Trucking Biz Buzz

U.S. Department of Commerce: trucks still moving most freight

The dollar value of freight hauled across the borders by U.S., Canadian and Mexican truckers in December was more than 9 percent greater than a year earlier. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which also says trucks moved 60 percent of all the international freight, with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest.

Reduced value of mineral fuels led to a decrease in December 2014 U.S.-NAFTA trade flow, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Freight totaled $95.8 billion, the second consecutive month of decreasing freight flows when compared with the previous month.

Four of five modes experienced an increase in commodity value when compared with December 2013. Truck cargo had the highest growth at a rate of 9.3 percent. Rail freight increased 8.3 percent, air freight went up 6.3 percent and pipeline freight improved by 4.0 percent. Vessel freight experienced the only decrease from a year ago with a 22.6 percent reduction in value.

Trucks were responsible for nearly $3 billion of the $4.9 billion net increase from December 2013, the largest increase and offsetting losses from vessel freight. Rail came in at second with a $740 million increase. Trucks accounted for $28.4 billion of exports and $28.4 billion of imports.

More than 52 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 16 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by 4.3 percent. Of the $42.8 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 67.5 percent of the loads.


First public access CNG station in northeast Florida opens

Diesel still reigns supreme, but natural gases continue to establish relevancy. Champion Brands Inc. and amp Trillium LLC have opened the first compressed natural gas station with public access in northeast Florida. The new fueling station will be located off of Highway 1 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Near the intersection of Interstates 295 and 95, the new CNG station will be open for heavy-duty trucks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The station will use a public access card reader system.

Two dual hose dispensers will be available, allowing two trucks to fuel up simultaneously. Trillium CNG’s fast-fill hydraulic intensifier compressor will also be featured at the station.

Steve Josephs, director of engineering and co-founder of ampCNG, mentioned in a press release that the goal is to get more CNG trucks in the area and that the company has plans to open more CNG stations across the country this year.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 811 public CNG stations and only 69 public liquefied natural gas, or LNG, stations in the U.S. as of press time.

In a 2013 report, natural gas engine engineering company Westport determined that LNG is more suitable for long-haul trucks. Conversely, CNG is a better fit for smaller commercial vehicles and more local or regional heavy-duty trucks.

Westport also projected that approximately 150 LNG stations would be needed to cover all of the major interstate trucking routes at 300-mile intervals.

Several fleets, including Dart, have invested in CNG tractors.


Spot market rates hold steady after nearly two months of decline

After seven weeks of declining prices, spot rates for truck freight leveled out or slightly increased for the week ending Saturday, Feb. 21. This is compared with the previous week, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Van rates went up by a penny to $1.87. Chicago experienced rates as high as $2.08. Rates for the month of January were down 6.7 percent from the previous month, but have remained stagnant since January 2014. Load-to-truck ratios increased 27 percent to 2.7 loads per truck. Only four states – Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont – have a ratio of 5.5 or greater, unchanged from the previous week and keeping up with the seasonal trend.

Reefer rates remained stagnant at $2.10 compared with the previous week. Green Bay rates were as high as $2.63. Lakeland, Fla., had the low rates of $1.57. Compared with January 2014, reefer rates are up 8.3 percent. Load-to-truck ratios went up by 28 percent to 7.9 from 6.2 in the previous week. A large portion of the states west of the Mississippi River had ratios in excess of 12 loads per truck.

Flatbed rates were still at $2.12. Harrisburg, Pa., had a high rate of $3.29. Phoenix marked a low rate of $1.57. Rates are down 3.5 percent for the month, but are up 5.7 percent in the last 12 months. There were 11.4 loads per truck for flatbeds, a 2.8 percent increase from the last week. Eighteen states across the country have a ratio of 18 or higher.


Averitt Express donated $450,000 in 2014, $7 million total to children’s charity

Employees at Averitt Express donated $450,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2014. Last year’s contributions put the company’s donations at more than $7 million.

Founded in 1986, Averitt Cares for Kids has given nearly $7.5 million to various charities for children, including the Shriners Burn Institute and Ronald McDonald House. Weekly contributions from Averitt in 2014 went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Contributions by truckers and other Averitt employees are voluntary and out-of-pocket.

“With just a weekly donation of $1, our associates exemplify what can be achieved when people rally together for a good cause,” Averitt President and CEO Gary Sasser said in a press release.

Since 1990, Averitt Cares for Kids has donated $4.8 million to St. Jude. As a result, families of children battling cancer and other diseases do not have to pay for treatment at St. Jude, including travel, housing or food. Families are afforded the opportunity to focus on the sick child without having to carry the weight of financial burden.

In 2007, the Averitt Express Leukemia and Lymphoma Clinic at St. Jude was completed with the help of a $1.5 million endowment.


Aperia Technologies wins 2014 Technical Achievement Award

Truck Writers of North America has declared its recipient of the 2014 Technical Achievement Award during the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in Nashville, and the winner is: Aperia Technologies’ Halo Tire Inflator.

Using the wheel’s rotation to propel an internal pump that preserves air pressure, Aperia’s Halo bolts onto an axle hub. In a press release, Aperia executives compared the mechanics to that of a self-winding watch.

Currently, Halo is available for driver and trailer axles. A steer axle version is under development.

Halo was one of five finalists in a pool that started with more than a dozen products. Dana’s Spicer AdvanTEK 40 tandem drive axles, Fontaine Fifth Wheel’s dual camera system, Peterson’s LumenX Series 7 LED, and Webb Wheel’s Vortex Unlimited vented brake drum were the other four finalists.

Finalists were chosen by the Truck Writers of North America’s Technical Achievement Award committee, including Paul Abelson of Road King and Land Line Magazine; John Baxter of Baxter TechWrite and technical director of Advance Diesel Concepts; Tom Berg of Heavy Duty Trucking and Construction Equipment; Peter Carter of Today’s Trucking; David Kolman of Fleet Maintenance Magazine and Road King; James Menzies of Truck News and Truck West; and Jim Park of Heavy Duty Trucking.


Ritchie Bros. auction sets records for site and online sales

It must have been like Disney World for heavy-duty gearheads and industrial buyers. Ritchie Bros., the world's largest industrial auctioneer, sold a record-breaking 10,500-plus equipment items and trucks at its premier global auction last week in Orlando, Fla. CEO Ravi Saligram says they sold more transportation section assets at this sale on Friday, Feb. 20, than any of the company’s previous Orlando auctions. A record 310 truck tractors were sold.

The five-day unreserved public auction attracted more than 9,300 onsite and online bidders from 81 countries and generated nearly $180 million in gross auction proceeds. 


STEMCO acquires ATDynamics

STEMCO, a commercial vehicle parts manufacturer and distributor, has recently acquired ATDynamics, a designer and manufacturer of fuel-efficient technology for commercial vehicles.

ATDynamics will become a part of STEMCO’s Innovative Tire and Mileage Solutions group. ITMS is responsible for automatic tire inflation systems, including Aeris and Aeris SmartSense products.

ATDynamics is the company behind TrailerTail technology. Trucks equipped with TrailerTail reduce greenhouse emissions through aerodynamic design. STEMCO manufactures truck wheel end, braking and suspension components.

ATDynamics is based in California with a sales office in Tennessee. STEMCO is headquartered in Texas with manufacturing facilities in Georgia, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Canada and China.


Shell Rotella announces new nitrite-free coolant

Shell Lubricants announced the newest addition to its coolant product line: Shell Rotella Extended Life Coolant-Nitrite Free.

Also called Shell Rotella ELC-NF, the coolant will serve as a companion to Shell Rotella Ultra ELC. Both coolants are intended for trucks that are using nitrite-free engine antifreeze and coolant. Nitrite-free products yield better protection for aluminum components.

Shell Rotella ELC-NF can also be used in fleets with passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Extended life operation has been shown in medium- and heavy-duty diesel, gasoline, LNG and natural gas vehicles and engines.

According to a press release, extended life coolants are designed to go 600,000 on-highway miles or 12,000 hours in commercial applications.

Shell Rotella ELC-NF meets industry required ASTM D3306, D4985 and D6210 and TMCRP 329 and RP364 requirements. Shell Rotella ELC NF is also suitable for the following applications:

  • Detroit Diesel 93K217
  • Cummins Medium and Heavy Duty On-Road Engines
  • Mack Truck
  • Navistar MPAPS B-1 Type IIIA (formerly Int CEMS B-1)
  • Paccar
  • Volvo TSI 184-001
  • Ford WSS-M97B44D
  • GM 6277M


Ryder, Women in Trucking offer trucks spec’d for female drivers

In an effort to get more women on the road as professional drivers, the Women in Trucking Association, Ryder System Inc. and various original equipment manufacturers are currently offering trucks that are ergonomically designed specifically for female drivers, according to a press release.

Based on results from a study conducted last year, the modified trucks can have up to 16 unique specifications:

  • Height and placement of cab steps
  • Height and placement of cab grab handles
  • Seat width and armrest height
  • Adjustable foot pedal height (accelerator, brake, clutch)
  • Height of seatbelts (shoulder area)
  • Visibility of dash cluster/gauges
  • Integrated ladders for double bunk sleepers
  • Sleeper berth light switches on cab wall, not the ceiling
  • Electric/hydraulic hood lifting mechanism
  • Automated transmission shift lever placement/location
  • Access to the top of the dash
  • Security system for cab (personal protection while in sleeper berth)
  • Better access to the windshield
  • Better access to oil and coolant check and fill
  • 5th wheel pull pressure
  • Height and placement of catwalk steps and back of cab grab handles

“Class 8 trucks have typically been designed with the ‘average’ truck driver in mind,” Women in Trucking President and CEO Ellen Voie told Land Line. “In the past, this has been a male, and the average weight and height of a male is typically greater than their female partners.”

According to Scott Perry, Vice President of Supply Management and Global Fuel Products at Ryder, many of the specs have been integrated by the OEMs at no extra charge. However, other features such has automated fifth wheels and automated trailer landing gear will add to the cost of the truck. How much will vary by manufacturer.


Walmart joins in support for Truckers Against Trafficking

Walmart Logistics has been added to the list of government agencies and companies joining in the support for the Truckers Against Trafficking project.

Like many trucking companies across the country, Walmart will hold meetings with all of their private fleet drivers to educate them about human trafficking. An informational video will be produced for company drivers to view at their convenience. Trafficking awareness stickers will be placed on all company-owned trucks.

According to Walmart’s website, more than 7,200 drivers transport 53,500 trailers and 5,600 reefers in 6,000 tractors. Last year, approximately 700 million miles were driven by Walmart drivers.

In addition to educating drivers, Walmart has also donated $2,500 to support Truckers Against Trafficking.

On Monday, Land Line reported that Michigan State Police’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division recently joined Truckers Against Trafficking. Last month, the Virginia Trucking Association joined TAT shortly after a trucker’s keen eye aided in the arrest of a couple from Iowa who had kidnapped a young woman.

Walmart joins the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and more than 100 companies registered with Truckers Against Trafficking, including 32 other state trucking associations and more than 100,000 individual trained employees. Individual drivers and companies can register by going to TAT’s website and clicking “TAT Trained.”



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