The sun is setting on 3G. Don’t run out of daylight
As cellular providers decommission their 3G networks in favor of faster and more reliable service, now is the time for truck fleets to take stock of what telematics devices will need to be updated and replaced.
Major network providers are set to shut down 3G service within the next 12 months, resulting in lost connections to older ELDs and other 3G-connected devices.
Transflo’s Doug Schrier tells Fleet Equipment that carriers should make plans to upgrade if they haven’t already. Doug’s tips for fleets:
- Take inventory. Asset managers and IT personnel should work together to create a list of devices that run on 3G and which trucks they’re in.
- Talk to your suppliers. Select upgraded units and then schedule times for those trucks to be taken out of service or made available for necessary device installs. With capacity at a premium, it pays to plan ahead.
- Make time for training and deployment. Communicate any changes to drivers, dispatchers, IT managers and any other relevant fleet personnel. Training and support are areas where technology providers distinguish themselves from one another. A good supplier will help with training and deployment.
“At this point,” Doug says, “there’s still time to work with your providers to upgrade your devices at a reasonable pace. The longer you wait, the harder it will be, and the more likely your fleet could face a serious and costly disruption.”
There are more trucking companies than ever. Why is capacity so tight?
The number of active for-hire trucking companies in the United States increased by more than 58,000 in the first six months of 2021, rising to 322,305 carriers, according to freight management firm Tucker Co. Worldwide and shipper consultancy QualifiedCarriers.com.
The companies track the number of active for-hire carriers and truck drivers based on monthly registration data filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Both figures are increasing despite reports about a shortage of drivers at long-haul truckload and less-than-truckload carriers.
Just because there are more carriers doesn’t mean there’s more trucking capacity, says Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of both firms.
The number of trucking companies with less than 100 trucks increased from about 260,000 to 318,000 over the last six months, Tucker says. He tells the Journal of Commerce that the increase represents an ongoing shift in capacity from larger carriers to smaller ones.
“We’re adding drivers to the driver pool; they just do not want to work with the largest fleets,” Tucker said. More drivers are becoming independent owner-operators in order to take advantage of high spot truckload rates. That leaves large long-haul truckload carriers and shippers that rely on them pinched for capacity. “Shipper buying-behavior hasn’t adjusted to that,” Tucker says, “and that makes for a worse capacity crisis.”
Minnesota suspends HOS rules for ag haulers as drought hits the state
The U.S. West isn’t the only part of the country experiencing severe drought.
Last week Minnesota suspended hours-of-service limits for drivers and motor carriers that haul forage after farmers said they need to travel farther to find hay and other livestock feed.
Dry conditions in the state have caused a decrease of about 10,000 acres of harvestable hay and at least one-fifth of Minnesota’s major summer crops—21% of the corn and 20% of the soybeans—were rated in very poor to poor condition on July 25. Minnesota also led the Midwest on that date with 66% of its pastures rated very poor to poor.
An executive order signed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is in effect through August 27 and applies to carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to emergency relief efforts. The order provides details about which rules are being waived and under what conditions, including return-to-duty procedures for drivers when they take time off to rest.
For the latest information about areas of drought and their levels of intensity, check out the U.S. Drought Monitor. It’s produced in partnership with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Related: Iowa temporarily waived rules governing hours of service as well as permit and fee requirements for carriers and drivers hauling motor fuel. The executive order is effective through August 28.