Insights - March 2016 - (Page 5)

Keeping Quality Chassis on the Road When it comes to intermodal highway transport, there's a close link between safety and productivity. Members of IANA's Maintenance and Repair Committee and task forces supporting its efforts, along with the Operations Committee and IANA leadership, all agree their top priority is a safer, more productive industry. Three committee task forces have primary responsibilities in the areas of chassis safety, maintenance and productivity. They are the Road Ready Chassis Task Force, the Intermodal Chassis DVIR Standards Task Force and the Chassis Mechanic Qualification Task Force. "To get a good piece of equipment, IEPs and motor carriers both need to be pulling in the same direction." - Matt Larson, Road Ready Chassis Task Force From a macro perspective, Road Ready Chassis Task Force leader Matt Larson, director of intermodal equipment maintenance for Union Pacific Railroad Company, points to the 780,000 chassis on U.S. roads and highways. With numbers like that, it's clear that chassis quality has a significant impact. "It's not an IEP problem, and it's not a motor carrier problem," says Larson, "to get a good piece of equipment, IEPs and motor carriers both need to be pulling in the same direction." Quantifying Road Ready Providing a quality chassis directly addresses the top concern - safety. But, Larson adds, it improves productivity because drivers can pick up loads without delays, improving turn times and reducing congestion at intermodal facilities. That's beneficial to both the carrier and the terminal operator. The Road Ready Chassis Task Force has looked at the costs to perform pretrip inspections on all equipment, and those numbers are significant. For a medium sized facility, handling 200,000 - 400,000 lifts per year, inspections alone could add 11 to 21 people and cost nearly $700,000 to $1.4 million. A second scenario for providing more road ready chassis emphasized collecting more DVIRs from carriers. A third discussed IEPs being more proactive on performing pre-trip inspections (i.e. doing a pre-trip on any equipment that had not been inspected in the last 90 days). And, the fourth scenario was a combination of scenarios two and three. The task force is finding that opening up communication lines and promoting collaboration may be one of its most productive tools. As an example, Larson notes many motor carriers were unaware of the efforts IEPs make to improve chassis quality - converting from incandescent lights to LEDs, upgrading to radial tires, etc. IEPs are injecting thousands of upgraded chassis into their fleets each year, but it is still a long process to reach that 780,000 chassis estimated to be rolling down U.S. roads. The task force is also learning more about motor carrier and driver concerns. Some of these focus on DVIRs. The task force is working with one carrier to dig down into those concerns and to examine and model what works to improve communications. "There's a communications gap we need to bridge to get the drivers comfortable," says Larson. The task force wants to see drivers believing, "If I do this, it will only benefit me." Getting Reports - DVIR Standards "There are so many ways of reporting DVIRs whether you're at a railroad, port or container yard. We want to try to standardize the process," says Kevin Lhotak, president of Reliable Transportation Specialists, Inc. In his role on The Intermodal Chassis DVIR Standards Task Force, Lhotak reports that the group is exploring why DVIRs aren't being submitted. An initial survey is going out to a small group of motor carriers and drivers asking pointedly about their experience and concerns with DVIRs. "There are so many ways of reporting DVIRs whether you're at a railroad, port, or container yard, we want to try to standardize the process." - Kevin Lhotak, Intermodal Chassis DVIR Standards Task Force Speaking from experience and anecdotal observation, Lhotak's comments echo some of what the Road Ready Chassis Task Force is finding - part of the problem may be training and education. Drivers may be new to the intermodal sector and unfamiliar with the process or unaware of the importance of completing DVIRs in a timely and accurate manner. Lhotak doesn't discount the "fear factor" some drivers might have of being held accountable for repairs and receiving large chargebacks for repairs. The task force's surveys should help to identify the nature and extent of the problem and point to steps that can be taken to resolve the various issues - including educating drivers about the importance of DVIRs and making the process easier. "We want safe equipment being out-gated," says Lhotak, but that is not the end of the problem. With the advent of automatic gate systems, problems often go undetected March 2016 | Intermodal Insights 5

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Insights - March 2016

Insights - March 2016
Aviation Bill Backs Federal HOS
FMC Launches Supply Chain Innovation Team
ITC Looks into Chinese Truck Tires
New Board Member
Nominations Sought for Silver Kingpin Award
Roundtables Announced for O&M Meeting
UMD Students to Conduct Membership Survey
Keeping Quality Chassis on the Road
Information Services News
Freight Reports
Sustainability News
Port News
2016 Sponsors
In Brief
People in the News
State Legislative Update
Welcome New Members
Early Intermodalist Carmichael Dies
Intermodal Calendar

Insights - March 2016