These are the good ol’ days for truck tech
Ask veteran drivers about the good ol’ days in trucking and they’ll tell you stories about friends they worked with, loads they hauled, trucks they drove, and coming home for a holiday or a kid’s game on the weekend. You know what you won’t hear about? Waiting in line for a payphone. Achy hips and knees from shifting gears. Paper HOS logs and shipping documents. Jockeying for a parking space. Ceaseless messages from dispatchers or freight brokers asking where they are and when they’ll arrive. Being routed places they don’t like to go.
Transflo offers four ways technology has affected the day-to-day job for drivers, and one big development that shows why the best days may actually lie ahead.
Skyrocketing fuel, plummeting rates
The Department of Energy/Energy Information Administration weekly retail diesel price jumped 34 cents week over week and is now up $1.90 since the start of January. The average price jumped 74.5 cents from the weeks ending Feb. 28 to March 7, and another 41 cents the following week to the previous high of $5.25.
At the same time, the average spot van line-haul rate excluding a fuel surcharge was $2.07 last week, down 63 cents a mile since the start of January, according to DAT. The national average fuel surcharge for van freight is 71 cents a mile this week.
While analysts debate whether supply chains are normalizing, in a cyclical downturn, or worse, there’s no doubt that fuel-price volatility is a bigger factor for capacity than it has been in the past.
Turning on a dime
Headlines predict doom and gloom for small carriers but Todd Amen of ATBS, which provides in accounting and other business services to truckers, says not to count owner-operators out.
The good news about owning a small trucking business is that you can respond to changing conditions literally overnight. He lays out a series of actions that owner-operators can use to guide their business through changing times. “We know much of the negative news is simply headline hogwash,” he writes. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to react.”
Supply chain resilience
Few manufacturers in the U.S., China, and Taiwan are ready for climate-related supply-chain disruptions, according to an analysis of 100 OEMs in the high tech, auto, and consumer goods industries.
The study, prepared by the University of Maryland and supply-chain-mapping firm Resilinc, showed that only 11% of manufacturers have identified and pre-arranged backup production sites, routinely conduct climate simulations, or have formal business continuity plans and incident response playbooks in the event of an emergency.
Fewer still have climate experts onboard. Both FedEx and Walmart had meteorologists on staff who gave early warnings about Hurricane Katrina and accurately tracked and reported the storm’s path and impacts. These experts helped their companies pre-position and reposition assets, inventory, and fleets of planes, trucks, and ships to navigate the disruption, the report said.
There’s no better time to get started: the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1.
Warehouse space at 27-year low
News that industrial real estate construction rose by 48% year-over-year in the first quarter is encouraging but not helpful to organizations that need space now.
Industrial vacancy rates are at a 27-year low, according to a report from commercial real estate firm Savills. Nationally, warehouse vacancy averaged 4.7% and just 1.6% in Southern California. Meanwhile, renters face double-digit rate increases in top areas and a tight labor market for warehouse workers.
Speed limiters pick up steam
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last week said it would press forward with a rulemaking to require speed limiters on commercial trucks. Few issues are as polarizing, especially for truck drivers.
Polling conducted by Commercial Carrier Journal showed that about 73% of respondents were already speed-limited: nearly 23% up to 65 mph, 26.4% between 66 mph and 70 mph, and 23.4% above 70 mph. More than 27% of respondents said they do not use speed limiters in their operations.
Specifically, NHTSA proposed to establish a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) requiring limiters on vehicles with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds. The notice does not set a maximum speed. However, the Dept. of Transportation in 2016 appeared to be leaning toward 60 mph, 65 mph, and 68 mph based on analysis on those speeds released within the rule at the time.
The comment period for the ruling is now open and runs through June 3.