Transportation News

Harsh ‘Bomb-Cyclone’ Weather Adds Different Strategies to Motor Carriers’ Playbooks

With winter weather conditions harsh and another big storm hitting yesterday in various pockets of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, myriad motor carriers are gearing up for the most recent batch of bad weather.

Risk Management Resources

Companies

  • Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. (NASDAQ: ODFL) is a leading, less-than-truckload (“LTL”), union-free company providing premium service to all its customers. OD offers regional, inter-regional and national LTL service. In addition to its core LTL services, the company offers its customers a broad…

  • In adhering to their “We´re Always There For You” signature commitment, PITT OHIO is dedicated to providing their customers with the best value in its SUPPLY CHAIN, GROUND, Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and TRUCKLOAD services. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, PITT OHIO services the entire…

  • Company Quicklook

While the year may be new, it stands to reason that approaches to handling freight and keeping operations on schedule and efficient is really an age-old practice in many ways.

Pittsburgh-based Pitt Ohio, a provider of less-than-truckload, truckload, supply chain, and ground services, can be viewed as an innovator of sorts, when it comes to handling heavy snowfalls and deep freezes through its more than 1,250 heated trailers spread out among its Pitt Ohio, Dohrn Transfer, and the U.S. Special Delivery groups, which it has invested in over the last three years.

Having done a fair share of business in the chemical and coating sectors, one thing that has been apparent at the company is seeing customers shift to more sustainable processes, through the replacement of things like oil-based products to water-based products, according to Pitt Ohio Chief Marketing Officer and EVP Geoffrey Muessig.

“The byproduct of that is these products are more temperature-sensitive than they used to be,” he said. “With specialty products and formulations, there is a need to keep them from freezing. In the past, we have experimented with heated pads and blankets. While they were operationally successful, the challenges were more from a distribution standpoint, as it adds a lot of extra costs and time at the warehouse. You have to back strip the pallets to take the pads down and then load the boxes on top of the pallet and then wrap the blanket around it. That’s time-consuming.”

After listening to customers, Muessig said Pitt Ohio made a significant investment in heated trailers, which he said its driving business its way. While many of its customers are embargoing shipments, he said Pitt Ohio has picked them up and is seeking to move as many as it can overnight.

“When the roads are impassable, we will keep shipments on the heated trailers or move them into warm rooms at our terminals, but we will protect the freight and move as much as we can, as per our normal service standards,” he said.

“From a customer’s perspective, they want us to minimize disruptions to their supply chain. Their customers don’t want to hear about the bad weather and not being able to get shipments this week; that does not really work. They want to do it in a cost-effective way and don’t want to be shipping four pallets on a heated trailer with a truckload provider, which is hard to justify from a cost standpoint. This is what some shippers have been forced to do in dire situations when it has been cold in the past.”

Muessig said that Pitt Ohio is particularly focused on various areas for its heated trailers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, the entire Pitt Ohio core area, and into New England and Canada through its business partners.

Visit: PITT OHIO’s Protect From Freezing Service, Heat Track

For national LTL carrier Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL), the company’s VP of Transportation Hugh Morris called the company’s approach to winter weather complicated but simplistic in nature.

“We do use blankets to wrap around a pallet. As long as the blankets are above freezing, it will keep the temperature of the pallet at that time intact for close to 48 hours,” he said.

“We also have the standard old fashioned propane heaters that were made for trucking companies years ago that we can also utilize. The only problem we have typically is that if it gets below 18 degrees there is not much we can do to protect it.”

But he noted that ODFL has a 30-hour temperature forecasting model, which helps to determine what is the window of opportunity on freezable shipments in terms of being able to get them from point A to point B, where shipments can be protected in the event the temperature falls below 18 degrees.

Geoffrey Muessig, CMO and Executive Vice President at Pitt Ohio
“Pitt Ohio has made a significant investment in heated trailers, which is driving business its way.”Geoffrey Muessig, Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President, Pitt Ohio

“If there was a shipment going from Portland, Maine to Seattle, your natural connection is going to be over Chicago, and if you look from Chicago over across to, say, Minneapolis, Fargo, Billings, Spokane, or into Seattle, the temperature is going to be below 18 degrees and for how long, and we can make the call on when a shipment moves to those connecting points and if we have to hold it in a worst case scenario if there is no window of opportunity, we will hold it in what we call a warm room, which is a refrigerated unit with a ‘warm’ option,” he explained.

“When push comes to shove, our last line of defense for, say, a shipment from Portland, Maine to Seattle, could be run down to Dallas and into southern California and then up the I-5 corridor, because there was no window of opportunity basically anywhere north of I-40 that was going to be above 18 degrees long enough to get the shipment there safely.”

While ODFL would not typically issue a full-blown embargo, Morris said it would communicate to the customer that there are options to either hold a shipment and move it in a couple of days or, alternatively, to take it and keep it moving as best as it can, with a few extra days above the normal surface transit time.

From an operational perspective in times of harsh weather, Morris said that ODFL’s service center managers at its facilities are essentially the boots on the ground.

“The technology today makes it a lot easier, as we can basically pull up any DOT (Department of Transportation) camera across the domestic U.S. and see live traffic and what is going on where our are trucks are going,” he said. “We did not have that option a few years ago, and we relied on the National Weather Service or drivers calling in and providing updates. Most of our drivers run at night between 8-9 and are usually back in the next morning between 7-9.”

As for what ODFL’s plans were for running in weather-impacted areas in storm hit parts of the U.S. today, Morris said the company would look at is forecasting model to determine which trucks are safe to leave and run and what time they would need to leave and get them back before the storm hits.

And he added that exercise is a little easier in the Northeast, because the harsh weather is more commonplace, as compared to down south, where people are not used to driving in the elements.

“A quarter-inch of ice in Atlanta can leave 6 million people stranded,” he said. “Ultimately, it is the drivers’ call when it comes to this kind of weather. If they want to run, we will try to adjust where they can get out and when they can get back. If it does not look like they would not get back in time and they may choose not to run, then they won’t run. It is strictly their call when it comes to weather.”

Related White Papers

Download the Paper

Improving Packaging: The Cost of Shipping Air is Going Up
Retailers and Manufacturers that insist on using inefficient and sloppy packaging methods - oversized boxes, inefficient packaging, poorly constructed palletized contents - are paying for their mistakes in sharply higher freight rates. Download Now!


Download the Paper

Compliance Safety Accountability: Why the Scores are Important
Times are changing in the motor carrier industry. Today, shippers need to pick the safest carriers and manage their own risks to drive down costs over the long term. Download Now!


Download the Paper

Superior Customer Service Through Automation
PITT OHIO depends on Kapow Katalyst™ to support its high-value customers by automating 100% of routine Customer Service activities. Download Now!


Download the Paper

How Your Carrier Can Help You Understand Your Carbon Footprint
More companies are adopting sustainability initiatives to help identify areas in their organization where they can reap savings that also help improve the environment. Download Now!


Download the Paper

Controlling Surface Transportation Costs: Six Steps Toward Improved Collaboration
The best trucking operators are the ones that can best match up their available capacity with enough freight to make their networks run in balance—or as close to 100 percent full in both the headhaul and backhaul lanes. Download Now!


Article Topics
Best Practices   Transportation   Transportation Management   Less-than-Truckload   Risk Management   All topics


Comments
Be the first to post a comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Login.

About the Author
Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman
 
Latest Transportation News
XPO Logistics Named One of the World’s Most Admired Companies by Forbes Magazine
2018 is the first year XPO Logistics, a global provider of transport and logistics solutions and which operates as a highly integrated network of people, technology, and physical assets in 32 countries,…

Retailers Versus The Amazon Effect
Amazon has set the standard for customer service and today every consumer expects every retailer to have the same service capabilities from their e-commerce business including an integrated transport management…

Transportation Predictions That Will Shake-Up the Supply Chain Industry In 2018
Dan Clark, Founder and President of Kuebix, gives his annual vision of what he sees happening in the transportation and supply chain industry including; tax reforms, decreased capacity, higher rates, and…

Home Depot Considers Buying $9 Billion XPO Logistics So Amazon Doesn’t
If Home Depot were to make an offer, one main impetus would be to keep XPO out of the hands of Amazon, which the home improvement retailer believes has also considered buying the logistics company, according…


 

24|7 Pro Team

The 24|7 Team is your direct pipeline to solutions for your business challenges. It's your opportunity to have supply chain and logistics experts look at your specific challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information.

The 24|7 Team will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list.

1
  Choose a topic for your RFP

Transportation RFP/RFI

The Transportation RFP is your direct pipeline to solutions for your transportation challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific transportation challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request.

Choosing the perfect software or system can be an indomitable challenge. Using this transportation/TMS RFP will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list.

Warehouse/DC Management RFP/RFI

The Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) RFP is your direct pipeline to solutions for your WMS challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific WMS challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request.

Choosing the perfect WMS solution can be an indomitable challenge. Using this WMS RFP will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your WMS Request for Proposal list.

Supply Chain RFP/RFI

The Supply Chain RFP is your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific challenges and needs, and receive free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information. It simplifies finding a pool of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list. The companies in the Logistics Planner have agreed to respond to your request for in-depth information and follow-up, and your request is totally confidential.

Software/Technology RFP/RFI

The Software/Technology is your direct pipeline to solutions for your logistics information technology challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific technology challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request. Whether it's WMS, TMS, Mobile or Cloud, our pros can help.

The companies listed below have agreed to respond to your request for in-depth information and follow-up. Your request is totally confidential.

Executive Education RFI

The Logistics and Supply Chain Education RFI can help you identify the schools, coursework, continuing education, distance learning and certification opportunities available from leading logistics educational institutions.

Upgrade and improve your logistics and supply chain skillsets. Whatever route you choose—advanced degree, executive education, certification or distance learning—the time and money you invest in your education today can pay off in continued career success tomorrow. Contact leading universities and professional institutions for the information you need to prepare for the future.

Third Party Logistics RFP/RFI

This 3PL Request for Proposal (RFP)/Request for Information (RFI) can help you find the 3PL and 4PL providers that can meet your specific 3PL service challenges and needs. The 3PL companies below will provide free, no-obligation third-party logistics advice, solutions, and information.

Ask your 3PL questions, you'll get answers. Simply complete the information, and detail your 3PL challenges. Then, check off the third-party logistics companies that you want to review your request.

1. Choose an RFI topic.
2. Enter your contact information and challenge.
3. Select companies and optional categories.
4. Submit.


2

Your Information



Your Challenge, Problem or Request *

3

Select Transportation Companies

  • Select All

  • 3Gtms
  • BluJay Solutions
  • CSX Trans. Intermodal
  • Kuebix
  • Landstar
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • One Network
  • Pitt Ohio
  • Purolator
  • Quintiq
  • SEKO Logistics
  • SMC3


Select Relevent Categories

  • Air Freight
  • Intermodal
  • Motor Freight
  • Ocean Freight
  • Rail Freight
  • TMS

Select Warehouse/DC Management Companies

  • Select All

  • 3PL Central
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • Honeywell Intelligrated
  • Kuebix
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Swisslog
  • Westfalia Technologies
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • Auto ID & Data Capture
  • Automation
  • Conveyors & Sortation
  • Lift Trucks
  • Packaging & Labeling
  • Pallets & Containers
  • Shelving & Racking
  • WMS

Select Supply Chain Companies

  • Select All

  • 3Gtms
  • 3PL Central
  • Amber Road
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • APICS
  • BluJay Solutions
  • CSX Trans. Intermodal
  • Frontier Business
  • Kuebix
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Logility
  • One Network
  • Purolator
  • Quintiq
  • SMC3
  • Synchrono
  • TAKE Supply Chain
  • Westfalia Technologies
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • Global Trade
  • Inventory Management
  • Risk Management
  • Sustainability

Select Software/Technology Companies

  • Select All

  • 3GTMS
  • 3PL Central
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • BluJay Solutions
  • Honeywell Intelligrated
  • Frontier Business
  • Kuebix
  • Logility
  • One Network
  • Quintiq
  • SMC3
  • Swisslog Logistics
  • Synchrono
  • TAKE Supply Chain
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • ERP
  • Sales & Operations
  • Sourcing/Procurement
  • Optimization
  • Transportation Mgmt
  • Warehouse Mgmt

Select Executive Education Choices

  • Select All

  • Graduate Courses
  • Online/Distance
  • Executive Education
  • Certifications
  • Undergraduate
  • Seminars
  • Associations
  • Conferences
  • Tradeshows


Select Third Party Logistics Companies

  • Select All

  • 3PL Central
  • Landstar
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Purolator
  • SEKO Logistics
  • Westfalia Technologies


4
 

24|7 Company Profiles