education is the most important piece in this,” Fisher said. “You get a lot of smaller companies that don’t know the law. They need to understand what they are doing wrong and how to correct it, instead of it just being a revenue source.”

The unit, as well as other agencies, is a member of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association, which bridges the gap between the trucking industry and law enforcement personnel to make sure state requirements are followed.

Keeping a load legal is part of the training offered at Eagle Training Services in Lake in the Hills, although the laws are not part of state testing for a commercial driver’s license, said Jeff Clark, managing partner at the truck driving school.

“Most companies will have some type of training, but a well-run school goes beyond the minimum requirements,” Clark said. “Most quality schools cover weight and how to adjust a truck to compensate for that weight.”

Trucking companies still will overweight trucks, leaving the responsibility of a legal load up to the driver, the last line of defense before hitting their routes.

“Sometimes the shipper loads something that is overweight, but it is still the driver’s responsibility,” Clark said. “It can be a very confusing picture for the driver, but it’s still up to them to know the laws.”

The city of Crystal Lake averages around 20 overweight citations annually, and in Huntley, two citations have been issued since 2009. The city of Woodstock does not have certified truck enforcement officers.

Trucking executive Andy Ahern supports measures that promote road safety. Subscribe to this Facebook page to receive regular news on the trucking industry.

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REPOST: More oil carried by trains, trucks as lawmakers fight over pipelines

MarketWatch’s Jeffrey Bartash notes how Washington’s fixation over developing new pipelines amid the oil and gas boom is enlivening the transport industry, as trains and trucks are put to use in shipping newly pumped fossil fuels.


Image source: marketwatch.com

While Washington fights over the Keystone pipeline and some states dither on fracking, newly pumped fossil fuels are increasingly finding their way to refineries via rail, trucks and barges.

Oil deliveries jumped 38% on trucks, 53% on barges and 400% on trains from 2011 to 2012, according to The Wall Street Journal, a sister publication of MarketWatch. Just five years ago, large U.S. railroads carried just 9,500 carloads of crude, a figure expected to reach nearly 400,000 in 2013.

Oil and natural gas companies cannot wait for new pipelines to be built amid an explosion in U.S. production. The U.S. is on track to produce its most amount of oil and natural gas in two decades and output is expected to continue to surge over the next few years.

The downside? More wear and tear on roads unsuited to heavy traffic and the potential for more damaging spills and accidents. Last month, a train carrying crude oil in Canada crashed and burned, killing near 50 people.

Pipelines are a generally safer, more efficient and cheaper means of transporting oil. They tend to be located in isolated areas and are not prone to big spills or explosions. Yet the siting of pipelines has become a contentious issue in Washington and in some states, pitting environmentalists against business groups and unions who want the work that construction will provide.

Approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline, if it comes at all, is unlikely until 2014 at the earliest. The pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Texas, was first proposed in 2005 but has been held up repeatedly by regulatory delays in both countries. The pipeline still needs to be sanctioned by the Obama administration.

Andy Ahern is the founder of Ahern and Associates, a leading transportation industry consulting firm. Follow this Twitter account for regular updates on the transport sector.

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