Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fleet Owner Magazine Interview with Tom Schilli and Jake Rudisill of Schilli Transportation


Keeping Commitments

Schilli Transportation’s flatbed operation is benefiting by managing change and focusing on employee satisfaction.

After 40 years in business, there’s no doubt in Tom Schilli’s mind that change is the only constant. When it comes to regulatory issues that impact his company, he says, “the key is “to learn how to make it work for us. It’s difficult to avoid change imposed by regulations so we embrace, accept and manage with it. When there are regulation changes we look for good things.

“For example,” Schilli continues, “we think the pending regulation requiring Electronic Logging Devices has awakened shippers and shown them how valuable a driver’s time can be. That’s actually helped us create a better way of life for our drivers.”

Another issue that Schilli would like to see resolved is the lack of adequate, safe overnight parking and access to facilities for drivers. “It something that gets in the way of a better experience for drivers across the industry,” he states, “and it’s a challenge we’ll be facing for years to come.”

As the owner of Indiana-based Schilli Transportation Services, Schilli says what’s most important is making and keeping commitments to employees. “Providing a good working environment helps us stay competitive,” he states. “We cater as much as possible to personal needs because that leads to a stable workforce.  For instance, we’re proud that over 20 years ago we realized how important it is
to drivers to be home on weekends. Good drivers have stable families and that leads to retention.”

Driver recruitment and retention is especially a challenge in the Schilli Specialized Flatbed Division, a platform trailer operation that hauls building materials, metal, machinery and wood products for customers in the eastern half of the U.S., specializing in job site deliveries. The issue is the manual labor required of flatbed drivers at pick up and delivery locations.

“There’s a lot of time and effort involved in loading and unloading, tarping and uncovering flatbed loads,” Schilli relates, “and when the cargo is high off the ground, there’s an opportunity for drivers to fall. Drivers are still required to check that cargo is properly secured, but in most cases we either use loading services or stay away from facilities that do not have proper safety equipment.”

The Schilli Specialized Flatbed Division accounts for roughly one third of the Schilli Transportation Services operation. In total, the diversified logistics, transportation and distribution services business operates 425 Kenworth and Freightliner tractors and about 1,000 flatbed, dry van, moving and specialized trailers. Schilli also offers distribution, packaging, containerization, warehousing, storage, sales and leasing, and maintenance services.

A recent area of focus at Schilli, notes Jake Rudisill, general manager of Schilli Leasing, was to order 150 new East Manufacturing flatbed trailers. To date, the fleet has taken delivery of the first 20 BSTII 53-ft units fitted with Hendrickson axle-suspensions and disc brakes, as well as Jost landing gear and Hendrickson TIREMAAX PRO inflation systems.

“We’ve been running steel-aluminum combo units but felt that all-aluminum trailers rated for a 56,000-lb capacity concentrated load would give us more flexibility and the ability to haul heavier loads,” Rudisill states. “East also has a reputation for building trailers that maintain their value, so we have a lot of confidence that that these trailers will last for their intended 15-year service life in our operation.”

Value is exactly what Tom Schilli says Schilli Transportation Service is all about, beginning with his focus on attracting and keeping satisfied employee. “Today,” he states, “I get the most satisfaction out of coaching and watching our people succeed than I do from any material success that comes from running a successful business.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Schilli NationaLease Team at Detroit Diesel Headquarters


SNL Team at Detroit Diesel Headquarters

September 27 & 28, 2015

Managers with Schilli NationaLease were recently invited to spend a couple of days at Detroit Diesel in Detroit, MI. This valuable trip focused on key maintenance items, equipment specifications, parameter tuning, and covered all the tools necessary to provide a better and more reliable tractor to their customer base. This training was important in understanding all of the integrated systems of the equipment (Tractor / Engine / Transmission). SNL management is now developing many new training techniques to be relayed to their customer base at the Shop / Driver level to improve overall performance, reliability, and fuel economy. Everyone at SNL is extremely excited from this visit and look forward to incorporating these value added changes into our customer offering.



L – R: Allen Gill (Shop Manager, Kokomo); Scott Plencner (Regional/Shop Manager, South Bend); Greg Tarr Jr. (Lead Tech, Shoals); Jake Rudisill (GM – Remington); Jason Rush (Shop Manager, Indianapolis); Bill Pembleton (Master Tech, Indianapolis); Rick Allen (Shop Manager, Mt. Vernon); Dave Northcutt (Shop Manager, Remington); Tracy DuBois (Shop Manager, Savannah); Jeff Rickey (Master Tech, Remington); Josh Waterhouse (Shop Manager, Sperry); David Tracy (Shop Manager, Temple); Rich Burge (OTR Maintenance Manager, Remington); Matthew Jessip (Shop Manager, St. Joseph)

Friday, August 28, 2015

The following is a letter sent to the Lafayette Journal & Courier from the President of our company.  It was published in the paper on August 27th.  Click here for the link to the paper's website:


This year, nearly all of us have seen the problems created when highways and bridges are not maintained properly.  Traveling from Indianapolis north has been especially difficult with portions of I-65, US 52, and US 421 being under construction.  Among the many affected by the current I-65 road closure are truckers across Indiana, including those operated by my company, who have lost thousands of hours of productivity waiting in long traffic lines and detours.

So, I take this opportunity to share 2 inequities regarding wear-and-tear on our highways and the payment of fuel taxes.

The first is permit fees for overweight loads.  Trucks hauling loads in sealed ocean-going containers are allowed, with special permits, to haul 95,000 pounds gross weight (The weight limit for other trucks 80,000 pounds).  The permit fee for this privilege is $850 per year, or less than $3 per day.

I believe Purdue’s highway engineers would agree this weight limit increases wear-and-tear on our bridges and highways, and that this permit fee is very small in comparison to the cost of highways.  The trucking industry is vital to our nation’s economy, but such favoritism for certain segments of our industry is inequitable. 


The solution?  Repeal this little-known law which favors the container haulers, a small segment of the industry.  If higher weights are required, then allow higher weight for all by increasing the number of axles on the trailers to evenly distribute the weight and reduce bridge and road damage.    

The second is the method of collecting fuel taxes from the transportation industry.  Our industry favors equitable treatment of all modes of transportation, and I believe a majority in the transportation industry support an increase in fuel taxes --- if equitable collection procedures are in place.  Currently, an 11 cents per gallon tax is collected via quarterly fuel tax reports filed by Motor Carriers. The fallacy of this process is that many companies either fail to file or falsify the quarterly fuel tax reports to avoid the tax.  Indiana is one of only two states which use the dual method to collect; that is, partial collection at the pump and partial collection by tax fillings.

The solution?  Collect the 11 cent tax at the pump. This would assure compliance with collection. The 11 cent add-on would then fairly represent the tax paid by the trucking industry, and the Indiana motoring public would be aware of the full amount of tax paid by the trucking industry.  It has been estimated this action would collect an additional $15 million per year from the non-payors as well as reduce enforcement costs.

If you agree with my thoughts, send this note to your State Representative and Senator and urge them to make these changes. Fair funding for roads is in everyone’s best interest, and is supported by the trucking industry.  Although these suggestions increase cost to the trucking industry, they are less expensive than the future costs to replace bridges and highways that are now maintained with inadequate care and insufficient funding.  

It is time to improve our Indiana highway system.

Thomas R. Schilli
Schilli Transportation Services
trschilli@schilli.com   

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Safety Council Warns About July 4 Holiday Driving



The National Safety Council estimates 409 deaths and 49,500 injuries requiring medical attention will occur on U.S. roadways this Fourth of July holiday weekend -- the highest predicted numbers NSC has released for a three-day Independence Day holiday since 2008.

The holiday period this year falls on a weekend, and summer weekends are especially deadly, NSC said. The period in question starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 2, and extends through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 5.

Here are some NSC tips you can pass along to fleet drivers to help them remain safe this holiday weekend:

Buckle up. NSC estimates 155 lives will be saved during this period because seat belts are worn. An additional 99 lives could be saved if all buckled up.

Reduce your speed. More speeding-related fatalities occur during the summer months than any other time of year.

Refrain from using cell phones– hands-free or handheld – when driving. Drivers talking on cell phones are up to four times as likely to crash.

Place children in age-appropriate safety seats. Child restraints saved an estimated 284 lives in 2012 among children younger than 5.

Don't drink and drive. If you do drink, designate a nondrinking driver or take an alternative form of transportation.

Stay engaged with your teens' driving habits. An NSC survey found many parents are more inclined to loosen household driving rules during the summer.  

Click here to see the article from the Fleet Safety News website.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Takata Airbag Recall May Include Some Commercial Trucks

It is the largest recall in US history.  It is also the largest worldwide recall.

53 Million airbags are being recalled worldwide from Japanese supplier Takata.  34 million were sold to US companies and may be in some commercial trucks sold by Daimler Trucks.  They are still researching to see what, if any, models are affected.

The airbags are being recalled because they can spray shrapnel when they are deployed causing injury or fatality.  

I am surprised by the number of cars and trucks that have the recalled airbags in them.  Takata supplies US automakers with 20% of the airbags they use and, apparently, the defective components have been manufactured for several years. 

Click here to read the article in Heavy Duty Trucking about the airbag recall.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Freightliner Autonomous Truck First Licensed for U.S. Highways


“Thank you for looking at the impossible and finding a safe way to make it possible."

That's what Nevada Gov. Brian Sondoval said to Daimler Trucks North America officials when he officially granted the first license for an autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the United States. "Today we come together to celebrate innovation, safety and the future."

Reporters from around the world were shown the new license plate with great fanfare. However, they got only a glimpse of the new autonomous truck, dubbed the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, before it drove away at the event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Tuesday, its nose still camouflaged. A special event in the evening will bring more details.

"Never has there been such a truck on public roads until today," said DTNA President and CEO Martin Daum.

The truck left the Speedway with Gov. Sandoval as a passenger in the inaugural trip in autonomous mode, with Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks & Buses, at the controls.

“Nevada is proud to be making transportation history today by hosting the first U.S. public highway drive for a licensed autonomous commercial truck," said Gov. Sandoval. "The application of this innovative technology to one of America’s most important industries will have a lasting impact on our state and help shape the New Nevada economy.

"The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has been closely monitoring the advancements being made in autonomous vehicle development and reviewed DTNA’s safety, testing and training plans before granting permission for this demonstration of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck.”

Nevada was selected as the demonstration location because it is one of four states, plus the District of Columbia, with laws regulating autonomous vehicle operation. Nevada legislation passed in 2011 and 2013 regulates the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles. The legislation includes commercial trucks and sets standards specifying the number of miles an autonomous vehicle must have been tested in certain conditions before it can be granted a license to be driven in Nevada.

Daimler obtained a special permit from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to operate the Freightliner Inspiration Truck on public roads near Las Vegas after supplying state officials with detailed information on the safety systems in the truck and the training program for the drivers.

In July of last year, Daimler Trucks provided the world´s first demonstration of an autonomous truck in action when the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 drove along a cordoned-off section of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg.

Bernhard explained that the Inspiration Truck will allow the driver to take his feet off the pedals and his hands off the steering wheel, similar to an airplane. "Still the driver still monitors and is in charge of what happens," he said in response to a reporter's question. "The system is much easier for him, is much less fatiguing, and makes his life and his job much more attractive."

A step in the future, he said, would be to get the driver off his monitoring task and allow him to do other things, he said, but that's further out.

The only infrastructure needed for efficient operation of the autonomous Inspiration Truck, Bernhard said, are good stripes and lane markings so the truck's camera can see them.

Daum emphasized that this is "the very first step" and that there will be hundreds more steps before we see autonomous vehicles being mass-produced and driving coast to coast. For one thing, he said, before that can happen, "the liability question has to be addressed by regulators, and we will bring very good arguments" to that process, he said.

Click here for the full link to the article on Heavy Duty Trucking.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beware: It's Pothole Season


Because of this winter’s extreme freeze-and-thaw cycles in many areas, the spring of 2015 promises to deliver quite a pothole season. That’s good news for collision repair shops, dreadful news for fleet managers and drivers.

AAA recommends a number of measures to help prevent pothole damage. You may want to pass these AAA tips along to fleet drivers:

  • Inspect Tires – The tire is the most important cushion between a vehicle and a pothole. Make sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. When checking tire pressures, make sure they’re inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended levels, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb. Do not use the pressure levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire.
  • Inspect Suspension – Make certain struts and shock absorbers are in good condition. Changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration or uneven tire wear can indicate bad shocks or struts. Have the suspension inspected by a certified technician if you suspect problems.
  • Look Ahead – When driving, make a point of checking the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver may have time to avoid potholes, so it’s important to stay focused on the road and not any distractions inside or outside the vehicle. Before swerving to avoid a pothole, check surrounding traffic to ensure this will not cause a collision or endanger nearby pedestrians or cyclists.
  • Slow Down – If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce your speed safely. Make sure to check the rearview mirror before any abrupt braking. Hitting a pothole at higher speeds greatly increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels and suspension components.
  • Beware of Puddles – A puddle of water can disguise a deep pothole. Use care when driving through puddles and treat them as though they may be hiding potholes. 
  • Check Alignment – Hitting a pothole can knock a vehicle’s wheels out of alignment and affect the steering. If your car or truck starts pulling to the left or right, have the wheel alignment checked by a qualified technician.
  • Recognize Noises or Vibrations – A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage a tire or wheel, and bend or even break suspension components. If you hit a pothole, listen for any new or unusual noises or vibrations. If you notice any, it’s time to have the vehicle checked by a technician.

To view a CBS News report on this year’s pothole season, click here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sun Glare

Sun glare is a major problem in many areas right now because of the presence of highly reflective snow and ice. This hazard is especially pronounced just after sunrise and just before sunset.

Vision Council of America (VCA) offers the following tips for motorists to help reduce the dangers caused by sun glare: 
  • Drive cautiously and leave a proper distance to ensure ample reaction time.    
  • Make it a habit to lower visors to help block some of the reflected light.    
  • Avoid using high-gloss vinyl cleansers on dashboards.    
  • Keep the car windshield clean and the windshield washer fluid reservoir full.    
  • When possible, take an alternate route lined with tress or tall buildings in lieu of one with extreme glare.    
  • Turn on headlights to reduce the possible poor visibility of oncoming drivers.    
  • Most importantly, wear sunglasses at all times when sun glare is a problem. Even more important is to wear sunglasses with polarized lenses to reduce glare, and lenses with UV protection to shield the eyes from damage.
To watch a video from Consumer Reports offering driver advice on dealing with sun glare, click here.

Click here for the full link to the article on automotive-fleet.com.

Friday, February 6, 2015

VTTI Tasked with HOS Restart Study


The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is heading the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s study of the 34-hour restart provision of the Hours of Service rule for truck drivers.

The study will measure the impact on the safety performance and fatigue levels of truck drivers who take two nighttime rest periods during a given 34-hour restart break.

VTTI is seeking to recruit 250 truck drivers for the on-the-road study, which will involve tracking and assessing driver performance and short-term health outcomes over a five-month period. 

Drivers will be split into two groups, one taking two rest periods during a 34-hour restart break and the other taking less than two.

“We are excited by the opportunity and have assembled a world class team to lead this landmark study,” said Richard Hanowski, director of the safety center at VTTI. “We have an opportunity to perform ground-breaking research that will have an impact for decades to come.”

To produce a representative sample of drivers, the study will include truckers from small, medium and large fleets in long-haul, short-haul and regional operations. There will also be variation in the sectors of the industry, including flatbed, reefer, tank and dry-van trailers.

Drivers will be tracked and evaluated using ELDs to track duty status, a Psychomotor Vigilance Test to measure alertness, and Actigraph watches to assess sleep. The trucks will also be equipped with onboard monitoring systems and cameras to record and measure SCEs and driver alertness. The Karolinska Sleepiness Scale will be used to measure a driver’s own assessment of sleepiness as well.

“We have coordinated similar projects that were smaller,” said Hanowski. “This will be the largest study of its kind ever performed using commercial vehicle drivers.”

VTTI will produce a final report after the data has been collected and analyzed. The report will be subjected to independent peer review panels by medical and scientific experts before ultimately being delivered to the Department of Transportation and Congress.  VTTI has previously carried out FMCSA studies on driver fatigue and HOS regulations as well as other driver safety related issues.

“Truck driver fatigue is a prevalent problem and is a tremendous safety concern on our nation’s highways,” said Thomas A. Dingus, director of VTTI. “We are privileged to have the resources necessary to help inform policy makers in a collaborative effort to significantly reduce the number of safety-critical events occurring on our roadways.”


To see the original article, click here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Here is an email received by Schilli employee Lou Wilkinson.
 
I urge all of you to contact your elected representatives to support this.


The status of volunteerism is deplorable. we have 5 EMTs that try to cover our town's needs, 2 at a time, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.   On top of that, we're starting to get a significant number of support calls to go to Rensselaer and support the paid ambulance service.

Anything making volunteering more attractive or helpful to young people, just starting out, aids everyone involved.

So please, take a minute, drop your elected reps a line, an email, a web comment....

You can find your local rep here -> http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

And there should be a link to the reps "contact me" site....2 minutes is all it will take.

And it could be you needing the ambulance or your house burning next time.  Do what you can to ease your own suffering here.

 

Here's my short message to Congressman Rokita:

 
I urge you to support HR 343.

In our small town, EMS and Fire are, exclusively, volunteers. We have only 5 EMTs that try, 2 at a time, to support our community 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Anything to make volunteering more attractive to young people trying to start families and make ends meet with their limited time helps everyone in the community.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Avoiding Head-On Collisions

A head-on collision is one of the worst collisions on the road, as they often result in a fatality. Fortunately, these collisions are relatively rare. Head-on collisions can occur on any type of roadway from curvy roads to straight stretches and from two-lane highways to one-way streets. It is vital to be aware of the roadway and other vehicles to avoid head-on collisions. It is also important to be prepared to react to such situations to avoid a collision and to minimize the potential for injury or death.

Head-on collisions can occur when a vehicle crosses the median, or centerline. This can be a result from a driver who is asleep, distracted, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Crossing the centerline or median can also occur when a vehicle takes a curve at too great a rate of speed.

Head-on collisions can happen when a driver, knowingly or unknowingly, travels the wrong way in a traffic lane. A common example of this is when a driver enters the roadway and does not see that the road is divided with a median strip. As a result, the driver goes left of the median instead of right and into oncoming traffic.

To help avoid a head-on collision, look down the road for erratic behavior of oncoming traffic. Communicate with other drivers using your horn and headlights. Running headlights, even in daylight, can be especially helpful on curvy roads when other vehicles are more likely to veer from their lane of travel. 

Be careful not to hug the centerline, but drive on the right side of your lane. If an approaching vehicle enters your lane, first slow down as quickly as possible without losing control. Braking will reduce the force of impact if a collision should occur. Drive to the right to avoid the collision, if possible. Going to the left could cause a more serious collision in the event the other driver attempts to recover back to his or her lane at the last second. Going to the left could also cause a head-on collision with other oncoming vehicles. 

When going right, don’t jerk the wheel as this could cause you to lose control of the vehicle and could cause a rollover. If you have to exit the roadway, slow down but do not lock the brakes. This will help maintain control of the vehicle and to avoid hitting solid objects like a tree or bridge support. 


All drivers should continue to practice safe driving habits, such as avoiding distractions, passing with care, and maintaining safe speeds, which will help to avoid head-on collisions. Should a head-on collision occur, wearing your seatbelt can help save your life.