Open Letter to Crete Carrier Management - Constructive Criticism

Discussion in 'Discuss Your Favorite Trucking Company Here' started by Farmerbob1, Mar 6, 2020.

  1. Farmerbob1

    Farmerbob1 Road Train Member

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    I figure there are likely a few Crete staff that poke through these forums now and again. I've tried to speak to quite a few middle managers without much in the way of understanding or results, and don't feel quite justified in trying to hunt down the email addresses of the people in charge, so I'll just put it here.

    This is substantially more than 10k characters. It will be broken up into three parts.

    **

    To whom it may concern,

    This open letter is constructive criticism. There are suggestions here, and I will be polite, though please excuse me a little bit of snarking when I address a few issues.

    Before I start, I will provide my identity and a bit of my background. My driver code is BURM12. I am currently an o/o with Crete (1 year) and have been with the company for roughly 3 years. Before that, I was a driver for Stevens Transport for about 1.5 years. Prior to being a driver, I was a technical support specialist at a call center for NCR for 8 years. Before that, I had jobs in IT, maintenance, and construction fields. At nearly 49 years old, I have been using computers since the fourth grade, in the beginning of the personal computer era when people had to type in the code out of magazines. I have been coding, building, and repairing computers since my teens. In short, I do know a little about the things I am going to address here.

    Crete, like most large trucking companies, relies heavily on electronic systems to automate a great many tasks. This allows a relatively small number of individuals to address the data needs of the thousands of drivers generating income for Crete. This improves productivity. However, there is a downside to highly centralized data management. A few individuals can generate small data inefficiencies which impact thousands of drivers. While each driver is impacted only slightly, the aggregate effect of these inefficiencies can add up to significant issues and losses.

    Based on my many conversations with individuals in various positions at Crete, it has become apparent to me that quite a few of these inefficiencies appear to be due to there being no high level manager looking for (and addressing) small inefficiencies that impact thousands of drivers. Every department that supports drivers appears to be semi-autonomous. I’m sure that there are times when upper level management becomes aware of small driver-facing issues that impact thousands of drivers negatively and move to address them, but it does not appear as if there is a high level manager who has this duty as part of their defined role. If such a person does exist, then I've likely made an enemy. So be it. They need to start doing their job.

    So, my first suggestion is to implement such a position. Find someone with lots of years of driving experience, both as a company driver, and as a successful o/o, and some corporate/IT management experience as well. ((This is not me asking for a job. I am happy where I am and will turn you down if you ask. Ask me again in a few years maybe.)) Task them with communicating actively with drivers and finding weaknesses in the Crete driver-facing data and tools. Give them the power to address inefficiencies, or at least report inefficiencies directly to those in a position to address them and make changes.

    *** END Part 1 ***
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
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  2. Farmerbob1

    Farmerbob1 Road Train Member

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    Here are a few inefficiencies I have noticed in the last three years. I am certain this is not a comprehensive list.
    1. Bad addresses. Drivers should never, under any circumstances see addresses that are not truck entrances. If a company has multiple addresses at one facility, then there should be multiple addresses stored in Crete’s customer data system, but only one that drivers can see. Using the ‘get directions’ option to show the real truck entrance address is a hackfix for bad addresses. I do not know if the software Crete uses has separate fields for Driver data and Sales/Account data, but if it does, they are mashed and mixed and need combing through. If there are not separate fields, then there needs to be. Either hire a disabled vet to comb address data, or pay for a code upgrade/get a contract coder to add a new field and then hire a disabled vet to work from home to sort it out.

    2. Bad directions. When a driver does request directions to a facility, there is a very good chance that the data provided will have what appears to be several different driver’s descriptions of approach routes, several of which will be contradictory, incomprehensible, or dating from many years prior. I have been advised by several people that this is because it is impossible to remove old data from the directions file, all that can be done is append more. This is… more than a little foolish. Roads change. Sites move their entrances. Construction projects come and go. There needs to be an established process for updating directions data, and directions data should be reviewed every couple years. Yes, that’s a lot of data to review, however, I’m sure you could find a handicapped military veteran with truck driving experience who would be willing to work from home to validate directions provided by contacting drivers or by calling sites, and/or using Google Maps to trace routes to be sure they appear workable.

    3. Stop numbers. At this time, Crete ignores first stops when counting stops. I have been told by the IT department that this is because some drivers are too stupid to understand that a stop is whenever you add or remove something from a trailer. If there are really drivers that cannot learn this, do you want them working for your company? By ignoring stop #1, the company needs to add multiple unnecessary message forms. There only needs to be two messages for stop data. Arrived at stop #<x> and Departed stop #<x>. Trailer shagging is a different process. The goal should be to improve the efficiency of competent drivers, not pander to the ignorance of drivers that can’t or won’t learn industry standards that make everyone’s lives easier. Every pick is a stop. Every drop is a stop. There is no stop zero.

    4. Add a ‘problem address’ form, so that drivers can send brief descriptions of issues associated with shippers or receivers, and have it go to someone whose job it is to fix bad data, without forcing those of us who care to try to use the phone to reach out to people at the company who don't have time to fix issues, won’t listen, or can't comprehend problems as a driver sees them.

    5. Peoplenet was a horrible mistake. Your IT staff hasn’t been able to make it work right, and it appears to be a terrible base system to start with. Mine crashes several times every single day. However, there are some things that can be done to make it less garbagetastic. See below.

    6. Give us real clock data on the driver facing screen. Currently we have four clock fields that we see while driving, but they are not all strictly showing real/true data. The IT team has implemented code which alters some clocks depending on the data from other clocks. This appears to be an attempt to help drivers by preventing them from confusing clock data. This causes other problems due to misrepresenting clock data. Providing bad data to drivers, no matter how well-meaning the intent, is not a good way to help us. Non-drivers might think all we need is drive time data, but that is NOT the case. We need to plan for on duty not driving time, fuel time, wash and washout time, and various other things like breaks and restroom stops. In short, the IT team needs to revisit the driver facing (while driving) screen. Stop fudging 8/11/14/70 clock data and provide real, accurate clock data. Then add a fifth clock. Call it an HOS clock. That clock will be larger than the other clocks, and prominent. It will serve the purpose of telling the driver how long they have to drive until they commit a HOS violation. That would be helpful without hurting drivers’ ability to track and plan the progress of their day.

    7. It is very clear that drivers who take 34’s are being pretty much ignored by the IT staff. I get bad data every single day telling me how many hours I will get back tonight, and the next day. This automated message is completely meaningless to me. I take a 34 hour break every week. If I ever see actual recap time, that means I’ve had a terrible week. Now, for me, that’s annoying, but not a problem. I only use my 70 hour clock to judge my next day’s available hours when planning. However, what happens to a driver (who normally chases their 70) who has cycled into an overnight driving schedule and started to drive more hours to try and help? They eventually have to take a 34. After the 34, they continue driving hard to help the company, but after the sixth day, they are forced to shut down unexpectedly (to them) because the helpful automated message they grew to count on told them bad data? The nannybot message advising us of the hours we will get back over the next 2 days needs to be accurate, whether we drive every day and chase our 70, or if we drive hard 5 or 6 days and take 34’s. Sending drivers bad data is never a good idea. Please fix this nannybot message, or trash it.

    8. The nannybot message that asks us to verify we are still alive really needs to be tweaked to take into account those of us who take 34’s. A driver that takes 34’s is going to have an inactive vehicle for more than 12 hours at least once a week. I’ve actually left my vehicle and stayed in a hotel on a couple of 34’s when bobtail, and signed completely out of the peoplenet device, but STILL gotten a phone call to make sure I’m still alive. Please fix this nannybot message, or trash it.

    9. There are a couple meaningless options that appear in the status change screens. I will address them one at a time below. The first two will only save a tiny bit of time per driver (times thousands of drivers,) but should only take a tiny bit of time to fix, (times one person.) The third one might cause severe issues for team drivers.

    10. When I choose the option “On Duty Yard Move” it opens up a text box for me to type in to clarify what I am doing. This is meaningless. What else am I going to do besides a yard move? This isn’t like Personal Conveyance where I might have very different reasons. When I choose Yard Move, I am moving in a yard. That’s it. Nothing else. Please remove the textbox custom message for On Duty Yard Move.

    11. When I choose the sleeper option, it pops up with a second option screen giving me only one choice. “break.” First, if there is only one choice, why pop up an option box? If I select sleeper, I’m not going to be driving or on duty. Please remove the meaningless option box that pops up after choosing sleeper status.

    12. For the longest time, I thought that On Duty Not Driver and On Duty Driver were simply grammar goofs by Non-English programmers for “On Duty not Driving” and “On Duty Driving.” I finally called and spoke to the IT guys about this and was advised that what that actually was, is some sort of way for a team truck to set on duty status for both drivers in a truck at the same time. There’s a problem with this. I only have one driver on my truck - me. Why do I have options for setting on duty status for two drivers? Why is Crete allowing a couple centimeters of finger press distance to potentially cause one member of a driving team to screw up the clock of another member of a driving team? If there is a team on the truck, there should be an entirely separate screen for access to duty status for either driver, with their name at the top of the screen. If the truck is a solo driver truck, there should be absolutely no reference whatsoever to a second driver on any duty status screen other than the one to sign in a second driver.

    *** END PART 2 ***
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
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  3. Farmerbob1

    Farmerbob1 Road Train Member

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    There are thousands of us drivers, but only a few people in the departments that support the data tools which are supposed to support us. Even a few seconds or minutes saved time by thousands of drivers will more than justify a significant time investment by a few people. That’s the entire point of office electronics and automation. Streamline. Clarify. Automate. Make things efficient.

    Crete upper management might need to do more than simply direct changes. Maybe some departments need more staff? Most of the time-intensive suggestions I made above are not high-skill work. Most of the highly skilled work would be relatively quick fixes for a competent team.

    As for my suggestion of a higher tier manager devoted to driver and data efficiency, again, if there is nobody who can take on that role and devote enough time to it to make it work, I am absolutely certain that you can find at least a few people in the company who are qualified. There are quite a few of us ex-IT staff behind the wheels of trucks these days. Some of them might even be interested in working in an office again.

    In closing, Crete is a solid company. You pay drivers well, and keep us rolling and making money. Pretty much everyone I've met who complains with any enthusiasm about Crete is someone I'd fire almost immediately. I’ve never personally caught anyone at Crete lying to me, though I’m not always happy about what I hear. There is a great deal of room for improvement though, and there is what appears to be a growing amount of dangerous wrongthink – it is never right to provide WRONG data that might interfere with a good driver’s ability to do their job efficiently in order to provide a crutch to a poor driver that probably isn’t adding much to your bottom line anyhow. Clarity and efficiency are moneymakers in a business model like Crete’s.

    BURM12
    Truck 4238


    *** END PART 3 ***
    *** END MESSAGE ***
     
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  4. not4hire

    not4hire Road Train Member

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  5. Farmerbob1

    Farmerbob1 Road Train Member

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    That is a possibility, I suppose. However the growing number of minor inefficiencies and poor implementations of driver-facing tools is beginning to irritate me.

    If Crete management is too immature to accept constructive criticism, it will just add one more thing to the list of issues they should address.
     
  6. x1Heavy

    x1Heavy Road Train Member

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    Scrap the bloat.

    Dispatchers issue order to driver to get load at a DRIVE TO b AT physical address here, unload and check in empty etc if no problems.

    Dispatcher monitors truck progress, if morning dawn patrol sees its running late then communicate call me or whatever.

    Learn to set drivers logs in stone. Those are legal sworn documents when signed certified and true by drivers and not to be EFFed with. muddied up or edited to work around time problems. Stop means stop, 70 hours in 8 days means 70/8 no editing.

    If it is necessary to punish a violation to protect company from DOT audit then do it. Leave the clocks last 8 days recap in full alone. Drivers do not know what hours they have after midnight for the new day on the 9th day etc.

    The bulk of the stuff is wallowing and deepening ocean of useless, time consuming and parasitic nicky picky stuff no one in uppermanagement has enough time of day for. Scrap all that.

    In all my years direct communcition to my company, whomever they are is limited to once a week and extra if there is a problem. Otherwise I report empty and take next shipper trip information and go. You barely hear from me. But the company is all over the truck on the original satellite.

    Maybe we should ditch the version two that is used today and all that stuff. And go back to 90';s era text matrix etc.
     
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  7. jammer910Z

    jammer910Z Road Train Member

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    And they say truck drivers are Idiots.
    This fellow is intelligent, well read, diverse, and able to convey constructive criticism in a polite and grammatically correct manner.
    There are all kinds of us out here.
    The general public assumes that we are all toothless Rubes with misfiring synapses scraping by with a GED and felony records.

    I doubt, seriously, that any higher ups will ever give that much more than a passing glance, but it SHOULD cause them to pause and possibly form a driver review panel of some sort (if they don't already have one in place).

    I think they have a candidate for the chairperson.
     
  8. Western flyer

    Western flyer Road Train Member

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  9. x1Heavy

    x1Heavy Road Train Member

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    Me? Hellyes.

    I read the whole thing carefully.

    Compared to my previous trucking and found a ocean of bloat.

    1000 chiefs playing powwow in the ivory tower pretending to manage drivers who are entangled by the hundreds of strings like a overwired puppet.

    Then when a manager of some sclub department from safety to OSD and everything in between tries to pull a particular driver to do something nothing works. Or causes driver to call someone else who has no clue YET.

    A tower of babel if you please. So much hot air and language and nothing is achieved.
     
  10. Farmerbob1

    Farmerbob1 Road Train Member

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    Just to be clear, Crete is only fudging the clock data as it appears on the screen drivers see while the truck is in motion. The Peoplenet device is still tracking clock data correctly, and your HOS numbers are not being altered or interfered with. 'Only' the data drivers see is inaccurate.
     
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