Ultralift Technologies, Inc. - Truck Driving Safety Blog
UltraLift Technologies is a leading technology company developing and producing the world's first powertool used in the transportation and logistics industries. Our technical innovations will improve our global clients' overall operations as well increase their employee productivity and safety.
The trucking industry lost about 100 jobs in the month of September, marking what some analysts believe may be the beginning of a negative outlook for the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. If they’re correct, that means it’s more important than ever to safeguard the existing workforce and to focus on improvements in overall efficiency.
Installation of the Ultralift power tool is a means of doing both these things. In the first place, it can reduce truck driving injuries and instances of back problems from truck driving. This in turn can reduce the instance of workers’ compensation claims and keep people behind the wheel for longer. Just as important, it can increase the overall perception of trailer driving safety, thereby making the industry more attractive to the general public and reducing the turnover rate.
Additionally, the Ultralift power tool improves operational efficiency at the point of disengagement and reengagement of the tractor from the trailer. This may be a minor concern in the grand scheme of things, but by reducing this reset time in each instance, a trucking company can save a several man-hours a day over the course of an entire fleet.
Most technological innovations have the potential to both reduce labor needs and prevent unnecessary job loss. The Ultralift power tool is no exception, and it has the added advantage of being easy to install throughout a fleet and carrying little additional cost.
In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adopted a new rule allowing for the revocation of licenses for operators who have been found to conceal a history of safety violations through the use of “chameleon companies”. Yet the problem persists: trucking operators change the names of their companies or spread their operations across several front companies in order to limit the public scrutiny that follows them after past violations.
You can expect savvy clients and discriminating job-seekers to be aware of this trend. Unfortunately, the poor behavior of other trucking operators may haunt you even if your safety record is clean. That is to say, as long as chameleon companies exist, it will be relatively difficult for people to be confident that your publicly-viewable record is accurate.
In this industry landscape, it may be beneficial for conscientious trucking operators to overcompensate and wear their commitment to safety on their sleeves. When being vetted by prospective clients or employees, the Ultralift power tool is a clear symbol of that commitment. After all, the company that addresses the problem of shoulder injuries and back problems from truck driving is less likely to subject its drivers to the more familiar dangers of excessively long hours, a lack of routine maintenance, and so on.
Those are the sorts of problems that are most likely to affect a company’s safety rating, and thus to push that company toward deceptive tactics. But back problems and repetitive stress injuries constitute an entire underlying set of consequences for the same disregard of safety standards. And while those issues might be less visible in a public safety record, their absence is a very obvious endorsement for any company that has gone the extra mile, as by adopting the Ultralift power tool.
The latest data shows that truck driving remains one of the most dangerous professions in the country, accounting for 918 fatalities in the year 2016 alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. No doubt this is a major contributing factor in the difficulty that many trucking operators face in filling positions and keeping them filled.
That issue is made worse by the fact that the pay scale for the industry doesn’t always compensate for the danger of injury and death from collisions and on-the-job accidents. This is enough of a disincentive for some drivers even when they aren’t aware of the potential for back problems from truck driving, or repetitive stress injuries from performing drop-and-hook procedures over and over again.
Naturally, there are safety upgrades and training courses that can diminish the incidence of workplace accidents. But there’s only so much that a trucking operator can do to eliminate driver error and acts of God. On the other hand, non-driving related shoulder and back injuries can be greatly reduced in number, and at little cost, by installing the Ultralift power tool.
This may not make truck driving a much safer industry overall. But with the margins as thin as they are between job openings and job seekers, a little bit less risk just might be the difference between full staff and unfilled vacancies within your fleet.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen a lot of headlines boasting that certain companies have turned tax cut savings into bonuses for their employees. Some of those stories involve trucking companies. And while we would never try to stand in the way of improved compensation for truck drivers, we can’t help but wonder whether these sorts of one-time bonuses are really the best way of utilizing a sudden savings, either for trucking companies or for their employees.
As is well-known, employee retention is a common problem among trucking companies, and not without reason. It’s a stressful job that takes a toll on the mind and body. Ultralift and other trucking technology are doing what they can to mitigate those effects, but their success ultimately depends upon wise investments by trucking companies.
As it stands, individual bonuses may do little on their own other than encouraging truck drivers to cash in on a short-term career and then change course before they risk injury or exhaustion. Thus, it may be preferable in the long-term to channel unexpected company income or savings into upgrades, like the Ultralift power tool, that reduce the instance of injuries and back problems from truck driving.
The topic of truck driving technology made its way into the popular press recently when The Atlantic published an article on the future of self-driving trucks. The piece strove to paint a rosy picture of automation in the trucking industry, and thus made an important point: Making things easier for truck drivers does not necessarily mean making truck drivers obsolete.
Sometimes we worry that people who could personally benefit from the Ultralift power tool are opposed to the idea of their trucking companies installing it. Some of those people might very well think that any new technology is a slippery slope toward self-driving trucks that no longer require human input.
But that’s probably not how advanced truck driving technology will look, at least not for a very long time. And the Ultralift power tool is certainly not a step toward that slippery slope. As much as our truck driving technology takes the hard work of raising and lowering the landing gear out of a driver’s hands (or off his back), it doesn’t rob them of the task itself.
For the foreseeable future, it will still be necessary for truck drivers to operate the Ultralift power tool, and also to operate the truck itself, even if self-driving mechanisms take up some of the burden of long, monotonous highway driving. Such truck driving technology may actually increase the demand for drivers, because it will increase the amount of work that individual truckers can complete both easily and safely.
The trucking industry faces significant pressures in the current economic environment, and these pressures add to the need for efficiency in trucking operations. The Ultralift power tool may represent only a small increase in inefficiency on its own, but it is an easy and inexpensive upgrade. And spread across an entire fleet, it saves time and energy, as well as potentially having a crucial impact on employee retention.
Recent reports have suggested that a shortage of drivers remains the most serious challenge facing the trucking industry. This is the case even though trucking companies are subject to some of the highest rates of taxation in the US. That burden may increase somewhat as the nation considers increasing the gas tax to pay for infrastructure upgrades.
Interestingly, the American Trucking Association supports this plan because those upgrades are so badly needed. This speaks to a truth that it is important for trucking companies across the country to recognize: short-term costs are often fully justified by the long-term benefits they create.
Again, the Ultralift power tool may be a relatively minor example of that principle. But as we’ve said before, its installation is a sign that the given trucking companies are committed to looking toward the future and decreasing pressures on themselves and their drivers.
Orian Research recently released a 97-page report profiling 10 companies in the trucking software industry. It is the latest reminder of the technological shifts that are only beginning for the field of truck driving.
It’s not very difficult to speculate about where truck driving technology will be going in the near future, but it’s not particularly easy to envision that future by looking at most operators in the US today. While there have been substantial advances in truck driving technology in recent years, many drivers are forced to rely on outmoded resources, as by continuing to use a hand crank to lower a trailer’s landing gear.
It’s fair to assume that in the near future, truck driving technology will allow drivers to lower the landing gear without getting out of the cab, or that it will allow loading dock operators to take over that part of the procedure. But before we get to that point, trucking companies will need to have already moved past the increasingly ancient hand crank.
One might argue that it’s sensible to hold back on adopting technology that runs a risk of becoming obsolete once the next big thing comes along. But the Ultralift power tool isn’t going anywhere. It will almost certainly be upgraded alongside advances in trucking software, but its simple installation a necessary step away from the analog past an a significant step toward a technologically-enriched future for the industry.
Last week, we discussed how the Ultralift power tool can help to improve worker morale by giving truck drivers the impression that their employers are interested in safeguarding their health and improving the overall comfort of the job. Since then, reports have emerged that sketch out the prospects for the truck driving industry over the year ahead, and these only underscore the importance of bolstering worker morale.
Firms like FTR Transportation Intelligence have determine that truck orders are on the rise and that the market was nearly at capacity at the end of 2017. Obviously, this is good news, but it also presents a challenge because there are simply not enough truck drivers to operate all those vehicles.
Under those conditions, employee turnover is a serious threat. And we already know that many truck drivers do not remain in their positions for very long before injuries and the other pressures of the job compel them to explore other options.
Going into 2018, it is more important than ever to make sure that incidences of injury are as low as possible. If doing so also reduces the overall burden of truck driving jobs for people in your employ, it will go a long way toward preventing your company and the industry as a whole from being overextended. There is perhaps no simpler or more cost-effective way of making progress toward that goal than by installing the Ultralift power tool.
This blog frequently focuses on the notion of reducing costs for truck fleet operators, particularly by reducing the instances of injuries and back problems from truck driving. But perhaps not enough emphasis is given to the simple matter of increasing job satisfaction for individual drivers.
Whatever fleet owners can do to make the job more pleasant for their drivers, it will have a further positive impact on their bottom line. That is to say, it will decrease the turnover rate in the profession and probably also reduce instances of workplace conflict and associated inefficiencies. It also happens to be the case that making such improvements is simply a nice thing to do for the drivers working under you.
We believe that the Ultralift power tool is a simple and effective way to bring a little more ease and a little less discomfort to the job of truck driving. Significantly, it prevents many employees from developing back problems from truck driving. But in a more general sense, it allows drivers to have more of a subjective sense of finality at the end of their route. It gives them the pleasure of exiting the cab and lowering the landing gear in one smooth motion, without needless exertion or the expectation of standing out in the cold on a winter day.
Obviously, the traditional drop and hook safety procedures is only a minor inconvenience of truck driving, in the grand scheme of things. But every little improvement counts toward workplace satisfaction, and the installation of an Ultralift power tool demonstrates to truck drivers that their employers are interested in making the job less strenuous and more satisfying as their careers stretch on.
On Thursday morning, President Trump made headlines with a tweet targeting the relationship between Amazon and the United States Postal Service. He suggested that the USPS was allowing itself to be taken advantage of and should be charging much more for Amazon to use it for last-mile parcel delivery.
We’re not experts in the operations of these particular companies, but the tweet seemed hasty. The USPS is not necessarily losing out on the relationship. Both companies benefit from the relationship, Amazon through lower overhead and the USPS through increased volume for a delivery infrastructure that is already established.
But this isn’t a political blog, and you may wonder what the president’s tweet has to do with the truck driving profession or the Ultralift power tool. Well, when we read the tweet it occurred to us that the president might have been unknowingly advocating for a situation in which truck operators – whether for Amazon or the USPS – keep less of the money that it might take to modernize their fleets and improve the health and safety of individual drivers.
Fair pricing is something that all companies should aspire to, but when overlapping industries work together, there are mutual advantages to be found in passing on savings to infrastructural investments.
The Ultralift power tool is not a particular demanding investment for any given truck. But when you’re talking about massive fleets like those associated with Amazon and the USPS, lost revenue or increased costs could end up depriving some vehicles of technology that would help to reduce truck driving injuries, increase job satisfaction, and make perhaps make the business and its close partners more lucrative over the long term.