It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas tree season.
First lady Jill Biden decked the White House halls this week when she received the official 2021 White House Christmas tree. The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was delivered to the west lawn of the Capitol building last Friday, following a 4,000-mile journey from the Six Rivers National Forest in California.
On Christmas tree lots across the country, 40% of sales occur during the first week of December, so trees are in transit now. To cope with a compressed hauling season, brokers and growers secure capacity early, says Carl Johnson, president of Pac West Transport Services, a freight brokerage located in Portland, Oregon.
“We start contacting carriers and securing equipment in August and September. But even being as proactive as possible, the week of Thanksgiving is still one of the most challenging times of the year,” Johnson says.
Most trees move in reefers to keep them from drying out, and capacity is tight, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon grows about 6 million Christmas trees a year, more than any other state; Washington is the country’s third-largest supplier. Both states are also major producers of potatoes, onions, apples and pears, which are harvested and processed at this time of year.
About 45% of Christmas trees grown in the Pacific Northwest are bound for California.
The average cost per mile for motor carriers fell in 2020, as reductions in fuel and labor costs offset increases in nearly every other area, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s 2021 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.
The “ops cost” report, based on 2020 financial data provided by carriers, highlights the unusual ways COVID-19 affected multiple line-items on financial statements, as well as the sector and commodity volatility that occurred as consumers dramatically adjusted their spending habits.
For instance: The average truck speed increased 1.2 mph compared to 2019. Truckers could run faster because there was less traffic during pandemic shutdowns and the price of fuel had fallen substantially, the report said.
While increased speeds typically equate to more miles and higher revenue, mileage was down for many carriers during the pandemic: 55.4% of ATRI’s repeat respondents reported fewer IFTA miles in 2020 than in 2019. Deadhead miles increased 20.6%, per-mile fuel costs fell 20% and annual operating miles fell to 89,358 miles per truck.
Independent of COVID-19 impacts, insurance costs increased more than 18% to 8.7 cents per mile, the highest in the history of the report.
For access to the full report, visit ATRI’s web site.
Time is running out on the 3G cellular network and devices that use it.
The 3G sunset will start on Jan. 1, 2022, making room for new technology and freeing up bandwidth for faster, more capable 4G and 5G signals.
The phase-out schedule of 3G services varies by the service provider, although all 3G-powered equipment, no matter the manufacturer, will become less reliable as outdated infrastructure is removed. The 3G shutdown will affect a variety of electronics that use the 20-year-old network including medical alert devices, vehicle SOS services, home security systems and ELDs like Transflo T7 devices. Without the 3G cellular network, older devices won’t have wireless connectivity.
Transflo T9 ELDs are equipped with 4G capabilities and will not be affected by the 3G sunsetting event.
If you’re a carrier, or you’re a broker who wants to make sure the carriers you work with are ready for the road ahead, learn more about the latest technology. Telematics is a key part of the Transflo ecosystem, an end-to-end, cloud-based platform that can intelligently automate and simplify every part of the supply chain, and you don’t want to miss a beat. You can contact Transflo about making the transition.