Welcome to the Zion Transport Blog!

In this space we will introduce various topics in our industry that relate to you, our customer. We want to you to be well-informed and aware of how these changes affect you and how we can help you navigate these changes.

DeLorenzo Acknowledges "Messy" Period; SNL Worthy?

Written by Peter Friberg.

I don’t remember if it was a Saturday Night Live skit or some cliché/joke, but I remember a comedian or someone saying, “Now let me teach you how to program this device. It just takes 14 easy steps….” As if any of us were going to remember 14 steps.

FleetOwner.com’s Aaron Marsh has an article highlighting the speech by FMCSA Director of Compliance and Enforcement, Joe DeLorenzo, at the Omnitracs Outlook conference. In the article Marsh breaks down DeLorenzo’s talk about electronic data logs (ELDs) and the upcoming “messy” transition period. The comical part of it is, there are 8 points.

I do want to highlight this. If you or your fleet are lagging in terms of compliance with the ELD mandate, start getting educated. While I will acknowledge that the systems are far from perfect, I will also point out that these ELDs will provide transparency to highlight that most truck drivers are driving safely and staying on top of their rest and down time. They will provide proof of compliance if you or your driver ever have hours of service questioned.

Thanks for reading.

Illinois Crash Highlights Compliance & Safety Needs

Written by Peter Friberg.

I know that sitting here at my keyboard, I cannot prevent crashes but I hope I can highlight things that I think need to be highlighted. Then, I hope you, my fellow-trucking industry professionals can take steps that will help make society safer.

Back in January I quoted Joe Rajkovacz of the Western States Trucking Association (WSTA) as he stated that truckers and industry professionals needed to do more than take a “just say no” policy to every safety proposal the government brought forth.

Autonomous Steering; a Viable Step Towards Self-Driving Trucks

Written by Peter Friberg.

I love this article by Jason Cannon over at Commercial Carrier Journal. In this article, Cannon brings up a point I think most people in our industry are missing.

It’s important to understand that autonomy comes in many different levels. Adaptive cruise, collision avoidance and lane-keeping technologies are all off-shoot autonomous technologies. The “self-driving car” may get all the publicity, but levels of autonomy are already in play on Interstates all over the country.

Rockefeller, Vaynerchuk, Bedtime Stories, & Driver Shortages

Written by Peter Friberg.

Wendy Parker over at Overdrive.com has a great story about the driver shortage in a humorous format of a bedtime story.

The main point of her story however is anything but a laughing matter. She points out that while the industry is claiming to have a driver shortage, what is really happening is the big boys in the industry are churning through drivers so fast because they hire inexperienced drivers at low wages, neglect training, and don’t treat them well. Then they use their 100% driver-turnover as evidence of a driver shortage rather than taking an honest look at their own practices and their own contributions to their turnover rate.

Nearsourcing; All The Cool Kids Are Doing It...

Written by Peter Friberg.

Are you “Nearshoring?” Should you? For those of you new to the term, Wikipedia defines the term as:

…is "the transfer of business or IT processes to companies in a nearby country, often sharing a border with your own country", where both parties expect to benefit from one or more of the following dimensions of proximity: geographic, temporal (time zone), cultural, social, linguistic, economic, political, or historical linkages. The service work that is being sourced may be a business process or software development.

Suffice it to say, nearshoring, for most Americans means either utilizing Canadian or Mexican manufacturing rather than Asian. But since Canada’s labor force is still relatively expensive (compared to Mexico’s) Mexico is the trending market.

Rita Gunther McGrath, associate business professor at Columbia Business School, thinks Mexico-based nearshoring can help the U.S. stage a manufacturing comeback. “The cost discrepancies that make the economics of outsourcing manufacturing to far flung places have changed dramatically.” She goes on to say:

As U.S. firms are becoming increasingly concerned about protecting their intellectual property, “nearshoring”—or bringing production closer to the point of use—becomes attractive as the risk of having important intellectual capital stolen is decreased. Having the capability to manufacture close to where customers are located can also increase customer responsiveness and decrease turnaround times, making the supply chain more predictable.

Does your company utilize nearshoring? With Zion Transport’s proximity to the border, we have contacts and contracts in place to help you move forward.

Give us a call today.


Autonomous Vehicles & the Government; a Necessary Partnership or Conflicting Bedfellows?

Written by Peter Friberg.

Capitalism works under the idea that competition is good and the more the government interferes the less capitalism is able to work properly. Monopolies, under capitalistic philosophies (and despite what you may think and/or hear in the media), are bad because they create barriers to competition. Unfortunately, in the U.S., too frequently the government works as agents for big business (this is true of the Democrats and Republicans) and helps create the very barriers to competition that industry needs to move forward. Then, when the inevitable problems arise, capitalism is blamed and further government involvement is promoted.

I’m not claiming the capitalism is the end-all, be-all, or that regulation doesn’t benefit society. But look at the electric vehicles created by the United States’ Big 3 automobile manufacturers (the ones working closely - too closely? - with the government) versus those created by the start-up, Tesla Motors. Government involvement can squelch good ideas.

When I was living in Central California a home insect extermination company came across a product that would spray bug poison into the inside of the walls rather than spraying the exterior of the walls and/or inside the home. The product was revolutionary and safer than what was currently on the market. A local rival, who happened to be on the state’s industry advisory board, got the idea outlawed in the state. Not because it was unsafe, as he argued, but because he couldn’t compete against it.

I lead with all that because I worry about Pres. Obama and DOT’s call for $4billion in spending for Autonomous Vehicle research and funding. Would that funding accelerate the industry’s actions toward solutions? Of course it would. But the problem would be that we wouldn’t reward the companies with the best ideas, our government would reward the companies with the best lobbying.

Then, as the autonomous vehicle industry grew, those same lobbyists would lobby to protect their company and its profits from competition and new (better) ideas. It’s the American way.

Autonomous vehicles offer a lot in terms of highway safety improvements, fuel and other efficiencies, and other gains, but we’re not there yet and getting the government involved isn’t going to help. Further government involvement and greater government debt are not the answers our industry needs.

Industry Rates to Go Up in 2016? We'll See...

Written by Peter Friberg.

Fall, as we head into the holiday season, tends to be the biggest and most profitable season for the trucking industry. So we were surprised when fall 2015 turned out to be as soft as it was. What does 2016 hold? Only time will tell but according to this article at Material Handling & Logistics, it may be trending up.

Motor carrier executives remain optimistic that 2016 will bring solid growth for their companies, according to a new study by TCP.  This optimism overrides economic events in the 4th quarter of 2015 that saw growth expectations at their lowest levels in over 5 years.

The really interesting thing to me was, that in the article there is a graph showing at different points along the timeline whether industry leaders thought the industry’s rates would rise, decrease, or stay about the same. And to me it’s hard to draw any conclusions from the graph. The graph says, to me, that people are less optimistic than they were a year ago… However,

“We are seeing more variation in the opinions of individual carriers than in prior years,” notes Richard Mikes, TCP partner. “Any further tightening, caused by a small increase in demand or driver shortages, will have a proportionally greater upward impact on spot and contract rates.”

As I said above, time will tell.

Thanks for reading.

Trucking Safety; Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

Written by Peter Friberg.

James Jailet has a great article up at CCJ. In the article, Jailet quotes Joe Rajkovacz of the Western States Trucking Association (WSTA) who says that drivers for small trucking companies and/or owner-operators need to do more than “just say no” to every safety-compliance initiative that comes up. His comments were brought about because of the “Beyond Compliance” initiatives put forth by the FMCSA favor bigger companies and their built in scalable advantages.

John Maxwell, a leadership author and coach, frequently talks about how any idiot can point out a problem. But it takes talent and intelligence to bring solutions to the problems. In fact he doesn’t allow his team to bring problems to his attention unless they also bring potential solutions.

As drivers, brokers, logistics professionals, we are the experts in the industry. We need to follow Maxwell’s philosophy and lead in the area; we need to bring our expertise to the table; we need to bring problem-solving solutions to the public and to organizations like FMCSA.

Like it or not, erroneous or not, to a lot of Americans, the trucking industry is dangerous. And if that perception is going to change we need to help change it by one, educating the general public about how safe we are, and two, helping to further advance – not stand in the way of – greater safety-promoting regulations and/or technology.

Thanks for reading.

We're Praying For You

Written by Peter Friberg.

2016’s monster winter storm, Jonas, dropped 2-3 feet of snow across the central eastern seaboard. From New York to the Carolinas were inundated with snow, freezing temperatures, and other winter mayhem.

According to the Weather Channel, at least 27 people died as a result of the massive storm. Roads are only just now being dug out. Transportation, both professional and citizens merely trying to get to work, is severely compromised.

None of this is news to you but we just want to say to all our fellow Americans who are adversely affected by Jonas that we are praying for you.

Thanks for reading.

California: The Worst Trucking State Ever!

Written by Peter Friberg.

Material Handling & Logistics (MH&L) released its Best and Worst States for Trucking Industry for 2016.

They list their top and bottom 5. They don’t talk about each state in the article, it’s more of a slide show than an article. They do talk, briefly, about how they came to their rankings:

[Darrin Landau and his company, Merchant Cash USA, an alternative financing company] surveyed 3,287 individuals involved in the trucking industry to find out where they thought the best and the worst states to be a trucker or own a trucking company were. The survey included asking questions such as cost of parking overnight, certain fees/regulations in particular states, if location in the U.S. mattered, and how friendly states were to drivers.

Unsurprisingly, a couple northeast corridor states, New Jersey and Massachusetts were among the worst. Equally unsurprising, Texas and Oklahoma were among the best. I was a little surprised that my home state, California was ranked the worst overall. I know it is more heavily regulated than other states but I thought that since so much trucking freight is generated here we might be let off the hook. Nope.

The survey seems more like one that’s made from driver perceptions rather than one made from statistical facts but even so, it’s an interesting look, from drivers’ point of view, as to the best and worst states in the nation.

Thanks for reading.

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