Is a Recession on the Horizon for the Trucking Industry?

Posted December 6, 2016 by Administrator

trucksThe trucking industry in America may be facing a downturn, causing some analysts to predict that economic indicators are signaling a recession. Some of the negative trends that analysts point to as worrisome include:

  • low diesel prices
  • energy sector issues
  • high business inventories
  • weakness in the manufacturing sector
  • decrease in exports due to a strong dollar
  • driver shortages that make it difficult to cover deliveries and routes
  • government regulations that make it difficult to recruit and retain drivers

The trucking industry is a major player when it comes to economic expansion. When fewer goods are delivered due to a reduced need, it could signal a slowing of economic growth in the U.S. The trucking industry accounts for 70 percent of the tonnage carried by domestic freight. Trucks move 9.2 million tons of freight annually. Over 37 billion gallons of diesel fuel were required to provide that much transportation.

Even if manufacturing improves and consumer demand stabilizes, there is a high degree of economic uncertainty predicted for 2017. High inventory stocks continue to hold down trucking freight volumes, which have been falling since the second half of 2015. Hopefully, the supply chain will clean out the excess stocks which will benefit the trucking industry.

Food Safety as an Emerging Risk for AgriBusiness in America

Posted November 29, 2016 by Administrator

qtq80-6zlLqVModern food production systems are vulnerable, as evidenced by food safety crises in America. Food borne illnesses strike 48 million Americans every year, many of whom are hospitalized or killed from deadly viruses and bacteria (i.e. salmonella, E. coli, and many more), parasites, allergens, mold, toxins and contaminants. These incidences have caused the public to express concern about the safety of the food they consume and the food supply chain.

Food safety risks can be reduced if food safety hazards are identified early and important information is exchanged properly between all parties involved in maintaining food safety. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works with a variety of public and private partners to ensure a healthy system of food safety oversight that uses the research-based knowledge to prevent food-related issues that make people sick.

In order to achieve the FDA’s goals for improving the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, the food system must be viewed as a whole. Everyone who participates in the food chain and supply system must be held accountable for preventing hazards and following the rules established. For example, the FDA has specific prevention-oriented standards for seafood, juice and eggs as does the U.S. Department of Agriculture for meat and poultry. All parties involved in the food supply chain need to follow best practices established by food safety pioneers and to recognize that any breakdown in the farm-to-table process can cause great harm to the health of consumers and extensive disruption and economic loss to the food industry as a whole.

Food processors need to evaluate their operations and make plans for reducing – or eliminating – hazards. Monitoring standards that prevent contamination are essential as are implementation of corrective measures when necessary. As food safety rules and standards are improved, the FDA needs to have more effective enforcement tools for ensuring prevention measures are adequately and effectively implemented, which may include mandatory recalls when needed to quickly remove contaminated food from the market.

Science-based research standards need to be taken into account when developing standards for the safe production of fruits and vegetables that will minimize or eliminate the risk of serious illness or death. Safety standards need to be set and followed for the transportation of all types of food.

Food safety is an emerging risk for America, one that can be improved with collaboration between all existing food safety agencies in the country, a focus on prevention, research-based policies, determination of best practices, rules and standards, and accountability for all aspects of the food production and supply chains. If these principles are adhered to, the future of food safety in American will achieve a dramatic and positive change.

Thanksgiving Weekend – Holiday Theft Awareness

Posted November 21, 2016 by Erin

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Motor carriers should be mindful of the increased risk of theft as Thanksgiving approaches. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, and warehouses and trailers are filling up with valuable inventory. Naturally, these make for target-rich environments to would-be thieves. In fact, around Thanksgiving 2015 there were 18 reported cargo theft incidents totaling approximately $1.48 million in reported losses.

Source: Freightwatch International

Please click on the link below for some great loss prevention tips from Great West Casualty Company that can help motor carriers and drivers prevent cargo thefts this year.

http://blog.gwccnet.com/blog/prevent-cargo-theft-over-thanksgiving

10 Ways Fleets Can Improve Fuel Economy

Posted November 21, 2016 by Administrator

shutterstock_20471446 - Copy (2)Every year, U.S. vehicles consume more than 6 billion gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline combined. Fuel costs are the largest part of a fleet’s operating budget, so it makes sense to focus on fuel reduction strategies. Many corporate sustainability initiatives contain a fuel efficiency program. Volatile fuel prices have leveled out in the last few years, making it somewhat easier to plan and manage fuel costs.

Individual drivers are usually responsible for finding fueling stations on their own. This makes it difficult for managers to forecast the fuel budget, both on the road and off the route. It is well worth it to develop an effective fuel management strategy to ensure costs are kept in check.

Here are some ways fleet managers can set up an effective fuel management strategy.

  1. Require drivers to drive conservatively. Fuel economy can be improved by 33% percent when drivers stay within speed limits and driving conservatively, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) Holding drivers accountable for driving safely and avoiding harsh stop-and-go driving can translate into lowered fuel costs.
  1. Stop unneeded idling. Unnecessary idling, even just one hour per day, can waste as much as $189 per vehicle, according to the EPA. The bigger the vehicle’s engine, the more fuel it consumes when idling. Fleet managers and vehicle owners can download a Vehicle Idle Reduction Savings Worksheet from the Argonne National Laboratory Energy Systems research website to help them calculate potential savings from reducing idle times here.
  1. Keep tires inflated to the optimal tire pressure. Fuel economy can be improved by keeping tires inflated to the correct pressure. Underinflated tires can lower gas mileage for as much as 0.4 percent for every pound per square inch (psi) reduction in pressure.
  1. Plan Efficient Delivery Routes. Adjusting routes can optimize fuel economy. Consider route planning software to help plan routes and reduce fuel consumption.
  1. Use the Proper Diesel Truck Engine Oil. Using the right engine oil can improve gas mileage by 1-2 percent. For a complete discussion about the best engine oil to use for your rigs in 2017, click here.
  1. Make sure your wheels are in alignment. It is imperative that you keep your wheels aligned. If any are out of alignment, it increases the drag on your vehicle, which reduces fuel economy.
  1. Instruct drivers to use cruise control. Make sure your drivers use cruise control if their rig is equipped with it. Cruise control helps drivers maintain a constant speed, which saves fuel.
  1. Remove unneeded payload. Reduce the weight on your vehicle by clearing away unnecessary equipment, tools, parts or products that are not needed that day, therefore improving fuel mileage.
  1. Consider installing a telemetric system. Telemetric systems will provide managers with the data needed to address poor driving habits, such as harsh braking, excessive idle time or unnecessary acceleration. It can also report oil pressure and other diagnostic information, which gives managers information that can really make a difference in fuel economy.
  1. Instruct drivers to use lowest-cost fuel stations. Many fuel card companies offer fuel pricing information every day. Buying fuel from the lowest priced stations can really add up for fleets.

To learn more about transportation practices and coverages to help your business succeed, contact us.

Sustainable Development Goals Critical to Agribusiness

Posted November 10, 2016 by Administrator

shutterstock_3008334The future of sustainable development goals has significant implications for the future of agribusiness and the human condition. There are new opportunities for farmers that view emerging and frontier markets as their source of long-term growth. Consumers in these markets could significantly increase by the year 2025. Taking action on sustainable development goals could help address slower growth obstacles that are giving rise to “trapped value” in the emerging markets.

Public declarations of support for sustainable agribusiness goals are likely to give rise to competitive pressure. Some farmers could get a jumpstart in their profit centers by organizing partnerships and even positioning themselves as leaders in sustainable development that could work in their favor. Being slow to take action could lead to the risk of being left out of these relationships and a source of competitive disadvantage.

A strong sustainable development goal on food security and agriculture is seen as a key to poverty eradication and sustainable development. Agricultural job creation is also a means for poverty eradication. Challenges include key relationships, interdependencies and possible tensions between consumption and production, i.e. where, what and how farmers produce is conditioned by consumers’ food preferences. There is also a challenge for agribusiness in terms of responsibility to communities and to the protection of the natural resources on which they depend. It may even make sense to establish a legally-binding framework for corporate social and environmental responsibility.

There is a need for enhanced support to small-holder agriculture and livestock herding, as well as small-scale fisheries, including farmer-centric, knowledge-based support programs. The need for increased investment in agriculture must be emphasized, including both public and private investment in agricultural research and development, and the rebuilding of state-central roles in agricultural production. There is also a need for the provision of basic services for rural areas.

Other barriers are external, such as weak infrastructure in emerging markets, lack of capacity among target customers and supply chains, and regulatory and policy complexities. Internal challenges include difficulty monitoring, measuring and communicating impact, alternative investment opportunities that take priority, long-time horizons for profitable payback and lack of clear funding mechanisms.

Awareness of the challenges is the first step to managing them. Sustainable development goals offer a powerful mechanism to create coordination for solving complex problems. To learn more about protecting and growing your agribusiness organization, contact us.

Webinar: Procedures for Handling Driver Accidents

Posted November 2, 2016 by Administrator

Truck InsuranceDespite even the best efforts, all organizations are susceptible to accidents. It’s critical to have proper procedures in place to avoid delays and miscommunication. Join Cline Wood University and expert guest speaker Scott Dunwiddie to learn how to ensure fast, fair and legally compliant resolution to accidents. Topics include:

* Initial Contacts
* Claim Reporting
* Important Information and Documents
* Post-Incident Review

Date & Time: Tuesday Nov 15, 2016 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM CST

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7754055442468772356

ELD mandate upheld in court, compliance date remains December 2017

Posted October 31, 2016 by Erin

A federal mandate requiring nearly all U.S. truck operators to use electronic logging devices to track duty status has been upheld in court, meaning the December 18, 2017, compliance date remains effective.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court overseeing the case, voted to keep the mandate in place, securing a victory for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and its ELD rule. Its decision was issued Oct. 31, following oral arguments made in Chicago on Sept. 13.

The decision does not change the rule’s exemption for pre-2000 year-model trucks, which are allowed to operate without an ELD.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of two truckers in March in an attempt to have the mandate overturned. But OOIDA was unable to convince the court of its arguments that the rule violates truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. OOIDA also claimed the rule didn’t meet standards set by Congress for an ELD mandate — an argument the court also rejected.

The rule “is not arbitrary or capricious, nor does it violate the Fourth Amendment,” the 7th circuit judges wrote in their decision.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is the same court that tossed out FMCSA’s 2010-published ELD mandate on the grounds that the rule didn’t do enough to protect truckers from harassment by carriers via the devices.

The court in its Oct. 31 decision said the agency fixed those issues in its 2015-issued rule.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is the highest court in the country next to the Supreme Court. OOIDA still has the option to appeal a ruling.

The Supreme Court, however, has signaled it may not take up the case, at least from preliminary filings made this year.

The ELD mandate rule, published December 2015, requires all truckers currently required to paper logs to transition to an ELD by December 18, 2017.

This article was originally published on ccjdigital.com by James Jaillet. To see the full article click here.

FMCSA Announces Safety Advisory for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Devices

Posted October 25, 2016 by Administrator

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a safety advisory October 21, 2016 to provide notice to commercial motor vehicle owners, operators and passengers on the risks and regulations as they pertain to the recently recalled Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone as well as other damaged, defective or recalled lithium cells or batteries used for portable electronic devices.

Individuals who own or possess a Galaxy Note 7 may not transport the device on their person or in bags in or on commercial motor carriers, to, from or within the United States. The emergency order also prohibits the shipment of the Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones as cargo.

The FMCSA advises drivers and passengers to take the following precautions:

  1. Turn off the phone.samsung-galaxy-note-7
  2. Disconnect the device from any charging equipment.
  3. Disable all applications that could activate the phone inadvertently (such as an alarm clock.)
  4. Protect the power switch to prevent its unintentional activation.

The transportation of electrical devices, such as batteries and battery-powered devices that are likely to produce sparks or generate a “dangerous evolution of heat” is forbidden unless packaged in a manner which precludes such an occurrence, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Hazardous Materials Relations. The recalled Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones are subject to this regulatory prohibition and may only be transported by commercial motor vehicles as cargo under the conditions of a special permit or approval issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s associate administrator for hazardous materials safety.

FMCSA Awards Almost $1M in Grants for Veterans

Posted October 18, 2016 by Administrator

The beautiful red US Truck with chrome

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently amended their regulations to help integrate more veterans into the transportation industry. The amendment increases the window veterans have from exiting the service and applying for a skill waiver test to receive a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

The FMCSA has taken additional steps to display their commitment to recognizing and utilizing veteran’s skills. On October 18, 2016, the FMCSA announced almost $1 million in grants for seven institutions across the nation. These grants will help these institutions train and prepare veterans for jobs in the transportation industry. The FMCSA provides this funding through their Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training (CMV-OST) program. These grants will provide training for over 250 students.

The FMCSA’s grants do more than help veterans transition into civilian lives. They also help institutions train veterans to be the best drivers in the industry. This includes knowing and following best safety practices. Given their previous military experience in addition to continued training, the FMCSA believes veterans provide an excellent resource for quality and safe drivers.

The focus on safety is not without good reason. 2015 saw a drastic increase in road fatalities. Couple that with the fact that trucking has the highest on-the-job fatality rate in America, and it is easy to see why the FMCSA has safety concerns. Driver safety should always be a major concern for fleet managers. To stay up to date with the latest federal regulations to improve trucking safety, contact Cline Wood.

Feds to Hold Livestock Haulers Responsible for Inhumane Treatment of Animals

Posted October 12, 2016 by Administrator

livestock imageIn an unprecedented ruling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service has announced a new proposed policy that would hold livestock transporters responsible for the mistreatment of the animals they carry. The new rule would allow civil or criminal action to be taken against instances of animal abuse related to animals with a connection to an official slaughterhouse establishment.

The current law holds farm owners and slaughterhouses solely responsible for the care of animals in conjunction with slaughter. This policy proposal is the first time that carriers will be held accountable for the handling of the livestock they are hired to transport. This is significant because many of the truck carriers are not employed by either the farmers or the slaughterhouses and are therefore exempt from the current law. Policymakers hope that the new policy will improve the welfare of livestock during transport.

One major change policymakers have explicitly included in the proposed rule is that speeding while transporting livestock will be considered inhumane treatment. Speeding while hauling animals bound for slaughter has been known to result in the animals slipping and becoming injured due to falls. Under the proposed new ruling, FSIS can investigate and find the transportation professional liable. The FSIS believes the new ruling will improve conditions for livestock bound for slaughter by making sure the proper procedures for hauling will be enforced.

The official notice will be published in the Federal Register. The proposed policy will go into effect in 90 days unless public comment calls for a revision of the ruling. At Cline Wood we represent top agribusiness insurance carriers across the country with access to all types of insurance programs. We treat your company as if it were our own. Our goal is to go beyond simply providing you with affordable insurance. Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your risk, which directly contributes to your bottom line.

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