I used to work as a “transport specialist” in a distribution center called “Distribuidora Alcarin”, in Venezuela. Before reading the post, I invited you to take a look to the video on the home page of the company. (ALCARIN HOME PAGE)
The video shows an organize distribution system were trucks come into the distribution center; pick the order and move on to the stores to deliver all kinds of goods. This company also works directly with the clients and with a very complex activity that is called Cross docking. I can tell that transportation by road is nothing but a complex activity, were a lot of factors are involved. It is not only about taking good decision, having good control of indicators, a good GPS system or a specialist logistic group, sometimes it is also about how lucky you are. So, I won’t use references this time, I will write about my own experience.
When I started at the company, I was supposed to work in the principal office, with indicators, charges for theft or misplacement and with directly contact with the clients, making agreements and passing information to the coordinators of each operation. Suddenly, I knew all the names, vehicles plate, and the history of almost the half of the transport fleet. Can you imagine why? I can tell because of the transport charges.
Goods become property of the carriers in the exactly moment when the truck doors get closed “that’s when you start to pray”. You may say: “You are overreacting”, how can it be?. Here are some examples of especial events and robberies that happen during one year and a half:
– Because of poor conditions of the roads, goods can suffer all kind of damage. They may fall, break and bend. But, the must curios thing is when trucks flipped in the wrong area, and people from near village’s loot the truck. So, whom you blame? The government for the conditions of the road, the driver for being distracted, the people from the village?. Anyway, this is all about money, and no matter how will pay and how much, it is a loss anyway.
– Road transport provides limited protection to goods from rain, sun, dust and wind. You can try to take care of all details, the conditions of the trucks, documents, measures, etc, but there is always a small hole in the roof of the truck, that may damage something. And once again, even if you get pay, there is already a big loss of money and reputation.
– Boxes suddenly disappear, units from big boxes disappear, and even trucks disappear. And one last time, your money and reputation is already gone.
I can keep on giving you examples and anecdotes, but the point is that road transportation is so expensive, not only because of the delays, uneconomical long distances, spending on gasoline, vehicle maintenance, and so on. But, because of any amount of details that cannot be controlled. However, I can tell this has been one of the best experiences of my life; these people have a very different way of living and I have learned a lot from them. It is a complex and ambiguous job, but don’t know how it is special and interesting at the same time.