CARB Webinars receive an overwhelming response

 

Today marked the first day for ITS and CARB’s month long webinar series, “Will You be Able to Drive in California?”

With over 150 participants that came to the webinar full of questions regarding the new laws for driving in California. There will be another chance next week for more questions to be answered when another webinar is offered. The topic for January 16th is  Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs), Truck and Bus Regulation, TRUCRS Reporting System. Don’t miss your chance to register! Click here for more information and registration.

 

Do I Ever Need the Christmas Spirit This Year!

***This post is originally from www.teamrunsmart.com Internet Truckstop is the official load board for Team Run Smart. Check out all their great articles on their website!

Every driver’s day has its ordinary “driving down the road” challenges and having a good attitude can you stay positive and not overreact to difficult situations.  The right attitude will make a more professional, safety conscious driver. It can also help you earn more money and get more enjoyment from driving.  However, the challenges the industry faces has made a positive attitude difficult to maintain.

Here are a few of the challenges that have brought on some sleepless nights for many owner-operators and company drivers:

  • The changes in CSA regulations
  • Hours of service regulations
  • Clean air regulations
  • Increased cost of equipment
  • Increasing diesel fuel prices
  • Difficulties getting loans for new equipment purchases
  • Less parking spaces for trucks
  • Rates not keeping up with costs
  • Detention pay (the lack of and the need for)

So how do you keep up a positive attitude when you are faced with these challenges? Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, knowing carriers have been successful at improving truck efficiency and reducing costs by optimizing fuel, improving truck and trailer aerodynamics, improving power train efficiency, and inventing new tools or ways to get the job done. If carriers can come out ahead, owner-operators and company drivers can too.

Here are ways to overcome some of these challenges and keep up your Christmas cheer:

  • Creative Brainstorm. Around the holidays, since you might have some additional downtime, start brainstorming and thinking creatively on ways to solve your business challenges. Catch up on the latest Team Run Smart articles to get industry news and business tips, or read posts in the Team Run Smart Forums to see how other drivers are solving their issues. Call some of your friends in the industry who are successful and ask them for advice. A fun idea for the holidays that keeps me in a positive attitude, is to watch my favorite Christmas shows.  Seriously, it has helped me to relax and get the creative juices flowing.  Start thinking outside the box and find new ways get over those bumps in the road to start fresh for the New Year.
  • Choose your loads wisely. If the hours of driving each day get reduced, find a way to deliver the product on time.  After all, if Santa Clause can make all his delivers to every house on the globe, surely we can find a way to make one delivery on time.  The change might be to quit hauling loads for folks that make us sit at a loading dock for an unreasonable amount of time without any detention pay.  Of course, this time of year, we can be held up by bad weather and road closers.  You may consider a computer program or GPS system that provides weather updates and road conditions.  Make sure you get the phone number for road conditions of each state and call ahead to change your route if necessary prior to being detained.
  • Become a business minded entrepreneur. Changes in CSA will make us all better business minded entrepreneurs.   CSA regulations are changing the way owners evaluate and train their drivers. Using electronic logs to ensure drivers comply with hours-of-service laws and using smart phones and iPads to take care of daily paperwork are a just a few of these recent changes.
  • Remember regulations may save you money in the long run. Regulations like the new CARB Greenhouse Gas Regulation will actually save you money because it forces drivers to take advantage of some of the fuel-efficient technologies available. This is better for you and the environment. (Link to CARB article.)
  • Consider switching to natural gas from diesel.  Even though the cost of purchasing a new truck (which would most likely be necessary) is higher, the payback is fast because natural gas is less expensive than fuel.  There also exists the side benefit of burning a cleaner fuel with less bad emissions, making the clean air folks happy.  The engine manufactures are already developing the powerhouses for class 8 trucks.  Several companies are developing a network of refueling facilities, enabling cross-country trips.  (Link to natural gas article.)
  • Embrace technology. The new technological advances going into the cab of a truck at a record-setting pace should be looked at as assets to enable us to do a better and safer job.  This integration of networked electronics with trucks means, in theory, telematics could do everything from automatically slowing a truck down when it approaches a blind curve, to diagnosing vehicle issues remotely for preventative maintenance. With telematics, your truck will have the ability to report your driving style to your boss or insurance company.  It’ll keep track of any risky maneuvers you perform and tell the police if it thinks you’re to blame for an accident. If you are a safe driver, you have nothing to worry about and it should help decrease the number of truck accidents on the road, which will help boost the industry image.  Telematics will also cut down on highway traffic and decrease the amount of fuel burned by idling vehicles, which will again make the clean air folks happy. Some even envision it will decrease potential litigation costs by keeping having the facts on the truck’s every move.

Plan ahead, keep positive, and make this a holiday season full of love, happiness, and optimism.  Let’s put the fun back into trucking for 2013.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

About the Author
Patrick Dickard -With over 25 years of experience in the transportation field, Pat Dickard brings a wealth of knowledge and application to the position of Corporate Trainer for Internet Truckstop. Transportation became a way of life as General Manager for a potato and onion packing and shipping facility in Oregon. He has experience shipping from Mexico to points throughout the US. Later years found Pat in the seat of a big rig traveling the highways of the country. By joining the staff at Internet Truckstop Pat is able to bring his experience as a business manager, business owner, truck driver, broker agent, and a shipper to the forefront to assist other folks in being more successful. Host of the ITS Business Development Webinar Series – Mr. Dickard covers subjects such as How to find new shipper clients, How to sell yourself and conduct a business meeting; Identity theft, theft of loads, fraud in the industry, How to qualify carriers faster with less risk, Insurance issues, tips and tricks of using the load board for best results, and negotiating rates.

SOMETIMES YOU’VE GOTTA BREAK IT IN ORDER TO FIX IT

When we send out a product we want it to be as ‘bug free’ as possible. To that end, we employ an avid testing process, wherein testing starts at the beginning of development and continues even after the product has been deployed.

Our tech team begins the testing process by gaining a good understanding of what the product is and how it should function. After getting a thorough handle on the product, we write a test that, when run, will make sure the product is functioning correctly. We run this test after the product is finished being coded, going back and fixing coding problems until the test is passed. These tests are retained for the life of the product, and are constantly running to make sure that no future additions or alterations damage the product.

After the product passes this initial test, the developers test it further, and then upload it to a test environment (test environments are often clones of live website, wherein testers can demo functionality of new products without affecting the live website). Our quality assurance testers (QAs) manually try the functionality of the new product in the test environment, making sure it does what it is designed to do, and nothing that it isn’t. Strangely enough, the most valuable QAs are those who are agile enough to find ways to ‘break’ the product. The more ways in which testers can try to ‘break’ a product, the more durable and ‘bug free’ the product can become. All of the bugs and missing functionality found by the QAs are sent back to the developers for repair. After a bug is fixed, it must again go through testing.

Before the QAs get into the detailed stages of testing, they explore the product to make sure all obvious bugs and functionality has been dealt with. Then they send out the product to testers throughout the company, as each Internet Truckstop department has a few people designated to help test, with testers rotating quarterly. Each company tester spends an hour a day doing nothing but testing products for functionality and bugs. The more eyes exploring a product, the better, as the diversity of approaches and perspectives makes for a more thoroughly tested product. When company testers find the product to be ‘bug free’ and user friendly, they communicate to QAs that the product has ‘passed.’

QAs continue to test even while they wait for the product to pass through the company testers. After confirming that all bugs have been fixed, that functionality is working and user friendly, and that company testers have given the ‘thumbs up,’ the product is finished, and ready for rollout.

After passing through our developers, our QAs, and our company testers, the product then moves on to its most important test of all – your daily use! Our entire testing process is designed to make our products function in the useful, user friendly ways that you would like it to. We greatly value your feedback because your opinion is the most important of all.

About the Author
Chelsea Baguley, is a certified Scrum Master at Internet Truckstop and works hand in hand with the development department. Chelsea started as a tester at Internet Truckstop and has a keen insight of the functions on the load board.

Some (Cautiously) Optimistic News for the Economy

Last week, two key economic reports showed an improving environment for trucking. In one, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that total monthly retail sales increased by a seasonally-adjusted 0.3% during November, or 3.7% year over year. In the other, the Federal Reserve documented a full percentile increase in the monthly industrial production index for November, including a 1.1 percentile improvement in the manufacturing component.

Contrasted with the weakness seen in these measures during recent months, the November reports are especially promising for trucking. The improvement in industrial production, for instance, was the largest monthly increase in this index since December 2010. Retail sales, meanwhile, are now up nearly 25% from their recessionary bottom.

The scene is not all rosy, however. As the Fed’s report noted, “The gain in November is estimated to have largely resulted from a recovery in production for industries that had been negatively affected by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Northeast region in late October.”

Moreover, inventories continue to grow throughout the supply chain. As shown in the figure, the growth rate of inventory accumulation has outpaced that for retail sales and production since late 2010, and the volume of business inventories steadily increases. So long as the supply chain struggles to move existing stock, we will continue to see a disconnect between new production and demand for more trucking.

Whether the November improvements in manufacturing and sales will continue is an open question. Some early answers to this question will be provided this week in the December regional production reports from the Fed Banks in New York, Philadelphia, and Kansas City.

 

Jeremy West
ITS Economist

NEW EOBR from uDrove!

The U.S. Congress has passed the MAP 21 Transportation bill that requires drivers to track their hours of service using electronic logging devices. All truck drivers in the U.S. and Canada who drive more than 100 air miles from their home base must maintain driver logs. These logs are monitored by federal authorities to ensure that drivers are not exceeding their time on duty or driving hours. An Electronic On Board Recorder (EOBR) fleet solution automates Hours of Service reporting.  If you are required to file a record of duty status (RODS), this mandate affects you.

When the FMCSA first made its cost assumptions for requiring the use of EOBR, it used a popular device in the marketplace that a number of large fleets had adopted as a fleet management and electronic logging solution. The price for the hardware of this device was estimated at $1,675, according to the Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis. Smaller companies and owner operators that wanted a Fleet Management System to help reduce operating expenses, simplify business management, and improve driver habits could never justify the expense of purchasing the equipment, or committing to a long term contract. uDrove has built a solution for companies that is affordable and easy to use, minus the contracts.

While implementing an EOBR system in your fleet does require an initial investment, the long term benefits outweigh the costs incurred up front. Hours Of  Service violations are virtually eliminated and Fuel/Mileage tracking is done electronically, simplifying IFTA reporting and reducing driver error.  Not only does uDrove eliminate driver error but we have integrated with PC Miler to give our customers access to real-time date for a single truck, a group of trucks, or an entire fleet’s in-state and interstate mileage, with automated reports for fast and efficient compliance with state and federal tax regulations.

Using smart phone technology, drivers can also maintain their fuel and business expenses electronically. By taking a picture of fuel and expense receipts, anything a driver spends money on can be captured and kept on their web account at uDrove.com.

uDrove provides companies a simple, cost-effective solution that truckers can purchase pre-mandate, and still have it make sense financially. They came into the market well before the MAP 21 Transportation bill was proposed and passed. With the data received from the EOBR and the capabilities of the smart phone, companies realize their R.O.I. (return on investment) almost instantly.

For more information on uDrove’s EOBR please contact 888-983-7683 or visit eobr.udrove.com

Upward 2012 Q3 GDP Revision Reflects Mainly Growth in Inventories

Last Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 2.7% annual rate during the third quarter of 2012, which was an upward revision from the preliminarily reported annual growth rate of 2.0%. At a first glance, this appears to be good news, but as economist James Hamilton points out, a more thorough reading of the report shows that the U.S. economy is “growing a slower rate than any of us would like.”

In particular, 0.8 percentage points of the growth in GDP translated into increased inventory accumulation, and 0.7 came from higher levels of defense spending. Excluding these factors, Q3 GDP grew at a measly 1.2% annual rate. Hamilton reasonably anticipates that GDP will continue to grow at below-average rates during 2012Q4 and in the near future.

For the trucking industry, I find the increased accumulation of inventories to be the most concerning aspect of this report. As shown in the below figure, U.S. total trade inventories increased by $135b, or 9.1%, from March 2011 through September 2012 (the most recent month currently reported by the Census Bureau). Over the same time period, total retail sales actually declined by $17b, or 1.4%. Basically, retail sales have been largely flat for nearly two years, while inventories have steadily accumulated.

I have discussed the problems of increased inventory accumulation previously on this blog, and it remains troubling for trucking to have increasing production volumes be simply stashed in warehouses.

New orders for durable goods (products with a useable life of at least three years) remained flat during October (.pdf), as did new home sales (.pdf). Moreover, consumer confidence improved by only 0.6% during November.

Recently, the American Trucking Association reported that truck tonnage declined by 3.8% in October, the first year-over-year drop since November 2009. Clearly, the trucking sector is in need of a positive shock to demand. A possible source for such a shock is much less clear.

 

Jeremy West
Internet Truckstop Economist

Consumers Are Down But Not Out

Both retail sales and manufacturing declined during October, falling short of consensus expectations. Despite this, consumer sentiment remains resilient

Specifically, national retail sales declined month-over-month by 0.29% in October (.pdf), which was the first monthly decline in sales volumes since June. Meanwhile, industrial production shed 0.4% during October, which was the second consecutive monthly decline in the index. The manufacturing component of industrial production fell by 0.9%.

Understandably, the advent of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast incited some of these declines in production and retail sales. The Washington Post quotes the U.S. Commerce Department as noting, “Even though we cannot isolate the effect, we did receive indications from the companies that the hurricane had both positive and negative effects on the retail sales data.”

However, some pundits argue that the hurricane alone does not explain the overall weakening of consumer demand.A large portion of the drop in retail sales is attributable to hurricane-induced declines in auto and other durable goods sales, while the remainder was propped up largely by gasoline price increases in the Northeast.

Ultimately, the hurricane confounds any deep evaluation of this report on retail sales, especially considering the report is juxtaposed against a five-year record high in Consumer Sentiment, per the Thomson Reuters / University of Michigan Index. The cautious takeaway is that while consumers have taken a beating, they remain optimistic about the holiday season. This doesn’t bode especially well for trucking, but likewise the reports are not especially bad news either.

Are Hurricanes Good for Trucking?

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy—as is often the case following a major natural disaster—economic pundits perform an intellectual dance, arguing whether or not a hurricane is ultimately good for the economy, especially during a recession. I want to take a narrower perspective, asking whether trucking volumes improve following a major hurricane.

The theory goes as follows. A hurricane such as Sandy destroys a large amount of physical property (e.g. houses, office buildings, shops, and infrastructure). Following the storm, the area slowly rebuilds, often renovating older and deteriorated construction along the way. This (re)construction activity requires a large volume of building materials, which—you guessed it—need to be trucked.

Although the story seems plausible, it’s ultimately an empirical question whether a hurricane leads to a significant uptick in trucking activity. To investigate this, I’ve plotted the timing of several major U.S. hurricanes along with the Transportation Services Index for Freight,reported monthly by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics since 1990. This index measures national freight activity and is seasonally-adjusted, which is key in this case because the “hurricane season” largely overlaps the annual peak trucking season. Thus, the test is to see whether hurricanes generate spikes in transportation volumes.

Eleven of the thirty most costly U.S. mainland tropical cyclones from 1900-2010 have occurred since 1990, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, .pdf report, Table 3a. on p. 9). To these, I’ve added Hurricane Irene (August 2011)for the figure below.

You can of course pass your own judgment on the results, but I think the data speak for themselves. To the extent that hurricanes boost trucking activity, the increase looks pretty small.

This is not to say that trucking is unaffected. In particular, some types of trailers (especially flatbeds) should realize bigger gains in volumes than others. But, I wouldn’t count on Sandy to revitalize the trucking industry.

 

Jeremy West
Internet Truckstop Economist

 

 

Press Release – Internet Truckstop Launches a Platform to Analyze, Organize, Create and Execute the RFP Process

New Plymouth, Idaho–Internet Truckstop, the largest web-based freight matching service in the transportation industry, has launched a new request for proposal suite of services that was previously not available to brokers or third party logistic companies.

Internet Truckstop’s new Request for Proposal (RFP) Suite, is an advanced, cloud based system which requires no software installation and allows users to create, distribute and compete in the RFP Process.

“Our goal in developing the RFP suite was to provide our customers with a ground breaking RFP solution that would reduce the amount of time spent compiling data while also providing additional carrier capacity if needed when bidding on a RFP’s,” says Leigh Foxall, Director, Freight Matching. “Users can invite their pre-qualified core carrier group to participate in an RFP session as well as reach out to new potential carriers that are members of the Internet Truckstop community. Our service allows for customization to meet a user specific needs with user preferences being customized all the way down to lane choices. Users can quickly respond to RFP’s with a detailed understanding of their own available margins per lane as truck and rate history is uploaded directly into the platform.”

Internet Truckstop says their new RFP suite will help users manage their businesses and provide a single on-demand system to easily consolidate, organize, schedule, host, and award or accept lanes to selected transportation partners.

For more information visit www.truckstop.com or call 1-800-203-2540 x 6185
About Internet Truckstop
Founded in 1995, Internet Truckstop is the first and largest freight matching service on the web. Internet Truckstop offers more tools than any other freight matching service available. These easy-to-use tools, the largest freight database, and a commitment to the transportation industry make Internet Truckstop the leader in Internet freight matching.

Press Release – United Perishable Logistics secures a $250,000 Broker Bond with ITS Financial Services, LLC

United Perishable Logistics secures a $250,000 Broker Bond with ITS Financial Services, LLC

New Plymouth, Idaho – October 30, 2012- United Perishable Logistics (UPL) is pleased to announce the addition of a $250,000 broker’s surety bond provided through ITS Financial Services, LLC. This bond is in advance and well in excess of the 75K mandate currently scheduled to go into effect October 1, 2013 for all Brokers and Freight Forwarders. This action will provide UPL’s Shipper customers and Carrier clients additional financial security, as well as, demonstrating the financial strength of this rapidly growing freight brokerage.

“UPL secured the bond to lift the bar within the brokerage community and express our strong commitment to small and large trucking fleets alike, that our interests are aligned in ensuring prompt and accurate payment. Furthermore, this action is a demonstration of our confidence in the ITS bond and credit program as it works to protect the integrity of the freight industry,” says Steve Martori – Managing Member – United Perishable Logistics.

ITS Financial Services, LLC (ITSFS) is an affiliate of Internet Truckstop® providing bonding options for truckstop.com members. ITSFS also manages the Diamond Broker Program. Through this program ITSFS advertises the credit worthiness, the quality and size, as well as, the current status of a member’s bond to the 800,000 trucks using Internet Truckstop.

“The industry is well aware Diamond Broker members consistently meet and exceed industry standards. UPL’s action is another fine example. ITSFS is very pleased to provide this option, as well as, adverting this to all truckstop.com subscribers,” says Joe Foxall, CFO-ITS Financial Services, LLC

About United Perishable Logistics
United Perishable Logistics is a freight brokerage company specializing in third party transportation of refrigerated goods throughout the United States and Canada. Our 20 years of experience has taught us that trust and reliability are characteristics that cannot be compromised. UPL is dedicated to maintaining the highest business, credit and financial ratings in the industry which has earned us an outstanding reputation with both our carriers and customers.

About Diamond Broker Program
Participating members receive a diamond designation attached to every load they post with Internet Truckstop. The Diamond Broker quickly delivers valuable assurances to Carriers regarding credit, performance history and the quality of their bond. In addition to these competitive advantages the Diamond Broker receives experienced support to protect their bond, their credit score and their good name.

About Internet Truckstop
Founded in 1995, Internet Truckstop is the first and largest freight matching service on the web. Internet Truckstop offers more tools than any other freight matching service available. These easy-to-use tools, the largest freight database, and a commitment to the transportation industry make Internet Truckstop the leader in Internet freight matching.

For more information contact Steve Martori at 480-225-2444 or ITS Financial Services at 866-812-9675