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A Speed Bump Emerges for ELD

Elog Systems Not Working as Expected

By now, most organizations know how important it is to work with their transportation provider to ensure which carriers are compliant with new federal reporting requirements for truck drivers and which ones are not. For businesses that rely on moving their cargo, choosing the right freight supplier is more important than ever to ensure that quality of product is upheld effectively.

ELDs replace paper logs and will instantly record driving time and monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information. ELDs may impact shipping costs by reducing the effective number of miles a driver can log, further tightening trucking capacity at a time of ongoing limited truck driver supply, rising pay and higher overall fleet costs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was gracious in allowing the transportation industry approximately three months to adjust to the Elog mandate before taking enforcement action. April 1 was the hard date for the mandate to be in full force yet reporting issues remain. On this date, drivers without properly working Elog systems in their trucks would be put out of service for 10 hours, then allowed to finish their runs. Further action would be taken if carriers were found to be habitually running without Elog systems.

“After April 1, you will be put out of service if you’re supposed to have an ELD and you do not. If you are currently required to prepare a paper record, you have to have an ELD. It’s as simple as that.” stated Bill Mahorney, Chief of Compliance and Enforcement Division at FMCSA, speaking during a recent webinar.

Although many new ELD users report no significant issues, others have had a different experience.  Some of the issues over the last several weeks include:

  • Various software glitches
  • Collecting GPS data points effectively
  • Faulty Bluetooth connections
  • Efficient ways on the device to view the location history of a vehicle
  • Unresponsive customer service
  • Brief outages and issues logging data on some user portals

This presents obvious challenges along with carrier confusion. One problem with this plan is the concept of “properly working Elog systems.” Many carriers have found that their systems do not transfer data accurately or track time and location properly. Adding to that frustration is the fact that Elog providers must be certified with the FMCSA however the companies that provide Elogs are self-certified which may cause ambiguities around compliance for the foreseeable future.

Trucks.com recently reported the FMSCA “discovered that some of the 330 ELD devices on the market do not meet the technical specifications for data transfer used to show driving hours to law enforcement. The agency declined to say how many ELD models are not working properly.”  Industry trade media have reported truckers being granted a series of waivers while the agency continues to push them to push ELD manufacturers for fixes to the ongoing performance and data transfer issues.

Also creating issues, is the late adoption of ELDs conducted by many carriers.  Using new electronic equipment requires training, guidance and time to adjust – especially when moving from years of paper logs to technology as the primary method required to meet ELD rules and regulations. An influx in adoption paired with many people learning a new device at the same time, is cause for concern. Helping customer questions becomes a challenge and therefore, some providers are increasing its number of customer service representatives to assist truckers experiencing ELD issues.

Agforce professionals are available by phone or email to help any step of the way. “We are working closely with our carriers to be as supportive and understanding as possible while continuing to meet our customers shipping demands,” said Karla O’Malley of Agforce Transport Services.  “These issues won’t resolve themselves easily, but we’re committed to minimizing any potential impact to our clients since we have a broad, strong network of carriers we can draw upon.”

Time will tell if this a minor rough spot that will soon correct itself, or if the FMCSA will take note and respond with a reasonable solution.
ELD Phases

More Resources

If you have questions about what to expect from the FMCSA on Elog enforcement, the links below will prove useful.

ELD timeline: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/implementation-timeline

ELD exemptions: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/faq/what-exceptions-are-allowed-electronic-logging-device-rule

ELD FAQs: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/faqs

Agforce Transport Services specializes in customized transportation solutions for our customers’ specific business needs and requirements. To learn more about how we can help simplify your path to market, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.

Diversifying Carriers to Manage Rate Volatility

A variety of complex market factors—including fuel costs, driver shortages, and a broad range of available shipping options—can make freight and logistics decisions a challenge for businesses. Shippers should do their best to be aware of the economic and market conditions that drive the logistics decisions they must make.

An ongoing capacity crunch can create rate volatility, since rates go up as freight demand rises and the number of available trucks falls. It’s therefore critical that shippers have established relationships with a wide range of carriers to keep their options open.

Here are three key reasons why leveraging a diverse group of carrier options can help shippers balance rate volatility:

  • Certain carriers might boost rates due to higher market demand, seasonality, new regulations, strikes, weather, natural disasters, and other factors. These factors can be difficult to track and unpredictable.
  • Shippers that limit themselves to only the largest carriers might think higher volume means better rates, but that’s not always the case. In some cases, larger carriers are more selective about shipments that may not fit in their service network, and could therefore boost rates to adjust.
  • Making use of smaller providers opens up more options, and potentially more elasticity in rates. Smaller carriers might travel to a wider range of locations, for example, or be more open to shorter lead times—and they may offer more competitive rates in an effort to attract more demand.

Shippers with a transportation strategy that balances your supply chain needs with market fluctuations will obtain the greatest flexibility and efficiency. The right partner can help you better manage rate volatility by leveraging a wide variety of carriers, while also giving you just one point of contact to manage.

Agforce Transport Services tracks industry developments closely and advise our customers how best to navigate these issues. We specialize in transportation solutions for our customer’s specific business needs.

To learn more and how we can help simply your path to market, contact Agforce today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.

Mixing Modes: Why OTR is Giving Way to Intermodal

As over the road (OTR) transportation continues to rise in higher fuel costs and present additional challenges such as capacity shortages and environmental concerns, shippers are turning more and more to intermodal solutions as a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly option.

Here’s a look inside intermodal and why it could be the ideal solution for your company’s shipping needs. 

What is intermodal?

Intermodal refers to moving cargo by using two or more modes of transportation—generally OTR truck plus rail, ocean plus rail, ocean plus OTR truck, or all three modes. For example, stackable containers are designed to move across multiple modes of transport such as tanker, rail and truck, without unloading and reloading cargo.

Rail intermodal is the long-haul movement of shipping containers and truck trailers by rail, combined with truck or water movement at one or both ends. In 2016, intermodal accounted for approximately 24 percent of revenue for major U.S. railroads. Intermodal transportation provides shippers with an efficient option to transport their products with low energy usage and reduced costs.

To reduce risk and ensure there is enough product in the pipeline, many businesses have the option to consider dividing freight on the same lane between intermodal and OTR. Industry experts recommend that shippers look for these opportunities to convert to intermodal every six to nine months.

Shipping freight in transferable containers rather than dedicated trucks can significantly lower shipping costs and overhead. Integrating rail as one component in the cross-country shipping process reduces the fuel surcharge that you will be required to pay — and with gas prices fluctuating so much, dedicated OTR shipping can be astronomical.

Breaking down the benefits

Here are some of the reasons it makes sense for your company to consider an intermodal shipping strategy:

  • Statistics from the Association of American Railroads show that rail is the most environmentally sound way to move freight over land. On average, trains are four times more fuel efficient than trucks. They also reduce highway gridlock, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.
  • According to the Intermodal Association of North America, a typical intermodal train is equivalent to 280 truckloads, and can move one ton of freight 470 miles on a single gallon of fuel. This translates to fewer trucks on the highways, less congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and fewer accidents.
  • With the price of diesel often topping $4 per gallon, shipping by truck has become increasingly expensive. Transporting a medium- to long-distance load via intermodal costs 15 to 40 percent less than moving the same load by truck. And even considering the fuel surcharges railroads typically impose, shipping by rail is still three to four times more fuel efficient than shipping OTR.
  • Customers, environmental advocacy groups and regulatory agencies all are putting pressure on companies to reduce their environmental footprints. Shipping freight on the rail is fuel efficient and produces lower greenhouse gas emissions. A ton of freight shipped by train produces two-thirds less in greenhouse gas emissions than the same volume shipped by truck, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s SmartWay Transport Partnership.
  • With the ever-tightening capacity for OTR shipping, intermodal also alleviates a personnel challenge for shippers: Given the ongoing shortage of long-haul truck drivers, new safety regulations and requirements; a shift to intermodal means an alternate solution to the need for long-haul drivers.
  • Intermodal’s freight loss and damage statistics have steadily decreased over the past 20 years. Since 1995, the loss and damage experienced by Class 1 railroads has dropped by 75 percent.
  • While intermodal might be slightly slower than OTR transport, the lower cost of intermodal shipping can be worth a day or so of extra transit time — and many railroads offer expedited service to accommodate urgent freight.

What’s the best approach to intermodal?

Although transportation managers often shy away from integrating rail into their freight and logistics plans in the past, more and more companies are making intermodal a key element of their transportation strategies. Over the road trucks currently handle more than 50 percent of all goods moving across the country at any given time, and as such play an incredibly important part in getting these products to thousands of customers daily. A savvy shipper knows how to work intermodal rail into their shipping matrix to allow flexibility in lanes that are highly competitive in transit times while compromising very little in comparison to over the road trucking. 

Agforce Transport Services specializes in transportation solutions for our customer’s specific business needs. From trucks and chassis to domestic and international containers, Agforce has the experience to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your intermodal transportation experience.

To learn more about how we can help simplify your path to market, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.


Sources:

Intermodal Factbook: An Introduction to Intermodal Freight Transportation
Intermodal Association of North America (IANA); 2017
https://intermodal.org/

Rail Intermodal Keeps America Moving
Association of American Railroads (AAR); April 2017
www.aar.org/

The Rewards of Rail

Securing the best transportation options while achieving as much value and cost savings possible is no easy task for individuals responsible for managing the supply chain and transportation processes. Adding to the economic factor factors are complexities of customer expectations, order visibility, inventory management and various types of cargo shipping requirements for diverse product lines. It’s for all of those reasons that rail shipping continues to play a crucial role.

Studies show that adding rail to a company’s transportation process has significant advantages for businesses. Transporting cargo by rail can not only reduce shipping costs but also provides an environmentally sound alternative. Here are some facts that will help determine how and why rail may be right for your business:

Cost-effectiveness and efficiency

  • The Association of American Railroads reports a 99 percent improvement in freight rail fuel efficiency since 1980, and an additional 18 percent improvement since 2000.
  • Thanks to improved freight car design, the use of longer trains and other factors, the amount of freight railroads carried in an average train in 2016 was 3,533 tons, up from 2,923 tons in 2000.
  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, highway congestion cost Americans $160 billion in wasted time (6.9 billion hours) and wasted fuel (3.1 billion gallons) in 2014.
  • According to the Intermodal Association of North America, a typical intermodal train is equivalent to 280 truckloads, and can move one ton of freight 470 miles on a single gallon of fuel. This translates to fewer trucks on the highways, less congestion, lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fewer accidents.

Environmental impact

  • Expanded use of freight rail offers a meaningful way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy with new technologies such as reduced idling, new intermodal terminals and positioning locomotives in the middle of the train.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions are directly related to fuel consumption. That means moving freight by rail instead of truck lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent.
  • According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, freight railroads account for just 0.6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from all sources and just 2.3 percent of emissions from transportation-related sources.
  • According to an independent study for the Federal Railroad Administration, railroads are, on average, four times more fuel efficient than trucks.
  • If just 10 percent of the freight that moves by Class 7 or Class 8 (the largest) trucks moved by rail instead, fuel savings would be around 1.5 billion gallons per year, and annual greenhouse gas emissions would fall by approximately 17 million tons — equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the highways for a year or planting 400 million trees.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the external costs associated with emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are three to five times higher for trucks than for railroads. In other words, moving freight by rail rather than by highway significantly reduces the harmful emissions that the EPA regulates.

Considering these important factors — and teaming with an experienced partner like Agforce — can help your business identify the most efficient and environmentally responsible methods for shipping your cargo.

Agforce Transport Services specializes in customized transportation solutions for our customer’s specific business needs and requirements. To learn more about how we can help simply your path to market, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com. 


Sources:

Intermodal Factbook: An Introduction to Intermodal Freight Transportation
Intermodal Association of North America (IANA); 2017
https://intermodal.org/

Rail Intermodal Keeps America Moving
Association of American Railroads (AAR); April 2017
www.aar.org/

Freight Railroads Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Association of American Railroads (AAR); April 2017
www.aar.org/

How to Get Ahead of Logistics Challenges

By Andy Tuley, Vice President, Business Development

Here’s an article recently published in Logistics Management. I’m sharing because it  provides some insightful analysis of logistics and encapsulates how Agforce Transport Services (ATS) approaches these kinds of hurdles in transportation.

Our organization focuses on business process improvement by deploying technology and streamlining communication. In order to cut through the noise and constant onslaught of apps, new rollouts and more, it’s critical to have an experienced and innovative logistics partner. ATS can help you sort through the clutter and find what best fits your business. We add value and help control costs by providing our deep experience in this realm. Fuel costs, the economy, driver shortages and government regulations are second nature to our teams—we can’t control them, but we can monitor and advise our customers how best to navigate these issues and what levers to pull when.

I hope you find this article as insightful as I do, and explains the value of having the right partner in your business to help monitor, advise, build a plan and execute it in a rapidly changing environment.

At Agforce, we’d love to discuss your current needs and challenges you may face as discussed in this article.  Please contact any member of our team at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.


Source:

Logistics Management: By DDC FPO; November 1, 2017

Agforce Grows Community Service Presence


Agforce Transport Services has found success collaborating with a regional organization to deliver charitable goods.

In April, Agforce partnered with GTM Sportswear to deliver pallets of shoes to the Soles4Souls charity. GTM Sportswear, owned by HanesBrands Inc., liquidated 17 pallets of shoes and began bidding transportation to deliver their charitable contribution. Excited about aiding in the relief effort, Agforce donated their professional services coordinating the transportation of the 12,000 pounds of donated footwear from Manhattan, Kansas, to Wadley, Alabama.

“GTM reached out for a quote on the transportation for this shipment which we learned was for a donation to Soles4Souls. We have worked with GTM and their parent company HBI for a couple of years, and it was an easy decision to donate the transportation costs to help support this effort,” said Agforce Sales Manager Ben Keck.

“Building a strong relationship that goes beyond the transactional is at the core of how we work, and we found this to be a great opportunity to build on our relationship while supporting a worthy cause,” said Agforce Vice President of Business Development Andy Tuley.

Soles4Souls is a nonprofit social enterprise based in Nashville, Tennessee, whose mission is to create sustainable jobs and provide relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Since Soles4Souls began in 2006, they have distributed over 30 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries and all 50 U.S. states. But the organization’s desire is that every single one of those pairs makes a difference in people’s lives. This donation can create meaningful economic opportunities all around the globe by simply repurposing the shoes.

Also this spring, Agforce was offered the opportunity to help coordinate transportation of a truckload of organic fertilizer and soil builder to nonprofit Urban Farm Guys. The bagged and palletized fertilizer and soil builder products were at risk of being poorly used until Agforce was able to assist in their timely delivery to their Kansas City campus.

The Urban Farm Guys mission is helping disadvantaged communities rebuild from within focusing on building local economy, capacity and resiliency while giving back to the global open-source community. Their team operates an urban campus in Kansas City which consists of city farm lots, cottage businesses, a makerspace, co-working space, greenhouses, solar arrays, a tool library, aquaponics, community gardens and classroom and program space.

“In Kansas City, we have found that a plethora of human capital exists for the community to thrive. We’re just helping provide a place where dreams become closer to reach and where opportunity, access to healthy food and skills training is increasing,” said Jason Fields, Urban Farm Guys co-founder. “Crime is down 20 percent from ten years ago, and the neighborhood is slowly becoming more resilient and organized. We are partners among many great neighbors doing far more good together than we can take credit for ourselves.”

Giving back to and supporting communities in need is something that Agforce Transport Services believes in. To learn more about Agforce and our full-service freight transportation and logistics solutions, give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com. For more information, news media only, contact Bradford Warner at 913-333-3743 or email bwarner@agspring.com.

Preparing for the Elog Mandate: How It Impacts Your Business


According to a recent report, 15 percent of the industry won’t be ELD compliant by the December 18, 2017, deadline. Given that the latest count of carriers is 1,516,510, that means 227,476 carriers are scrambling to order, install and train their staffs on Elogs. Some delays are a result of financial challenges and procrastination. Therefore, it’s important to work with your transportation provider to ensure which carriers are compliant and which ones are not.

ELDs replace paper logs and will instantly record driving time and monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information. ELDs can reduce costs by reducing the effective number of miles a driver can log, further tightening trucking capacity at a time of ongoing limited truck driver supply, rising pay and higher overall fleet costs. For businesses that rely on moving their cargo, choosing the right freight supplier is more important than ever to ensure that quality of product is upheld effectively.

Agforce is working with carriers to ensure compliance for customers. “We are actively working with our carriers to monitor and track their status. This includes our visibility to DNU carriers’ activities. Carriers with an unfavorable safety rating are removed, and our team continues to focus on providing qualified and compliant freight services,” said Karla O’Malley, manager of carrier compliance for Agforce.

Agforce Transport Services specializes in customized transportation solutions for our customers’ specific business needs and requirements. To learn more about how we can help simply your path to market, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.


Related Stories

For additional information related to the Elog mandate, check out these articles:

FreightWaves: ELD update: 15% of industry not expected to be fully compliant at deadline

Logistics Management: Pending December 2017 ELD implementation remains on track, says ex-FMCSA head Sandberg

Riding the Storm Out


The recent flurry of foul weather doesn’t just wreak havoc people who live and own businesses in hurricane-ravaged regions. Destructive hurricanes like Harvey and Irma also can have lasting aftereffects on the transportation sector.

“The chaos begins even before the storm hits,” says Michael Preisinger, managing director of Agforce Transport Services.

“Leading up to the storm, prices for transportation begin to rise as truck drivers know they are going to have a hard time getting out of these regions with freight,” Preisinger says. “They are also looking out for their own safety.”

After the storm, there typically is an uptick in demand from shippers trying to get goods to the affected areas. This creates a surplus of trucks in the regions affected by the storms, which results in skyrocketing prices for trucks heading those directions. “They know there will be very limited amounts of cargo leaving the areas they are delivering into,” Preisinger says.

But it’s not just the regions in the eye of the storm that are affected: As prices rise to move cargo to the storm-affected areas, truckers will leave their regular routes to find the highest paying cargo heading to these areas. This tends to drive up prices around the country, as demand for trucks will outstrip supply.

Another problem that affects the market is when ports have to close due to storms. This causes ships to move cargo to alternate ports, which drives up demand for trucks in those new port regions that the ships go to. “That generally happens during hurricanes, which can cause a lot of damage and prolong the market disruption as the region rebuilds,” Preisinger says. “It can happen during big winter storms too, but in those cases the market typically rebounds in a few weeks.”

How to Be Ready:

  • Be patient and flexible. Demand for trucks will go up, which means you may not be able to ship your product on the exact day you want. Ideally, having a shipping window of several days will increase your chances of getting the load moved.
  • Be prepared for temporary price increases. Basic supply and demand principles apply here. As demand goes up, so do prices.
  • Consider moving your cargo a different way. For example, move your over-the-road cargo to the rail, or vice versa (this is known as modal conversion).

Agforce Transport Services is storm-ready. We work with our customers to provide customized solutions for moving their cargo when the market has been disrupted.

Agforce would like to tip our hats to all our colleagues across the transportation industry who assisted in the hurricane relief nationwide. Convoy after convoy of utility trucks, fuel tankers, tree-cutting crews and box trucks made their ways south to help.

To learn more about storm-ready solutions and how we can help simplify your path to market, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.


Market News – Flatbed and Oversized Freight Options


Businesses with larger loads requiring special equipment utilize flatbed and oversized options to move their freight. This mode meets specific size and weight requirements with various types of equipment including:

  • Standard step decks
  • Standard flats
  • Double drops/lowboys
  • Hot shots
  • 53’ trailers

Flatbed demand is thriving this year. According to DAT, load-to-truck ratio has doubled year-over-year with an increase of 102% – ascending since August 2016. What markets drive these demands? According to DAT, there are four significant markets to watch:

  1. Oil, natural gas, and plastics
  2. Wind energy
  3. Construction
  4. Automotive

Read more about DAT’s findings in their article 4 Markets Driving Skyrocketing Flatbed Demand

Finding the right partners to discuss flatbed and oversized options and equipment requirements mentioned in this article can make it easier to reach your business goals.

Agforce Transport Services specializes in customized transportation solutions for our customers’ specific business needs and requirements. To learn more about how we can help simply your path to market, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.


Related Stories

For additional information related to changes in the marketplace, status of the logistics industry and what’s ahead, check out these articles:

Food Logistics:  Spot Truckload Rates, Demand Stay Hot into August

Food Logistics provides an overview of the freight surge summary that reports the end of July moving into early August.  The article shares the four-week trend lines and national averages for van, flatbed, and refrigerated rates.

Read full article…

DAT:  How Natural Gas and Plastics Impact the Truckload Spot Market

DAT provides insight on how new natural gas and petrochemical production investments have created a noticeable impact on the trucking spot market.

Read full article…

Rising Flatbed Demands Could Impact Freight Decisions


Since August of last year flatbed demand in the United States has increased steadily. It’s critical that any business considering flatbed transportation as an option for its shipping needs understand the many contributing factors that impact supply and demand—not to mention cost—of flatbed freight. Regardless of your industry, knowing the forces at work when it comes to using flatbed services will help you make the right decisions for your business.

Flatbed demand has been steadily increasing: In April, DAT Solutions reported a load-to-truck ratio of 43.7 loads per truck for flatbeds—the highest in years. That’s due to a number of reasons across several industries:

  • An increase in demand for natural gas both domestic and worldwide transported by flatbeds.
  • New petrochemical projects. Since 2010 the American Chemistry Council has invested $185 billion in these new projects, which creates more freight that require flatbeds.
  • The expansion of the clean energy market. There are 50,000 wind turbines in the U.S., each constructed from 8,000 parts—many of which are large and require flatbed transport.
  • New home construction. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between March of 2016 to March of 2017 the sales of new single-family homes increased 15%. Supplies for these ventures are primarily transported on flatbeds.

These and other factors will impact flatbed availability and cost. Understanding the market influence will help your business make informed decisions about flatbed transport. Finding partners who will collaborate on freight options based on current market demands can make it easier to reach your business goals.

Agforce Transport Services specializes in customized transportation solutions for our customers’ specific business needs and requirements. To learn more about how we can help simply your path to market, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 844-713-6723 or email us at inquiry@agforcets.com.


Related Stories

For additional information related to changes in the marketplace, status of the logistics industry and what’s ahead, check out these articles:

Food Logistics:  Spot Truckload Rates, Demand Stay Hot into August

Food Logistics provides an overview of the freight surge summary that reports the end of July moving into early August.  The article shares the four-week trend lines and national averages for van, flatbed, and refrigerated rates.

Read full article…

DAT:  How Natural Gas and Plastics Impact the Truckload Spot Market

DAT provides insight on how new natural gas and petrochemical production investments have created a noticeable impact on the trucking spot market.

Read full article…