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FTR Conference: ‘Disruptions Ahead’

Uncertainty over international trade – combined with impeding electronic logging device mandates as well as automation and on-demand servicing in the transportation industry – are the key potential disruptions which will shake up the North American Trucking industry.

During FTR’s most recent webinar on the key issues in transportation, Eric Starks, CEO & chairman of FTR Intelligence, and Larry Gross, transportation expert at FTR, noted the most significant trade disruption ahead that could impact freight flows for trucking and intermodal is NAFTA.

As reported by Fleet Owner:

“This is one of the areas that the Trump administration can make moves without a lot of congressional input or insight,” Gross explained. “We’ve seen some saber rattling in terms of NAFTA.”

He added that Trump’s threats to withdraw from or renegotiate NAFTA have already impacted cross-border moves between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico. “In general, we see a lot more downside in terms of disruption of cross-border trade rather than upside,” according to Gross.

“Right now NAFTA is our major concern,” Starks said. “Where Mexico and Canada are much more uneasy about things, the likelihood that things could change over the next several years is higher. What does that freight movement look like? It’s really hard to tell what that full impact is. That’s what we’re looking at closely now.”

A more long-term disruption is autonomous trucks, which depends mainly on the level of public acceptance over the next decade and fleets’ willingness to invest based on returned investment

Gross suggested that fully autonomous trucks are a long way off. In the meantime, the “gateway technology” is the platooning approach.

“This is a technology that can be adopted on a widespread basis purely on the fact of the fuel savings it generates. That’s enough to finance the technology.”

Starks said technology will begin pushing out intermediaries between financial transactions and services, perhaps radically changing how the industry behaves.

Much has been made of the “Uberization’ of freight, but Gross said he thinks it’s an overstatement to say that Uber is going to blow up trucking’s business model “because booking a load isn’t the same as booking a taxi.”

However, Starks did point out the final mile is probably one of the biggest problem the transportation industry has to deal with in next few decades.

“When looking at terms of productivity this is where fleets can have the biggest bang for their buck. We’re seeing different things happening with drones, and in some areas it makes sense to use some drones.”

“What is the most efficient way to get this good to our end customer,” he added. That technology is still in an evolutionary phase. That will evolve over time.”

Meanwhile, the rollout of ELDs has the ability to radically impact capacity, Starks explained. “The timing really matters there.”

Both Starks and Gross noted that we are still in a “wait-and-see” state as we look at the overall regulatory environment and what the priorities are in the new administration. With ELDs and the potential loss in productivity, Starks said there will be a push to get that productivity back, and fleets will likely start better optimizing technology and big data.

“Big data is only good if already know how to use the information you have,” Starks stressed. “If you don’t know how to use that information, big data won’t help you.”

Read full Fleet Owner article here.

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Keep In The Swing Of Things – Reducing Pain Caused By Driving

Tightly gripping your steering wheel over years and many miles can take a toll on your elbows and cause golfer’s elbow, even if you’ve never swung a golf club.

Golfer’s elbow is a painful condition that affects the elbow where your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow, causing pain that sometimes radiates into your wrist and forearm.

Although this condition is common for golfers, rock climbers, and baseball pitchers, it also affects truck drivers, plumbers, construction workers, and others who excessively or repeatedly use their wrists, clench their fists and/or engage in frequent, grip-intensive activities.

For truckers, it’s the tight grip exerted by your fingers, along with wrist torsion while steering over long distances, that stresses the tendon that attaches the forearm muscle to your elbow, causing pain, tenderness, stiffness, weakness, numbness and/or tingling in your fingers.

Golfer’s elbow can be caused by any activity in which you repeatedly bend and straighten your elbow for more than an hour a day over many days, especially if you are 40 or older, overweight and smoke.

Although the symptoms of golfer’s elbow may appear gradually or suddenly, the following activities may exacerbate the condition: tightening or loosening a fuel cap, shifting gears, shaking hands, turning a door knob, flexing your wrist, lifting weights, squeezing or pitching a ball, and/or swinging a golf club or a racquet.

If left untreated, golfer’s elbow can lead to chronic elbow pain, a reduced range of elbow motion and even a lasting, fixed bend in your elbow. Fortunately, there are many effective options for self-treatment. Since you still need to work, taking time off for complete rest is probably not an option. However, even when driving, you can take the strain off your affected elbow by wearing a counter-force brace or an elastic bandage.

To reduce pain, consider using over-the-counter pain relief like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB and others), naproxen sodium (Aleve and others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and/or a topical, deep penetrating hot/cold cream (Medistik and others).

Between loads, ice your inner elbow for 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times per day. (To protect your skin, be sure to wrap the ice pack in thin cloth).

To keep your elbow limber, try the following stretching exercises: Extend your affected arm in front of you, palms up. Bend your elbow to a 90-degree angle and turn your hand towards you. Move your fingers and thumb towards each other to make a ‘quacking duck’ movement. Repeat this ‘quacking duck’ exercise 20 times, three to five times a day.

Another stretch that works well is called the wrist flexor stretch. For this stretch, extend your affected arm straight in front of you with your fingers pointing up and your palm facing outward. With your other hand, pull your fingers gently back toward you and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat five times at least three times per day.

You could also try an exercise for forearm pronation and supination. With your affected elbow at your side, bend that elbow 90 degrees, and keeping your elbow at your side, turn your palm up and hold for five seconds. Then, slowly turn your palm down and hold for five seconds. Be sure that your elbow stays at your side, bent at 90 degrees for this exercise. Do two sets of 15 repetitions.

For persistent golfer’s elbow, surgery is occasionally recommended. Take steps to avoid it. Before pulling out with your first load, warm up your elbow joint by doing a few ‘quacking duck’ stretches. Regularly exercise to strengthen your forearm muscles – carry a tennis ball in your rig and squeeze it 50 to 100 times over each day. If you are prone to elbow pain, keep an elbow brace/elastic bandage handy and support your elbow at the first twinge of pain.

Get a grip on your future elbow strength by taking these measures today.

Content Author: Karen Bowen

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Performance and Protection

New category engine oils are better, but CJ-4 isn't yet extinct

December 2016 ushered in a new category of heavy-duty engine oils, giving fleets improved performance and additional choices. The previous category oil, CJ-4, is still in production by some oil suppliers, while the new CK-4 and FA-4 oils offer better performance and are recommended for new engines. In addition to the new American Petroleum Institute (API) standard, the various OEMs have also issued their own, often more stringent, specifications. Clear as a bucket of used oil? Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision for your trucks.

New heavy-duty engine oils are packaged at Total’s blending facility in Montreal, Que.

The case for sticking with CJ-4
One misperception about the category changeover, is the idea that the new categories would completely replace CJ-4 on Dec. 1, 2016. That’s not true and some oil providers have chosen to extend the offering of CJ-4 product indefinitely, which can be safely used in pre-2017 engines.

The boldest of these is Chevron, which is still producing and offering CJ-4 with no firm end date in place.

“Initially, going into it, a lot of people expected there would be a mandatory conversion to CK-4 or FA-4 and that hasn’t been the case,” Rommel Atienza, commercial brand manager for Chevron in North America told Truck News. “To that point, we still have a 15W-40 CJ-4 product available in the market today. That decision was made when we started to hear about the direction OEMs were going and the hesitation some of our customers had in that conversion. They really wanted to see the benefits of CK-4 and FA-4 products before they made that transition.”

Castrol also continues to provide CJ-4 product, for now. Hasan Zobairi, commercial marketing manager with Castrol distributor Wakefield Canada, predicts Castrol will complete its changeover by the end of the year. It opted to extend availability of CJ-4 in response to customer demand.

“We decided to do a gradual transition and make sure all customers were comfortable with the change rather than doing an abrupt change,” Zobairi said.

But not all oil companies see a benefit to maintaining CJ-4 oils in their portfolio, when the new category oils are simply better.

“We don’t feel there’s any benefit to keeping CJ-4 around,” said Dan Arcy, global OEM technical manager with Shell. He cited better oxidation control, improved shear stability, and the opportunity to extend drain intervals as a few of the benefits of moving to the new category oils.

Andre St-Jean, MSC chemist, lab and technical service manager with Total, said the company has transitioned completely to the new category oils, a decision that was made easy because it was able to upgrade its portfolio without passing on much, if any, upcharge to customers.

“The cost of the two products is nearly the same, so we decided we will discontinue the CJ-4 as soon as possible,” he said.

And Petro-Canada took a similar approach, removing CJ-4 from its portfolio.

“From our perspective, by continuing the production of previous category engine oils – namely CJ-4 – customers are faced with unnecessary confusion and complexity,” said Brian Humphrey, OEM technical liaison with Petro-Canada Lubricants.

The benefits of CK-4
Even those oil companies that continue to offer both the new and old oil categories acknowledge that CK-4 and FA-4 oils perform better, making a compelling case to upgrade.

The new category oils deliver “better overall engine protection and longer drain intervals,” according to Petro-Canada’s Humphrey.

But while the tighter specification may bring more parity to the performance of CK-4 oils, not all are created equal, Zobairi cautioned.

“Some companies have gone ahead and reformulated, or uptreated, their CJ-4 oils to transition to CK-4 and other companies have taken a different approach, started from scratch and re-engineered the oil,” he explained. “Those companies would see even better performance in moving from CJ-4 to CK-4.”

When choosing a CK-4 oil, don’t just look for the API donut that identifies the category, but also ensure the oil has met all the OEM specifications as well. In many cases, according to Total’s St-Jean, those OEM standards are much more stringent than the tests the API requires.

“There are two different kinds of oil in the market: the people who have the (OEM) approvals and the people who pretend to have the approvals,” St-Jean said, noting just because an oil meets the API specification doesn’t mean it has also gained the required OEM approvals.

Zobairi agrees that it’s important to look for OEM approvals, not just the API symbol.

“I think it’s absolutely critical for oil companies to be meeting those standards and for customers to be asking whether the oils they are using are actually meeting those standards and passing those tests,” Zobairi said.

In fact, St-Jean went so far as to predict the OEM certifications will eventually dictate the type of oil fleets use – and it may have to vary by engine make.

“More and more, the oil is part of the original design of the engine, so we will have more and more (OEM) specifications,” St-Jean predicted. “The OEM approval will be the decider of what product you need for your vehicle and if you want to carry one oil, maybe you will have to buy all one brand of truck.”

How about FA-4?
FA-4, the new lower-viscosity oil optimized for fuel economy thanks to its high temperature high shear properties, has seen little interest among fleets since its introduction. This is mainly due to a lack of OEM support and a lingering conviction among fleet operators that lower-viscosity engine oils offer inadequate protection.

Among the OEMs, Detroit has been the most vocal cheerleader for FA-4 oil. It factory-fills new engines with FA-4, recommends it for continued use and has even eliminated the backwards compatibility restrictions the industry was expecting, allowing FA-4 in engines as far back as model year EPA2010 engines.

“Not only do we recommend the continued use of FA-4 in our GHG17 engines, but we also recommend switching to FA-4 for EPA10 and later Detroit engines to fully achieve their fuel economy potential,” said Ed Byk, Detroit heavy-duty engine product marketing manager.

After extensive testing, Detroit is convinced engine protection isn’t compromised when moving to a thinner weight FA-4 oil.

“Our testing shows that FA-4 performs the same as CK-4 from a durability and reliability perspective and both perform better than CJ-4,” Byk said.

Humphrey said FA-4 oils can deliver a fuel economy improvement of up to 2% compared to a 15W-40 or 1% versus a 10W-30, “so there can be real cost benefits to switching to the new FA-4 category.”

Zobairi wonders why more progressive fleets aren’t taking advantage of the fuel economy performance of FA-4 oils.

“I’d like to understand why customers are hesitant, especially those using Detroit Diesel trucks, where FA-4 is backwards compatible to 2010,” he said.

But not everyone is surprised the uptake of FA-4 has been slow.

“We kind of knew it would be,” Arcy acknowledged. “Not 100% of the OEMs have elected to use FA-4 at this time. From Shell’s standpoint, we planned the uptake would go this way, that it would be slow at first and then ratchet up.”

He compared the adoption of FA-4 to when 10W-30 was introduced in 2007. At that time, Arcy pointed out, there was a gradual adoption by the OEMs and it wasn’t until 2013 that 10W-30 became a fast-growing viscosity grade.

“The rate at which the industry embraces FA-4 oils will be determined by a variety of factors, including the OEM recommendations and the purchase of the newer 2017 engines,” Humphrey agreed.

Content Author: James Menzies

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Driver turnover: Is plug and play the right way?

The issue of driver turnover has plagued the industry for over four decades now and it seems to me that trucking companies should have made better progress by now in bringing it under control. Fact is that many trucking companies see the published numbers coming from American Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance, and as long as they’re below what the estimated average for the industry is at that time, if they’re on the low side of it, they think they’re doing well. Its mass delusion and makes no sense to me, especially when the numbers usually hover around 100%, there is nothing normal about this situation.

I always find it enlightening to see what new ideas, industry suppliers come up with, these are very inventive folks, they try and entice companies to buy an off the shelf, solution to their the problem. I’ve seen many come and go over the years. Most are presented by well-meaning folks who look at trucking with its turnover issues and see great opportunity, where there is pain there is opportunity to provide solution and to profit, it’s an industry on its own.

I call these purchase opportunities plug and plays because, although they may offer some short-term gain, they never really get to the core of the issue of driver turnover. I’m talking about the quick fixes that seem to be designed to attract and retain drivers through a new gimmick or the latest offering designed to have a driver believe that they will be happier at trucking company ABC because of the utility of the gimmick in play. I don’t want to identify the companies that provide these items and services because many of these plug and plays are quite good. There are a great number of these ideas or gimmicks that would work great if they were introduced in addition to the right effort, an effort to attack retention at its core, and not as a solution to driver turnover, because they’re not.

They say there is no magic bullet to this thing called driver turnover, I think that’s wrong, and there absolutely is a magic bullet. It’s not easy nor is it a quick fix but there is a cure, but as deep as the problem is, that’s how deep you need to get in your company, to start attacking driver turnover. You’ve got to strip it down and build it back up again, you’ve got to build it up on a firm foundation, and unfortunately many are just not interested in putting the kind of effort necessary to win at the effort.

I do not hold myself out as any kind of savant on this issue; I have been at the helm of a company that had 120% turnover. It was at a time when the company I was running was growing at an exponential rate and I just lost sight of what was going on with our turnover. Call it greed call it getting lost in the frenzy of the growth, distracted by the whirlwind; whatever it was the buck stopped with me, I let it get out of hand. Might sound a little cliché, but culture is a delicate thing and once it gets out of hand or off side, you’re in trouble, you’re on a slippery slope and you don’t even know it until it’s out of control.

The actions I took, was making driver turnover an issue that was worthy of our companies efforts to get it under control that is what gives me license to offer the advice that I do. We, and I mean we, myself as President my partner and our senior management team, took our driver turnover numbers from 120% to 20% turnover in under 24 months. We went from needing to hire 300 plus drivers to maintain a fleet of 275 trucks over a one year timeframe to needing to hire less than 60 in twenty four months for a fleet size of 290 trucks.

We did this by starting at the start, no gimmicks, no plugins, no smoke and mirrors; we started by taking a good hard look in the mirror. We took responsibility for our situation, this is big for me, doesn’t matter what situations you or your business, change starts with acknowledgement that you did everything exactly right to be in the situation you are right now. Could be talking driver turnover, personal relationships, career status, whatever it is you need to own it, playing the blame game is for suckers and losers, you have to own it to change it, there is no other way.

We also secured the help of a very good consulting firm, from outside the industry, to ensure we got off to the right start with the effort. In addition we agreed as leadership that we were committed to each other to see this thing through because without that kind of rock solid commitment to the cause, it will falter. So that was our starting point, we were determined to get a handle on our situation and plot a path to rein in our out of control turnover. We had successes, we had failures we had stumbles, we had heroes and we had stars and we had to cut bait on some folks.

In the end the gains so outpaced the sacrifice, it was amazing and in retrospect we could have called it a safety initiative, because our accident rate plummeted and so did our insurance cost. We could have called it a profitability initiative because as we streamlined our processes to become driver centric, we also became much more efficient and also much more profitable. Bottom line, if and when you decided that high turnover is within your control and you can get a handle on it, you will see gains that you never expected and wonder why you haven’t done this before now….

Article By: Ray Haight

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Artificial intelligence will change trucking forever - With or without driverless trucks

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear or read about the autonomous truck. A very hot topic of conversation in this industry for the past year or so.  Clearly we have moved from the “if” to “when” question in the context of the driverless truck debate.  With so much focus and attention on the autonomous driver and truck it’s no wonder that the emergence of Artificial Intelligence in other parts of the industry have gone virtually unnoticed by trucking executives at large.  Now, in the defense of anyone not familiar with A.I. applications it is a nascent technology.  The commercial application of A.I. is only very recently starting to be understood. In fact, the term Artificial.Intelligence is ambiguous in and of itself, not to mention a bit unsettling.

The more accurate term is Machine learning (M.L.).  So what exactly is Machine learning?

According to Arthur Samuel, Machine learning gives “computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.”

M.L. essentially does 4 things:

  1. Optimization. If you have ever used Google maps to navigate a trip you have used optimization for routing.
  2. Scanning retinas to determine your identity at the airport.
  3. Anomaly Prevention. Visa prevents fraud by denying card access when it suspects abnormal purchases.
  4. Amazon knows what to advertise to you because people like you (your segment) have purchased or shown interest in the same products.

Machine learning has been around for over 30 years but some major advances have been made recently.  The most important change has been a by-product of M.L. called Deep Learning.  Deep learning has only been made possible over the past few years due to some new major market forces:

  1. Cheap computing power
  2. More accessible data storage
  3. Major advances in algorithms

What deep learning does is it enables feature selection and model tuning. As an example, think about an excel spreadsheet.  First, you need to decide on the column you would like to work on (feature selection) then you need to decide on the best formula or process to “attack” the data with (model tuning).  Deep learning automates this. Google uses deep learning with WaveNet. WaveNet can fully converse with any human in any language, even if the it has never heard that language before.  The key here is that WaveNet does not need to have heard the language before.  It is a learning application so, like a human, it recognizes the patterns and applies its newly acquired knowledge to speak a new language.  However, unlike a human, WaveNet learns a new language in nanoseconds! In a more practical use case, a Japanese insurance company has laid off 30% of its claims staff and is replacing them with an algorithm.

So why should you care?  The advances in A.I., M.L. and Deep Learning are disrupting and doing a better job on many tasks currently being executed by humans.  The challenge in the transportation industry is that a lot of the current technology may not ever offer M.L. based applications due to the nature and age of the products.  The good news is that a new wave of companies and products are coming out of tech centres like Silicon Valley that are taking aim at the logistics industry.  With trucking companies continuing to look for ways to push up on depressed margins; these new applications cannot show up quickly enough. I mean, what would your margins look like if 30% of the dispatching and/or order entry tasks were executed by algorithms?

Article By: Justin Bailie

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Building a leadership team to drive your business

Over the past few years, I have noticed a disturbing trend as I meet with both our shipper and carrier associates. They have changed their leadership team again. The VP of Transportation or Logistics (in manufacturing and retail organizations) or the President or other senior officer (in transportation organizations) has now been replaced multiple times. In fact, in some companies, they change executives like some people do spring cleaning in their homes. “It is out with old and in with the new.”

What is interesting for me is that in some cases, as an outside consultant, I have had the opportunity to work directly with the business leader and the company. I have been able to observe their performance and that of their superiors and subordinates. I have the following observations to share with you.

In some situations, the terminated business leader was doomed to fail. The expectations for the individual may not have been realistic. He or she may not have received the full support of the business owner or senior executive or the collaboration between them wasn’t there. The departed person was charged with implementing the failed or poorly conceived vision of the business leader. The terminated executive “took the fall” for the unsuccessful business plan or weak leadership of his or her boss.

In other cases, the individual did not perform at the required level. He or she may have not had the required skills, did not fit with the company culture and/or did not work well with his or her peers. In some cases, there was an overreliance on specific subordinates who were not performing their jobs at an acceptable level. This overreliance and/or a poor hiring process cost the individual his or her job.

I also observe a pattern in some organizations where, on an almost annual basis, they appear to take and implement the good ideas of the new executive. Once that is done, the executive has outlived his or her usefulness. It is time to replace this individual with another leader who can bring fresh ideas and approaches to the business.

Other companies seem to take a “toe in the water” approach with their new hires. They create a new position and hire a new executive. At the first sign of an economic downturn, the position is closed and the executive is terminated.

Some companies take a somewhat risky approach to replacing their key leaders. They will recruit an individual from outside the industry to fill a position. Years ago I came into the freight transportation industry from the telecommunications business. I didn’t know a fifth wheel from a forklift. But I learned the basics.

There is value in bringing a fresh approach to a long-established business. When I look at the freight brokerage industry, as an example, I see many people with strong backgrounds in areas (i.e. IT, Finance) other than freight operations who are revitalizing this segment of the business.

However, I have also observed some people who have not been able to come up the learning curve and adjust to the industry. They don’t take the time and apply the energy to learn the nuances of the freight business. They try to change the business and customers to fit their paradigms rather than adapt to the new business.

Taking on too many leaders without relevant industry experience, and without them receiving good training, can lead to problems. The business leader who brings outsiders aboard must commit to supply them with a basic grounding in the business, either directly or through trusted advisors and subordinates.

Building a strong leadership team

These are my take-aways.

1. Start with a solid plan that reflects a blend between bottom-up improvements and the top-down vision.

The business leader, the leadership team and the new executive must be on the same page with respect goals, metrics, support staff, timelines and results. For an executive contemplating making a switch to a new organization, this individual should engage in a dialogue with his or her future superior to make sure there is alignment on all of these items. If the connection isn’t there from the beginning, this should raise a red flag as to whether it is wise to change jobs.

2. If your company is changing executives every year, the business leader should reflect on whether this approach is working.

Is your company able to perform at a high level with the constant changes in the leadership team? Would your company produce better results with a more stable team? Is the constant turnover by design or a reflection of poor hiring and business practices?  The leader should ask, “What am I doing to create this situation?”

I was struck this week by a Stifel report I read about CH Robinson. It contained the following quote about this company.

“Consistency of management. John Wiehoff has been CEO for 15 years. Many of his direct reports have been with the company for 20 to 25 years. One cannot underestimate the value of the company’s lower turnover rate when it comes to developing sticky relationships with shippers, deeply penetrating accounts to capture wallet share, and building relationships with the company’s carrier base.”

My sense is that many companies, in their zeal to embrace the latest idea or trend, they miss the value that continuity of management brings to their organization.

3. As an employer and employee, think carefully about the mission, values and culture of the company.

Creating a weak management team can cost the leader his or her job as well. As a prospective executive with a new organization, do you see alignment with the core principles of the company? Are you comfortable with how they embrace change and how they solve problems?

Ask the leader about the last crisis that the company faced and how they dealt with it. Is the leader aware of what is going on in the industry? How is the company dealing with multi-channel distribution, automation and/or driver recruitment? Do their plans make sense to you? Are they working? Can you help make them work better or are you going to be stifled in this effort?

4. Is this a newly created position or has this post been in place for many years?

This is an important question to ask before you join an organization. The newly created position is often the first job to be purged during an economic downturn. The senior leader second guesses the earlier decision and reverts back to the previous organization structure. You may wish to join another organization rather than find yourself in a job search 9 or 12 months later.

5. Is it time to bring in some people from outside the industry?

Does the company have a plan to facilitate the learning curve for a new executive from another industry? Have they done this before successfully? Or are they just repeating a failed process? What is the company’s annual employee turnover rate and their annual executive turnover rate?  How long did the previous executive hold the position you are applying for?

What are they doing to enable a knowledge transfer from the boomers to the other age groups in the company? Are you comfortable that as the boomers move out, there is a leadership team and “bench strength” in place to carry the company forward successfully? As a new hire, will you be “part of the solution” or “part of the problem?”

Building a talent pool is one of the most important jobs of business leaders. As an outside consultant, we are in a unique position to see which of our associates are doing this well and which ones are not. There is nothing more important than building a stable, productive, and winning leadership team. Both the employer and employee should do their due diligence before shaking hands.

Article By: Dan Goodwill

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Preparing for Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Though there is not yet a definitive date for when electronic logging devices (ELDs) will become a legal requirement in Canada, it will certainly happen sooner rather than later, and a recent group of panelists urged carriers to be prepared.

Speaking during the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Safety Conference and Trade Show March 31, Andrew Barnes, director of compliance and regulatory affairs for the AMTA, said consultation on the federal government’s ELD draft is expected to begin this July, with the mandate becoming law sometime between December 2017 and 2018, which would be followed by a 24- to 48-month implementation period.

Barnes said with ELDs presently voluntary in Canada – and with the device becoming law in the US this December – 67% of carriers in Canada use some form of ELD to keep track of drivers’ hours-of-service (HoS), and 86% employ the use of GPS.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) sent out a draft technical standard of the proposed ELD mandate, and Barnes said it pretty much mirrors the US version.

Some of the key inclusions in the draft include a technical performance-based standard for suppliers of ELDs; the Canadian version does not have to mirror the US’s, but cannot be in conflict; must be consistent with existing HoS regulations; must synchronize with the engine control module; and you must be able to view the ELD while outside the cab.

Yard miles, certification, and a final technical standard are three areas that have not been finalized or addressed at this point.

Barns said a cost-to-benefit study on the use of ELDs found a benefit ratio of 2:1 because of the time savings per driver each year, reduction in HoS violations, leveling the playing field and the elimination of forms and logbook violations.

A panel discussion – that included Kevin Taylor, SLH Transport, Dan McCormack, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement inspector, Tom Hanna, Grimshaw Trucking, Barnes, and moderated by Jane Douziech, AMTA manager of business development – recommended carriers not only start looking for an ELD vendor before a law is in place, but also ensure each staff member is properly trained on how to use the device.

Taylor said SLH Transport is using the Shaw tracking system, and that training for the device took around two to two-and-a-half hours, after which he gives drivers another two weeks where they use both the ELD and paper log to get used to the new technology.

“I wouldn’t hold off with the US starting this December,” Taylor said. “We wanted to get our drivers up to speed before the deadline for compliance.”

Hanna agreed, adding the fear of losing drivers with the implementation of an ELD policy did not come to fruition at Grimshaw Trucking.

“We’ve lost nobody,” he said. “Once our drivers got onto it, they liked it.”

Grimshaw Trucking uses PeopleNet devices, and when it came to training, Hanna said there were some challenges in getting the company’s operations personnel to accept the fact it was their job to check the drivers’ ELDs and HoS to ensure compliance.

Hanna advised companies looking to train staff on an ELD to have someone who understands the process lead the way for all employees.

McCormack said one of the challenges for CVE officers is knowing how each of the ELD devices work, as there are several different models on the market, as well as apps that can be used on a driver’s smartphone.

During an inspection, CVE policy is to have the driver e-mail or fax their HoS records to the officer, who is equipped with a device that can accept the data. Drivers can still maintain paper logs in addition to using their ELDs, and can produce those as a backup. McCormack said there is no issue with drivers keeping two sets of logs – ELD and paper – as long as the HoS are the same and in compliance.

McCormack said in 2016 there were just over 6,000 HoS violations in Alberta, down from 8,000 the year prior and 10,000 in 2014.

In the end, McCormack said, it’s all about safety.

Content Author: Derek Clouthier

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Ontario Sees Spike In Cargo Theft Activity

Ontario was the second most common place in North America, in the first quarter of 2017, for cargo theft activity, according to a recent analysis by CargoNet.

California remained the state with the most cargo thefts and reported 51 cargo theft events in Q1 2017. Normally, Texas follows California but in this quarter was displaced by Ontario. Ontario reported 29 cargo theft events in Q1 2017, an increase of 262% year-over-year.

Most of the reports were in the Greater Toronto area.

In the first three months of 2017, there were ten cargo thefts reported in Brampton, five in Mississauga, and five in Toronto. In many cases, the thefts in these cities were occurring on the same street or even at the same address, CargoNet said.

A total of 358 supply chain risk incidents occurred across the US and Canada in Q1 2017.

According to the data, of the 358 incidents, 58% involved theft of a trucking vehicle, 54% involved theft of cargo, and 7% were classified as fraud (often identity theft and wire fraud). In total, 192 cargo theft events were recorded, and the cargo in each theft was worth an average of $149,522, bringing the total estimated loss to $28.7 million for the quarter.

There were 339 trucking vehicles reported stolen, including 137 tractors and 143 trailers.

CargoNet said secured yards were the most common location where cargo thefts occurred this quarter. Warehouse locations were next, followed closely by parking lots with 28 thefts.

Food and beverage products were the most stolen items in Q1 2017, and 31% of all reported cargo thefts involved those commodities. Specifically, meat products were the most stolen food and beverage item, with 17 thefts. Nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages followed with nine and eight thefts, respectively. Household items were the next most common category; 15% of cargo thefts involved this commodity.

Speak to your insurance broker today about your cargo theft coverage.


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Toyota To Build A Fleet Of Heavy-Duty, Hydrogen-Powered Trucks

Toyota unveiled its plan today to build a fleet of heavy-duty, zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell trucks. The move is further evidence that automakers are continuing to place huge bets on the most abundant element in the universe, despite major fueling limitations.

270 horsepower, 200 miles of range

Toyota introduced the fuel cell truck concept as part of a feasibility study by the Port of Los Angeles, which figures in to the port’s efforts to reduce harmful emissions. If Toyota does go forward with the concept, there’s no question this would be the most powerful hydrogen fuel cell vehicle on the market. The automaker says the concept truck would generate more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery, “a relatively small battery to support class 8 load operations.” The concept’s gross combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds, and its estimated driving range is more than 200 miles per fill, under normal trucking operations.

“Toyota believes that hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said Toyota’s North American executive vice president Bob Carter in a statement.

Hydrogen fuel cells — which use compressed hydrogen as their fuel and release only water vapor as an emission — have been in development for decades, but only recently have they attained performance and range numbers good enough to replace an average driver's gasoline-powered car.

hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future.

That said, hydrogen hasn’t taken off as a propulsion technology due to the almost complete lack of a fueling infrastructure. There are several dozen fueling stations in California, and that’s about it. Experts predict that commercial vehicles, like trucks and forklifts, could benefit more from hydrogen thanks to access to centralized, industrial fueling stations.

Toyota has more experience with fuel cell vehicles than most automakers. The automaker began selling its hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan in the US in 2015, but recent reports suggest the company has only sold several hundred units. Toyota has said it plans to sell buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells in Tokyo this year, in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

And Toyota isn’t alone in pursuing zero-emission big rigs. Nikola Motor Company recently unveiled a huge class 8 truck that's powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The Salt Lake City-based startup claims its H2-powered truck will have an operational range of as much as 1,200 miles when it's released in 2020.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk, who has called hydrogen power “incredibly dumb,” “extremely silly,” “mind-bogglingly stupid,” and most succinctly, “bullshit,” recently announced that his company, Tesla Motors, will be unveiling its first electric battery-powered semi truck later this year.

And when you consider all research that’s going into making trucks drive themselves, it seems safe to say that the trucking industry is about to experience the same technological disruptions that have been roiling the auto world for the last decade.

Content Author: Andrew J. Hawkins

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OTA Weighs In On Thunder Bay Truck Route Debate

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is speaking out against city councilors in Thunder Bay, Ont. who are set to vote on whether or not to restrict vehicles of a certain weight on city streets.

The OTA penned a letter to Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs and City Council explaining why forcing trucks onto different roads is not the answer to this decades-old problem.

City Council is currently exploring the development of a new truck route. If adopted, the bylaw would force heavy trucks bypassing Thunder Bay to use Highway 11-17 and Highway 61 exclusively and would also designate routes within the city to include Hodder Avenue south to Main Street via Water Street, as well as heavy truck routes between the East End and Mission Island.

This means that current heavy-truck routes like Dawson Road, Oliver Road and Arthur Street W. would be off-limits to most trucks engaged in Northern Ontario and Western Canadian trade.

“While OTA is aware of council’s historic concerns and rationale for introducing such measures, the association would once again like to remind council of the possible unintended safety consequences of such measures and reintroduce a proposed solution that includes community safety zone designations and the use of photo radar,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.

OTA asked council to clarify whether the newly proposed truck routes are built to the safety standards required to handle the new volume of commercial traffic.

“As a road safety partner, we want to avoid at all costs the deterioration of existing safety conditions. The proposed bylaw should not create more safety problems for the public than it resolves,” said Laskowski.

OTA is also advising Council to perform an economic analysis of this bylaw since carriers have expressed concerns about additional costs associated with this proposed truck route.


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