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Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Logistics Intelligence Brief
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Trucking

Motor carriers are using lessons learned from 2018

DAT.com Dean Croke August 31, 2020

While spot rates continue to spike, many motor carriers are making business decisions based on what they learned from 2018. After the ELD mandate went into effect, truckload capacity tightened quickly, and rates hit all-time highs in mid-2018. That led to record levels of new truck and trailer orders, which created a much softer freight market in 2019. Carriers seem less willing to add extra capacity this time around. In talking to carriers this week, a common view expressed is that capacity won’t be added until COVID-19 is better under control and consumer demand becomes more predictable.

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Shippers/3PLs

Walmart Tries Again to Find Its Answer to Amazon Prime

The Wall Street Journal Sarah Nassauer September 1, 2020

On Sept. 15, the retail giant will launch Walmart+, a $98-a-year membership that includes free grocery delivery, a discount on gas from Walmart parking lots and the ability to check out via a mobile phone in stores. Members can get free home delivery for some of the roughly 130,000 items, including fresh food, toilet paper or electronics, sold in the average Walmart store. Delivery from Walmart stores for nonmembers typically costs around $9 per order. The new program doesn’t include free delivery from Walmart.com, which sells millions of items. Walmart offers free shipping on most web orders above $35. “We like Walmart’s chances of success with a subscription model,” said Simeon Gutman, retail analyst at Morgan Stanley in a July report. “

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Industry

Female Truckers Start Cross-Country Trip to Honor Women’s Suffrage

Transport Topics Eleanor Lamb August 31, 2020

A team of female truck drivers started a westward journey Aug. 31 to honor the legacy of the first woman who voted. The drivers gathered beside the Capitol Reflecting Pool to commence their trip from Washington to Wyoming to commemorate Louisa Swain, who became the first woman to vote when she cast a ballot in Laramie in 1870. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. (Women had voting rights in Wyoming before the amendment was passed.) The event was held in partnership with American Trucking Associations, the Wyoming Office of Tourism and The Louisa Swain Foundation, an organization that specializes in preserving history and leading educational efforts about human rights and suffrage.

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Diesel Jumps 1.5¢ After Hurricane Laura Ravages Gulf Region

Transport Topics Dan Ronan August 31, 2020

Diesel cost $2.426 a gallon last week. Still, at $2.441, the price is 53.5 cents less expensive than it was at this time last year. Gasoline jumped even more significantly, by 4 cents nationwide, highlighted by a hefty 8.5¢ increase in the Central Atlantic.

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Q3 ocean volume on par with 2019, but Transpacific rates jump nearly 50%

Supply Chain Dive Matt Leonard August 31, 2020

Carriers have added capacity back into the market, but they admit their clarity on upcoming demand from shippers is limited. "Our visibility is not fantastic," Maersk CEO Søren Skou said on the company's earnings call earlier this month. Skou's reasoning for volume upticks in the U.S. was in line with Murphy's: Consumers were spending more on goods at a time when spending on services is not an option. "April was the worst month with ocean volumes being down 20%," Skou said. "Volumes have sequentially improved since then. And we are now in August in mid- to high single digits down year-on-year."

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Technology/Innovation

Robot Trucks Are Seeking Inroads Into Freight Business

The Wall Street Journal Jennifer Smith September 1, 2020

As autonomous trucking edges closer to market, technology providers and their potential customers are testing competing strategies for how driverless big rigs could help them make money in the real world. Several startups are building out prototype fleets and hauling freight for big shippers that hope autonomous trucks could help cut transportation costs and speed up deliveries. Other companies with self-driving trucking technology are trying to plug into existing operations, striking agreements with truck makers and large trucking fleets that they believe could eventually buy thousands of autonomous tractors.

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Amazon’s Prime Air inches closer to takeoff in the US with FAA approval

The Verge Jon Porter August 31, 2020

Amazon has been given the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval to operate as a drone airline in the United States, paving the way for it to start offering commercial deliveries on a trial basis, Bloomberg reports. The FAA said that the ruling allows Amazon to “safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers,” according to CNBC, and let its drones carry packages outside of the operator’s visual line of sight. “This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air,” Amazon’s vice president in charge of Prime Air, David Carbon, told Bloomberg, adding that the decision “indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world.” Related:  The Wall Street Journal Amazon Gets U.S. Approval for Drone Fleet, a Package-Delivery Milestone

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Waymo picks Dallas for driverless trucking hub

Freight Waves Noi Mahoney August 31, 2020

Waymo recently bolstered its self-driving truck program by expanding into Texas with a new hub in Dallas. Waymo joins a growing number of driverless tech firms locating facilities or freight operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Aurora, Nuro, Kodiak Robotics and TuSimple. “Operating in a major freight hub environment like Dallas, we can test our Waymo Driver on highly dense highways and shipper lanes, further understand how other truck and passenger car drivers behave on these routes, and continue to refine the way our Waymo driver reacts and responds in this busy driving region,” said Waymo spokesperson Julianne McGoldrick. “It also enables us to further advance our weather testing in a diverse set of environments.”

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Government/Safety

Getting blitzed: Accounting for more than 80% of OOS violations last year, driver requirements the target of this year’s

CCJ Tom Quimby August 31, 2020

“What I’ve been saying to some of the industry folks is you may have trained your guy how to sign on and how to sign off and log in and log out and toggle between personal conveyance and driving and on-duty but don’t forget to train your driver on how to transfer those files,” she said. “And if your user manual and your malfunction instruction card and your blank logs are all electronic that driver needs to know how to be able to produce those at roadside when stopped. “A lot of times, they don’t know how,” Wirachowsky continued. “And it’s their responsibility to know how. If they can’t produce it, they’re going to be cited for not producing things that are pretty simple to produce. That’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve seen since (ELD) implementation. Those are the higher charges right now – drivers failing to transfer or failing to have their documents in a row.”

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Why trucking insurance premiums are on the rise

Transport Dive Heather Larson August 31, 2020

Insurance premiums for trucking have trended upward for several years, often with double-digit increases. But the issue is even more urgent now with pending congressional bills, the pandemic and insurance companies not showing profits. The pandemic hasn't directly impacted the cost of insurance much, but crashes and fatalities have increased in recent months despite fewer vehicles on the road. COVID-19 has also driven fleets to shift business models — a factor insurance underwriters take note of, in case the changes could add additional risk, according to Jennifer Nuest, transportation marketing coordinator for HUB International Transportation Insurance Services.

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Wiley Deck takes over leadership of FMCSA

Land Line August 31, 2020

For nearly the past year, Deck worked as the senior policy adviser to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Before taking that position in October, he was FMCSA’s director of government affairs. Deck started his federal career in 1994, serving on the staff of Rep. John Mica until 2017. During that time, Deck worked in a variety of roles, including six years as Mica’s chief of staff. Before joining FMCSA, he also was the director of oversight and investigations for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

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FMCSA proposes pilot program to pause 14-hour clock

Fleet Owner August 31, 2020

After reviewing the public comments to the NPRM, the FMCSA decided not to include the pause to the 14-hour driving window in the final rule, which was published on June 1. FMCSA continues to believe that an opportunity for a single off-duty pause in the 14-hour driving window could provide flexibility for drivers without compromising safety. However, many commenters to the NPRM believed that drivers would be pressured by carriers, shippers, or receivers to use the break to cover detention time, which would not necessarily provide the driver an optimal environment for restorative rest.

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Workforce

Amazon’s Boler Davis in Mix to Become First Black Logistics Chief

Bloomberg/Transport Topic Matt Day and Jackie Davalos August 31, 2020

When Alicia Boler Davis was elevated to Jeff Bezos’ vaunted S-Team leadership council earlier this month, she became the first Black executive to enter Amazon.com Inc.’s upper ranks — and a candidate to run the company’s far-flung logistics empire. Early next year, the current logistics chief, Dave Clark, will step aside to lead Amazon’s consumer business. Whether Boler Davis, 51, replaces him in this pivotal role will depend in part on how well she performs in her current job, running the company’s warehouses, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers and handle billions of packages a year.

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