3D Printing Could Revolutionize the Shipping Industry

According to a recent article by FreightWaves, 3D printing is on its way to changing the face of manufacturing and distribution. 3D printing is becoming a common goal among the global manufacturing market.

Henry Carmichael of FreightWaves writes:

The United States has one of 16 so-called “lighthouse” facilities

named as one of the leading 16 factories in the world today – Fast Radius’s Chicago factory, a 3D printing facility located in the city’s West Loop.

Fast Radius is a leading “provider of comprehensive additive manufacturing solutions” that specializes in the emerging field of 3D printing. The facility supports the most advanced industrial-grade additive manufacturing production in North America.

A World Economic Forum (WEF) white paper identified 16 factories that are leading the world economy in manufacturing technology. These factories, which exist across a broad range of industries, are classified by the WEF as “Lighthouse” facilities.

3D printing first became feasible in 1981. In recent years the technology has been adopted by an increasing number of manufacturing companies to develop cheap prototypes for testing and to efficiently produce spare parts. 3D printing can produce any complex solid object with computer-aided design. Manufacturing applications for 3D printing include a wide range of complex machines from jet engines and smartphones to more simple goods like toys.

Fast Radius has the backing of UPS to manufacture products for its global supply-chain.

“3D printing is becoming the face of manufacturing and distribution,” said David Abney, UPS Chairman and CEO. “It allows manufacturers to go from mass production to custom production.”

Fast Radius’s presence is growing across UPS’s distribution network. Abney stated that there is now a 3D factory located at the UPS All-Points Hub in Louisville, Kentucky. He also asserted that UPS will be able to take orders for a non-existing product and deliver it the next day.

“In this age of empowered consumers, that is becoming very important,” Abney continued. “It allows manufacturers to sell, then produce and not vice versa, giving them a competitive advantage.”

With this approach, UPS can effectively create and customize its own supply to respond in real-time to specialized demand, a first for second-party logistics providers.

Worldwide, 3D printing is becoming a desirable goal for the global manufacturing market. Value-added services and business model innovation, which stem from 3D printing, are a high priority for 58 percent of the WEF’s 16 identified lighthouse sites, but only 33 percent have deployed these services. The WEF report identified the Fast Radius Chicago plant and the Bad Pymont manufacturing facility of Phoenix Contact, a German autonomous equipment manufacturer, as leading the way in these fields.

While the Fast Radius Chicago facility is the only American-based lighthouse plant, there are several overseas which are owned by U.S. companies.

The emergence of 3D additive manufacturing has the potential to cause a reduction of long-distance shipping volumes as part production migrates closer to consumers, challenging established carriers in the logistics industry.

To read the article on FreighWaves, click here.

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New App to Help Drivers’ Sleep Habits

Personalized apps seem to be popping up all over. According to a recent article published by FreightWaves, a new app called dayzz is designed to ensure that drivers are getting enough sleep to carry out their duties more safely and efficiently. The app is still in beta testing.

Chad Prevost of FreightWaves writes:

On average, according to recent estimates, truckers get 4.78 hours of sleep per day. The lack of sleep frequently results in drowsiness, which leads to all manner of safety-related issues, but also speaks to general quality of life issues for drivers. In the U.S., over 110,000 people are injured and more than 5,000 are killed per year in motor vehicle accidents involving commercial trucks. Working as a truck driver is an immensely demanding job, and it is the responsibility of both the drivers and carriers to ensure they are getting enough sleep to fulfill their duties safely and efficiently. It happens that a lot of drivers have sleep disorders, and they also happen to be driving huge machines.

An upcoming player in the health and tech market is startup dayzz, a subsidiary of Maarbarot Products, an Israeli developer, manufacturer, and marketer of advanced nutrition and health products. Since July 2017, dayzz has been developing an evidence-based, personalized sleep training app for enterprise workforces to improve sleep quality while reducing healthcare and employer costs.

FreightWaves spoke with CEO Amir Inditzky and chief science officer, Dr. Mairav Cohen-Zion, about how dayzz works. “Effectively treating sleep conditions necessitates a thorough understanding and attention to individual elements. dayzz achieves just that by offering a one stop source of known high-quality, effective sleep solutions integrated into an individualized tailored sleep management program,” says Cohen-Zion.

The developing tech is created to diagnose and treat better ways to sleep. “What is already happening in this market is that dayzz is seeking to give an end-to-end solution. From training through helping the user to keep track of the training. We’re gaining data from all kinds of data points and we’re able to create smart data points to work with the user. This kind of dialog and training plan helps us to solve this problem better than ever before,” says Inditzky.

“The app synchronizes with your Garmin or your other devices to optimize the treatment,” he adds.

Sometimes app information might reveal a sleep apnea condition. For most patients, sleep apnea is for life and when you’re diagnosed with it, it is highly recommended that you’re proactive in your prescribed treatment therapy. This is a critical time to begin CPAP therapy, but for many the information is overwhelming.

“So what happens—not only in the trucking industry but everywhere—the conversion rate of people working with sleep apnea treatment plans often don’t follow through because it’s uncomfortable and difficult,” says Cohen-Zion. “The CPAP device itself is uncomfortable or scary for many reasons—both physically and psychologically—people want to avoid it. You’re also often on your own adjusting to it.”

“This is tailored and customized therapy so that people can address each individual problem. Studies have shown when you give that personal attention people don’t feel so alone and success rates rise exponentially,” says Cohen-Zion. “The beauty of the app is that you can take it home with you. It tracks you. Keeps up with all your stats. It’s there to envelop you and support every aspect of your life.”

Currently, the app is aimed at every data point, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to work with a CPAP device.

“There’s all kinds of sleep disorders,” says Cohen-Zion. “The treatment may not be for a CPAP device. Most often it’s about behaviors.”

“With drivers it’s very complex to treat. In order to help them we are creating this data protocol to deal with sleepwalking, and also disorders that can be related to jet lag and changing time zones. We are aiming at the trucking industry with a specific vertical for them,” says Inditzky.

“Besides the CPAP, we work on creating a better environment, a day-to-day routine. Cognitive therapy is a part of this process,” adds Cohen-Zion.

According to the dayzz team, sleep apnea actually tends to be diagnosed in around 30-35% of those who struggle with sleep. Insomnia is rated around 25%. Short sleep times in general are simply part of what makes it challenging for life on the road, not to mention meeting challenging and often inflexible hours-of-service obligations.

The aim of the dayzz team is to treat employees, so they’re looking to work with asset-based carriers in order to help them lower their risk, their health care system, and their turnover.

Currently the app is in beta testing. They’re in the validation process and evaluating the product’s ability with clinical trials being conducted both in Israel and the U.S.

Consumers are also beta testing the app within droid hardware, and they are getting data based upon user feedback. By the beginning of 2019 they anticipate enough downloads in the consumer market to have a thorough and complete first clinical trial.

Dr. Cohen-Zion says fatigue and sleepiness is something a lot of drivers have learned to live with, “and we are offering an alternative. We can offer a better way of life. We’ve been showing excellent results in productivity, a reduction in traffic accidents and work-related accidents, and improved health.”

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Real-Time Parking Technology to Help Drivers Find Safe Parking

According to a recent article by Freightwaves, a survey released by the American Transportation Research Institute revealed that parking is among top concerns for truck drivers. New parking technology set to go live in January 2019 just may be the solution drivers are looking for.

Linda Baker of FreightWaves writes:

A smart parking technology platform debuting in January 2019 will hopes to make it easier for truck drivers to find safe, available parking spaces.

Supported by a $25 million TIGER grant, the Truck Parking Information Management System identifies empty parking spaces along interstate highways, then funnels the information to truckers through mobile apps or highway signage.

The project got off the ground a few years ago, when the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) applied for the federal grant to create a system that would inform truck drivers in advance of the amount of parking at public rest areas as well as private businesses.  TIGER grants stand for  Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.

Hours of service limitations for truck drivers mean drivers can only be on the road for so long before taking rests, said Phil Mescher, project manager for the Truck Parking Information Management system in Iowa, one of eight MAASTO member states. “If they are out of hours, they will pull off on exit ramps or park on highways. It’s a dangerous situation.”

An American Transportation Research Institute survey released earlier this week showed that parking ranks toward the top of the list of truck driver concerns.

Mescher, the Iowa DOT’s Travel Modeling, Forecasting & Telemetrics team leader, said the TPIM projects in each state share similar branding and design but differ in some of the technical details.

The Iowa initiative focuses on that state’s portion of coast-to-coast Interstate 80. The team installed “magnetometers” — a puck-like device that uses magnetic waves to detect vehicles — in all the public rest stop parking spaces.

To monitor private truck stops, the team will use cameras equipped with video analytics software that can count vehicles when they exit. The system gets recalibrated over time so the data stays relevant.

Drivers can access the data feeds via smart phone app, truck in-cab information systems and the DOT 511 platform, Mescher said. The app will have options for drivers to be notified by voice when truck stops or rest areas are coming up and if they have available parking.

Indiana is developing the truck parking project along I-65 and I-70, I-94 in Northwest Indiana and I-69 between Indianapolis and the Michigan border, said INDOT spokesman Scott Manning.

Its system also uses magnetometers for vehicle detection. The data is transmitted via INDOT’s existing intelligent transportation system (ITS) network to the dynamic message signs, the DOT webpage and mobile app.

The data will also be shared with the TrucksParkHere app, a third-party app that functions similar to Google Maps and Waze, Manning said.

Mescher said Iowa is the only state in the MAASTO consortium that won’t be making the data available on highway signs. The decision was driven by cost, as well as a desire to cut down on sign clutter, he said.

 

The eight states are on target to meet a soft launch deadline in December.  January 4, 2019 is the “go live” date. The system will run for three years and then each state will decide how to proceed beyond that, Mescher said.

The ATRI study revealed a dichotomy of views between drivers and their companies on the issue of parking. Drivers rated it as their second-highest concern behind Hours of Service; management had it 9th.

This comment from the FreightWaves story on the ATRI study, if it doesn’t come from a driver, does at least appear to reflect the driver view.

“Well I can tell you part of the difference between the driver’s priority on parking and the companies perspective. The company sees all their customers that allow parking and the fact that out west there are a lot of places to park off the highway in the desert, they don’t take into account that there is no facilities of any kind at most of these places and the fact that many are just plain unsafe when it comes to parking on the street or in a customer’s yard. Yes, some of them are fine, but most are not. The desert is generally safe and quiet, but again no facilities. Once you remove these variables you start to see why drivers are more concerned.”

To read the article on FreightWaves, click here.

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Transportation Secretary Releases Updated DOT Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles

Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, recently released updated DOT guidelines as they pertain to autonomous vehicles. These new guidelines focus on best practices for both state and local agencies.

Eleanor Lamb, Staff Reporter for Transport Topics, writes:

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Oct. 4 unveiled AV 3.0, the agency’s policy update of autonomous vehicle technology guidelines.

Chao delivered remarks on the updated guidance, titled “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0,” at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington.

The update, which pertains to trucks, transit systems, cars and trains, highlights six central principles. They indicate that DOT will:

• Prioritize safety.

• Remain technology neutral.

• Modernize regulations.

• Encourage consistent regulations.

• Prepare proactively for automation.

• Protect the freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

“Integrating the autonomous vehicle technology into our transportation system has the potential to increase productivity, facilitate freight movement and create new types of jobs,” Chao said.

Autonomous technology can take a variety of forms, from lane-departure warning systems and automated brakes to truck platooning. Automated technologies have, however, raised public concern over security and privacy; Chao reported that nearly three-fourths of American drivers have expressed fear and anxiety about riding in a self-driving vehicle.

To appease these concerns, Chao said she has met with Silicon Valley innovators to inform the public about the benefits of automation. “While these technologies hold promise, they’ve not yet won public acceptance,” Chao said. “Without public acceptance, the full potential of these technologies will never be realized.”

One of autonomous technology’s most important implications is its potential to improve safety on roadways. Noting that 94% of accidents occur because of human error, Chao said that automated technology holds the potential to save lives.

AV 3.0 outlines best practices for state and local government agencies looking to test and operate autonomous technologies. To support state and local collaboration, the Federal Highway Administration will update the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, which provides standards for road managers to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public routes. In a media call after the event, FHWA acting Administrator Brandye Hendrickson said the updated manual will be “forward-looking.” Chao acknowledged that incorporating automated technologies into the workforce likely will require new training and new roles.

Some freight haulers have been apprehensive about autonomous vehicle technologies because they foster the perception that trucks soon may be driving themselves. While the trucking industry is contending with a lack of drivers — American Trucking Associations this year has reported the shortage at more than 50,000 — Richard Bishop, an automated vehicle industry analyst who serves as chairman of ATA’s Task Force on Automated Driving and Platooning, said it probably will be decades before trucks are driving themselves.

“I think it’ll happen slowly and there will be ways for existing retraining processes to have their effect,” Bishop told Transport Topics.

Chao recognized the fears associated with losing jobs to machines. At the event, she announced a joint initiative among the departments of Labor, Commerce and Health and Human Services to research the implications of automated vehicle technology on the workforce.

“I am extremely concerned about the impact of automated technology on the workforce,” Chao said, adding that the joint effort “will provide information that will help workers prepare for the future.”

DOT’s previous guidance on automated driving systems, AV 2.0, was published in September 2017. Chao has said that AV 2.0 was the most-viewed DOT policy document posted on the agency’s website, garnering more than 125,000 downloads.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief Ray Martinez said his agency speaks daily with industry representatives and public sector associations to better understand the impact of automated vehicles on the nation’s freight system.

“We recognize and value the unique perspective of drivers, of operators, of carriers and everyone in this industry,” Martinez said. “FMCSA plans to continue engaging the commercial motor vehicle community. This will continue to be a complex and fascinating undertaking.”

ATA President Chris Spear commended DOT’s willingness to hear from industry experts as the agency unveils — and continues to mold — this framework.

“This is a sound and substantive framework that rightly recognizes commercial vehicles are essential to any serious AV policy. In reaching out to a broad group of stakeholders, the Department should be commended for its thoughtful approach, which will enable an informed decision-making process around new and emerging technologies,” Spear said in a statement.

He added, “Thanks to Secretary Chao’s leadership, this guidance ensures that technological progress will not outpace the formation of key safety policy — and will enable America to maintain our role as world leaders both in innovation and in developing this framework. We look forward to working with the Secretary and FMCSA Administrator Martinez as this initiative rolls forward, and to having trucking’s voice as a vital contributor throughout this process.”

To read this article on Transport Topics, click here.

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EPA Limits Production of Glider Trucks

According to a recent article in Transport Topics, acting administrator Andrew Wheeler has reversed a decision that would have allowed a proliferation of glider trucks until the end of 2019. Wheeler’s decision came just days after 16 state attorneys general filed requests for review by the US State Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has reversed a controversial decision made earlier this month that would have allowed the proliferation of glider kit trucks until the end of 2019.

In a July 26 memo to the agency’s enforcement chief, Susan Bodine, Wheeler said a “no-action assurance” order blocking enforcement of the glider kit trucks provision in the 2016 Obama administration’s Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Heavy Truck Rule is “not in the public interest.”

“The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance has a general guidance limiting the circumstances under which the agency will consider issuing no-action assurances,” Wheeler wrote. “The 1995 restatement of that policy states that the principles against the issuance of a no-action assurance are at ‘their most compelling in the context of rulemakings.’ OECA guidance is clear that a no-action assurance should be issued only in an ‘extremely unusual’ case when the no-action assurance is necessary to serve the public interest, and only when no other mechanism can adequately address that interest.”

Bodine’s “no-action assurance” memo was dated only a day after then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid a dozen ethics investigations. In November, the agency issued a proposed rule to repeal the Obama-era regulation, questioning the notion that the gliders were big polluters and whether EPA even had the authority to regulate the gliders.

Bodine’s “no-action assurance” memo was dated only a day after then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid a dozen ethics investigations. In November, the agency issued a proposed rule to repeal the Obama-era regulation, questioning the notion that the gliders were big polluters and whether EPA even had the authority to regulate the gliders.

Wheeler’s action came July 26, only days after an environmental coalition and 16 state attorneys general filed separate requests for review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, claiming that not enforcing the glider provision in the 2016 Phase 2 Heavy Truck Greenhouse Gas rule would allow thousands of the “super polluting” glider trucks on U.S. roadways.

The court quickly issued a temporary stay of the EPA nonenforcement plan while it considers whether to approve or deny the emergency motions filed by environmentalists and the states, which said allowing the production and sale of more than 300 per-manufacturer gliders — “new heavy-duty trucks manufactured with highly polluting, refurbished engines that do not comply with modern emissions standards” — is unlawful.

“This is a huge win for all Americans who care about clean air and human health,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the lawsuit plaintiffs, said in a statement. “These super-polluting diesel freight trucks fill our lungs with a toxic stew of pollution. EPA’s effort to create a loophole allowing more of them onto our roads was irresponsible and dangerous. We hope their decision to withdraw that loophole puts a firm and final end to this serious threat to our families’ health.”

Glen Kedzie, energy and environmental counsel for American Trucking Associations, told Transport Topics, EPA’s reversal of its prior decision to not enforceglider vehicle provision under the final Phase 2 rule was a welcome announcement, which reaffirms the agency’s legal authority and responsibility to the public to close the dangerous emissions loophole created by a small special interest group of manufacturers. We will await EPA’s next steps as this issue continues to evolve.”

In their emergency motion, the environmentalists said the trucks are “poised to spend their lifetimes emitting many times more smog-forming nitrogen oxides, lung-damaging particulate matter and cancer-causing toxics than lawfully built heavy-duty trucks. Relief is urgently needed from EPA’s unlawful action in order to avert substantial and irreparable public-health consequences.”

The attorneys general in their court brief said, “Testing of glider vehicles conducted by EPA in 2017 showed even greater emissions impacts: NOx emissions were as much as 43 times higher than emissions from compliant vehicles, and PM emissions as much as 450 times higher. NOx and PM are linked to serious adverse health effects, including increased incidence of respiratory and cardiovascular disease and premature death.”

 

To read the article on Transport Topics, click here.

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Human Error Takes Toll on Global Supply Chain

Although there is a plethora of technology in today’s global supply chain industry, many jobs still require human interaction. According to a recent article in Inbound Logistics, the problem is that too many people are making too many mistakes.

By Matthew Tillman, CEO & Co-founder, Haven, Inc. writes in Inbound Logistics:

Most business is driven by an incentive to grow. The global supply chain follows a different narrative. Growth costs more than is affordable for the steamship line whose business it is to transport cargo, and there’s no way for these carriers to differentiate from competitors. Instead, carriers cut their costs and increase their margins.

The supply chain is broken because there are too many people who are doing too many things wrong. The result is human suffering. Businesses are deprived of the goods they sell. Communities are deprived of the food imports upon which they depend and workers are exploited. These practices are part of the history of the shipping industry. While identifying their symptoms is easy, finding root causes is difficult when the problem behaviors are taken for granted.

The most visible symptom of the ineffectual structure of shipping is criminal corruption, the type that lands an executive in prison seemingly every year; for example, the conviction of an employee of shipping line NYK with price fixing. Lacking solid data to prove price fixing is rampant, trade is structured to make it a very tempting crime because transporting cargo is a uniquely low-margin business in which the cost of growth is linear.

Customers of shipping lines aren’t encouraged to pay one particular carrier more for better offerings. Another option is for lines to improve customer experience, which could justify a carrier charging higher prices, but that means hiring workers. A carrier is likely to differentiate by lowering prices with lower interest rates on financing of new ships and loans that insure cargo.

Shipping lines will try to negotiate with banks for better interest rates, but this requires them to promise a certain volume of business to support the number of ships the bank is financing. Some lines are fortunate enough to be headquartered in countries that subsidize their business, giving them an edge over competitors. Lines that fail to secure good rates or subsidies have to consider other means to either increase margins. They can spend less on labor, which can easily lead to exploitation; an example of this is labor abuses in the Thai fishing industry.

Limited opportunity to differentiate and charge more is one reason margins are tight for shipping lines. Another is that adding a new line of business is expensive. In most industries, expansion becomes cost-effective over time, but not for carriers. Each new shipping line requires as many workers as established lines, so to start running a new ship between ports is as expensive as founding an entire new carrier company. This deters shipping lines from expanding and working with more customers, reinforcing their focus on increasing margins by lowering costs.

Examining the Root Cause

This problem of restricted expansion is where you understand that people are the problem. Too many workers are needed to keep things running because too much work is required for basic tasks. The average shipment with French carrier CMA CGM entails 22 booking changes before it’s booked to be transported.

Instead of a customer filling out a form online that automatically transfers information to every electronic location where it needs to be, workers physically copy and paste addresses from incoming orders to outgoing directions for laborers handling the physical cargo. Invoice errors are inevitable in this process, leading to billing disputes. The typical shipper loses $50,000 to $150,000 a year from invoice mistakes by carriers, according to one auditor. The ramifications of an error can be even more costly. If a dispute means a grain import doesn’t dock and unload, people aren’t eating.

As much attention as we pay to exploitative labor practices in palm oil production and brick making, we rarely look at the expenses that might incentivize these tragic systems. We bemoan world hunger and the irony of food waste, but we rarely look at why more food isn’t transported. The incentive and why is our broken global supply chain, and the problem is people. Automating shipping would lead to fewer errors and workers, which could lower transportation costs and allow for more cargo to be transported. Until shipping is automated, it will be glutted with people performing minute, redundant tasks, with a high propensity for error.

Click here to read the article in Inbound Logistics.

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Many Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises say Technology Drives Trade Growth

We know that technology continues to drive change in the transportation sector, but are companies more optimistic about it than we think?  According to a recent article in Inbound Logistics, approximately 80 percent of executives at small and mid-sized enterprises, who were surveyed, say that they use online platforms for rate quotes and bookings.

Felecia Stratton writes in Inbound Logistics:

Small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) struggling for equal footing in the global economy increasingly look to cross-border trade for growth, seeing technology as a way past obstacles in shipping and compliance, according to new research from Shipa Freight.

Shipa Freight’s global study of 800 SMEs from developed and emerging markets shows smaller companies are remarkably upbeat about their ability to expand through trade.

Eighty-nine percent of exporting SMEs surveyed say their export revenue will grow over the next three years; 71 percent say they are concentrating more on international markets than on their home markets. The Shipa Freight survey included exporters and importers from the United States, UK, Germany, Italy, China, India, Indonesia, and UAE.

Smaller companies account for an estimated 95 percent of all businesses and employ two-thirds of the world’s workers. Critics of globalization have argued that decades of efforts aimed at easing the flow of goods, capital, and jobs across borders have come at the expense of SMEs and disproportionately benefitted multi-nationals and other large businesses.

Three-quarters of SME executives surveyed believe businesses that operate internationally are more resilient. Nearly 80 percent say they use online platforms for freight quotes and bookings.

SMEs that view the UK as one of their top export markets are looking elsewhere because of Brexit. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has prompted 73 percent of respondents to prioritize trade with other European countries. Sixty percent of UK SMEs that export and 52 percent of UK SMEs that import say leaving the EU Single Market would be “disastrous” for them.

Smaller companies clearly see technology as a way to close the gap with bigger competitors, cope with documentation requirements, and access competitive shipping options. Eighty-six percent say technology is leveling the playing field for SMEs to operate globally; 89 percent believe technology is transforming the logistics sector.

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Trucking Industry Prospers, Trade Policy Holds Uncertain Effects

The economy is booming and unemployment rates are low at 3.8 percent, according to a recent article by Transport Topics. There are actually more trucking jobs than there are people looking for those jobs. There are currently 50,000 available full-time trucking jobs needed to support NAFTA. However, with the United States placing tariffs on other countries, including allies Mexico and Canada, it’s unclear what effects these tariffs may have on the industry.

Burney Simpson, Staff Reporter for Transport Topics writes:

The economy and trucking are in good shape for the second half of this year despite issues including the driver shortage. But uncertain trade policy is having an impact on future expansion, according to three industry experts who spoke June 7 at American Trucking Associations’ 2018 National Accounting & Finance Council annual conference in Raleigh, N.C.

The panel Economic Trends in Trucking Amidst Policy Changes featured Brad Delco, managing director of investment firm Stephens Inc., and Kenny Vieth, president of industry analyst ACT Research Co. It was moderated by ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

Summer is here and the overall economy is strong with three important forces doing well simultaneously, reported Costello. First, the consumer is at work with an unemployment rate at 3.8%.

“We have more job openings than people looking for work. This year wages could go up 3.5%. There is fast growth and that brings spending,” Costello said.

Then there’s a busy construction industry and factory output possibly growing 3% this year, Costello said.

Specific to trucking, business is growing as “more firms are going to two-day delivery. Inventory is cycled through faster at warehouses, but at the same time they have to have inventory on hand to be delivered,” Costello said.

Another positive is the sales and orders for trucks, Vieth said. “The technology in the new trucks is changing. Automated manual transmissions are huge, the safety technology is becoming a must have, the driver-assist technology such as lane departure, automatic braking, anti-rollover, all of this is wanted now,” Vieth said.

So, Costello asked, what challenges face the industry?

“The only constraint on this industry is a lack of drivers,” Delco said. And many carriers are addressing that by raising compensation to recruit and retain drivers.

The major problem at the moment is uncertainty on U.S. trade policy and the threat of tariffs, Vieth said. Tariffs typically lead to higher prices for steel and other commodities needed to build equipment.

“Policy is not clear. Then we’ve got events like Italy possibly leaving the European Union,” Vieth said. “Is that much ado about nothing? What happens to the EU when you consider Italy is the seventh largest economy in the world?”

Delco believes the economy will slow in 2019. He argues the long bull market in stocks appears to have hit its peak as trading whipsaws up and down. Meanwhile, policy announcements from the White House give investors pause.

“The stock cycle is long in the tooth, there’s greater volatility, the uncertainty is greater and people may pull back capital,” Delco said.

And it’s not clear why the United States is placing tariffs on allies such as Canada and Mexico, especially since it has trade surpluses in key commodities with these countries, Costello said. The renegotiation of the NAFTA trade agreement has become contentious and any deal, if it happens, won’t be signed until 2019.

“NAFTA is very important to trucking,” Costello said. “There are 50,000 full-time trucking jobs needed to support NAFTA, including 31,000 drivers. It means $6.6 billion annually to the trucking industry.”

In sum, trucks this summer have a full load and a relatively open road but be prepared next year for some congestion.

The NAFC conference was held in conjunction with ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council Fleet Data Management & Cybersecurity Conference at the Marriott City Center in Raleigh.

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The Future of our Highway Infrastructure

According to the following opinion piece published in Transport Topics, America was number one in infrastructure back in 2005. However, today, we are ranked number 9. The question now is: How are we going to bounce back?

In an opinion piece, Ed Rendell and Ray LaHood | Co-Chairs, Building America’s Future, write in Transport Topics:

The expansive infrastructure networks that were built in the 20th century have served our nation well. As America’s economy grew, people and goods continued to move across the country, and the quality of life for all our citizens continued to improve. But in recent years, our infrastructure has been neglected and underfunded as policymakers in Washington have ignored the decay and disrepair of our roads, bridges and transit systems.

For decades, America’s roads and bridges were paid for by the users of transportation systems through modest fuel taxes. The system worked well for years, but as vehicles became more fuel efficient and cars that use little or no fuelat all became more prevalent, less revenue from this user fee flowed into the Highway Trust Fund.

Since 1993, the fuel tax rates of 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel and 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline have not increased, and have due to inflation lost a good deal of their purchasing power. Congress has declined to take any action to approve even a modest increase in these rates or even index them to inflation.

Unfortunately, inaction has severe consequences. Since the Highway Trust Fund has not kept up with our nation’s growing needs, the result has been clear: Our roads are cratered with potholes, our bridges no longer handle growing traffic volume, and traffic congestion has grown to unbearable levels in many of our cities. And we are falling behind our global economic competitors. The World Economic Forum ranked our infrastructure No. 1 in the world in 2005, but after years of inaction we have fallen to No. 9 — a significant step back.

It’s time to forge a new path forward. Competing in the 21st century requires 21st century infrastructure and a 21st century way to pay for it.

Congress should look no further than the states that have been testing the feasibility of replacing the system that charges drivers by how much fuel they consume with how many miles they drive. States like Oregon and California have been at the forefront of this testing, and Washington, Colorado, Utah and Minnesota have also been exploring this concept.

A road user charge would address the growing fuel efficiency of vehicles while at the same time ensure that hybrid and electric vehicles that currently pay little or nothing contribute their fair share. In addition to generating needed revenue, such a program could also be used to better manage traffic congestion by using variable pricing based on time of day and traffic volume. Variable pricing is already widely used on highways around the country. The 495 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia, the I-15 Express Lanes near San Diego and 95 Express in Miami are three examples.

Full-scale implementation of a national road user charge is several years away. In the interim, we must continue to rely on fuel taxes, but it is imperative that they be increased and indexed to inflation.

The Highway Trust Fund is projected to go bankrupt in 2020. If something isn’t done to increase funding — be it an increase in fuel taxes, transfers from the general fund of the treasury or something else — it will have a $138 billion shortfall over the next 10 years. And if that shortfall is addressed with an increase and indexing of the gas tax, there would be no impact on the federal deficit. This would not be the case if money is transferred from the general fund.

We believe this proposal is the bridge to the 21st century that is needed to get America’s infrastructure back to No. 1. It will require vision, courage and action from our policymakers.

With the close of the recent 6th annual Infrastructure Week, now is the time to act. The future won’t wait. Neither can we. It’s #TimeToBuild.

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Technology Helping to Detect Risky Drivers

Most trucking companies today have implemented technology in some facet. One thing that is and forever will be crucial to monitor is safety. There is technology today that many many companies have launched to monitor driver behavior and quickly detect and mitigate risk.

Aaron Huff of CCJ Digital writes:

In October 2017, a top-performing driver for Oakley Transport crossed the centerline of a bridge at approximately 4 a.m.

A windshield-mounted Bendix AutoVue camera system detected the lane departure and instantaneously shared event data with an in-vehicle SmartRecorder device from SmartDrive.

The SmartRecorder captured and transmitted a 20-second video clip of the event to Oakley Transport for review using the SmartIQ web portal from SmartDrive.

“It was a scary moment to watch,” recalls Craig Stevens, Oakley’s vice president of operations and strategic initiatives. He saw the driver shaking himself to stay alert.

After the technology identified the fatigued driver, Oakley Transport’s safety department intervened and provided treatment for what had been a previously undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Fatigue is one of many risky driving behaviors that can be detected using advanced technology. New developments are leading to a convergence of driver-assist technologies and safety data to identify more complex patterns of risk that traditionally have been hidden from view.

Breaking down the technical and competitive barriers of safety technology has made it possible for fleets to more effectively mitigate risks by having more comprehensive and real-time management of vehicle and driver performance.

A single subscription

One of the forces driving technology convergence is the prevalence of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Eventually, ADAS technology will power autonomous trucks, but in the meantime they are expanding the possibilities to mitigate risks.

Today, fleets may be cobbling together data from multiple ADAS technologies and Internet of Things devices and sensors. For example, a telematics system may report speeding and sudden braking events while a separate video event recorder is used to identify more complex behaviors that triggered the events like fatigue and distraction.

SmartDrive’s latest SR4 platform has expanded possibilities for data integration for reducing costs and giving fleets a “single source of truth” for driver and vehicle performance, says Steve Mitgang, SmartDrive’s chief executive.

Oakley Transport, based in Lake Wales, Fla., is installing the SR4 in its 500-truck fleet.

Oakley Transport orders its Volvo trucks with Bendix AutoVue lane departure warning and Bendix Wingman Fusion systems installed at the factory. The Wingman Fusion system combines adaptive cruise control with active braking and collision mitigation technologies.

The Bendix ADAS systems integrate with the SmartDrive platform to trigger capture of video records based on lane departures and following distances.

Kelly McDowell, Oakley’s director of safety and compliance, says everything managers want to know about driver behaviors and risk is available through the SmartDrive program, which brings data together into “one package to measure safety.”

Vehicle integrators

Truck manufacturers are helping drive the integration of ADAS technology with telematics, video and other safety technologies with connected vehicle platforms.

In 2013, Navistar began using data from telematics systems that its fleet customers were already using to power its remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance service, OnCommand Connection.

In 2017, Navistar launched its own aftermarket telematics hardware and software platform under the same name, OnCommand Connection, with fleet management and ELD applications.

Starting this year, Navistar will be installing OnCommand Connection in all International Trucks at the factory. The technology will serve as an integration hub for ADAS and other connected vehicle technologies that its customers use.

“We have been successful for a long time pulling data from different trucks into one screen. Most fleets don’t own one truck (brand) so we do not have any reason to not continue the same strategy,” says Terry Kline, Navistar’s senior vice president and chief information officer.

By integrating with ADAS systems on a vehicle, Kline can “easily see a future” where OnCommand Connection will alert fleets if a driver has a lane departure event caused by fatigued or distracted driving “so that someone can intervene.”

OnCommand Connection will be able to capture video and data from ADAS and camera systems on vehicles, he adds, and give users to event data and footage through an online portal.

“We view OnCommand Connection as the connection to the vehicle for those data points on safety, lane departure and collision avoidance,” he says.

Bringing it together

With an ever-increasing amount of information that is available on driver safety and performance, it has become difficult for a single vendor to supply everything through a single subscription package.

Some vendors have decided to instead focus on their core strengths, which may be to package information from a multitude of sources for fleet managers and drivers to modify behaviors.

Fleet mobility provider PeopleNet, for instance, continues adding more sources of information to its Onboard Event Recorder (OER) application. OER captures data from the vehicle and various ADAS sensors when critical events occur like speeding or sudden deceleration.

PeopleNet’s Video Intelligence product adds video footage to OER events from cameras around the vehicle. The data it captures on driver safety also includes hours-of-service and driving habits and brings everything together into a net score. The scores are managed using an online Safety Analytics dashboard.

Samsara, an enterprise IoT systems company, offers what it describes as “a complete data platform” for transportation operations that combines real-time GPS tracking, wireless sensors, video, and mobile applications.

The platform flags harsh events as they take place for fleet managers to review the footage from those incidents. Samsara doesn’t employ people to review the footage to make risk observations, which helps to keep costs down and gives fleets immediate access to data and video records, says Saleh ElHattab, product manager at Samsara.

Samsara is developing new machine vision technologies that will automatically identify risky behaviors, like distraction, that contribute to critical safety events, he says. Fleet safety scores are shown to drivers via the Samsara Driver App.

Mix Telematics is “always looking for different data streams to integrate with,” says Pete Allen, chief client officer. The company offers an integrated camera for its telematics platform and has integrations with Mobileye’s forward collision warning system and Seeing Machines’ fatigue detection system.

Alerts from the Mobileye and Seeing Machines systems can be part of MiX Telematics’ data stream, he says, to identify correlations with driver behaviors caught on camera such as distractions.

“Driver behaviors are precursors to other events happening,” he says.

Teletrac Navman is in the process of deploying a forward-facing camera for its telematics system, Teletrac Navman Director. The system will record video footage when triggered by behaviors such as harsh driving and speeding, says Marco Encinas, marketing and product manager of global platforms.

The company is also working on next-generation cameras to incorporate a 360-degree view around the vehicle to detect risky driving behaviors and event records.

As a mobile workforce platform, Verizon Connect has not introduced a camera. Instead, the company integrates with a number of third-party camera systems.

Verizon Connect is focused on creating value for its customers through scorecards rather than adding more IoT devices. The platform comes with a built-in driver scorecard that can utilize event data, such as lane departures, from third-party systems.

Verizon Connect also offers a Coach mobile app that shows drivers how their performance compares to their peers, says Mark Wallin, vice president of product.

Machine learning

As motor carriers continue to adopt ADAS and other forms of safety technology, some companies are using artificial intelligence to detect new patterns of risky behaviors as the volume of data increases.

SmartDrive is using data it captures from OEM and third-party systems to continuously develop and refine driver-assist sensors and machine learning algorithms that detect risk patterns. The company will soon release sensors that can alert drivers, assess behaviors and trigger the capture of event data and video for lane departures, short following distances, forward collision warnings, posted speed detection, traffic signs and signal violations.

Lytx, whose DriveCam program is used by more 3,000 fleets with 500,000 vehicles, is using artificial intelligence to mine its large database and develop new machine vision technologies that will help its customers better understand and predict risk in driving and non-driving events.

Lytx is adding approximately 1 billion of driving miles to its database every two weeks. The scale of data makes it possible to automatically recognize more patterns in unique data sets, says Brandon Nixon, chief executive officer.

“As long as you have unique data sets, you can train (machine vision) to recognize almost anything,” he says.

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