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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Carrier registration for 2018 fiscal year delayed indefinitely pending FMCSA notice

The carrier registration process for the 2018 fiscal year has been indefinitely delayed, according to a notice posted to the Unified Carrier Registration board’s website Friday.

The governing UCR Board of Directors has recommended that all states delay the enforcement period of 2018 registration compliance until 90 days after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a final rule setting the 2018 registration period and an updated registration fee structure.

Registration is supposed to begin each year on Oct. 1, but a Federal Register notice issued by FMCSA last month announced that the annual registration period had been delayed until Nov. 1. The same notice announced that fees for the 2018 fiscal year would be reduced from 2017’s fee structure.

However, FMCSA’s failure to complete the formal rulemaking process regarding 2018 registration and fees has prompted a further delay in the registration period. “We regret this inconvenience and appreciate your patience,” reads the announcement from the UCR Board of Directors.

“Until further notice, please do not accept any carrier fees for the 2018 registration year,” the UCR Board told state administrators in an Oct. 27 letter. “If received prior to the final rulemaking, please return to the entity that paid the fee.”

A lawsuit filed in late September claimed the UCR Board of Directors violated federal open meetings acts by failing to notify the public of a Sept. 14 meeting, at which the UCR Board determined the 2018 fee structure and the delayed Nov. 1 registration start period.

A court agreed with the plaintiffs in the case and required the UCR Board to post to its website the minutes from the Sept. 14 meeting. However, the court said it lacked the authority to rescind the decisions made by the Board at the meeting

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Daimler’s electric trucks start making deliveries in Japan and US

 

Most electric vehicle discussions revolve around passenger cars. Sometimes buses get thrown into the mix. We’re laser-focused on how people will get from point A to point B and sometimes forget that our streets are also teeming with delivery trucks and vans. Daimler hasn’t forgotten and neither has its light-truck brand Fuso.

After years of testing, Fuso (it’ll be using eFuso for its electric vehicles) is putting its eCanter truck on the roads of Japan and the United States, delivering for 7-Eleven and UPS, respectively. Fifty of the trucks will land in North America by the end of 2017.

During an event at Mercedes-Benz’s research and development facility in Silicon Valley, (Daimler is the parent company or Mercedes and Fuso), I was able to take the new eCanter out for a spin. For the driver in the cab, it’s not much different from the diesel and gas vehicles they’re used to steering.

But for everyone else, the eCanter is almost completely silent and doesn’t spew CO2 into the air while hauling our Amazon purchases around town. Both of those, along with the cost savings of switching from oil-based fuels to electric, are the big selling points of the eCanter.

Most delivery trucks (including the traditional Canter) use diesel and make quite a bit of racket while the engine runs. It’s why you can tell when the UPS or FedEx truck is out front, but not the pizza delivery person. Anytime you can reduce noise in a work environment, not only are you making things better for employees but also, in this instance, reducing noise pollution on our already hectic streets.

As for environmental pollution, Fuso says that driving the eCanter instead of the regular Canter prevents 16 tons of pollution from the air per year. If you think about how many trucks like this you see roaming around your city every day, that’s an incredible amount of CO2 kept from the air.

But companies need more than quiet trucks and good environmental vibes to replace their current fleets with battery-powered ones. Fuso said that these new trucks could generate a saving of $19,000 after five years of use compared to their predecessors. The trucks will also be offered with the option for lessees to upgrade the batteries when improvements become available.

And finally, by using a companion system, companies can track their trucks’ energy usage in far greater detail than they can with their diesel counterparts, including staggering how much and at what times the vehicle needs charging. This can be pretty often if the truck strays too far from its distribution center.

The eCanter has a range of 60 to 80 miles based on the terrain and how much of a load it’s carrying. The truck is rated for 9,000 pounds of cargo. Recharging the vehicle’s six battery packs can take as long as eight hours using a typical level 2 charger, but with a DC fast-charger it can get to 80 percent in about an hour. This means a driver could replenish the charge during a lunch break if a fast-charger is available. A full charge will take up to two hours.

These specs make the truck perfect for dense areas like San Francisco, Chicago and New York, but for cities, like Los Angeles, that are basically hundreds of miles of sprawl, the eCanter probably won’t be replacing vehicles that needed to cover all those miles in a day. For those routes under the century mark, the eCanter looks to be a solid performer, based on my time in the cab of the truck.

The silent truck also displayed the characteristics found on other electric vehicles. It has plenty of torque right off the line and that power is available at almost any speed. Driving it as easy as driving any truck with an automatic transmission: You just point and go. For drivers that might not be fans of change, the only adaptation they’ll have to make is looking at a battery gauge instead of a fuel one.

The eCanter has a range of 60 to 80 miles based on the terrain and how much of a load it’s carrying. The truck is rated for 9,000 pounds of cargo. Recharging the vehicle’s six battery packs can take as long as eight hours using a typical level 2 charger, but with a DC fast-charger it can get to 80 percent in about an hour. This means a driver could replenish the charge during a lunch break if a fast-charger is available. A full charge will take up to two hours.

These specs make the truck perfect for dense areas like San Francisco, Chicago and New York, but for cities, like Los Angeles, that are basically hundreds of miles of sprawl, the eCanter probably won’t be replacing vehicles that needed to cover all those miles in a day. For those routes under the century mark, the eCanter looks to be a solid performer, based on my time in the cab of the truck.

The silent truck also displayed the characteristics found on other electric vehicles. It has plenty of torque right off the line and that power is available at almost any speed. Driving it as easy as driving any truck with an automatic transmission: You just point and go. For drivers that might not be fans of change, the only adaptation they’ll have to make is looking at a battery gauge instead of a fuel one.

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DCLI Expands Premium Chassis Fleet to Near Canadian National’s Chicago Intermodal Rail Yard

Direct ChassisLink Inc. has introduced its premium pool into the Chicago market, expanding the equipment footprint beyond Southern California.

The newest location is located near the Canadian National Railway’s intermodal terminal in Harvey, Ill.

The equipment includes radial tires and LED lights.

“With often long and expensive drays to retrieve chassis equipment in the Chicago market, our customers demand more convenient options,” said Ryan Houfek, chief commercial officer with DCLI. “IPPZ Chicago gives customers access to another chassis choice in one of the busiest inland locations in the country. Launching this new pool now will help relieve some of the peak-season pressure on the system.”

The daily rental rate is $21.50, a rate that went into effect July 1.

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Shippers expect big rate increases as market swings in truckers’ favor

Shippers fear “double-digit,” by percentage, rate increases loom in the coming months as trucking capacity continues to tighten and spot market freight activity — and rates — continue to gain ground. Spot market rates have soared in recent months, and the contract market could be next, says FTR analyst and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Starks.

“Spot market rates are a leading indicator. And, although there is a lag, contract markets are starting to follow suit. Shippers are now taking notice and are getting worried about dealing with double-digit rate increases as we head towards bid season,” he says.

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These notes come from FTR’s monthly Trucking Conditions Index report. The most recent TCI is from August, which shows modestly positive conditions for carriers. August’s reading isn’t “wholly reflective of the current environment for truckers,” FTR notes, because it doesn’t include the supply chain disruptions caused in September by hurricanes Harvey or Irma, nor does it fully reflect the ballooning spot market.

“The truck market is currently in the middle of a significant change in conditions,” Starks says. “While the recent weather events made it feel like it happened all at once, spot markets have actually been moving in this direction for the past year. Load activity was rising, truck availability was falling, and rates were already up 20 percent year over year before the storms hit.”

Loadboard DAT Solutions last week reported strong spot market gains in September from August and record-setting year-over-year growth.

Available loads on DAT’s loadboard were 74 percent higher than the same month last year, DAT reported.

The dry van segment in particular saw major gains, with freight activity climbing 15 percent from August and up 80 percent from September 2016. Rates, meanwhile, gained 19 cents a mile from August and were up 35 cents from last September, DAT reported. The load-to-truck ratio hit 6.6 to 1 — the highest average in 8 years.

Reefer demand grew 4 percent from August and 70 percent from last September, pushing rates up 15 cents from August. DAT says harvest season in the pacific northwest and upper midwest, as well as late harvests in California, drove the segment’s surge.

The number of flatbed loads grew 3 percent from August. Though flatbed freight activity typically declines in September, recovery and rebuilding efforts in storm-stricken areas helped boost the segment this year, DAT says. Rates in the segment climbed 8 cents in September.

DAT says it expects the elevated spot market activity to continue at least until February.

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Trump nominates Raymond P. Martinez to head FMCSA

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Raymond P. Martinez to run the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, according to an update posted to the White House’s website. Martinez is the current chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

For Martinez to become the official head of FMCSA, he must be confirmed by the Senate.

Martinez has served as head of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission under Gov. Chris Christie since 2010. Prior, he was commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Martinez has also held positions as the Assistant General Counsel for the Long Island Power Authority and as Deputy U.S. Chief of Protocol and Diplomatic Affairs for the U.S. State Department, according to his bio on New Jersey’s website.

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How technology has come to affect trucking

Mobile technology has revolutionized truck driving, making drivers more connected than ever before and changing how they work, relax and interact. The five ways it’s happened include:

Connection – Though trucking still comes down to a driver and a truck, the job is a lot less lonely than it used to be, thanks to the smartphone. No other piece of mobile technology has done more for truckers. It offers instant connections with friends, family and work; it’s also a safety device and source of entertainment.

“I don’t have to look for a pay phone on a street corner in the rain or cold, blowing wind. Now, I sit in my truck and make my phone calls,” said Gary Wiggins, a Texas-based owner-operator.

While smart phones keep drivers in touch with family and friends, they’re also business tools.

“I use my phone to call agents about loads. Then I have the agent email the pickup info and delivery info. Then I print that info out on my printer in the truck. After I deliver a load, I call the agent on my cell phone to let them know their load has been delivered. Then I scan the paperwork and BOL and email that to the company that I’m leased to to get paid. I get paid online, I pay my bills online,” Wiggins said.

Navigation – Truckers do still get lost on occasion, but it’s rarer than it used to be, thanks to GPS technology. Satellite navigation, backed by apps that provide up-to-date maps, weather conditions and road construction, makes it easier for drivers to arrive safely and on time.

Entertainment – Laptops, tablets and smartphones put a world of entertainment at the disposal of drivers. They can binge on Netflix in their sleepers, listen to audiobooks and music or play Xbox as well as they could in their living rooms. That makes nights on the road a lot more bearable.

Accountability – Drivers like to say that they could never be cooped up in an office; ironically, their whereabouts are probably more closely tracked than that of many office workers. GPS devices on trucks and e-logs tell employers exactly where drivers are and, in many cases, how they’re driving. Dash cams record video of driving behavior while engine telematics track speed and acceleration, all of it information employers can use to monitor drivers.

Drawbacks — Though there is no doubt that mobile technology has made trucking easier, safer and more profitable, some drivers feel something has been lost along the way.

“Electronics is a double-edged sword,” said William Kolias, an owner-operator in New Hampshire and driving instructor. While electronics has removed a lot of the inefficiency from the industry, it has pushed the human element – the driver – to the limit, he said.

Technology and trucking will remain linked and drivers will continue to adapt mobile technology to make their jobs easier and to remain competitive.

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