After a cold and dreary winter in Boston, I was excited to spend a little bit of time in the sun. Luckily for me, I went to West Palm Beach, FL for the first half of the week to attend the Descartes Users Conference. The conference itself was fantastic, with lots of great sessions, and opportunities to learn. In fact, you’ll be hearing more about it over the next few weeks. As much as I enjoyed the conference, the escape to the warm weather was equally as satisfying. I took a run on Tuesday in the early morning heat down to and along the beach. I seriously had forgotten what it was like to feel hot. And I loved it. It made me yearn for the hot days of summer, which thankfully, will be here before we know it. But with more snow on the way for this weekend in Boston, I can dream about the warm weather and beach time to come.
And now, on to the news.
- Britain sets Brexit motion in progress
- Deadline looms for trucking companies to comply with FDA sanitation rules
- Waze teams up with Dunkin’ Donuts for order ahead coffee
- Haulhound adds freight matching, faster pay options and lane alerts
- Amazon completes first US drone delivery
- Driver turnover rate at large fleets hits five-year low
Nine months after the final votes were counted, and Britain decided to leave the European Union (EU), the country’s Prime Minister Theresa May formally began the exit path. Yesterday, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, hand-delivered a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk to formally notify the EU that Britain will be the first member state ever to leave it. During the negotiations process, the UK is seeking a trade agreement with the EU with a broader scope than what they currently had in place with individual countries. Considering the country’s current overall trade balance of -£68.5 billion, it will certainly be interesting to see what kind of deal the two sides are able to come to.
The deadline is looming for US trucking companies to comply with the FDA’s Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule. The sanitary transportation rule was part of the larger Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) passed in 2011 which mandated that drivers must be trained to deal with food safety problems as well as basic sanitary practices. This means ensuring that food is refrigerated properly, trucks and trailers are cleaned and sanitized, and food is properly protected and kept at appropriate temperatures. Well, the deadline is less than a week away, but there is one major problem – the FDA has yet to post its one-hour mandatory digital training class. The agency is continuing to work on and finalize its training, but that doesn’t help with the deadline. Luckily, the fallback plan allows carriers to develop their own training or wait for the FDA to finalize theirs. I wonder which one is more likely to happen…
Tired of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, relying on traffic reports to guide you? Well, you’re probably already using Waze then, the crowd-sourced traffic navigation app owned by Google. If you’re in traffic and decide you really need a coffee, Waze has you covered. In a partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts, the app will now let you pre-order coffee and other items at a Dunkin’ Donuts along your route. In order to place an order, however, customers will need the Dunkin’ Donuts app as well as a loyalty account. Rather than earning a commission from the sale, Waze will receive an increase in ad spend from the coffee chain. If the test goes well, Waze plans to expand to other merchants, allowing consumers to order pizza, fill prescriptions, and order groceries without opening another app on their phone.
Earlier this month, I presented at the annual CH Robinson logistics conference at Marquette University. My presentation looked at the market opportunities of digital freight matching services. One of the key points I made, and which the audience agreed with, was the fact that large carriers were not prime candidates for the service. Instead, small carriers and owner operators are the prime target. Earlier this week, tech startup Haulhound added instant freight matching to its platform. The new instant freight matching system allows owner-operators to see a list of available loads matching their information, and then pick up the load. The end goal is to cut deadhead miles, and ensure more profitable runs for drivers. It is a fragmented market that has a lot of room for growth, and this is one area where the model can work.
After all the hype of drone deliveries, Amazon has finally made its first drone delivery in the US. On Monday, one of Amazon’s autonomous drones delivered bottles of sunscreen to MARS 2017, an Amazon-hosted conference in Palm Springs, CA. Unlike prior tests, which were conducted on private land, this one took place at the controlled airspace of the Palm Springs International Airport. While there are still significant regulatory hurdles in place, this is a big step for Amazon in proving its concept for autonomous drone delivery.
And finally, according to the American Trucking Associations’ quarterly turnover report, the driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets fell to its lowest point since 2011 in the fourth quarter of 2016. Large truckload fleets are defined as those fleets with more than $30 million in annual revenue. The latest report indicated that at these fleets, the turnover rate dropped 6 points to 71 percent in 2016’s final three months. The turnover rate at small carriers, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, also fell 16 points in the quarter, to 64 percent. Turnover at less-than-truckload fleets was just 8 percent in the quarter.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, and the song of the week, Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison.