Reno Gazette Journal: We need to keep trucking industry thriving, says Dayton truck driver

This summer, while you’re on the way to a barbecue or the pool, or heading away on a beach getaway, you’ll be sharing the road with millions of Americans who are traveling during the summer season. As one of 3.5 million professional truck drivers on America’s roads, I’ll be joining you on the road too, as I help deliver the goods that you’ll rely on all summer long.

Making special summer days happen is due in large part to the trucking industry: the food on the grill, floats in the pool and umbrellas on the beach were all delivered to you by a truck. The trucking industry, which is supported by 7.7 million professionals, including drivers, technicians, vendors and partners, delivers to 80% of America’s communities.

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WALL STREET JOURNAL: Life on the Road Gets a Little Easier as Truckers Adopt Digital Technology

Volker Condron was recently driving an 18-wheel rig on a highway near Mount Vernon, Texas, when his truck blew a tire—a common hazard that can add several hours to a scheduled delivery, he said.

This time, Mr. Condron used a new app to take a photo of the tire and relay his exact location, a request for parts and other critical information to the nearest mechanic—getting him back on the road in less than an hour.

“Everything is at your fingertips now,” said Mr. Condron, who works for transportation and logistics giant Hub Group Inc. and has been a trucker for over 30 years. “It speeds up the whole process.”

Trucking, logistics and supply-chain operators are taking the digital tools used to automate repetitive tasks around the office and using them in the cabs of long-haul trucks.

Hub Group, which operates a fleet of more than 4,000 trucks, last month unveiled a set of artificial-intelligence-driven capabilities, promising to offer more accurate delivery times.

The new capabilities leverage over 10 million data points, many of which are generated by interconnected sensors and other hardware that Hub Group has been adding to its trucks for the past two years, said Vava Dimond, the company’s chief information officer.

Ms. Dimond said the goal is to use as much data as possible to make deliveries more efficient and boost productivity. But the initiative is also aimed at making life easier for its truckers, she added.

For truck drivers, the cab of the vehicle is their office, she said, “and that office isn’t conducive to things like paperwork, when it’s raining or the wind is blowing.” Hub Group’s app can track and automatically fill out truckers’ paperwork, including logs along their routes, proof of delivery notices and other forms. The company developed the bulk of the tools in house.

In a report last year, Boston Consulting Group singled out the road-freight industry as being “dominated by manual processes” and “overdue for change.”

It said incumbent companies are feeling pressure to update their systems from digital shipping and logistics startups, which have garnered more than $3.3 billion in venture-capital funding since 2012, and may be attractive acquisitions for companies with truck fleets.

The report cites startups such as Convoy, a U.S.-based online platform that connects freight shippers with carriers; U.K.-based Freightex, a virtual logistics service acquired by United Parcel Service Inc. ; and EasyPost, an online logistics service backed by Google Inc.

These more agile startups are looking to grab share in a highly fragmented market where “paper- and phone-based processes are still common,” BCG researchers said.

That is prompting many older transportation firms to develop platforms that can integrate diverse data sets tracking orders, truck locations and other critical information in real time, while eking out efficiencies in fuel spending and scheduling.

United Parcel Service Inc., for instance, uses a platform to calculate the most efficient delivery route for its drivers, who make an average of 120 stops a day.

Devices mounted in many truck companies’ cabs plan and direct the best delivery routes, taking into account traffic and weather conditions. At the same time, smart sensors in the truck’s engine, trailer, tires and fuel tank monitor performance and can alert drivers of any potential issues that may delay a delivery.

Other pressures to modernize systems include new federal safety rules requiring every truck to have an electronic logging device to track drivers’ hours on the road.

Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trade group with more than 160,000 members, said many of the new tools benefit fleet managers and brokers, not drivers.

“If you’re stuck in traffic because of a crash, no matter how good the technology is going to be, it’s not going to help you,” Mr. Spencer said.

Another issue, he said, is that many new technology providers go out of business, forcing drivers to learn how to use yet another set of tools.

Introducing new digital technology to workers in any industry can be tricky, according toGartner Inc.

It estimates that more than 60% of companies are using digital-workplace strategies, but only about a quarter of these efforts will succeed in changing the way the employees do their jobs.

Ms. Dimond said Hub Group started with an IT tool designed to ease paperwork—a top complaint from its drivers—in the hope it would make drivers more receptive to giving other digital rollouts a chance.

“In the past their reaction has been ‘more big brother watching us,’” she said. “So we wanted to make sure that when we handed them their new tools, it would be something they would use right away.”

“Any new technology, right off the bat, there’s going to be some resistance,” Mr. Condron said.

He said he is waiting for a smart app that can learn all of his favorite routes and relay that information to a dispatcher.

“That would be great,” he said.

Write to Angus Loten at angus.loten@wsj.com

Morning Consult: Opinion: The Time to #BuildForTomorrow Is Now

We depend on reliable infrastructure to get ourselves and our families safely to our destination every day. Whether it’s the highway we take to work or our children’s schools, or the road we travel on to the doctor’s office and the grocery store, we rely on safe and maintained roadways. But after years of neglect, much of our infrastructure is now outdated and in poor condition. Our roads and bridges need critical support and we can’t keep waiting to invest – our economy and safety depends on it.

Despite poor road conditions and the traffic that results from it, 3.5 million professional truck drivers travel America’s roads every day. Trucking professionals travel over 462 billion miles each year to make on-time deliveries to every corner of America. That’s because more than 80 percent of American communities rely solely on trucking for the delivery of their goods, including the gas in our car, food in our fridge, supplies in our office and medicine in our cabinet.

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American Trucker: TMAF’s polling results on industry perception, celebrates five-year anniversary

Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF), the industry-wide education and image movement, released the results of a national poll and detailed five years of progress, in a press conference during their fifth anniversary at the 2019 Mid-America Trucking Show.

TMAF commissioned new research last month to determine perceptions of the industry from the motoring public. The results confirm that the industry has been successful in shifting public perception toward a more positive image.

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Transport Topics: TMAF Celebrates Five Years of Enhancing Trucking’s Image

A new poll has confirmed that a campaign to improve trucking’s image has been successful in nudging public perception toward a more positive image over the past five years, leaders of Trucking Moves America Forward said at a March 28 news conference here.

Kevin Burch, co-chairman of TMAF and president of Jet Express Inc., said TMAF was founded five years ago to help shift the public’s perception of the trucking industry, which had suffered from an “outdated and tarnished reputation.”

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2019 Poll Results on Image of Industry

Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) commissioned research in February 2019 to measure the impact of the awareness and education campaign over the past four years among American motorists.

  • The image of the trucking industry remains very positive. Motorists not only give the industry credit for moving more freight than railroads or airlines, but they overwhelmingly believe that the industry plays a very important role in the country’s economy.
  • Americans describe the industry as the “backbone of our country” and say that “if the trucks stop rolling, the country stops rolling.”
  • Many motorists have positive things to say about truck drivers and the industry, complimenting their commitment to safety and hard work.
  • Americans describe the industry’s safety record as positive and having improved over the last twenty years.
  • Americans believe that truck drivers are not only professionals, but safe drivers, with higher standards for safety than others on the road.

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abc Fox Montana: Montana Treasure: 50 Years, 50 States of trucking for Larry Spiekermeier

He’s earned the nickname ‘Trusty Trucker’ and rightly so.

Larry Spiekermeier of Plains, Montana has logged 4 million accident-free miles carrying heavy truck loads.

Angela Marshall takes you on a ride to meet this week’s Montana Treasure.

You might recognize this smile and laugh.

Larry Spiekermeier became an instant celebrity as the ‘Trusty Trucker’ to haul the 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree.

His call to the open road began in 1968 as a way to pay for college.

“And once I’d seen how much money I could make driving truck, I never went back,” Larry Spiekermeier said. “And here I am, driving truck, for 50 years.”

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FreightWaves: Trucking jobs keep climbing as the job market stays strong

The U.S economy added over 300,000 jobs in January, marking the best monthly performance in nearly a year. Transportation and logistics employment continued to increase at an impressive pace, led by healthy gains in warehousing, parcel and trucking jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the economy added an impressive 304,000 workers to payrolls in January, up from a downwardly revised 222,000 gain for December 2018. January’s gains far exceeded consensus estimates of 170,00 and is the strongest monthly gain since the 324,000 jobs added in February 2018. Job growth has averaged 241,000 per month over the last three months and 234,000 per month over the last year.

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FleetOwner: Meet the new America’s Road Team

A new team of 18 professional truck drivers were named to the 2019-2020 class of America’s Road Team, the American Trucking Associations announced this week. The drivers will immediately begin their service as trucking industry ambassadors to the general public, elected officials and members of the media.

“These drivers represent the diverse experiences of the 3.5 million professional drivers across the country and will be able to bring their unique stories to new, critical audiences as part of America’s Road Team,” said Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO. “ATA is very excited to begin working with this group of professional, respected drivers and see them continue spreading the positive image of the trucking industry. We are extremely proud of them, as are their companies and families.”

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