A candid discussion with a 40 year veteran of the Transportation Industry. Kevin Snobel is a well-known in the industry specialist of Safety and Compliance. Please read below his interview to DorogaRoad.
DorogaRoad: Kevin, you're an owner of a safety and compliance consulting company. What does it take to run it?
Kevin Snobel: What it takes is a background in the Industry, experience, knowledge, contacts and information. Certainly I can't know all the answers. If I don't know the answer I am sure I know where to get it. Most of us Network with as many people as possible to assist each other in running safely. I try to assist everybody to continue to run successfully, legally and run safe on the roads.
DR: Guess everyone in the trucking business knows what safety and compliance stand for. Nevertheless, could you explain please what exactly you and your company are doing?
KS: It's a good question. Everybody says they know what Safety and Compliance stands for, but more importantly is whether they practice what they are preaching. Safety and Compliance is all the understanding all the rules and regulations, keeping the paperwork properly, organizing the files, in the offices to ensure the trucks are maintained and are safe and following a proper maintenance program, so that everybody is safe on the roads whether it's the drivers, the equipment, or the general public.
DR: Safety and compliance is very important for any trucking operations. Are there any companies that underestimate the importance of safety and compliance?
KS: I think, a lot of companies lose sight of this fact. When Safety and Compliance Consultants go in one of the first questions we get asked is: "Oh, how much does it cost?" They only look at Safety and Compliance as a cost center. Safety and compliance if you do things and follow your programs correctly can be a Transportation Companies largest profit center of the company. If you will handle it properly, and you implement all the things you're being told to do. So, it's more of a question of following up… follow through and ensure again that it's being followed.
DR: One of the things, as I know, you do an auditing of Drivers Logs. What are the most common mistakes drivers make while filling out those documents?
KS: Most common mistakes are general mistakes. A lot of drivers… they forget to show the addresses, they forget to show the state or province of each city, they forget to show the duty status totals. They think because they're off-duty they don't have to do logs. A lot of drivers show the logs. When they're off-duty they write on a valid log "off-duty December 10 and 11." You can't do that. You have to do a log for every day that you're off-duty. The reason – they are on cycles: 7 days, 14 days… so you have to account for every day within the cycle what you did.
DR: A new era of electronic logbooks is almost here. What impact on the industry will it have and how easy it is for the every driver, as you think, to adapt to it?
KS: Electronic logbooks are going to be Mandatory in the United States in November, 2017. For drivers to adapt to it will be very simple. You press a button. You no longer are doing paperwork, it's all on GPS, it's electronic, it's in the truck and it's very easy to use. As long as we use paper logs there were and continue to be some people that tried to cheat the system. I think it's going to eliminate cheating. I also think it's going to create a level playing field, so that everybody is on the same, treated the same and meets or exceeds the same requirements; you can't cheat like you used to, you can't play around with the paper logs like you used to. So I think it's going to put everybody on the same page.
DR: An industry observer feel that with the implementation of electronic logbooks some companies even could be out of business.
KS: Yeah, they probably will be, but that's because they are running illegal now and wouldn't be able to change. Nobody likes changes: humans are creatures of habit. We don't like to change, we don't like new ideas, and we don't like new things. We like to keep everything the same, run everything the same, keep doing everything the same, and let others have to worry about it. Everybody complained about the MANDATORY half an hour off-duty rule within the first eight hours of coming on duty. Now it's the second nature for most drivers. What it is is just educating and simplifying things, and making a level playing field for everybody. It's like you and I: we'll play a game as long as we know the rules, but don't change the rules halfway into the game. Everyone has to be treated the same play by the same rules and enforcement has to be the same for everyone.
DR: There's always something new in MTO and DOT regulations. You probably have to learn all the news and changes to be able to keep your customers up-to-date.
KS: Our Industry is changing every day. What I try to do, is keep current with as many changes as I can. I'm on the Board of Directors on the Fleet Safety Council, Mississauga chapter. I attend regularly every Industry event I can, every seminar, whether it's arranged by NAL Insurance, or, Link Logistics, The Big Insurance Companies, The many different People in our Industry are always training and being trained. MYSELF INCLUDED. There are seminars sponsored by magazines like yours, - anything I can gain knowledge from. I am prepared to learn and reeducate myself as much as possible in order to make me more valuable, then I will attend. I hope that I can pass along to all the companies I deal with, day in and day out. The companies I deal with, the most important thing is they have to be willing to listen, and they do.
DR: I've heard that there will be a more strict approach in terms of the truckers' health conditions. How accurate this information is and are you dealing with this part of compliance?
KS: Well, a driver's health is not mandatory. You can't tell the driver he has to be healthy. Drivers have to want to be healthy. There's a big push by the insurance companies, whether its disability insurance, or insurance for the vehicles, the companies themselves, they try to help drivers be healthy along the road. None of us eat on the road the as at home. That's what we're trying to do – to educate truckers to make healthier choices. Healthier choices means to be around a lot longer. Healthy trucker for example a workout a driver can do while on the road, a food idea they can cook on the road a healthy alternative. A simple better choice of what you can make yourself. All these things are the lifestyle choices. That's what we're trying to educate drivers with.
DR: Kevin, we met first time a number of years ago when you were GM at Caravan Logistics. What was behind your departure from Caravan?
KS: Caravan Logistics (Caravan Group of Companies) is a well run operation. When I left almost five years ago, I just thought it was time for me, to move on. I was the first employee of the company, and we had accomplished a lot and grew a lot. I was handling calls daily asking for my assistance, in Safety, Compliance, Claims, and many Legal Matters. So I thought for what I had to offer, the Industry – to offer everybody, not just to one company. So I felt it was in my best interest to start a new chapter.
DR: To summarize this interview, what are your messages? One for the trucking company owners and managers, and another one for the drivers.
KS: For the companies - twofold. No. 1 – Start being proactive, not reactive. Most people in our industry are reactive. You only call somebody like myself for Safety and Compliance consultancy when you're in trouble, when you're being notified there's an audit coming up, when you notice your figures are too high and you know you might be Audited or Sanctioned. Keep on top of it. Keep it as an everyday thing just like turning the lights on in the beginning of the morning. As far as drivers… don't be afraid of change embrace it, whether it's an electronic logs, GPS, electronic messaging… Anything that you can do to make your job easier. Even electronically you can take your computer with you in the truck. You can stay in touch with your family easily. It makes your life much simpler and you're not out of touch with your family. They can see you, they can hear you. It's almost the same as being there.
DR: That's pretty much everything I wanted ask you. Anything I forgot to ask you?
KS: We've all heard about the driver shortage. I can't add anymore to what's already been said, but what I can say is our biggest problem today is twofold. Number one is attracting younger people to it. The average age of a driver is probably 55 years old right now. It's going to be a bigger crunch in the lack of drivers in the next few years. Number two is when you get the people in the industry – train them, train them, train them, train them! Educate, educate, educate! I taught in the Continuing Education Division of two Community Colleges, in the GTA, – everybody wants to learn. When Where and How you teach them is how the Drivers will learn. That's all in the presentation. Offer them safety bonuses, reward them, find ways to retain them in the company – it will cost you more to hire a new person than retain one you already have. As a Company and as a Manager YOUCAN NEVER DEMAND RESPECT YOU HAVE TO EARN IT. Respect the drivers, and they will stay.
Kevin Snobel could be reached by 647 225 1367, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Twitter: @KevinSnobel
By Serge Vankevich
Newspaper about trucks, cars, and ground transportation. Published monthly and distributed in Greater Toronto Area, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.
OTA-inGauge Partner to Provide Canadian Fleets With Business Benchmarking Tool
Benchmarking is a common practice in many sectors throughout North America. The trucking industry, dominated by many privately held firms, has typically not been a sector where benchmarking has flourished. The Ontario Trucking Association, through a new partnership with inGauge, is encouraging its members in 2016 to explore the benefits of utilizing benchmarking tools.
inGauge is a service created by StakUp Inc. and the Truckload Carriers Association. The service aggregates real operational data from the 'mainstreet' of trucking rather than allow the industry to rely on outdated operational benchmark data.
By harnessing this data and anonymously ranking members' performance on 'Essential Performance Indicators', inGauge will help to identify and motivate OTA members to focus their efforts on the areas of business which could drive profitability and efficiency. Further, by adding filters based on geographic operating range and other important 'subtypes', inGauge will provide validation that the members' efforts are making an internal and external difference.
In addition to providing this valuable service to the traditional segments of the Canadian trucking industry, a specific focus of this initiative will be targeting specialized sectors. These specific groups, such as private carriers, tanker and intermodal operators, have expressed a desire for timely and aggregated information to improve cost efficiencies. Further, niche operators such as those in the Quarter Load segment a popular operating model for OTA members), will finally be able to access accurate data to develop better operating strategies.
This exclusive partnership for Canada is the first major data aggregation project initiated by OTA. Until April 30, 2016, OTA members are able to evaluate the service, free of charge, compliments of OTA. After April 30, OTA members automatically qualify for a significant discount to the regular subscription fee.
Pricing is based on the number of active power units for each company, and can be cancelled at any time (no annual contract). To learn more about the program and to take advantage of this exclusive offer please contact Chris Henry of inGauge, by calling 519-913-2582, or via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.