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Volvo Group North America and the Construction Climate Challenge, an initiative of Volvo Construction Equipment, recently sponsored the California Climate Cup, a competition among innovative startup entrepreneurs whose companies address climate resilience and carbon reduction measures.

“The Volvo Group, like the state of California, is committed to sustainability, innovation and advancing new ideas that are accepted by society,” said Dawn Fenton, director of public affairs for Volvo Group North America. “Sponsoring the California Climate Cup enables the Volvo Group to support innovation that ultimately will help create a cleaner, improved future for the transportation of people and freight, and we were pleased to help support the competition.”

The California Climate Cup spotlighted startups during competitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. Those selected to compete were categorized by business focus including Clean and Smart Grid, Energy/Transportation Nexus and Zero Emissions Transportation.

About 100 innovators competed before judges, including some judges from the Volvo Group. Competitors were scored on several parameters, including innovation, deployment, scalability, carbon impact and climate resilience. Nine finalists were chosen, three from each category, and competed before policymakers June 27. One winner was chosen from each category. They are:

  • Reginald Parker – Optimal Solar, Clean, and Smart Grid
  • Joshua Aviv – SparkCharge, Energy / Transportation Nexus
  • Michael K. Opoku – SurgePower, Zero Emissions Transportation

From the three category winners, Joshua Aviv with SparkCharge was named the overall winner of the 2019 California Climate Cup. In addition to the recognition, Aviv received a cash prize of $25,000.

The Volvo Group also hosted a reception June 26 at its Mountain View, California, Innovation Lab for the semi-finalists and key Silicon Valley-based innovation leaders.

“The California Climate Cup offered the Volvo Group a unique opportunity to host participants at our Volvo Group Connected Solutions Innovation Lab – or what we call Hub335 – and to spotlight the types of initiatives that meld with our priorities,” said Jenny Elfsberg, a judge for the competition and director of the Volvo Group Innovation Lab. “It was inspiring to participate in this event, and to see several great innovations that will impact transportation and society to become more sustainable in the future.”

Along with the Volvo Group’s support, the Construction Climate Challenge also sponsored the program to build stronger relationships with California-based stakeholders. The purpose of the Volvo Construction Equipment Construction Climate Challenge is to promote sustainability throughout the construction industry value chain and provide funding for environmental research. The Construction Climate Challenge is a part of Volvo Construction Equipment’s commitment to the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers Program.

“Collaboration is crucial to accelerate climate solution innovations through the value chain and across industries, as well as with academia and policymakers,” said Elin Svanström, co-founder of Construction Climate Challenge

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a proposed rule to streamline the process for men and women interested in entering the trucking workforce. The proposal is intended to allow states greater flexibility in conducting skill tests for individuals seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The proposal would alleviate testing delays and eliminate needless inconvenience and expense to the CDL applicant—without compromising safety.

“The Department is committed to reducing unnecessary barriers to employment for men and women interested in obtaining jobs in the trucking industry,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

Federal rules currently do not permit a CDL skills instructor who is also authorized by the state to administer the CDL skills test to perform both the instruction and the qualifying testing for the same CDL applicant. The proposal announced today would eliminate that restriction and permit states the discretion to allow qualified third-party skills trainers to also conduct the skills testing for the same individual.

“We continue to examine opportunities to provide common-sense regulatory relief to states and to individuals seeking to obtain a CDL. This proposal will provide states more flexibility while maintaining safety on our roadways,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.  “I encourage all interested parties to review the proposal and to offer their comments to the docket.”

This proposal, if adopted, would be a deregulatory action as defined by Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.”

FMCSA has been focused on reducing regulatory barriers for CDL applicants. In March 2019, the agency authored a final rule streamlining the process and reducing costs to upgrade from a Class B to Class A CDL— a deregulatory action that will save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually.

Upon publication in the Federal Register, a 60-day public comment period will commence.

A copy of the proposal, which includes information on submitting comments to the Federal Register Docket, is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/newsroom/468636/cdl-3rd-party-testers-nprm-signed.pdf

Estimates of the number of Sikh truckers vary. In California alone, tens of thousands of truckers trace their heritage to India. The state is home to half of the Sikhs in the U.S. — members of a monotheistic faith with origins in 15th century India whose followers are best recognized by the uncut hair and turbans many men wear. At Sikh temples in Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside, the majority of worshipers are truck drivers and their families.

Over the last decade, Indian Americans have launched trucking schools, truck companies, truck washes, trucker temples and no-frills Indian restaurants modeled after truck stops back home, where Sikhs from the state of Punjab dominate the industry.

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Beautiful articles written  by Jaweed Kaleem at LA Times.

Thanks Jaweed Kaleem for writing a great article.

This year marks the 60th anniversary since the first Volvo drivers pulled Nils Bohlin´s innovative three-point seat belt over their shoulders in 1959. Today the seat belt is still seen as the world´s most important traffic safety innovation ever and is estimated to have saved more than one million lives. However, even with these facts in hand, too many truck drivers neglect to use this simple device. “This is clearly a waste of lives,” declares Anna Wrige Berling, Volvo Truck’s newly-appointed Traffic & Product Safety Director. “The record shows that there would be so many fewer casualties if all drivers used their belts.”

In 1959, the Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin developed the modern three-point seat belt. Although the design was patented, the company decided the patent was to be left open, making it available to all vehicle manufacturers to use for free. This rather unconventional decision was made in the greater interest of public safety, to ensure that everyone, independently of whether they drove a Volvo or not, could be safer in traffic. This decision proved to be very beneficial to the world.

“There is no safety system that comes even close to the seat belt in terms of saving lives, and the three-point safety belt has protected more people in traffic accidents than any other safety device,” says Anna Wrige Berling.

A life-saving innovation – but not always used

In many parts of the world seat belt usage among heavy truck, occupants are still far from 100%, unfortunately.

“The Volvo Trucks Safety Report for 2017 showed that half of all truck drivers killed in traffic accidents would have survived if they had been wearing their seat belt,” explains Anna Wrige Berling.

So what are the reasons it’s not used? Some truck drivers mistakenly believe that there is no need for a belt in a truck, due to the size of the vehicle.

“The facts are clear: Using the belt is very important also in trucks. For example, in rollover accidents, the belt can help protect the driver from being jammed between the truck and the ground,” continues Anna Wrige Berling.

The Zero Accident vision

Volvo Trucks has a vision of zero accidents and believes that truck manufacturers, traffic authorities, infrastructure planners, other experts, and drivers around the world need to work together to achieve a safer traffic environment.

“We are sharing our traffic safety findings widely and have offered our knowledge and expertise to universities, research laboratories, and partner organizations. Whenever traffic safety is discussed, we want to participate. This helps us learn even more about the issues, the potential solutions and how to design the trucks of the future,” concludes Anna Wrige Berling.

Anna Wrige Berling, Traffic & Product Safety Director

Anna Wrige Berling brings in-depth knowledge of traffic safety issues to her new position. She has extensive experience from working with both active and passive safety issues within the Volvo Group´s product development, advanced engineering, and research organizations.

During 2008-2013, Anna led the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team, which since 1969 has investigated traffic accidents on site and compiled traffic safety data for use in future product development. She has represented Volvo in external traffic safety forums and has had a prominent role in the communication of Volvo’s safety offering to the transportation industry.

Most recently Anna has been managing the area of Traffic Situation Management within automated driving at Volvo Trucks. She holds a Master of Science in Engineering Physics from the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Volvo Group has signed an agreement with NVIDIA to jointly develop the decision-making system of autonomous commercial vehicles and machines. Utilizing NVIDIA’s end-to-end artificial intelligence platform for training, simulation and in-vehicle computing, the resulting system is designed to safely handle fully autonomous driving on public roads and highways.  

The solution will be built on NVIDIA’s full software stack for sensor processing, perception, map localization, and path planning, enabling a wide range of possible autonomous driving applications, such as freight transport, refuse and recycling collection, public transport, construction, mining, forestry and more.

“Automation creates real-life benefits for both our customers and the society in terms of safety, energy efficiency and as consequence productivity. We continue to gradually introduce automated applications in the entire spectrum of automation, from driver support systems to fully autonomous vehicles and machines. This partnership with NVIDIA is an important next step on that journey,” says Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO of the Volvo Group.

The partnership with NVIDIA will focus on the development of a flexible, scalable Autonomous Driving System, which is planned to be used first in commercial pilots and later in commercial offerings from the Volvo Group. The agreement signed between the Volvo Group and NVIDIA is a long-term partnership spanning several years. Work will begin immediately with personnel from the two companies being co-located in Gothenburg, Sweden and Santa Clara, California.

“Trucking is the world’s largest network – a network that through online shopping puts practically anything, anywhere in the world, quickly within our reach,” says Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder, and CEO. “The latest breakthroughs in AI and robotics bring a new level of intelligence and automation to address the transportation challenges we face. We are thrilled to partner with Volvo Group to reinvent the future of trucking.”

“Automation is a key technology area for the Volvo Group. With this partnership we will further increase our speed of development and strengthen our long-term capabilities and assets within automation, to the benefit of our customers in different segments and markets,” says Lars Stenqvist, Volvo Group Chief Technology Officer.

The strategic partnership covers end-to-end computing fundamental to autonomous vehicles. It includes accelerated computing technology in the datacenter for training deep neural networks; large-scale simulation for hardware-in-the-loop testing and validation of autonomous vehicle systems; and finally deployment of the NVIDIA DRIVE platform in the vehicle running the full software stack for 360-degree sensor processing, mapping and path planning.

In an unprecedented move, the Trump Administration has threatened to slap tariffs on all Mexican imports. Mexico is America’s third largest trading partner with over $550 billion worth of goods traded between the two nations. Trump is seeking to gain leverage over Mexico in order to force them to do more to stem the tide of undocumented immigrants flowing across the southern border. On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump was “deadly serious” about tariffs with a 5% hike beginning on June 10. Tariffs could go as high as 25% by October.

A protracted trade war between the U.S. and Mexico could spell catastrophe for some 47,000 Americans who have trucking-related jobs that depend on freight going back and forth across the border. In response, the American Trucking Associations reminded Trump that they “support free, open and fair trade between our country and our closest neighbors.” In fact, the trucking industry moves more than $700 billion in goods between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Also in the crosshairs of Trump’s tariff war is the recently negotiated USMCA—a replacement for NAFTA—which has yet to be ratified by Congress. Some fear that new tariffs would cause the deal to fall apart.

A statement from the National Retail Federation claims that new tariffs would be passed on to American consumers in the form of higher prices. “The growing tariff bill paid by U.S. businesses and consumers is adding up and will raise the cost of living for American families,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at NRF. “Forcing Americans to pay more for produce, electronics, auto parts, and clothes isn’t the answer to the nation’s immigration challenges, and this certainly won’t help move USMCA forward.”

Trump Administration officials have said tariffs will not cause higher prices but will force Americans to buy goods produced in the United States. Currently, Americans purchased $5.9 billion in fresh vegetables, $5.8 billion in fresh fruit, $3.6 billion in wine and beer as well as another nearly $4 billion in other food-related products from Mexico. These products are all shipped by American truckers to their final destinations across the nation.

Tariffs would also significantly impact the automotive industry with both cars and manufactured parts passing back and forth between the two countries. In 2018, 2.7 million vehicles built in Mexico were sold on the American market. Some experts, however, believe tariffs on new cars coming out of Mexico could boost used car sales in the U.S. and could increase the transport opportunities for American truckers.

Economists and Wall Street analysts fear that broad tariffs on such a large trading partner could tank markets and send the U.S. economy into a tailspin, especially with the ongoing trade war with China still unresolved. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 354 points or 1.4% of total shares.

For his part, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador refused to get into a feud with Trump and has sent a delegation to Washington D.C. in hopes to negotiate a resolution. “All conflicts in bilateral relations must be faced through dialogue, through communication. The use of coercive measures does not lead to anything good,” said Obrador.

The largest truck inspection blitz of the year is coming. For three days in June, enforcement officials will be conducting International Roadcheck at more than 1,500 roadside locations throughout North America. Here are 10 things you need to know.

Photo courtesy of Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
  1. 1. When: June 4-6, 2019 (Tuesday-Thursday).
  2. 2. Where: U.S., Canada, Mexico.
  3. 3. This year’s focus: Steering and suspension. Download the flyer telling you what inspectors will be looking for.
  4. 4. What else will they be checking: Brake systems, cargo securement, coupling devices, driveshaft components, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices,  tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, and windshield wipers. Download the Inspection Cheat Sheet.
  5. 5. How will it affect capacity: Many drivers will avoid the hassle and take the week off. During Roadcheck week in past years, the load-to-truck ratio has increased on DAT load boards, meaning brokers and shippers have a harder time finding trucks.
  6. 6. How will it affect rates: In past years, rates have risen during Roadcheck week due to tighter capacity.
  7. 7. How many trucks will they check: Last year, inspectors conducted 67,603 inspections during the 3-day period. As a result, 22% of trucks receiving a Level 1 inspection — the most extensive inspection — were placed out of service.
  8. 8. How will it affect delivery times: All those inspections take time, so you’ll want to allow extra time for freight to get to its destination during Roadcheck week.
  9. 9. Who’s behind Roadcheck: It’s a joint program between the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the FMCSA, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, and the Ministry of Communications and Transportation of Mexico.
  10. 10. Where can I get more information: See the International Roadcheck webpage.
  11. Punjabi Trucking  readers click here on the link to get 30 days free trial of DAT Loadboard

In a move that can only be seen as a way to squeeze out freight brokerage firms, retail goliath Amazon has set up its own brokerage pilot program as a way to gobble up the market by utilizing shippers during its peak seasons but also selling off that capacity during down times, sometimes at a loss. The new program, currently in its infancy, is limited to five states in the northeast, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Amazon denies it is seeking to monopolize shippers in its network. In a recent statement, the company said, “Analysis suggesting dramatic undercutting of pricing is false. We work with many line-haul service providers in our transportation network and have long utilized them to carry loads for Amazon. This service, intended to better utilize our freight network, has been around in various forms for quite some time.”

In April, however, reports surfaced that Amazon is offering low-margin and sometimes zero-margin rates to shippers in its network. This allows shippers to haul freight for a cheaper rate than they would get from traditional brokerages, but still within the rates that Amazon already promised them. A second goal for Amazon is also to make it tougher for competitors such as Walmart, Neiman-Marcus and Bed, Bath and Beyond to find enough capacity during peak retail seasons such as Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Amazon’s strategy seems to be a win for carriers, especially small carriers, because Amazon can guarantee rates and loads, often selling capacity for far under the market rate. In contrast, it may be a catastrophe for brokerage firms who will lose out on the 12-18% margin they charge shippers for booking loads.

During non-peak periods, Amazon simply auctions off capacity they don’t need but have already paid for. Because it ships on such a large scale, it is easy for Amazon to discount truckload services it offers shippers. For brokerages, it is impossible to stay in business with zero-margin rates.  

Reefer carriers finally got some good news last week. Demand for refrigerated trailers has been relatively soft this year, but shipments ahead of Memorial Day weekend pushed rates higher in many major markets and high-traffic lanes. That should also help van rates since reefer carriers often compete for dry van loads when reefer demand is low.

Last week the load-to-truck ratio was up 12% over the previous week, and the national average reefer rate for May is now at $2.16 per mile — 1¢ higher than the April average. Rates are expected to rise higher in the next few weeks.

DAT load boards are the largest and most trusted digital marketplace for truckload freight, with more than 256 million loads and trucks posted annually, plus rates based on $60 billion in real transactions.

The national average load-to-truck ratio for reefers increased to 2.9 loads per truck last week.

Rising rates

Reefer rates out of California typically peak in June, and that upward trend started last week. Potato harvests also helped push prices higher out of Green Bay and Grand Rapids, while volumes increased in Southern Idaho.

  • Green Bay to Chicago rose 28¢ to $3.28/mi.
  • Sacramento to Salt Lake City jumped 39¢ to $2.62/mi.
  • Fresno to Denver added 18¢ to $2.27/mi.
  • Atlanta to Chicago increased 25¢ to 2.11/mi.
  • Miami to Baltimore was also up 24¢ to 2.54/mi.

Falling rates

There were relatively few declining lanes, and most drops were slight.

  • Atlanta to Miami fell 15¢ to $2.25/mi.
  • Miami back to Atlanta was also down 15¢ to $1.91/mi.
  • Ontario, CA to Chicago dipped 10¢ to $2.02/mi.