Part of being a transportation professional is keeping up with the latest trends and developments in the industry. So, with that in mind, here are five trucking industry news briefs:
Hiring Remains Strong
According to a report released August 1, 2014, freight companies created 2300 new positions for drivers during the previous month of July. The news follows a continuing trend towards gradual economic recovery. It makes for a total of nearly 1.5 million driving jobs in the industry. The trucking industry has gained 179,000 jobs since the latest recession bottomed out in March of 2010. However, it remains about 50,000 positions shy of its peak in 2007.
Schneider Enjoys 75% Boost in Load Volume – Expands Intermodal Trailer Service
Here’s another bit of trucking industry news that bodes well for the economy as a whole: Schneider is expanding a service it offers to chemical-producing firms to haul their products via both rail and over interstate highways. The company will add 1000 of its specialty trailers that can be pulled by trucks or by locomotives. These units hold up to 48,000 pounds, about five percent more than traditional OTR truckloads, according to a Schneider representative. The move is in response to a sharp uptick in demand the company has enjoyed since the beginning of 2014.
Schneider has arrangements with five major rail companies that serve clients across North America, including certifications with four of them to transport hazardous materials. With this new venture, it is expanding its “truckload plus one” delivery schedules with producers of bulk chemical goods.
Dual-fuel Gliders Offer an Affordable Way to Get into the Natural Gas Game
Natural gas (NG) has pulled ahead of the pack when it comes to trucking companies adopting alternative fuels, according to multiple trucking industry news sources. Unlike fuel cells, batteries, dimethyl ether, and other alternative fuels, NG is widely available across the country and is readily adaptable to the needs of the transportation industry. However, one factor holding back this trend is the high cost of buying new NG-ready vehicles. While the long-term savings make the switch cost-effective, the initial outlay of an additional $60,000-$70,000 per unit is a bitter pill for many companies to swallow.
One way to overcome this problem is to purchase “gliders,” new trucks that lack some basic powertrain components like rear axles, transmissions, and engines. Field techs add the additional elements, including dual-fuel engines if so desired. These setups cost about half the price of finished NG trucks, making the switch to the new fuel substantially cheaper for freight haulers. An added benefit of these conversions is that the driver can fill up with standard diesel as well as NG, bypassing the availability problem that has limited adoption of the fuel until now.
Senate Passes Short-term Highway Funding Bill
In a bit of trucking industry news that that shows our politicians can actually accomplish something productive on occasion, the Senate on July 31 passed a bill to keep the Highway Trust Fund going until May 2015. The bill was passed in favor of another version that would have ended funding after December. Senators passed the measure right before leaving on a five-week vacation.
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