Trucking Biz Buzz

TMAF reveals mascot

Trucking Moves America Forward unveiled a mascot that aims to promote the organization’s goal of presenting a positive image of truck drivers and the trucking industry. The presentation was Thursday, May 18, at a Pilot Flying J in Knoxville, Tenn.

 

Kevin Burch, co-chairman of Trucking Moves America Forward, said the mascot will be an “attention-grabber” that will share the organization’s story with the public.

While the red, white and blue mascot with a trucker’s hat was revealed, it still doesn’t have a name. TMAF launched a naming contest, and suggestions can be sent to mascot@truckingmovesamerica.com.

TMAF said it will collect the submissions in the coming weeks before allowing the public to vote on the finalists through social media sometime next month.

DAT Solutions: Spring harvests help reefer rates

Last week, the national average van rate on DAT MembersEdge gave up 2 cents after hitting its highest point since January. Likewise, the national flatbed rate dipped a penny after reaching its highest level in nearly two years the week before.

And the reefer rate? Things were looking up during the week ending May 13, thanks to produce from California and Central Florida. Let’s look at the trendlines:

Load posts dip: The number of load posts on DAT MembersEdge edged down 2 percent last week while truck posts were up 2 percent. That led to lower load-to-truck ratios for reefers and flatbeds:

  • Van ratio: 3.3 loads per truck, unchanged
  • Reefer ratio: 6.1, down 6 percent after a nice uptick the previous week
  • Flatbed ratio: 36.9, down 6 percent

Van and flatbed rates lower: The national average van rate was $1.68/mile, down 2 cents, while the flatbed rate was $2.08/mile, off 1 cent. The reefer rate was $1.99/mile, up 2 cents. This is the highest weekly average spot reefer rate in the past four months.

Reefer trends: On the top 72 lanes for spot reefer freight, 51 lanes had higher rates last week. That comes despite uneven production out of Florida, shipping gaps in California, and a drop in volumes in markets near the Mexican border. Overall, reefer load posts on MembersEdge declined 1 percent while truck posts increased 5 percent.

Miami down, Lakeland up: Miami outbound faded but high demand from Lakeland kept rates in Florida from falling too much. Key lane: Lakeland-Baltimore surged 40 cents to $2.68/mile on average.

Make it a dozen: In terms of rates, produce from California is running about a month ahead of last year when the state was in a drought. Two markets to watch: Fresno, where the average outbound rate jumped 12 cents to $2.14/mile, and Los Angeles, also up 12 cents, at $2.57/mile.

Van trends: Nationally, van load posts and truck posts increased 1 percent last week. Volumes have been fairly flat since March but still ahead of last year. No major van markets made big moves in one direction or the other last week, but outbound rates in Houston ($1.76/mile, up 3 cents) and Los Angeles ($2.01/mile, unchanged) have both improved by 5 percent over the past month.

Put your shorts on: The average length of haul in the van market decreased last week, so the biggest rate increases were generally on shorter, regional lanes:

  • Atlanta-Charlotte: $2.40/mile, up 23 cents
  • Philadelphia-Boston: $3.18/mile, up 16 cents (but remember, return loads are hard to come by and they generally don't pay well)
  • Houston-New Orleans: $2.53/mile, up 15 cents
  • Memphis-Indianapolis: $1.89/mile, up 12 cents

Long hauls down: Since the average length of haul was down, it’s no surprise that the biggest declines last week were on long-haul lanes. Intermodal companies have also been competing for market share lately with aggressive pricing, which has pushed truckload rates lower on longer lanes that compete with rail.

Flatbed volume slips: Flatbed load posts declined 3 percent after giving up 12 percent the prior week. Truck posts increased 3 percent.

Tri-haul of the week: Memphis and Columbus are distribution hubs. As a lane pair, van rates are often pretty balanced in both directions. But last week, van loads from Memphis to Columbus paid $1.99/mile on average while Columbus to Memphis paid just $1.53/mile. If you have the desire and hours, you can turn the trip into a tri-haul and regain some of that balance. Instead of going straight back to Memphis, take a load from Columbus to Bloomington, Ill., which paid an average of $1.89/mile last week. From Bloomington, loads to Memphis paid an average of $1.92. Not counting deadhead, the extra leg of the trip adds 213 miles but your average rate per loaded mile goes from $1.76 to $1.94, which works out to an extra $627.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at DAT.com/trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT Industry Analyst Mark Montague.

Eaton, Cummins form joint venture to build automated transmissions

With their eyes set on becoming the “world’s leading powertrain supplier,” Eaton and Cummins have teamed up to form a 50/50 joint venture to build automated transmission for heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicles.

Cummins is shelling out $600 million in cash to Eaton to receive 50 percent of the transmission-building business. The deal is subject to approval by the federal government, but it is expected to close sometime in the third quarter of 2017.

While the joint venture cash deal is new, this isn’t the first time Eaton and Cummins have teamed up in the powertrain development business. Drawing from a long history of collaboration, Eaton officials are very optimistic about the success of the Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies venture.

“We really think this gives us an opportunity to build on that successful history and do a much better job of deeper integration engines – both for our OEM customers and Cummins as well,” Craig Arnold, Eaton chairman and chief executive officer told media on a conference call following the announcement.

Truckers, along with OEM and parts providers, know that change has been fast and furious over the past several years. That, in part prompted the joint venture.

“The commercial vehicle industry has been through multiple rounds of regulatory changes and is in the midst of a number of changes as we look forward. We had emission standards that went into place in 2010. And the EPA is on track for another round of emission standards that go into effect in 2024,” Allen said.

“The engine manufacturers and transmission manufacturers, namely Cummins and Eaton in this case, also have to go through a number of changes. We really think this puts together two of the world’s leading powertrain suppliers into what we think is a strong combination that will position our respective businesses to deliver for our customers.”

Cummins CEO was equally optimistic about the partnership.

“Our (joint venture) with Eaton will deliver the most advanced automated transmissions and develop an integrated powertrain and service network that supports our customers like never before. Just as we’ve done for the past 100 years, we will use our experience in partnerships and technological expertise to ensure our customers’ success,” said Tom Linebarger, chairman and CEO of Cummins.

Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies will design, assemble, sell and support all future medium- and heavy-duty automated transmissions. Eaton’s next generation heavy-duty transmissions will be part of the joint venture. However, the Eaton Cummins duo will market, sell and support Eaton’s current automated heavy-duty transmissions to OEMs.

Eaton will retain its global transmission and clutch businesses as well as its current generation transmission business outside of North America.

Freight index for March decreases slightly

The official freight index, which measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles, reveals March freight was down for trucking, rail carloads, rail intermodal and water freight, leading to a decrease in the index compared to February. Air and pipeline freight were the only two modes to experience growth in March.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for March fell 1.5 percent to 124. This comes after the index reached an all-time high in February at 126.4, replacing the former all-time high of 125.2 set in July 2016.

The March index is 30.9 percent above the low set during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight fell to 137.4 from 138.1, a decrease of less than 1 percent. Numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage decrease of 1 percent in March to 137.5 from 138.8 in February. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the DOT, the TSI’s downward movement comes amid mixed signals in the economy. Housing starts declined and gross domestic product growth slowed down to 0.7 percent from 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter 2016. Employment and personal income grew, with the unemployment rate reaching its lowest in a decade.

E-ZPass grace period in Massachusetts ends

Connecticut and Vermont residents who frequently drive in Massachusetts might want to consider acquiring an E-ZPass if they do not already have one. Massachusetts has ended its grace period allowing pay-by-play drivers the same toll rates as E-ZPass users.

Last October, the Massachusetts Turnpike switched to all-electronic tolling, paving the way for discounted rates for E-ZPass transponder users. To ease into the transition, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced a six-month grace period for drivers to obtain a transponder.

That six months is up, and all non-E-ZPass drivers will have to pay a higher toll rate. For example, a five-axle vehicle paying by plate will now pay $4.70 at the Sumner Tunnel compared with $4.40 for E-ZPass users.

For privately owned two-axle vehicles, the difference is steeper. E-ZPass users will pay only $1.50. However, that toll increases to $2.05 if paying by plate.

Although Connecticut currently does not have any tolls, a House bill in the General Assembly may change that. If passed, HB6058 will authorize the Department of Transportation to build, maintain and operate tolls. Such a move could make obtaining an E-ZPass less optional for residents.

For more information about E-ZPass in Massachusetts, visit EZDriveMA.com.

Trucking job numbers down a smidge in April

Transportation jobs scored a third consecutive month of job gains in April. The transport sector netted 3,500 jobs to the economy. Trucking jobs were just slightly down, but are still in the black year-to-date.

So far, the trucking subsector for 2017 has a net gain of 13,800 jobs. The truck transportation subsector experienced a decrease of 100 jobs in April after the industry gained 4,700 in March and 10,600 in February. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net loss of 2,500 jobs in 2016.

In 2016, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 19,000 jobs. In January, transportation lost more than 20,000 jobs, the largest decrease since January 2011 when 38,000 jobs were eliminated from the economy.

Couriers and messengers experienced the largest increase with 3,200 more jobs, followed by warehousing and storage at 2,500. Transit and ground passenger transportation experienced the largest loss for the second consecutive month with 4,400 fewer jobs, trailed by air and rail transportation with 500 jobs lost each. Only five of 10 subsectors experienced gains, making couriers/messengers and warehousing largely responsible for the transportation sector’s net increase.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $23.68 for April – a 2-cent increase from March and up 60 cents from April 2016. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees experienced an increase of 3 cents to $21.17 from the previous month, 29 cents year-to-year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $26.19, 7 cents higher from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.5 percent or 65 cents.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material moving occupations lowered to 5.7 percent compared with 6.8 percent last April, and down from 6.2 percent in March. The overall unemployment rate for the country was down to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent the previous month, the lowest it has been since May 2007. The number of long-term unemployed was down slightly at 1.6 million, accounting for nearly 23 percent of the unemployed.

Power Service and Cummins announced endorsement partnership

Power Service products recently announced an endorsement partnership with the world’s largest manufacturer of diesel engines. Cummins Inc. now officially endorses and recommends two Power Service products – Diesel Kleen +Cetane Boost and Diesel Fuel Supplement +Cetane Boost – for use in diesel engines.

The announcement comes after significant internal testing concluded that both products meet Cummins requirements, becoming the first fuel additive products Cummins Inc. has ever officially recommended in the marketplace.

Roger England, director of technical quality and materials engineering for Cummins Inc., stated, “In recent years diesel fuel quality has become increasingly important as engines evolve and the diesel fuel manufacturing processes change.”

England said the Power Service Diesel Kleen and Diesel Fuel Supplement additives provide easily-accessible solutions with proven technology to customers in the field when they encounter challenges with their fuel such as poor lubricity, low cetane numbers, low temperature operability issues, injector deposits, etc.

“Cummins Inc. is in a very unique position in that we design not only the engine but also the turbochargers, fuel system, and after treatment systems, which enables us to fully leverage the Power Service diesel fuel additive technologies,” said England.

Diesel Fuel Supplement +Cetane Boost, recommended for use in cold winter months when temperatures drop below +30F, is a winterizer/anti-gel used to prevent fuel gelling and keep fuel-filters from plugging with ice and wax. When temperatures drop, paraffin (wax) in Ultra-Low-Sulfur Diesel fuel (ULSD) will gel, stopping fuel from flowing through the engine and water in the fuel can freeze on the facings of fuel-filters, blocking fuel flow.  

“When Cummins and Power Service began to discuss the endorsement partnership, it was a culmination of 60 years of hard work and dedication to developing the most consistent and effective diesel additives on the market,” said President of Power Service Products Ed Kramer.

Stoughton recalling thousands of dry van trailers

Stoughton Trailers is recalling more than 4,000 dry van single-axle trailers, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents. An issue with the suspension is the reason for the recall.

More specifically, 2017-2018 Stoughton DAVW and DVW 285S dry van single-axle trailers are affected. The outside welds that attach the front suspension hangers to the subframe may crack, allowing the front hanger to detach, according to a NHTSA recall document. If the hangers detach, the axle assemblies will break loose from the trailer, causing a loss of vehicle control and increasing the risk of a crash.

Owners will be notified by Stoughton, who will inspect the hanger for cracks and repair as necessary. Gussets inside the subframe will be installed as well. Stoughton has not released a notification schedule as of press time.

For more information, contact Stoughton at 608-873-2500.

Kenworth offers Meritor Wabco OnGuardACTIVE in T680 and T880 trucks

Kenworth is now offering the Meritor Wabco OnGuardACTIVE system as an option for T680 and T880 trucks, according to a press release.

OnGuardACTIVE is an “advanced radar-based safety system that is always on and features forward collision warning, collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control,” according to Kenworth.

The system measures the truck’s position in relation to other vehicles and objects; detects moving, stopped or stationary vehicles ahead; and uses audible, visual and short brake pulse warnings to alert the driver of a possible rear-end collision. When appropriate, OnGuardACTIVE will apply the brakes to help avoid or mitigate a rear-end collision.

For more information, visit MeritorWabco.com.

Double Coin steps up retread warranty

CMA/Double Coin has enhanced their retread warranty to seven years and three retreads for all Double Coin Truck & Bus Radial tire products.

“We have been tracking Double Coin casings’ performance through various channels for the past eight years,” said Walt Weller, senior vice president of CMA/Double Coin. “The data shows that our TBR casings tires are extremely durable, and will retread as well as any major brand casings. We decided to put our money where our mouth is and extend the warranty.”  

The new seven-year three-retread warranty on truck and bus radial tires increases the warranty to two additional years and one additional retread from five years and two retreads on all truck and bus radial tires. This also provides an additional retread for all OptiGreen Series Fuel-Efficient TBR tires.

Double Coin made the announcement in April at the North American Tire & Retread Expo in New Orleans.

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