State Of Intermodal Transportation Industry In The First Quarter 2011

The first quarter of 2011 has consisted of escalating fuels costs, fluctuating volume of intermodal freight in some markets, instability in the Middle East, and a natural disaster of tragic proportions in Japan. Each item has and will affect the international supply chain as we prepare for a steady volume increase throughout 2011. As volume, fuel prices, and operating variables increase our focus at Universal Transportation will be centered around safety, operating efficiencies, and service. The discipline in these areas places our company in a prime position to better service our customers, improve the quality of our truck fleet, and enhance opportunities for our employees.


The ever changing price of diesel will continue to be an elusive target driven by speculation, Middle East turmoil, and an improving economy. Managing fuel costs and charging accordingly is an integral function for all companies throughout the supply chain. The costs of not being able to adjust to fluctuating prices can be debilitating for trucking companies and drivers.

At UTS Group, we feel it is our responsibility to (A) adjust drivers F/S to help compensate for their operating costs and (B) alter the fuel surcharge to our customers in order to offset the reimbursement to our owner operators. The biggest struggle within this process is retrieving appropriate F/S payment from a number of our customers. It seems as if the truckload and LTL community has reacted much faster to the fuel prices and shippers are paying a much higher F/S % to those carriers. As the intermodal freight continues to rise our customers will be faced with fewer options if they cannot agree to an appropriate price for the cost of fuel. Until then our company will have to make tough choices on who we do business with if certain customers do not make proper adjustments.


CSA continues to be a driving force throughout our industry in 2011. I personally think the structure of and implementation of CSA is a good thing for our industry and all motorists. Many of the violations that drivers receive are preventable and have not affected them or the companys they worked for in the past. That has all changed with the implementation of CSA which will ultimately force drivers out of business if they do not place greater emphasis on safety.

Universal Transportation has made incredible strides to improve our CSA scores and Im very confident that our efforts elevate the level of safety within our truck fleet. The biggest challenges in this area are time and driver education. Because our scores are based on performance over the past three years it will take some time to see an improvement in our numbers. I personally see every violation that our drivers receive and become discouraged when reviewing those that are preventable. We have spent countless hours educating drivers on items in all categories and have implemented a fine/reward system for inspections. Our direction for the future is continuous education with an open mind to include additional policies within the CSA format.

Operations and Service

Our operating efficiencies and customer service focus work together making UTS one of the best options to move intermodal freight in the Midwest. We understand our customers needs for reliable service and delivering real-time information. We have built an infrastructure that creates transparency throughout our organization and created better support for our field offices at the corporate level. So as volumes increase and customers demands change we are prepared to elevate our service with proper staffing and technology thats always improving.

Our intention is to use the infrastructure to service those customers who understand the full picture surrounding all the challenges in todays marketplace. We believe those customers with good perspective on rates, fuel, streamlining technology, and changing safety regulations will be recognized as the best partner for UTS in the future. Fortunately, a good percentage of our customer base consists of this type of client and we feel we are well positioned to continue with those partnerships in the future.

Distracted Driving Awareness

The month of April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month so please take the time to focus on your own driving habits and remind others to do the same. It is frightening to see how many people continue to text, apply makeup, and eat while they drive. These are only a few examples of common distractions seen while driving. Most of the driving public spends a limited amount of time in their vehicles every day and can find the time to perform these distracting tasks when theyre not operating a vehicle. Please continue to do your part and make our roads safer by minimizing distractions when driving.

Safe Travels!

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Source: Intermodal Transportation Midwest

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