Updates from the North American crane industry - a member’s perspective
03 September 2019
What business challenges are you currently facing?
Dave Merrill, General Manager, Pahoa Express
“A big thing for us has been the ELDs, and some unintended consequences that have arisen. We’ve seen some of our drivers get more speeding tickets or lane violations trying to make up time. We changed our pay structure to try and reduce that from happening. Another thing happening more frequently – not with us – is companies pushing their times right to the limit and trying to get into the truck stops at the last minute. As a result, I’ve had four front ends ripped off of my trucks here recently.”
Andy Steinberg, CEO, Mr. Crane
”Unique to California, we have some regulatory issues that we deal with. I don’t speak for everyone in California, but the emissions standards are a challenge. In terms of buying new gear and running it safely for a long time – now we either have to repower it or buy new equipment. And that influences our business model. Additionally, there are some jobs where we simply can’t put a crane there. As a company, we’re compliant, but then we get calls for certain projects and job requirements, and we may not have a specific crane that day that is compliant. Adding to the challenge, some manufacturers will say that users can’t modify the equipment. But we’re working through it – it’s just complicated. Some of the regulations are increasing our awareness for health and safety – which I think, throughout the industry, is better off than it was five years ago. And I credit SC&RA with generating awareness – whether it’s cranes or transport. It’s a safer work environment for all of us, and I truly believe SC&RA is doing that.”
“Having fifty states with fifty different sets of rules stretches the capacity of most of us, needless to say. UPT2021 is beneficial to everyone – especially those that are hauling less than superloads. In New York City, ELDs are a huge challenge for us. We haul subway cars into Manhattan and can only travel at our sizes at night. Yet there’s not reasonable parking to get the loads there during the day (before) in order for the driver to have hours to drive that night. If the Feds should open up the split sleeper berth provision, that will be big. We’ve become more skilled on the operational side looking for parking and working with locations that will allow us to park there. Folks should set aside time each day to read articles, or emails/newsletters – the educational materials available through the Association – to examine, address and work around issues.”
“I think everyone is still trying to figure out telematics and what that means, what we need and want. What I’ve seen is that there doesn’t seem to be an information standard yet, so it’s sort of information overload – you have to cut through a lot of inputs that manufacturers supply. Inspections, daily logs, communicating from the field to the office … I think people get intimidated by the word technology, but it’s ultimately just taking what you already do and making it easier. Another issue is the labor shortage. Finding ways to reach out to younger people, and then retain them, is an obvious challenge. We’re especially focused on growing next-gen workers and assessing how they fit with our company – now and in the future. One point to make is that it’s easy to say you’re going to attack all of your problems at once, but that’s usually not a productive approach. Regardless of the issue, we endeavor to make sure everyone on the team is always on the same page – through weekly or monthly focus points.”
Mike Meyer, President, TLG Transport
“Permitting. The infrastructure isn’t always there, and construction only exacerbates that situation. We’ve had to add manpower and rely on technology to help expedite the process. We’re utilizing load-planning software, swept path software and we have more people in the field doing physical surveys as well as people coordinating in-house to stay on top of it. I think SC&RA’s Uniform Permit Transport 2021 is a great initiative, and long overdue. I will say that a lot of our [TLG] configurations don’t necessarily fall within the allotted ones, but I work with the states every day trying to resolve the permitting issue, and this effort by SC&RA is an attempt to make it better for everyone.”
Paul DeLong, President, Paul DeLong Heavy Haul
“ELDs will be a real challenge going forward because of the curfews we have to deal with. It’ll be an ongoing issue – trying to deliver. You get hung up in traffic, etc. There’s talk about exemptions for smaller fleets, but we don’t know much yet. As far as adaptation, we keep telling the customers – in regard to the electronic onboard recorders – this is going to happen so let’s just try and be prepared.”
What concerns are you hearing from members?
Jason Bell, Membership Director, SC&RA
“Frankly, members continue to navigate the uphill battle of finding employable skilled labor, both out in the field and in their back offices. Meanwhile, they’re dealing with the inflexibility of Hours of Service, navigating Crane Operator Qualification, and the burden of many state permitting systems that are simply relics.
These challenges are not the “costs of doing business.” SC&RA is aggressively pursuing solutions to ease the burden of these issues or eliminate them entirely.
I want to hear what obstacles our members may encounter so that we can tackle it collectively. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. ”