NewsBlitz: Fuel rules, driver pay, parcels and ports

NewsBlitz: Fuel rules, driver pay, parcels and ports

In this week’s round-up of this and that from the wide world of trucking, the main stream media tackles truck fuel efficiency; driver wages; Walmart’s coming delivery service; Amazon’s ongoing push into supply chain efficiency; some really hazardous shipments; and a review of where the port driver labor issues are headed in Southern California.

Truck fuel diet? The New York Times takes a broad look at the next round of heavy truck fuel efficiency standards, expected from EPA this week.

The report notes that the regulation could cut millions of tons of CO2 emissions while also saving millions of barrels of oil.

“But the rules will also impose significant burdens on America’s trucking industry— the beating heart of the nation’s economy, hauling food, raw goods and other freight across the country,” the Times says. “It is expected that the new rules will add $12,000 to $14,000 to the manufacturing cost of a new tractor-trailer, although E.P.A. studies estimate that cost will be recouped after 18 months by fuel savings.”

But environmentalists say that the contribution of American trucks to global warming will soar without additional regulation.

“Trucking is set to be a bad actor if we don’t do something now,” says a representative of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Stay tuned.

 

Help wanted: Truck drivers remain highly sought after in Alabama and across the country, the Dothan (AL) Eagle reports.

The Eagle story relies on various state and federal labor data, as well as comment from local officials and truckers. In Alabama , the state labor department showed cargo and freight agents in the trucking industry make an average $46,605 annually. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers make an average $39,026 with some college experience, while logisticians with a Bachelor’s degree or higher make an average $81,276.

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the state earn an average $19.91 per hour, according to the report.

But if you want a job that’s immune (so to speak) from economic cycles, nursing’s the field to be in: RNs make an estimated $27.53 per hour in the state, according to the department of labor.

 

Walmart vans? A misplaced Web link has accidentally revealed details about Walmart.com’s plans for its upcoming 3-day delivery service, according to a post on TechCrunch.com.

“During the brief time the link was live, shoppers were able to sign up and even place orders using ShippingPass, and were able to see which types of items were included in the new program, as well as which geographies ShippingPass served, among other things,” TechCrunch reported. “They also found that the service would include free shipping on a number of items beyond those that could ship in three days’ time.”

Walmart responded that the sign-up link was part of its internal alpha test, and was not meant to be distributed. Otherwise, it’s wait and see.

 

No touch parcels: Automated trucks have been in the news a lot lately, but the rise of online shopping—long dominated by Amazon but now a target for many retailers—means there will an even greater demand on warehouse efficiency.

And while Amazon has famously promoted its vision of a sky full of last-mile delivery drones, order-picking technology is an area of immediate focus. To that end, as engadget.com reports, Amazon’s Picking Challenge recently drew robot builders from around the world.

For the test, conducted during IEEE's International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle, participants plucked different items from a standard shelf. These included a rubber ducky, a pack of Oreo cookies, dog toys, and a paperback book.

The winning team, from Germany, took home $20,000. Their machine successfully moved 10 out of 12 objects in a 20-minute period. Team MIT took second, according to the engadget.com post.

 

HAZMAT! As if truckers didn’t have enough to worry about, a little ol’ slip-up at a U.S. Army lab in Utah should make us all think twice about just exactly what’s in that crate in the back of the truck.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said last week that labs around the country received live anthrax samples—by mistake.  The specimen shipments went to nine states as well as an air base in South Korea.

"There is absolutely no excuse. Not for the shipping institution. Not for receiving institutions that failed to confirm inactivation upon receipt," a biosafety expert told USA Today. "Both should lose, irrevocably, authorization for work with active or inactivated select agents."

 

Who’s the boss? The push to reclassify and organize port truck drivers in Southern California continues, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“This has been an industry that was completely screwed up for a really long time,” says a spokeswoman for Justice for Port Truck Drivers, an organizing effort backed by the Teamsters.

The recent shake-ups provide an “opportunity” for the entire port trucking industry to re-evaluate its business, which has long relied almost exclusively on independent owner-operators. 

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