Eric Miller | Staff Reporter|Transport Topics|March 29, 2019 10:15 PM, EDT
Technology panel at the Mid-America Trucking Show by John Sommers II for Transport Topics
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Is technology in the trucking industry moving too fast for the men and women who sit behind the wheel of big rigs?
That was a concern voiced by a number of truck drivers attending a March 29 session at the 2019 Mid-America Trucking Show. The drivers’ questions and comments seemed to keep a panel of executives touting the promise of driver-assist technologies and autonomous trucks on their heels.
The primary concern expressed by drivers attending the session centered on how soon they would be replaced by “robot trucks.” But there also were questions about how to disable driver-assist in certain situations, and how soon the technologies would be mandated by federal regulators.
“There’s a lot of noise in the media and by some people running for president that automated trucks are going to be here tomorrow and everyone’s going to be out of work,” said Robert Brown, director of public affairs for Tucson, Ariz.-based TuSimple. “I can assure you that a young person going into trucking today will retire a truck driver, if he or she wants it.”
Brown by John Sommers II for TT
“The technology really, truly is amazing. I always tell people we can handle the freeways, but we can’t handle the infinite number of things that you all do on a daily basis.”
“I think like everyone else that as long as there are trucks, there are going to be truck drivers,” said Ognen Stojanovski, CEO of San Franciso-based Pronto, a company that makes driver-assist technologies.
However, he said trucks with assist technologies can help a driver see and react fast, but they don’t have the instincts that drivers have.
Stojanovski by John Sommers II for TT
“But having great eyes and reaction times is not a substitute for having a great brain.”
The development of the driver-assist technologies will not happen like “turning on a light switch,” they will be “evolutionary,” Stojanovski said.
“I guess I’m here for the drivers’ point of view,” said Don Logan, a 30-year veteran driver for FedEx Freight, who has amassed nearly three million accident-free miles. “I have witnessed a lot of change in technology just in my career.”
It wasn’t all good, but lane departure warning systems, which he said were annoying in the 2014 model truck he once drove, have vastly improved in the new 2019 model he’s now driving.
Logan by John Sommers II for TT
“It’s not near as sensitive. However, I think it can still be a benefit and not an annoyance,” Logan said. “Just in that brief five-year period, the technology is getting better all the time.”
Still, he said he’s not convinced there will ever be a truck that can travel across the country without somebody in it. He also said he’s not concerned that technology will ever replace him.
“If you’re driving that truck and you’re being the professional driver that you should be, you’re never going to know it’s on,” Logan said. “You’re not going to get those buzzers and those beepers. It’s something that I welcome because it makes me a better driver.”
Minor by John Sommers II for TT
Larry Minor, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s associate administrator for policy, said his agency has worked on a number of driver-assist technologies to remove regulatory obstacles that can improve safety for drivers.
For example, he said the agency removed a long-standing regulation that prohibited putting lane departure sensors on tractor windshields after the systems were tested for safety, and only recently, FMCSA also gave the go-ahead to substitute cameras for conventional mirrors because they improved visibility.
“We want to make sure though that as an agency that we’re having conversations with not just the academics, but also with the industry, with professional drivers on the road every day,” said Selika Gore, a senior advisor to FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez. “How is it impacting you? What role would you like us at the federal government to take? And how can we make your lives better and safer on a day-to-day basis?”
http://pointgl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/POINT_GL_LOGO.png00Point Global Logisticshttp://pointgl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/POINT_GL_LOGO.pngPoint Global Logistics2019-04-01 15:31:522019-04-01 15:31:52Even Tech Companies Say, ‘There Are Always Going to Be Truck Drivers’
The nation’s major ports finished 2018 setting monthly and yearly container volume records, and industry experts say 2019 is off to a strong start. Shippers continue to import and export goods as critical trade negotiations between the U.S. and China continue.
“The delay in effective date of the tariffs has continued some inventory buildup beyond the end of the year, that probably would not have happened otherwise,” EDR Group Senior Economist Paul Bingham told Transport Topics. “If the tariffs had gone into effect January 1, that would have slowed some of the shipping, or if there had been a trade deal, where the threat had been removed. But some retailers and some of the other shippers probably were thinking they’ve got another 90-day window to get things onto the distribution center shelves ahead of the tariffs.”
With a deadline looming on the talks with China, President Donald Trump said on Feb. 24 he is delaying the scheduled March 1 increase in the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports. The president said on Twitter he wants to give negotiators more time to reach a comprehensive trade deal with Beijing.
Tariffs on Chinese goods are set to increase to 25% from 10% unless the U.S. and China reach an agreement.
“I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues. As a result of these very … productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs.”
Trump also announced that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold a summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, “assuming both sides make additional progress.”
Meanwhile, Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest port, is beginning 2019 on an accelerated pace, processing a record 852,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent) containers in January, a 5.4% increase over the same period last year when employees moved nearly 809,000 TEUs.
January marked the seventh consecutive month the port handled more than 800,000 TEUs.
The Port of Los Angeles finished 2018 processing a record 9.45 million TEUs, compared with 9.34 million in 2017.
“These robust volumes reflect the pre-Lunar New Year surge of cargo, continued tariff-related inventory advances and strong consumer demand,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement. “With warehouses and distribution centers already full with spring goods and supplies, we will see softer volumes immediately after the Lunar New Year as anticipated.”
Typically, during the Chinese New Year, shipping activity drops significantly. The Chinese New Year ended Feb. 19.
Shipping experts such as Paul Bingham expect to see a lull in February’s TEU numbers reflecting the holiday, but imports and exports are likely to increase almost immediately.
The Port of Long Beach processed nearly 657,300 TEUs in January, down .1% from January 2018 when the port handled 657,800 TEUs.
“It’s encouraging to see these healthy volumes to start the year,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said.
Long Beach finished 2018 by setting a record, moving the most cargo in its 108-year history: 8.1 million TEUs compared with 7.5 million in 2017.
The Port of Oakland, the nation’s seventh-busiest facility, processed nearly 209,500 TEUs in January, compared with 205,800 in 2018. For all of 2018 the port moved more than 2.5 million TEUs, compared with 2.4 million in 2017.
2018 was the busiest year in the port’s history.
The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which operates facilities in Seattle and Tacoma, said it finished 2018 on a strong note, processing 349,000 TEUs in December. That is an 11.6% increase over 2017. January 2019 numbers are not available yet. NWSA saw a nearly 100,000-TEU increase for all of 2018, reaching 3.8 million TEUs, compared with 3.7 million TEUs in 2017.
On the East Coast and Gulf Coast, the Port of New York and New Jersey finished 2018 and the month of December in a strong position, processing 610,000 TEUs in December, a 12% increase over 2017’s 543,000. For the year, the port handled nearly 7.2 million TEUs, compared with 6.7 million in 2017. This is the first time in its history the facility exceeded the 7 million-TEU mark. The Port of New York/New Jersey is the third-busiest behind Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The 2018 growth is attributed to the raising of the Bayonne Bridge clearance in 2017 from 151 feet to 215 feet, allowing the world’s largest container ships to pass under it and serve terminals in New York and New Jersey.
(Port of Houston)
The Port of Virginia started January processing 240,000 TEUs compared with more than 220,000 in 2018. For 2018, the facility moved more than 1.61 million TEUs in 2018, the identical number it processed in 2017.
The Georgia Port Authority, which operates the Port of Savannah, moved 430,000 TEUs in January, up more than 90,000 TEUs from 2018’s 339,000. 2018 also closed with a record 4.35 million TEUs, compared with nearly 4.05 million in 2017.
The South Carolina Port Authority said January was a record, up 12.5% from 2018, making it the strongest January ever. The facility handled 205,700 TEUs compared with 167,000 TEUs in 2017. For 2018, the port processed a record 2.3 million TEUs, a 6.3% increase and the third consecutive calendar year of record TEU volume for SCPA.
The Port of Houston also finished on a record note, moving 2.7 million TEUs in 2018, up 10% compared with 2017. January 2019 has seen a slight drop in TEU volume from 221,000 TEUs in 2018 to 215,000 last month.
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Not enough low-sulfur fuel oil is available to replace the fuels used by marine shippers ahead of a fast-approaching regulation, according to analysis by Wood Mackenzie.
An rule imposed by the International Maritime Organization will limit the amount of sulfur allowable in fuels used by marine shippers. The goal is to reduce sulfur emissions, which cause acid rain. The regulation is set to take effect in less than one year, but analysts at Wood Mackenzie, an energy research and consultancy firm, forecast that there is not enough of the low-sulfur fuel available to replace the dirtier fuels.
By separate estimates, the shipping industry needs to replace up to 3 million barrels per day of marine fuel. The global supply of ultra-low-sulfur fuel, however is estimated to increase to 1.4 million barrels per day in 2020 and to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2024, Wood Mackenzie analysts said.
In 2017, refineries capable of supplying the shipping market produced about 1 million barrels per day of the less than 0.5% sulfur fuel oil, the regulatory cutoff. Refineries, particularly on the Gulf Coast, stand to gain from the regulation because they are capable of processing very dirty crude into fuel that will meet emissions will be in high demand.
Many of those complex refineries are located in the United States and on the Gulf. Refineries could see their profit margins for diesel jump 35% in 2020 due to the rule, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
Since demand for heavier crudes will drop as the shipping industry makes the switch, lighter and sweeter crudes will rise in value, analysts write. This is good news for Texas, which producers lighter grades of crude in the Permian Basin of West Texas and other shale plays.
Lighter crudes are likely to rise in value on the regulation. Booming production in the United States is likely to reduce the supply strain on the global market for lighter grades, analysts write.
As demand for low-sulfur fuel oil jumps, shippers are preparing to take other measures to comply, such as converting their fuel use to liquefied natural gas or equipping ships with scrubbers, a technology that cleans dirty fuel aboard the ship.
Use of LNG for shipping will rise due to the regulation, analysts write, jumping up 70% between 2019 and 2020. However, this will only displace less than 100,000 barrels per day of marine fuels in 2020.
So far, shippers have confirmed more than 2,000 orders for scrubbers, technology that cleans high-sulfur fuel on the ship to meet standards. Wood Mackenzie sees orders for scrubbers steadily increasing each year, exceeding 4,000 by 2025. Analysts anticipate that just more than 10% of the world’s fleet will have scrubbers installed by 2020.
Wood Mackenzie anticipates 85% of the world’s fleet to be in compliance with the regulation in 2020 and predicts full compliance to be achieved by 2025.
http://pointgl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/POINT_GL_LOGO.png00Point Global Logisticshttp://pointgl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/POINT_GL_LOGO.pngPoint Global Logistics2019-02-19 16:26:322019-02-19 16:26:32Analyst Says Fuel Supply Inadequate for Ocean Shippers to Comply With New Rule