Moves America Forward (TMAF), the industry-wide education and image movement, is thanking America’s professional truck drivers during their #ThankATrucker campaign, during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 8-14, 2019. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Delivering Life’s Moments.”
“Throughout National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, TMAF will be showcasing the life moments that pro truck drivers make possible through their deliveries,” said Kevin Burch, co-chairman of TMAF and president of Jet Express, Inc. “Whether it’s teaching your grandkid how to bike, playing tee ball with your son, or sharing an afternoon snack of milk and cookies with your daughter, all of life’s precious moments are made possible by America’s 3.5 million professional truck drivers who deliver the items and products for these events.”
In this year’s digital campaign, TMAF’s content will feature families making memories alongside an image of a professional truck driver and the message #ThankADriver. The online campaign of “Delivering Life’s Moments” is launching on TMAF’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn channels.
In the more than five years since trucking industry image group Trucking Moves America Forward launched, the goal has been to tell the story of trucking and truck drivers. Over the next five years, the group hopes to do more of the same.
Now mostly known simply as TMAF, the group is continuing to launch initiatives to promote the industry in a positive light to the general public and tell trucking’s story. Elisabeth Barna, executive vice president of industry affairs for ATA, said at the Great American Trucking Show last week the group has used social media and billboards as major tools to accomplish its goals through the first five years.
Kevin Burch, co-chair of TMAF and president of Jet Express, added that trailer wraps the group is selling to fleets have also made a big difference in getting TMAF’s message out to the general public. He said 240 of the wraps have been sold so far with each trailer being seen by an average of 16 million people as they move goods across the country.
This summer, while you’re on the way to a barbecue or the pool, or heading away on a beach getaway, you’ll be sharing the road with millions of Americans who are traveling during the summer season. As one of 3.5 million professional truck drivers on America’s roads, I’ll be joining you on the road too, as I help deliver the goods that you’ll rely on all summer long.
Making special summer days happen is due in large part to the trucking industry: the food on the grill, floats in the pool and umbrellas on the beach were all delivered to you by a truck. The trucking industry, which is supported by 7.7 million professionals, including drivers, technicians, vendors and partners, delivers to 80% of America’s communities.
Volker Condron was recently driving an 18-wheel rig on a highway near Mount Vernon, Texas, when his truck blew a tire—a common hazard that can add several hours to a scheduled delivery, he said.
This time, Mr. Condron used a new app to take a photo of the tire and relay his exact location, a request for parts and other critical information to the nearest mechanic—getting him back on the road in less than an hour.
“Everything is at your fingertips now,” said Mr. Condron, who works for transportation and logistics giant Hub Group Inc. and has been a trucker for over 30 years. “It speeds up the whole process.”
Trucking, logistics and supply-chain operators are taking the digital tools used to automate repetitive tasks around the office and using them in the cabs of long-haul trucks.
Hub Group, which operates a fleet of more than 4,000 trucks, last month unveiled a set of artificial-intelligence-driven capabilities, promising to offer more accurate delivery times.
The new capabilities leverage over 10 million data points, many of which are generated by interconnected sensors and other hardware that Hub Group has been adding to its trucks for the past two years, said Vava Dimond, the company’s chief information officer.
Ms. Dimond said the goal is to use as much data as possible to make deliveries more efficient and boost productivity. But the initiative is also aimed at making life easier for its truckers, she added.
For truck drivers, the cab of the vehicle is their office, she said, “and that office isn’t conducive to things like paperwork, when it’s raining or the wind is blowing.” Hub Group’s app can track and automatically fill out truckers’ paperwork, including logs along their routes, proof of delivery notices and other forms. The company developed the bulk of the tools in house.
In a report last year, Boston Consulting Group singled out the road-freight industry as being “dominated by manual processes” and “overdue for change.”
It said incumbent companies are feeling pressure to update their systems from digital shipping and logistics startups, which have garnered more than $3.3 billion in venture-capital funding since 2012, and may be attractive acquisitions for companies with truck fleets.
The report cites startups such as Convoy, a U.S.-based online platform that connects freight shippers with carriers; U.K.-based Freightex, a virtual logistics service acquired by United Parcel Service Inc. ; and EasyPost, an online logistics service backed by Google Inc.
These more agile startups are looking to grab share in a highly fragmented market where “paper- and phone-based processes are still common,” BCG researchers said.
That is prompting many older transportation firms to develop platforms that can integrate diverse data sets tracking orders, truck locations and other critical information in real time, while eking out efficiencies in fuel spending and scheduling.
United Parcel Service Inc., for instance, uses a platform to calculate the most efficient delivery route for its drivers, who make an average of 120 stops a day.
Devices mounted in many truck companies’ cabs plan and direct the best delivery routes, taking into account traffic and weather conditions. At the same time, smart sensors in the truck’s engine, trailer, tires and fuel tank monitor performance and can alert drivers of any potential issues that may delay a delivery.
Other pressures to modernize systems include new federal safety rules requiring every truck to have an electronic logging device to track drivers’ hours on the road.
Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trade group with more than 160,000 members, said many of the new tools benefit fleet managers and brokers, not drivers.
“If you’re stuck in traffic because of a crash, no matter how good the technology is going to be, it’s not going to help you,” Mr. Spencer said.
Another issue, he said, is that many new technology providers go out of business, forcing drivers to learn how to use yet another set of tools.
Introducing new digital technology to workers in any industry can be tricky, according toGartner Inc.
It estimates that more than 60% of companies are using digital-workplace strategies, but only about a quarter of these efforts will succeed in changing the way the employees do their jobs.
Ms. Dimond said Hub Group started with an IT tool designed to ease paperwork—a top complaint from its drivers—in the hope it would make drivers more receptive to giving other digital rollouts a chance.
“In the past their reaction has been ‘more big brother watching us,’” she said. “So we wanted to make sure that when we handed them their new tools, it would be something they would use right away.”
“Any new technology, right off the bat, there’s going to be some resistance,” Mr. Condron said.
He said he is waiting for a smart app that can learn all of his favorite routes and relay that information to a dispatcher.
“That would be great,” he said.
Write to Angus Loten at firstname.lastname@example.org
We depend on reliable infrastructure to get ourselves and our families safely to our destination every day. Whether it’s the highway we take to work or our children’s schools, or the road we travel on to the doctor’s office and the grocery store, we rely on safe and maintained roadways. But after years of neglect, much of our infrastructure is now outdated and in poor condition. Our roads and bridges need critical support and we can’t keep waiting to invest – our economy and safety depends on it.
Despite poor road conditions and the traffic that results from it, 3.5 million professional truck drivers travel America’s roads every day. Trucking professionals travel over 462 billion miles each year to make on-time deliveries to every corner of America. That’s because more than 80 percent of American communities rely solely on trucking for the delivery of their goods, including the gas in our car, food in our fridge, supplies in our office and medicine in our cabinet.
Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF), the industry-wide education and image movement, released the results of a national poll and detailed five years of progress, in a press conference during their fifth anniversary at the 2019 Mid-America Trucking Show.
TMAF commissioned new research last month to determine perceptions of the industry from the motoring public. The results confirm that the industry has been successful in shifting public perception toward a more positive image.