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SHIPPERS
SHIPPERS
Canada - Unable to reposition empty trailers on the other side of the border

TORONTO, Ont. – Being unable to reposition empty trailers on the other side of the border is a long-running frustration carriers and other supply chain participants would like to see resolved under a new U.S. presidential administration.

“The issue of the empty trailer seems so simple and really needs to be addressed,” said Stephen Laskowski, head of the Ontario Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance. He was speaking at a virtual Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Bridging Border Barriers event. “You have the supply chains on both sides of the border in support of it, and it’s good for the environment.”

But industry associations have spent 10 years lobbying to allow greater flexibility on the movement of empty trailers without success.

Mark Seymour, CEO of Kriska Transportation Group, said the current rules are costly for carriers and drivers, who must live unload rather than dropping a loaded trailer and grabbing an empty to be loaded elsewhere for the return trip.

“Drivers are spending more time bumping docks and waiting to get unloaded,” Seymour said. “It negatively affects utilization and it translates to drivers wanting and deserving more pay because they are spending more time to do the same amount of work. It’s more efficient for us and the customers to give us the flexibility to drop a trailer, grab an empty and go load it somewhere else.”

He said some drivers have even been turned away at the border when they said they are going to drop a loaded trailer, with Customs assuming they would then be violating cabotage rules by picking up an empty.

John Lyboldt, TCA president, said the industry can expect changes under President-Elect Joe Biden’s administration.

“I think you’re going to see some additional trade cooperation,” he said. “I think there are opportunities for us to make some gains in regards to this issue.”

Trucking-related issues that are likely to be revisited by Biden include infrastructure, the classification of independent contractors, labor union relations, tax reform, tort reform and tolling by states.

The Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which replaced NAFTA, has done little so far to bolster cross-border trade, but still holds promise.

“Anyone who thinks that because of this agreement trade is going to skyrocket overnight will be disappointed,” Lyboldt said, noting the pandemic may have stalled progress on things like reducing red tape, improving productivity and digitizing paperwork.

Laskowski said he’d like to see Customs agencies on both sides of the border invest more heavily into their hardware and software systems, to prevent blockages such as one that recently occurred causing hours-long delays.

“The border, on both sides, was basically down for a couple days as we had to deal with systems issues,” he said. “Those systems need investments, just like roads and bridges.”

Lyboldt agreed, noting that on a recent visit to the southern border town of Laredo, Texas, Customs agents said their biggest challenge is access to sufficient broadband.

As for CUSMA, Laskowski said it’s a complicated deal and lawyers and politicians on both sides of the border are still in the process of interpreting all its implications.

At the border, Seymour also expressed concerns about what appears to be an increase in driver harassment by Customs. One Kriska driver faced questions on why he had been in the U.S. for so long, even when he explained he’d completed his reset there.

“We all complain insurance is very expensive but I’ve come to realize why it’s become as expensive as it is, and frankly I support the direction it’s going.”Mark Seymour, CEO, Kriska

“It’s silly,” he said. “It’s harassing, nobody likes it and it’s not going to serve any of us very well.”

He wondered if an increase in trucker scrutiny was because the border is less busy with a lack of passenger car traffic.

But when it comes to skyrocketing insurance costs, one of the most pressing issues facing many fleets, Seymour was less sympathetic.

“Insurance has become very expensive and it’s a function of many contributing factors,” he said. “One of my beliefs is, it was too cheap for too long and a lot of people got in the market on the supply side, lost boatloads of money, and quickly pulled out. So now the market is very small, not that many [insurers] want to play in it, so they’re being very fiscally responsible.”

Kriska is in a captive, giving Seymour the opportunity to see first-hand how expensive claims have become.

“I have the privilege of seeing what it really looks like when they pull the covers back,” he said. “We all complain insurance is very expensive but I’ve come to realize why it’s become as expensive as it is, and frankly I support the direction it’s going.”

The costs of accidents, capital costs of equipment, the cost to repair the equipment, and environmental cleanups have all gone up in price, not to mention nuclear verdicts. Seymour said captives are a good way to protect against some of those challenges, as long as you align with the right partners who share a commitment to investing in safety and reducing claims.

“But there’s still the underbelly of our industry that continues to find wormholes to cheat, lie and steal,” he said, naming exploiting Facility Association insurance as one example, and plating vehicles in other provinces as another.

When it comes to reducing claims in the first place, Seymour said slowing down is one way to achieve it. Kriska governs its trucks at 100 km/h.

“We are looking at, how do we reduce the frequency and severity [of crashes],” he said. Other initiatives taken by the fleet include installation of forward-facing cameras (a requirement for all members of the insurance captive it is in), and spec’ing collision mitigation systems.

“Complaining about the cost of insurance is going to do nothing unless you’re doing something about it that will help your case,” Seymour added.

By: LFS Marketing

November 23, 2020

CROSS-BORDER
CROSS-BORDER
US, Mexico, Canada border closures extend another month

According to Freightwaves:

The U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed for nonessential travel until at least Dec. 21, after the three countries agreed to extend the restrictions as COVID-19 surges.

Officials announced the border closure extension on Thursday. Trucks will continue to move freely across the borders, as the movement of essential goods remains exempt from the restrictions. 

The borders have been closed for nonessential travel since March to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

The extension was largely expected as cases of COVID-19 continue to grow in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. However, promising results from trials of two COVID-19 vaccine candidates have raised hopes that the restrictions could be lifted in 2021. 

The restrictions haven’t directly affected cross-border freight volumes, which have recovered from their pandemic lows.

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LFS keeps you updated with the latest news, if you need additional information about our freight shipping solutions, contact us! 

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By: LFS Marketing

November 23, 2020

DRAYAGE
DRAYAGE
New rail port to connect Texas and Mexico

According to Freightwaves:

The city of San Angelo, Texas, recently approved a $600,000 deal with South Plains Lamesa Railroad (SPLRR) to create a multi-commodity railroad transloading facility between central Texas and Mexico.

SPLRR will purchase a 180-acre tract from San Angelo and invest about $1 million to develop the new rail port. San Angelo is located in west central Texas, about 200 miles from San Antonio and 390 miles from the Mexican border.

San Angelo “could become a new major distribution center of products coming out of Mexico, and that also gives us an opportunity to send products to Mexico as well,” Guy Andrews, director of the San Angelo Development Corp., said to the San Angelo Standard-Times.

The new facility will be called the San Angelo Rail Port. 

SPLRR, based in Slaton, Texas, operates more than 23 miles of track in the area. The company also operates a rail port facility in Pueblo, Colorado, with 28 miles of track.

SPLRR’s rail port in San Angelo will connect to the Texas Pacifico Transportation (TXPF) branch of the South Orient Rail Line, a 385-mile rail line owned by the state of Texas and operated by TXPF. The line extends from the San Angelo area all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border in Presidio, Texas. 

TXPF is a Class 3 railroad operating company based in San Angelo that is part of Grupo México.

Officials at TXPF said the San Angelo rail port will help boost freight movements through West Texas and also tie into the eventual reopening of the Presidio-Ojinaga International Rail Bridge.

In 2019, the Texas Department of Transportation approved a 10-year, $59.7 million plan to rehabilitate hundreds of miles of the South Orient Railroad line, including reconstructing the Presidio-Ojinaga International Rail Bridge on the Mexican border. A fire destroyed the previous bridge in 2009.

The bridge is about 95% complete and could be operational by the second quarter of 2021, said Stan Meador, a TXPF spokesman.

“This bridge project has been in the works for years. Now that it is getting close, more and more shippers are showing interest,” Meador told FreightWaves.

Meador said the type of cross-border commodities initially anticipated for the bridge include energy products, such as petroleum-based products coming out of the Permian Basin and going into Mexico, as well as agriculture commodities.

“Long term, any kind of commodity that you see crossing the border could be something we’re looking at, things like intermodal automotive,” Meador said.

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LFS keeps you updated with the latest news, if you need additional information about our freight shipping solutions, contact us! 

Follow us on Linkedin

For cargo insurance experts, please contact Skholl, our partner to avoid any freight damage.

By: LFS Marketing

November 23, 2020

News
News
Heavy snowstorm to slam Western freight markets

"Truckers who can’t avoid will have to chain up as heavy snowfall develops. High winds will increase the travel risk.

A storm system is approaching the Mountain West the next few days, producing light snow and freezing rain in high elevations Monday. The storm will spread south Tuesday from the Cascades and northern Rockies into the Sierra Nevada. As of Monday morning, the National Weather Service (NWS) has various winter storm alerts posted only for the Sierra Nevada, where the worst weather may occur.

Snow levels there will start out around 6,000 to 7,000 feet, then lower slightly Wednesday. Through Wednesday afternoon, 12 to 24 inches of snowfall could pile up along the crest of the northern Sierra Nevada and over the higher elevations of the southern Cascade Range.

In addition to the heavy snowfall, strong gusty winds from the southwest will lead to blowing snow and occasional whiteout conditions. Significant disruptions to travel and freight movement are likely across the northern Sierra highway passes late Tuesday into Wednesday.

The highest volume market in the path of this snowstorm is Stockton, California. Indicated on the FreightWaves SONAR map of the Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI), it appears in blue. This indicates a high level of outbound loads being offered by shippers to carriers.

Out of 135 freight markets, Stockton ranks 15th regarding OTVI. So a lot of truckers may be heading there to pick up loads. However, the storm will delay drivers arriving Monday if they can’t leave before the storm intensifies by nighttime. Otherwise, they may have to wait at least a couple of days for the storm to fade." Freightwaves.

LFS keeps you updated with the latest news, if you need additional information about our freight shipping solutions, contact us! 

Follow us on Linkedin

For cargo insurance experts, please contact Skholl, our partner to avoid any freight damage.

By: LFS Marketing

November 17, 2020

The largest -ever vaccine distribution campaign: Pfizer
News
The largest -ever vaccine distribution campaign: Pfizer

According to Freightwaves; Pfizer largest - ever vaccine distribution for Covid 19 will de managed on its own and they will ship COVID medicine directly from U.S. manufacturing facilities and warehouses to end users with the help of trusted transportation providers. Direct shipping enables Pfizer to have greater control and real-time insights into the status of the frozen vials.

The U.S. government has contracted with the New York-based pharmaceutical company to deliver 100 million initial doses once its vaccine is approved, with an option for an additional 500 million doses. Pfizer’s product must be maintained at minus 75 degrees Celsius (-109.3 degrees Fahrenheit) to maintain its effectiveness. Officials this week said they expect to provide safety data from final-stage clinical trials to the Food and Drug Administration by the third week of November and then apply for an emergency use authorization if everything checks out.

Uncertainty about the cold-chain capabilities of transportation providers and vaccine administration facilities led the drugmaker to co-create a special thermal cooler with real-time GPS and thermal monitoring that can keep its vaccine in a deep freeze for 10 days if left unopened. The shipping container, about the size of a small suitcase, uses dry ice to maintain recommended storage conditions. Once opened, vials can be stored at normal refrigerated temperatures for five days. Replenishing dry ice can extend the storage time after opening to 15 days.

Alcorn said Pfizer also developed a control tower that will get real-time alerts if the temperature deviates from the required range or a shipment doesn’t reach its destination within a prescribed time frame.

Control towers are centralized hubs with logistics specialists that capture data from all stages of the supply chain to improve processes and manage events.

Data loggers have provided GPS information for pharmaceutical shipments for several years, but Alcorn said having location data integrated with temperature readings from a refrigerated container is new for the industry.

LFS keeps you updated with the latest news, if you need additional information about our freight shipping solutions, contact us! 

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By: LFS Marketing

November 16, 2020

The new status for Drayage container: hot commodity.
SHIPPERS
The new status for Drayage container: hot commodity.

The humble shipping container has a new status in the COVID-19 pandemic: hot commodity.

Shortages of the ribbed steel boxes that have plied the global economy for a half-century are plaguing transpacific routes in particular. The dearth is boosting the purchase price of new containers and lease rates by 50%, snarling port traffic, adding surcharges and slowing deliveries heading into the holidays.

A surge in Chinese exports and robust consumer demand in the U.S. help explain the tightness, and major shipping liners such as Hapag-Lloyd AG are scrambling to reposition their bigger 40-foot-long containers from less busy parts of the world. Nico Hecker, Hapag-Lloyd’s director of global container logistics, dubbed it a “black swan” moment.