Appropriators back transportation spending bill with trucking fix

The Senate Appropriations Committee easily advanced a transportation spending bill on Thursday containing a trucking provision safety advocates have been pushing against this week.

In a 30-0 vote, lawmakers reported a measure out of committee that would provide $56.5 billion in discretionary spending to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other related agencies in fiscal 2017.

The figure is $2.9 billion less than the president’s budget request and $827 million less than the current funding level.

The spending bill contains a technical fix to a drafting error made in last year’s government spending bill. A provision in that bill said proposed changes to the hours of service rule for truck drivers — which were enacted in 2013 but later suspended — cannot be implemented until the DOT proves the regulation would improve driver health and safety.

But legislators left out essential language clarifying what would happen if the agency fails to find that the rule is beneficial for drivers, which would force the DOT to revert to rules put in place more than a decade ago.

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Port of Long Beach explores boosting rail, cutting truck traffic

The Port of Long Beach has started to study the feasibility of shipping more of its incoming cargo to the Inland Empire by short-haul rail.

A train double-stacked with shipping containers could take about 750 truck trips off the highway, said Michael Christensen, the port’s senior executive lead for supply chain optimization.

If an increase in short-haul rail happens, some of those trucks could be from Riverside and San Bernardino counties. General freight trucking employs nearly 20,000 people in the Inland Empire, according to the California Employment Development Department.

But it’s a big if. To make short-haul work, an intermodal terminal would most likely have to be built somewhere in the Inland Empire so trucks can unload shipping containers and transport merchandise to nearby warehouses and distribution centers.

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Source: The Press Enterprise

Convoy Sees Itself as the Uber of Local Trucking

Local trucking is a heavily fragmented industry, populated by small operators, many of them with 10 or fewer trucks. Matching truckers with clients is typically handled by brokers, who do much of their work by phone, said Dan Lewis, the chief executive of Convoy, who has worked at Amazon.

Convoy gives truckers a smartphone app that they can use to accept a job from shippers. An Uber-like interface allows their clients to see the truck on a map as it heads to its destination. Mr. Lewis said Convoy charged truckers a fee that was less than the roughly 25 percent of the value of a job that a broker typically received.

“We’re going to help you keep your truck full,” Mr. Lewis said. “We’re going to get you more work. People are always looking for their next load.”

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Source: The NY Times

‘Uberization of trucking’ — two recent announcements

Reducing a lot of the friction in the freight transaction between brokers and owner-operators has been in a variety of ways the goal of the new crop of tech-enabled brokerages and/or online freight marketplace-type services, as I’ve written about fairly extensively in somewhat recent past.

Another goal, particularly of those working within the freight-marketplace framework without a long-term aim of maintaining brokerage authority themselves, is to ultimately bring shippers and owner-operators closer, reducing any middleman’s margin and saving the shipper cash on the freight movement and at once boosting rates paid directly to owner-operators.

The proof will be in the pudding, however. Whether, long-term, such services will play out exactly like that is unclear, given the infancy of many. Today, two related announcements might serve as markers along the way:

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Source: Overdrive Magazine


How “Uber For Trucking” Apps Are Driving Change In The Freight Industry

Nearly 70 percent of all freight moved in the United States travels by truck, a haul that totals an eye-popping 10 billion tons each year, according to the American Trucking Associations, a trade group.

Without trucks, the American economy brakes to a halt.

Despite the industry’s importance, its progress has long been impeded by its fragmentation—the tens of thousands of small trucking carriers needing intermediaries to transact business with shippers. Such brokers typically rely on telephone calls to engage the parties—not the most efficient or cost-effective means of moving freight in an age of on-demand commerce.

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Source: Forbes Tech

Digitizing compliance: going paperless to manage big data

Fleet operators often consume reams of paper, sometimes for no reason other than to comply.

Driver files, logbooks, vehicle inspection forms and receipts of all kinds go through their offices to be processed, audited and stored away.

The paper model has changed due to an ever-increasing amount of information that needs to be managed to stay in compliance, and to become more efficient at doing so.

The Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is a recurring stream of inspection and violation data. Electronic logging devices (ELDs), telematics systems and other technologies create enormous amounts of data too.

A variety of software applications can be used to manage compliance, and outsourcing is a popular option for fleets to reduce costs and focus on what they do best.

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Source: CCJ Digital 

TRAC, technology provider unveil chassis billing software

Chassis provider TRAC Intermodal and a technology provider have unveiled cloud-based software designed to allow intermodal equipment providers and motor carriers to automate billing and reconcile invoices.

Intermodal Data Hub is a joint venture of TRAC, which with 278,000 active chassis is the largest U.S. intermodal equipment provider, and Gary Chilo, the founder of Blocking and Tackling LLC. The new platform is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS).

The software applies business rules and software capabilities to reconcile equipment providers’ invoices against billing data imported from the motor carrier’s transportation management systems.

During the last several years, most intermodal chassis have been transferred from container lines, which traditionally provided them as part of a bundled service, to leasing companies that rent or lease them to motor carriers.

This transfer of control has added complexity to billing for equipment providers, which now must deal with hundreds of truckers instead of a handful of container lines, and for motor carriers that must keep up with invoices from multiple chassis providers.

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Source: JOC 

Emerging technologies presenting new aftermarket opportunities

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Rapidly evolving technology in the trucking industry is creating new opportunities for aftermarket parts and service providers.

That was the message from Derek Kaufman, managing partner with Schwartz Advisors and president of C3 Network, when addressing delegates here during Heavy-Duty Aftermarket Week.

Kaufman said telematics is the hot technology at the moment, and the aftermarket is rich with opportunity to become a provider of telematics solutions to used truck buyers. Kaufman said there’s a shift underway towards open source architecture, which allows the aftermarket to participate in the space by providing additional apps to ride on top of widely used telematics platforms.

“If you embed software in my truck but I can’t use it on the other trucks in my fleet, you haven’t done me a big favour there,” Kaufman said of closed-source telematics platforms. “In my opinion, I think OEMs would prefer to lock all this up and drive all the business to their dealerships, but it would kill their brands. They can’t handle the resulting volume. They need to open up. Even Apple figured that out.”


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Eight emerging technologies to watch

A recent report by Volpe, the DOT’s the National Transportation Systems Center, identifies emerging technologies that may have significant impacts on U.S. and global transportation systems within three to five years. And most of these will find their way into—or become a replacement for—trucks and trucking.

“Advances in just the past decade have dramatically changed the way Americans travel and deliver goods, and the pace of change is something we cannot dictate,” writes U.S. DOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Gregory Winfree in the report’s foreword. “This is why we must be proactive and look to new technologies that have clear applications for transportation. However, new technologies can also introduce new risks, and we must anticipate the full range of potential impacts.”

The resource, 2015 OST-R Transportation Technology Scan: A Look Ahead, identifies 11 technological advances and innovative concepts—along with their associated benefits, challenges, and risks—that could fundamentally alter the transportation landscape.


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Automated Ports Have Dockworkers in the Netherlands Threatening Strikes

Dock workers at the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest container port, recently went on strike over increasing automation and the need for job security. Employees fear that automation at the docks in the coming years will put hundreds out of work.

The first day of strike action took place on January 7 for 24 hours after members of the FNV Havens and CNV unions voted unanimously in December to go on strike. It was the first strike at the port in 13 years, and more strikes could be on the way if an agreement isn’t reached, according to FNV Havens.

The automation of container terminals at Rotterdam, the growth of activity at the port, and protecting the jobs of dockworkers is at the center of the dispute, said Niek Stam, head of FNV Havens.


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