Driver Shortage Ranks No. 1 Concern According to ATRI

For the third year in a row, the driver shortage remains the number one concern in the trucking industry, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). While trucking companies struggle to recruit and retain drivers, other issues include driver pay, detention time, and truck parking, among other concerns.

Jim Stinson, Staff Reporter for Transport Topics, writes:

SAN DIEGO — For the third year in a row, the driver shortage is the top-ranked issue for trucking fleets, as they struggle to recruit and retain qualified drivers, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

ATRI, the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research institute, unveiled its annual Top Industry Issues report Oct. 6, including a list of the Top 10 critical issues facing the North American trucking industry, here at American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition.

The hours-of-service rules remained the No. 2 issue in the survey for a second consecutive year, reflecting what ATRI and ATA officials said was the industry’s call for additional flexibility in the rules, particularly the sleeper berth provision.

The issues were discussed by a panel led by Rebecca Brewster, CEO of ATRI. Panelists were Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist; James Reed, CEO of USA Truck Inc.; and Gary Helms, a Covenant Transport driver and an ATA America’s Road Team captain for 2017-18.

Helms said the HOS rules were not flexible enough and did not take into account the sleeping habits of drivers. Helms also told an audience of about 500 that the rules, with their mandated rest breaks, has worsened truck parking.

But a driver shortage is the industry’s biggest challenge, Costello said, which could balloon to 105,000 drivers in 2023 and 160,000 drivers in 2028. If the shortage reaches 160,000, then the United States could see real disruptions in the supply chain, Costello said.

Two issues appeared on this year’s list for the first time, ones that also impact the industry’s ability to recruit and retain qualified drivers: driver compensation, and detention and delay at customer facilities.

Driver compensation ranked third and represents two sides to a complex issue: Motor carriers have raised driver pay significantly over the past year in response to the driver shortage and drivers who are concerned that their pay has not kept pace with inflation.

Costello noted that compensation shot up as the freight economy boomed in 2017 and the beginning of 2018. It’s not an issue that carriers can fix easily.

“How do walk those pay increases back?” Costello said. “I don’t think you can.”

Driver detention at customer facilities, making its list debut at No. 4, reflects growing industry concern over delays that create impacts for drivers’ HOS compliance, compensation and ability to find safe, available truck parking, according to ATRI.

The lack of available truck parking rounds out the top five issues but ranks third among commercial driver respondents after compensation and HOS rules.

Rounding out the list were No. 6 driver retention, No. 7 the electronic logging device mandate, No. 8 “Compliance, Safety, Accountability,” the data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program of the U.S. Department of Transportation, No. 9 infrastructure and congestion and No. 10, the overall U.S. economy.

The complete results of the annual survey were generated by more than 2,000 responses from motor carriers and commercial drivers.

Now in its 15th year, the ATRI Top Industry Issues report also includes prioritized strategies for addressing each issue.

To read the article on Transport Topics, click here.

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Retailers, Fleets Implement New Delivery Methods to Meet Demands of E-Commerce

The transportation industry in general is always changing and evolving. However, one aspect of the business that is forcing both retailers and transportation companies to re-structure or expand their delivery options is e-commerce demand. A recent article by Transport Topics shares some detailed information on how how companies are handling this, and explains the challenges they face.

Seth Clevenger of Transport Topics writes:

The inexorable growth of e-commerce and rising consumer expectations are quickly elevating the cost and complexity of final-­mile delivery.

To remain competitive in this time of rapid change, retailers and fleets are rethinking their distribution networks, implementing innovative delivery strategies and expanding their use of technology.

Retailers are offering more home delivery and pickup options and more transparency in a quest to satisfy online shoppers who are demanding greater control over when, where and how they receive their goods.

The final mile has become a competitive differentiator and an opportunity for retailers to build customer loyalty and drive future sales.

The greatest challenge, however, is controlling the surging costs associated with providing next-day, same-day and even same-hour home delivery.

“All of these digital business models and the rise of customer expectations are putting pressure on retailers. It is really increasing costs, and that’s what’s driving them to use more technology,” said Bart De Muynck, a research vice president at Gartner Inc.

The last mile is the biggest component of overall delivery cost at 53%, compared with 37% for linehaul, according to a global Gartner survey.

“What we’re seeing is all these retailers are absorbing the cost of it just to survive or be able to keep up with the competition,” De Muynck said. “Everyone’s trying to follow Amazon.”

Major retailers, private carriers and technology firms took stock of the changing e-commerce landscape and highlighted their latest final-mile strategies during Home Delivery World, held April 4-5 in Philadelphia.

A common theme was that businesses must adapt to survive in today’s world of digital commerce.

Matt Simon, vice president and chief marketing officer at Giant Food Stores, said an effective e-­commerce strategy requires a high level of customer service and a willingness to implement new business models.

“Getting this right is more than a website with the right delivery times,” he told HDW attendees.

Earlier this year, the grocery chain introduced its Giant Direct e-commerce brand in conjunction with sister company Peapod, which offers home delivery of groceries ordered online.

Apart from the home-delivery option, Giant customers also can place their orders online, then drive to an e-commerce center and have their bagged groceries delivered to their vehicles for quick pickup.

“The courage to innovate — the courage to dream and try new things — I think is what’s going to make or break it for a lot of companies today,” Simon said.

To keep pace with the rapidly shifting grocery landscape and new competitors such as Amazon and Target, retailers can no longer operate the same way as in years past, he said. “You can’t write 10-year plans anymore, because in two years, everything’s changed again.”

Giant Food Stores, which is part of the Ahold Delhaize supermarket chain, operates 170 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Many retailers are converging their in-store and online businesses.

Walgreens, for example, is increasingly utilizing its national network of 9,000 brick-and-mortar stores as pickup and drop-off points.

The pharmacy chain enables customers and patients to order products online and have them shipped to a nearby store for pickup, generally ­within one or two days, said Sean Barbour, senior director of supply chain.

About three-quarters of the population lives within 3-5 miles of a Walgreens location, he said.

The company also has partnered with FedEx to extend its pickup and drop-off services. Through that partnership, customers ordering products from a range of eligible e-commerce sites can direct those packages to a Walgreens location via FedEx.

“It’s not just Walgreens.com. It’s not just Walgreens products. It is any product you are shipping with ­FedEx,” Barbour said. “That is an amazing amount of access for customers and patients.”

This also will give customers the option to direct high-value products such as a new smartphone to a Walgreens store for pickup, which avoids the potential danger of a porch pirate stealing the package.

“You know it’s safe. You know it’s behind the counter in our cus­tody. And perhaps you can also accomplish other mission trips while you’re there,” Barbour said. “That opportunity to consolidate mission trips is going to grow rapidly.”

Missed home deliveries could also be redirected to a nearby Walgreens store rather than a fulfillment center for pickup, he added.

Meanwhile, many final-mile deliveries now involve significant work inside the home.

Today, customers often want a full product installation rather than just a delivery, said Shelby McMahon, fleet director at The Home Depot.

“They want something assembled, installed, put into a certain location,” he said, “so we’re seeing less and less of the drop-and-runs that you normally had seen in the old days.”

While basic curbside delivery might take less than five minutes per stop, much more time is ­needed to complete a delivery inside the home, which can involve not only assembly and setup, but also answering customers’ questions.

One of the greatest barriers to providing that level of service, McMahon said, is a pervasive labor shortage.

“No one’s raising their kids to be truck drivers anymore,” he said. “That’s just the reality of the world we live in.”

However, shippers can play a part in alleviating this labor challenge, McMahon said.

Companies can become “shippers of choice” by providing carriers with the density they need to be productive and ensuring that drivers aren’t detained at their facilities.

That’s especially important because drivers and trucking companies have the leverage to choose their business partners.

“There are a lot more of us retailers than there are of the box truck providers,” McMahon said. “So are you doing the right things to give them the tools that they need to be successful? Are you making sure they’re not getting detained?”

Consumer Expectations

Amazon.com and other e-­commerce firms have dramatically altered consumers’ expectations for online orders and product delivery.

The average time of delivery from “click to door” has dropped significantly in recent years, Gartner’s De Muynck said.

In 2015, a week or longer for home delivery was typical, but as of February 2018, Amazon was down to an average of 3.07 days and other retailers were at 4.52 days, he said, citing data from a Rakuten Intelligence study.

Retailers have redesigned their transportation networks to support these faster delivery times.

“Companies have positioned inventory closer to the end customer to satisfy that same-day, next-day, two-day delivery,” De Muynck said.

But given the high cost of next-day and same-day delivery, some retailers have begun offering incentives to customers who are willing to wait longer.

Companies such as Walmart, PetSmart and Kohl’s have introduced discounts and rewards to online shoppers who choose to pick up their orders at physical stores.

While they’re giving away a certain percentage of revenue to offer those discounts, “they also found that when people go into the store, they also buy more product,” De Muynk said.

The revolution in final-mile delivery can be an opportunity, not merely a threat, said Guy Bloch, CEO of Bringg, a provider of delivery-­orchestration software to help retailers fulfill e-commerce orders.

Today, consumers want to have full control of when, where and how they receive an order; they expect transparency as the product is in transit, and they even want the ability to intervene during the delivery process with more detailed delivery instructions.

To meet those expectations, businesses must provide an expanded menu of delivery options, such as same-day delivery, click and collect, curbside pickup and delivery to storage lockers, Bloch said.

But those final-mile delivery services add complexity and cost. Companies can’t afford to absorb all of that cost, nor can they simply push that cost to their customers, because they will lose their business.

“You have to optimize every step of the way, every step of the life cycle, to eventually create efficiencies to give you control of your costs and the ability to compete in this market,” Bloch said. “In essence, we need to assume control of the last mile.”

In e-commerce, the customer experience is paramount.

“We are moving from a transactional model with our customers to relationships,” said Lior Sion, founder and chief technology officer at Bringg.

This means businesses must provide customers with options and visibility, he said.

Customers may not need one-day delivery, but they are more likely to return if they know that option is available. Similarly, customers may only look one time at a tracking app to check their orders in transit, but they know it’s there.

“That’s what’s getting them back in your store,” Sion said.

New Delivery Models

The demands of final-mile delivery and limited freight capacity have sparked innovative new approaches to modern transportation challenges.

Technology startup Roadie, for one, has built an “on-the-way” delivery network with its crowdsourced delivery app.

In contrast to a more traditional hub-and-spoke model or even Uber or Lyft’s on-demand approach, Roadie’s local, same-day delivery network utilizes existing, untapped capacity by connecting delivery jobs with nearby passenger-car drivers that are already heading in the right direction.

“You remove a lot of frictional costs when you’re getting people to do things they were already going to do anyway,” said Marc Gorlin, Roadie’s founder and CEO.

The company uses machine learning and vehicle routing to determine the best, most cost-­effective matches between drivers and cargo. The underlying technology constantly learns as it begins to more fully understand which data points matter the most for a particular type of gig.

Roadie has partnered with major companies such as The Home Depot, Walmart and Tractor Supply Co. to help them solve their toughest delivery challenges.

“We’re delivering everything from makeup to soft drinks to mattresses to dog food,” Gorlin said.

Due in large part to the size and scope of its major retail partners, Roadie’s on-the-way delivery model can reach nearly 89% of U.S. households and is growing every day, he said.

“We’re not building an infrastructure. We’re revealing and unlocking one that already exists,” Gorlin said. “We see a future that’s beyond these rigid, asset-heavy logistics models, where untapped resources can address delivery demand.”

Emerging Technologies

Aerial drones, urban sidewalk robots and autonomous vehicles may also help ease the cost of final-­mile delivery.

Manufacturers such as Mercedes-­Benz Vans and Workhorse Group have showcased vans equipped with roof-mounted drones for package delivery.

Meanwhile, companies such as Udelv are developing autonomous vans designed specifically for the final mile.

Gartner’s De Muynck said he sees potential for drones and autonomous vehicles to boost efficiency in the final mile, but regulatory frameworks will be needed for broad deployment.

Despite continuing strides in the technology development, it will take many years to ramp up deployment of autonomous vehicles, even after they clear all the regulatory hurdles, he said.

Roadie’s Gorlin said this “robot revolution” may be coming, but cautioned that it won’t immediately solve today’s labor and logistics challenges.

In the meantime, retailers and fleets will need to find other ways to improve productivity at a reasonable cost.

E-Commerce Expands in Grocery Sector

The food and grocery sector has seen a surge in e-commerce investment in recent years as companies pursue ways to better address the inherent challenges of delivering perishable food products while increasing convenience for customers.

Like many of its competitors, Albertsons Cos. has imple­mented a multipronged e-commerce strategy that gives its customers a variety of delivery options.

The grocery chain has built an in-house fleet of more than 1,000 trucks for home delivery, including same-day and future-day service.

In addition to the home-­delivery option, Albertsons last year began rolling out drive-and-go services, where business and residential customers can order their groceries online, pull up to the store and have those orders loaded into their vehicles without having to enter the store.

The company also recently partnered with Instacart to offer rush delivery in two hours or less.

The combination of those various delivery options is designed to meet the needs of multiple generations of customers, all with their own unique preferences, while still protecting the quality of perishable products regardless of delivery method, said Jewel Hunt, Albertsons group vice president of e-commerce.

“They want to receive everything they ordered, they want to get it on time, and they want the highest quality,” she said. “That ensures the customer comes back time and time again.”

Maintaining the cold chain during home delivery is a key element of ensuring customer satisfaction.

As Albertsons employees pick customer orders ahead of delivery, the products are placed in three temperature zones — frozen, chilled and ambient temperature. The company’s in-house delivery trucks have three compartments with those temperature zones.

“It really does make a difference on quality,” Hunt said.

Albertsons Cos. has 2,275 stores in 34 states operating under more than 20 brands. The company merged with Safeway in 2015.

Hunt said Albertsons serves more than 30 million households with e-commerce deliveries.

As traditional grocery retailers evolve their e-commerce offerings, they also are competing with new players such as HelloFresh that offer meal-kit plans selected online and delivered to customers’ homes.

This meal-kit business model can greatly reduce food waste, which accounts for 30-40% of the U.S. food supply, said Adam Kalikow, senior director of operations at HelloFresh.

“Food waste is really a supply chain problem, because you have a perishable product, and you have to throw out if you don’t use it,” he said.

The key to effectively dealing with the time-sensitive nature of food is to better match supply and demand through data analytics, Kalikow said.

HelloFresh is able to forecast demand more effectively than a typical food retailer by utilizing the customer data it collects through its subscription-based business model and customer surveys, he said. “Data is the linchpin in making all of this work.”

Read the article on Transport Topics by clicking here.

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Data Quality to Drive Successful Trucking Operations

In today’s reporting-driven world, quality data has become increasingly important to running a successful business. In the trucking industry, having quality data at your fingertips can help to anticipate and address problems before they happen. According to a recent article by FreightWaves, data can point out advanced maintenance notices, such as tire or sensor issues.

Vishnu Rajamanickam, staff writer for FreighWaves, writes:

Every trucking fleet exists to make money, and sustaining itself in the market requires managers to keep freight hauling competitive and to seek methods to lower operational and maintenance costs.

Over the years, managers of successful fleets have figured this out by giving driver benefits to keep churn rates low and by sending trucks to the maintenance garage anticipating a potential breakdown. However, with the proliferation of technology, fleets are now gravitating towards data analytics and machine learning that can help predict their maintenance needs, equipment failure, and even refine driver behavior to improve truck safety.

FreightWaves discussed these issues with Rebecca Grollman, data scientist at Bsquare, to understand how data can be leveraged – irrespective of the size of the data set. “Before we start out, it is important to see if the collected data is actually of high quality. If the quality is not good, there is not much that you can do, even if you have a lot of it. Quality of data is more important than quantity,” said Grollman.

It helps fleet managers to have a clear idea of the questions they want to answer before data collection begins. This is critical because truck fleets generate several data streams from everyday operations – be it from the trucks or the back office. The importance of figuring out the issues that matter and devising means to collect data specific to that cannot be overstated.

For instance, a trucking company might have thousands of data points on the exact colors and paint jobs of all the trucks in its fleet. However, all that will be worth nothing if the company ultimately wants to predict when its trucks will need to schedule a maintenance visit to the garage.

Grollman explained that with relevant historical data, company management can look at predictive analytics and root-cause analysis – helping them pinpoint where their equipment failures originate and follow it up with measures that will stem such future scenarios.

For companies that are just a few months into their operations, data analytics might be a hard sell, as they lack historical data to drive meaningful insights. However, Grollman insisted that such companies can look towards anomaly detection, as its prerequisite does not include substantial data sets.

“Even if you have only been collecting data for a few months, it should be enough to gain insights on normal operating parameters. It helps with understanding what to expect with the data that you’re collecting on a daily or monthly basis,” said Grollman. “You may be able to see some trends and seasonality using anomaly detection. You can start to pick out different anomalies in your data and even make correlations to things that those anomalies indicate.”

For instance, data can point out a spike in tire pressure. This could be because there is a problem with the tire, or perhaps one of the sensors on the truck is malfunctioning. These are anomalies and figuring out a way to work on them will help weed out operational issues. Over time, with a considerable amount of historical data, machine learning algorithms can be used to push decisions. If the insights are not well-defined at the start, it will help to keep iterating on the data until there is definitive meaning.

“Apart from collecting quality data, it is important to have domain expertise to make sense of the data. Companies should discuss the possibilities with a subject matter expert and understand the filters to use on the data, how data streams relate to each other, and what can be expected from them,” said Grollman.

“For example, there might be a number that comes up which indicates median tire pressure, but if I don’t have an idea on the reasonable number, it would be of no use. For small companies, being able to have this collaboration and understanding the data that they are collecting would actually make a big difference,” she said.

To read the article on FreightWaves, click here.

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Transportation Agencies Re-open After Partial Government Shutdown

According to a recent article by Transport Topics, the DOT furloughed 16,501 workers. The government will shut down again in about three weeks if a fair deal on boarder security does not come to fruition.

The truce between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump on Jan. 25 halting the longest federal government shutdown in history meant more than 16,000 staffers at the U.S. Department of Transportation will no longer be furloughed.

DOT furloughed 16,501 staffers across its agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, furloughed the highest number of staffers at 13,944 during the shutdown. The Maritime Administration furloughed the fewest at 274, according to the department’s “Plan for Appropriation Lapse” guidance, revised as of Jan. 11.

Employees at the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration were not furloughed, due primarily to a funding structure backed by the Highway Trust Fund. The federal account operates on revenue generated from the 24.4-cents-per-gallon diesel tax and 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax.

DOT did not comment on the effect the 35-day partial shutdown may have had on transportation agencies.

The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent agency, announced its employees had resumed normal operations and were planning a way forward to conduct the work halted during the shutdown. It indicated 367 employees out of 397 employees had been furloughed.

After Trump announced the truce from the Rose Garden, members of Congress reported to the Capitol. The agreement to reopen the government for three weeks included establishing a bipartisan conference committee of senior lawmakers to negotiate a compromise on Trump’s $5.7 billion request for a border wall. The president insisted repeatedly Mexico would fund his campaign promise, before turning to taxpayers.

“Over the next 21 days, I expect that both Democrats and Republicans will operate in good faith. This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole beautiful, wonderful nation,” Trump said. “If we make a fair deal, the American people will be proud of their government for proving that we can put country before party. We can show all Americans, and people all around the world, that both political parties are united when it comes to protecting our country and protecting our people.”

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney indicated Trump would be ready to again shut agencies down if negotiations do not prove fruitful for the administration.

“Everybody wants to look at this and say the president lost. We’re still in the middle of these negotiations. He just agreed to open the government while that was going on. So the president takes this deadly seriously,” Mulvaney said on “Face The Nation” on Jan. 27.

On “Meet The Press” on Jan. 27, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York indicated his party would welcome an opportunity to collaborate with Republicans on “21st century” border security and other policies during the 116th Congress.

“We’ve said we’re going to fight hard for lower health care costs, to increase pay for everyday Americans, strengthen the Affordable Care Act, protect people with pre-existing conditions, enact a real infrastructure plan. We want to do that in a bipartisan way. Trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” Jeffries noted. “We think it’ll create 16 million good-paying jobs. Republicans, Democrats, even the president has supported the notion that we’ve got to fix our broken infrastructure.”

Assessing the shutdown’s economic impact, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the gross domestic product was reduced by $3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 “in relation to what it would have been otherwise,” while GDP is estimated to be $8 billion lower in the first quarter of 2019.

“In subsequent quarters, GDP will be temporarily higher than it would have been in the absence of a shutdown,” according to CBO.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow took issue with CBO’s assessment. Briefing reporters at the White House on Jan. 28, he said, “We frequently disagree with CBO.”

“I won’t acknowledge any of that right now. And, you know, in a $20 trillion economy, it’s awfully hard to make even the best guesstimates of those kinds of small fractions of numbers.”

To read the article on Transport Topics, click here.

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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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A Partial Government Shutdown Hangs in the Balance due to Continued Boarder Wall Debates

While political debates about the boarder wall between the US and Mexico have been going on for quite some time, Trump is now threatening a partial government shutdown if congress fails to advance spending for the wall by December 21. This would affect many transportation programs.

The threat of a partial government shutdown that would ensnare transportation programs looms as congressional Republicans and Democrats continue to disagree about President Donald Trump’s funding request for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

If lawmakers fail to advance a fiscal 2019 appropriations measure or a short-term spending fix by Dec. 21, funding for programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation — as well as other departments and agencies that oversee commerce, the environment and financial services — would be disrupted.

For instance, about 30% of DOT’s workforce would be furloughed, and 53,000 Transportation Security Administration staff would have to work without pay, Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee noted.

“By manufacturing a crisis over his wall, President Trump appears willing to shutter the doors of the … Department of Transportation, among others,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. “He wants hard-working American taxpayers, not Mexico, to write him a check for $5 billion more, or he will shut the government down? Come on.”

If Congress does agree to advance House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2019 transportation funding bill, policy that would deny funding for certain requirements for electronic logging devices pertaining to livestock haulers would be approved.

This year, the livestock haulers industry raised concerns about ELD rules to members of Congress. The ELD mandate went into effect in December 2017. It requires commercial carriers to equip their trucks with ELDs to record hours of service.

Separately, senior Senate aides tell Transport Topics that autonomous vehicles policy legislation that does not include trucking-centric provisions is unlikely to advance in the lame-duck session.

Republican leaders insist their aim is to avoid a shutdown while acknowledging little progress since the recent enactment of a short-term funding measure keeping federal agencies operating through Dec. 21.

“We don’t know how long the discussion over the government funding issue is going to go on,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Dec. 11. His leadership team is pressing their Democratic counterparts over Trump’s $5 billion request for a border wall that the president had said Mexico would fund.

McConnell’s remarks came soon after Trump hosted congressional Democratic leaders at the White House. During the combative meeting with media present, the president expressed a commitment to fund the border wall even if it meant temporarily halting federal programs.

“I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” Trump said, speaking to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “I’m going to shut it down for border security.”

Schumer said his caucus did not want to shut down the government. Most Democrats on Capitol Hill would support considerably less funding than Trump’s request for border security programs.

After the meeting with the president, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the sentiment about a shutdown. As she put it, “The ‘Trump Shutdown’ is something that can be avoided, that the American people do not need, at this time of economic uncertainty, people losing jobs, the market in a mood and the rest.”

When the new Congress convenes in January, Democrats will manage the House and Republicans will keep control of the Senate.

McConnell will continue to serve as Senate leader. Pelosi is expected to be elected speaker for the second time during her service in Congress after she agreed to limit herself to two terms. This action was meant to calm concerns from newly elected members of the Democratic caucus who are seeking to change the status quo in Washington.

Read the article on Transport Topics by clicking 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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This Technology Could Solve Distracted Driving for Fleets

With all the new technology on the market, there is now a greater need for drivers to use their smartphones. Additionally, cell phones have become the primary way to communicate with drivers on the road.

Chad Prevost of Freight Waves writes:

Sometimes one solution creates another problem. Then, a solution to the new problem becomes necessary. The problem is that now we have now ELD apps on smartphones, we’ve created a need for more user interaction with a smartphone in a truck. Granted, some ELD apps can’t allow a driver to change duty status when in motion but you can still pick up the phone and look at your hours.

“The other factor is that for many small fleets who don’t have a hard-wired in-cab mobile comm solution such as an Omnitracs or PeopleNet device, the phone is the primary means of communicating with a driver,” says Dean Croke, Chief Analytics Officer with FreightWaves.

That makes an upstart company like Live Undistracted effectively a large fleet solution.  Liability drives their safety agenda, as in being able to prove they had technology that stopped the driver from being distracted in the event of an accident. While owner-operators are not likely to adopt such a technology of their own accord, it is also often the case that the best drivers are owner-operators. They tend to have the most mileage and experience under their belts.

The company estimates that phone-related accidents cost commercial fleet operators over $2 billion per year and they’re developing a novel approach to the problem.  They came up with this data from external reports such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and reports from other fleets.

They looked at the issue from “top level down, and then a bottoms up approach,” according to CEO, Mike Falter. There are $8 billion in annual costs total, with about 50% related to the phone, and about half of those involve truck drivers.

While there are several solutions currently on the market, the company’s patent-pending approach is differentiated by its reliability, low power consumption, and what they call seamless integration. Fleet operators have the flexibility to define SafeMode, allowing for hands-free voice, navigation and music, or disabling the phone completely (except for emergency use). Once assigned to a vehicle(s) the App will run seamlessly in the background with no further action required by the driver.

While they are currently looking for their first round of seed money, and most of their competitors “have been out on the job for several years now,” Falter says they feel like their “technology is a refresh on the problem.”

The PhoneSafe System allows Fleet Managers to track and enforce their phone policies, prevent costly accidents, and ensure the safety of their drivers. “We do see it as a problem,” says Falter.

The company was founded in 2016, when they saw the problem for their own drivers. They weren’t satisfied with the solutions they were seeking. “We’ve heard similar concerns. Almost every company has some kind of policy in place. Our tool allows the managers and operators to track and trace the policy they already have in place,” says Falter.

For drivers, it’s about the relationship between them and the managers. “It’s in the driver’s best interest for their own personal safety,” says Falter. “It’s a way to help drivers do what they want to do, which is comply and to develop the behavior and good habit for their own personal safety. After a while they don’t even look for the distraction.

PhoneSafe integrates with the existing vehicle telematics system (or any third party OBDII dongle) and uses patent pending technology to detect when a vehicle is being operated, or in any gear other than Park.

The idea here is that the technology is universal, but also has something no one else has, which is to detect when a vehicle is in operation. “The way we detect it is proprietary. We have a unique approach that will be a differentiator.”

When the installed App detects the vehicle is being operated it places the phone in SafeMode which blanks the screen, or otherwise modifies the phone capabilities as required by company policy. There’s still the ability to make emergency calls, and it can’t get in the way of the ELDs, and you can still use hands free calling.

If technology caused the problem, the least it can do is provide a solution.

Read the article on Freight Waves by clicking here.

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Transport Pro Launches Freight Tracking Service for Brokers

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 11, 2018 — Transport Pro, a Web-based TMS provider, unveiled its latest feature today, Load Beacon—a freight tracking service. Transport Pro subscribers can now take advantage of the company’s in-house freight tracking service, seamlessly providing freight visibility in the TMS platform for freight managers and shippers.

While freight tracking is not a new concept, many brokers still struggle with the day-to-day tracking of loads due to drivers resisting downloads of app-based trackers on their phones, and fleet managers not wanting to give out their drivers’ cell phone numbers. The new tracking services offered by Transport Pro reduce the number of interruptive check calls to drivers so they can stay focused on the road.

Load Beacon offers two methods of tracking, one of which is an app-less service. This method works with all types of cell phones. From a modern smartphone to an old flip phone, Load Beacon can triangulate the location of a driver and provide the broker with load location updates. Using this location information, Transport Pro will automatically provide the ETA to pickup or delivery, which is visible directly from the software’s freight operations dashboard. To activate tracking, users simply enter the driver’s cell phone number in Transport Pro, and Load Beacon will request tracking from the driver via SMS.  Once the driver accepts tracking, the service will automatically pull the location updates from the phone while the driver is dispatched under that load.

The second level of service provided by Load Beacon is a direct integration with carrier ELDs. This solution was built for brokers who provide expedited, just-in-time freight services, or high value cargo that needs more frequent location updates, as well as accurate GPS information. Through a mutual data-sharing agreement, brokers can connect with carriers via supported ELDs and other location devices. Transport Pro’s dispatch system will display updated location information for dispatched loads every 15 minutes, significantly reducing the number of check calls required.

Not only does Transport Pro make this implementation painless for its customers by managing every aspect of the integration in house, it also gives brokers and shippers the visibility they demand.  Brokers can provide their customers with up-to-date freight visibility via the Transport Pro web-portal or via EDI connectivity direct to the shipper.

To learn more, or to schedule a demo, please contact a Transport Pro team member at 615-823-1937, or email info@transportpro.net.

About Transport Pro

Transport Pro is a leading transportation management software company providing Web-based technology to trucking companies, third party logistics and brokerages. Transport Pro’s innovative software streamlines daily business operations and offers a number of integrations to maximize workflow.

To read the press release published on DC Velocity, click here.

To read the article published in CCJ, click here.

 

Media Contacts:

Kelly Frederick

615-647-8933

kelly.frederick@transportpro.net

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