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Friday, April 23, 2021

Logistics Intelligence Brief

Workforce

C.R. England Announces Historic Driver Pay Increase

Transport Topics Connor D. Wolf April 22, 2021

C.R. England is implementing the largest overall percentage driver-pay increase in its history, the carrier announced April 22. The increase will benefit linehaul drivers in the over-the-road division and drivers in training. It will mark the third time Salt Lake City-based C.R. England has implemented a historic pay increase for drivers since 2018. Driver paychecks have increased 50% on average in that time. “I am thrilled to announce our biggest OTR pay increase in company history,” CEO Chad England said in a statement. “This increase benefits every OTR driver that is paid mileage pay, which makes up the vast majority of our OTR fleet. It applies to drivers at every seniority level and to our current length-of-trip pay bands.” C.R. England projects new drivers could expect to make more than 35% more in compensation compared with what their counterparts made last year.

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Shippers/3PLs

Whirlpool CFO Faces Higher Costs as Component Shortages Force Production Line Shifts (Subscription Based)

The Wall Street Journal Nina Trentmann April 21, 2021

Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool, which manufactures washing machines, KitchenAid mixers and other home appliances, has seen a surge in demand for its products since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, the company is facing a strained supply of key components, including microchips from China and Taiwan. It is also running low on plastic as a result of a winter storm in Texas, which negatively affected the chemicals industry. While other industries have responded to the shortages by slowing down production—large U.S. car makers, for example, have cut output or idled factory lines amid the lack of chips—Whirlpool is changing over its production lines more often, depending on which parts are available, Chief Financial Officer Jim Peters said Wednesday. “We look at what is coming in a shipment and what we have on the production schedule,” Mr. Peters said, adding that the company usually has visibility into its production plan four weeks in advance. At the moment, the schedule for some items is about four days out, he said.

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Industry

Import volumes break 110-year old record

DAT.com Dean Croke April 21, 2021

Just last month, the Port of Long Beach reported loaded import containers volumes were up 48% year-over-year. This broke a 110-year-old record for the most containers handled in a month. On the shipping calendar, March is typically one of the slowest months for imports, which makes this record more remarkable. The new record comes as consumers “continued to practice physical distancing guidelines in March and turned their computers into virtual shopping malls,” the Port of Long Beach said in a statement. Next door at The Port of Los Angeles — the larger of the two ports in the San Pedro Bay Port Complex — March import volumes were up 107% y/y. Furniture was the number one import commodity at 15% of all imported containers. As consumers continue to work and spend more time at home because of the pandemic, furniture container volumes continue to increase. Furniture container volumes have tripled the volume compared to March last year.

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Volvo Group Sees More Risk From ‘Unstable’ Chip Supply Chain

Bloomberg Niclas Rolander April 22, 2021

Volvo Group said it may see further disruption from the semiconductor shortage that has forced the truckmaker to idle plants, potentially hobbling a recovery that’s seen orders more than double. The Swedish company, which warned last month output might grind to a halt for two to four weeks in the current quarter, said it couldn’t rule out further disruption. Production stoppages may spread to other parts of the business, according to a statement Thursday. The manufacturer also makes construction equipment, buses and boat engines.

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TravelCenters of America to Add Hydrogen Fueling Sites for Big Rigs (Subscription Based)

The Wall Street Journal Jennifer Smith April 22, 2021

The rollout is starting in Southern California, where TravelCenters will work with electric-truck maker Nikola Corp. to install hydrogen fueling sites for heavy-duty trucks at two locations. The company also plans to install FreeWire Technologies Inc. electric-vehicle charging stations for automobiles at some facilities in the state along Interstate Highway 5. TravelCenters’ alternative-fuels push comes as California regulators are requiring truck manufacturers to sell at least some zero-emissions models by 2024, and as the Biden administration is proposing a $174 billion plan to boost the electric-vehicle industry.

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Torch Logistics closes $3.5 million seed round

Logistics Management Jeff Berman April 22, 2021

Torch positions itself at the lone network to specifically focus on a commitment to the short-haul sector with technology built for short-haul freight. And the company highlighted how as e-commerce continues to stretch supply chain networks (due, in large part, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), coupled with increasing consumer expectations, that has subsequently increased the need for short-haul freight to be moved by a short-haul network, as opposed to long-haul-focused brokers. And the company highlighted various benefits of using a short-haul network, including: more efficient load placement, higher service levels with trusted carriers and better pricing for shippers; consistent, high volume of loads from quality shippers that maximize carrier asset utilization within serviced regions; and for shippers and carriers it explained Torch’s technology platform is specifically geared towards to the specific needs of shipments less than 550 miles.

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Government/Safety

Biden Pledges 52% Cut in Fossil Fuel Emissions by 2030

Transport Topics Ellen Knickmeyer and Aamer Madhani April 22, 2021

Biden’s own new commitment, timed to the summit, is to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030. marking a return by the U.S. to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump. Biden’s administration is sketching out a vision of a prosperous, clean-energy United States where factories churn out cutting-edge batteries for export, line workers re-lay an efficient national electrical grid and crews cap abandoned oil and gas rigs and coal mines.

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GOP proposes an infrastructure plan with greater emphasis on roads and bridges

CCJ Jason Cannon April 22, 2021

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear called the proposal "a good start and more in line with the investment in last year’s House Transportation Bill led by Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio," he said. "The trucking industry, along with all Americans who utilize our roads and bridges, knows the time for infrastructure investment is overdue." The GOP bill doesn't include funding for electric vehicles, whereas Biden's plan proposed to set aside $174 billion for them (including developing charging stations), helping U.S. automakers, boost battery production, and tax rebates and incentives for buying American-made EVs.

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Republicans Counter Biden With $568 Billion Infrastructure Plan

Bloomberg/Transport Topics Steven T. Dennis and Laura Levin April 22, 2021

Senior Senate Republicans offered a $568 billion counter to President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion jobs package April 22, one that’s focused on more traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges and doesn’t have the corporate tax hikes that Democrats are seeking. The five-year plan more than doubles the Biden proposal for roads and bridges — to $299 billion — and spends the rest on items including transit, rail, airports, water projects and broadband. It offers few specifics on how to pay for the spending beyond references to taxing electric cars and repurposing unspent funds. It specifically opposes rolling back the 2017 GOP tax cuts or adding to the national debt.

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FMCSA Proposes Four-Year Rebuild Delay of Its Medical Examiners Website

Transport Topics Eric Miller April 22, 2021

Federal trucking regulators have proposed delaying for four years completion of a redesign for a web-based national registry of certified medical examiners, citing information technology-related challenges with the effort. The proposed delay — the second since 2018 — comes just three months after a Department of Transportation Inspector General audit criticized the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for falling short in overseeing the driver medical examination process. The website is intended to ensure that commercial vehicle drivers meet physical qualification standards for getting behind the wheel.

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