Delivery Drones & Driverless Trucks: The Future of Shipping Logistics

Shipping logistics seem like they’re on the verge of a revolution. Drone delivery and self-driving trucks are the wave of the future, even if it’s not always clear how the industry will get there. It takes a lot of insight, planning and good old-fashioned hard work to deploy a drone delivery system, and the world of driverless trucks is still in its infancy. What seemed like science fiction a decade ago is fast becoming the headlines of today, and it is an exciting time as many companies work to shape and predict what the future will bring.

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Online Shopping vs In Store Shopping: Who Prefers Which and Why

When it comes to online shopping vs. in store shopping, brick and mortar retail is experiencing a wave of disruption. To many onlookers, the wave looks like it may send brick and mortar into a tailspin, maybe even a panic, maybe even an endgame. When it comes to online shopping vs. traditional shopping, the marketplace is undergoing a transfiguration the extent of which we haven’t witnessed until now. 

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5 ways to know if you're a freight broker

ELD Mandate for Carriers and its Effects

This is the first section of a two-part blog post on the ELD mandate and its effects on the transportation industry. Recently the FMCSA rolled out the nationwide ELD mandate for commercial carriers and transporters. There are many questions and concerns on how this will affect the nation’s supply chains. Will it increase transit times?  Will it decrease the amount of available equipment?  Will it increase the cost of transporting freight?  Will I make less money as a carrier or driver? Are these the right questions to be asking? The only correct answer is that these are all valid questions surrounding the recent introduction of the ELD mandate. As with most mandates, you’re not going to make everyone happy, and only you can decide which side of the fence you’re on. However, in order to make that decision you have to ask yourself if you understand it fully? I’ll do my best to explain the mandate without being too lengthy or adding bias (at least in this portion) in order to help guide your decision. 1) What is an ELD? ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device. It is a small onboard computer added to the cab or instrument panel of a tractor or truck that collects data. There have been several variations of these type of devices over the years, dating as far back as the 1980s. They are known as AOBRD (Automatic On-Board Recording Device), and EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder), but these will eventually be phased out over the next 2 years and all carriers will be required to use an ELD. 2) What does it do? The typical device is a monitoring tool that ties together three main components of data about from the truck. The first is that it monitors the truck’s movements through a GPS signal. The second is that it records engine data, such as running time and speed. The third and final component is the driver entry piece, this is where he or she will log trip details and notes. Every device manufacturer offers different features on their particular, some more than others, but ultimately these are the 3 required features from the FMCSA to be considered compliant. 3) How is it monitored and regulated? The data is captured and combined into a report that can be extracted and audited by local, state, and federal authorities to ensure the driver is staying within the legal limits of driver time and operation. The report is generated in a digital format or printed copy. If the carrier is is found without an approved ELD in the truck or the ELD shows the driver is in violation of the legal operating hours it will result in fines, shutdowns, and even CDL/authority suspension or revocation depending on the degree of the violation. There are a handful of exceptions where ELD monitoring is not required, the most common two are personal conveyance moves (PCM) and yard moves. A PCM basically means driving back and forth between home and the carrier’s terminal or office, and yard moves are basically the movement of equipment on or in areas that are restricted or considered private property and must be clearly marked with signs. Both of these exceptions have limitations and more specific language as to their definition, so make sure you do your research if you feel these may apply to your situation. 4) Why is this happening? The ELD mandate is a congressionally mandated rule as part the MAP 21 Act that was signed into law in 2012. The ELD mandate itself was put into place to create a safer work environment for drivers and reducing unsafe driving practices. The previous methods, which were mainly done through manually written log books, were fraught with fraud and manipulation. Introducing the ELD created a better and more accurate way to collect, monitor, and share data, without the risk of tampering from individuals. 5) What is the timeline surrounding the mandate? There are two important dates surrounding the mandate. The first was December 18, 2017, this signaled the beginning date of compliance, meaning it is now required to have an ELD device installed and activated on the truck. However, the violations will only result in fines. The second and more critical date is April 1, 2018, and the reason is that any carrier found without an approved ELD and functioning ELD on board will be shutdown until one can be installed and working. I felt these are the five most important categories to address when trying to explain the ELD Mandate, but there are many levels to this mandate to consider which I did not address. If you want to learn more about the both the ELD Mandate and MAP 21 we encourage you to click the links below: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/ I’ll discuss some of the further implications of these changes from a freight broker’s perspective in a subsequent blog post next week.  
winter storm jonas

January 2016 Shipping News Roundup

winter storm jonas
Winter Storm Jonas
If you missed December’s Shipping News Roundup, check it out here… Winter Storm Jonas: The snowpacolypse to end all snowpacolypses came and went, and in the process dumped historical amounts of snow across the eastern parts of the United States. Between January 22-23, Jonas pretty much lived up to the insane expectations, and then some. Of course, all this snow created freight delays from Maine to Southern California and everywhere in between. Read more here… Gas Prices Dropping: While the price of gas continues to drop to lows not seen in years, freight rates are also declining. Though gas prices are not the only determinate in freight quote prices, they do play a role. I think we all believe gas will eventually go up again, but until then, a large portion of consumers are actually paying under $2.00 a gallon, which at this time last year, would have been unexpected to say the least. Read more here… Amazon the Freight Forwarder: The retail giant has taken another step to having greater control of their shipping and logistics. Amazon China has now been registered as an ocean freight fowarder. With this move, Amazon has greater control in shipping their Chinese made products to the United States than ever before. Read more here… U.S. Freight Volume Falls: In bad news for the industry, freight volumes have fallen year on year for the first time since 2012, Reuters reports. There are a number of factors for this decline, and though the trucking industry should grow in the long run, the forecast for 2016 varies on who you talk to. Read more here… CC Image courtesy John Gillespie via Flickr
shipping news december 2015

Shipping News Roundup – December 2015

shipping news december 2015
Shipping News Roundup
With 2016 right around the corner, FreightPros wanted to start a new blog series that taps into the freight and shipping news that is happening not only in our corner of the world (Austin, TX), but also a national and even at times global “roundup” of recent news articles related to the freight/shipping industry. At the end of each month, we’ll briefly touch on the most important freight news articles to hit the (metaphorical) newsstands, link to their stories, and give a few insights of our own. These freight news roundups will keep our own FreightPros in the know, and hopefully serve our customers and readers by informing them of recent shipping events that may affect their own shipping practices. So without further adieu… EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT… This is the FreightPros Shipping News Roundup for December 2015… The Amazonian Fleet: After opening their first physical store in November, Amazon looks to take to the skies. The online retail behemoth has allegedly been in the market for a fleet of planes to take more control of the shipping of their many products. So far, details and information is limited, but expect to see more news of this in the coming months. Between this and their drone delivery service, it seems Amazon is taking delivery into their own hands, and reducing their reliance on traditional parcel delivery services like Fedex. Read more here… A New Way to Solve The Driver Shortage: To combat a national shortage of truck drivers, more and more women are taking to the road. In the freight industry, you’ve got to adapt or die. So say goodbye to the male-dominated industry of years past, and hello to the women who are filling the void. Fighting decades of stereotypes, carriers are trying to convince women that they are wanted and needed in the ever-changing freight industry. Sometimes the freight industry is behind the times, but this is some positive news for the future of transportation. Read more here… The Attack of the Hoverboards: Despite having wheels, the confusingly-named hoverboards are all the rage this holiday season. Though they do provide some thrilling footage, they also seem to provide some safety-issues as their lithium batteries burst into flames. Because of these safety-issues, the US Postal Service refuses to ship these products through the air. Amazon is also among the many retailers who have pulled the popular items. Guess we’ll just have to wait for the Back to the Future model. Read more here… Here Comes the Container Homes: More and more folks are turning to container homes. While they used to be reserved for outside-the-box architects, container homes are popping up around the nation. We’re not entirely unfamiliar with the concept here in Austin. The homes are allegedly safer, stronger, and even cheaper to build, so expect to see more of these container homes in the future. Read more here… CC Image Courtesy Jon S via Flickr

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