Quick Transport Solutions Inc.

Technology Boom Is Changing Last-Mile Delivery And Opening New Opportunities For Parcel Carriers

While much of today’s trucking news surrounds over-the-road and intermodal deliveries and how they are changing under the onset of technology and transport efficiency, one area that’s received little attention is the boom in last mile delivery services.

The fact is, e-commerce is changing the way last-mile deliveries are managed. As data miners look at past trends on delivery data by shipment size, they are finding that a large portion of deliveries are happening by way of small shipments on less-than-truckload carrier vehicles.

Many smaller trucking companies are now offering same-day service in a number of metropolitan markets. These deliveries – sometimes referred to as ‘the final mile’ – are rising thanks to an increase of e-commerce and multi-channel marketing techniques available now only because of internet marketing.

The boom in e-commerce has hugely increased the need for final-mile deliveries. They’ve also caused both headaches and new opportunities for companies throughout the supply chain, whether it be for well-known couriers like UPS and FedEx or regional delivery fleets and big LTL providers, who are adding last-mile operations to their transportation portfolios.

Developments in e-commerce and the ability for shippers to find transport options at scale has created a tidal wave of demand for these final mile operators. And there are two types of motor carriers who are filling the need.

As smaller players try to increase their appeal in a more competitive market, “white-glove” services are being looked to in order to provide that competitive edge, which could involve not just delivering the shipment, but also offering assembly, setup and installation services.

At one end – for small packages shipped in niche markets – small carriers are even looking into drone and robot technology, an area once reserved for the big players. On the other side of the spectrum there’s an increasing need for larger items at lower amounts. When an LTL truck can fill the void, shippers need to rely on the smaller, LTL outfits to get the job done.

So, what’s behind the boom? Quite frankly, technology is making the complex requirements of last-mile delivery much more profitable, so why not enter the fray?

How Drones and Automation Are Changing the Game

Remember that one time now-so-long-ago when Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos made a bold prediction? He once said that drones delivering packages to your door could one day be as common as the mail truck pulling up in front of your house.

Last December, Amazon beta tested something called Prime Air Service in England, where packages weighting 5 pounds or less were dropped to a customer’s door step within 30 minutes.

Still, we’re a long way from drone delivery, but more large operators are beginning to test the model. No longer is Amazon the only player looking at drone delivery as a way of getting that final mile package to your door. Now UPS is also testing drones for commercial package delivery.

In February, UPS partnered with a third-party company to incorporate drone delivery into their day-to-day operations. The drones are designed to launch from a ground-based vehicle – in this case an electric-drive car – and autonomously deliver the package to a customer’s doorstep before returning back to the vehicle. The vehicle operator isn’t out of a job either, since they still need to drive it from destination to destination.

UPS admits this is different from anything they’ve done to-date, but that it also has excellent implications for deliveries to rural locations where package cars may need to travel many, many miles just to make one delivery to a house in the middle of nowhere. In this scenario, the package car can sit stationary somewhere in town while the drone travels the extra miles to make the delivery.

Even Daimler is getting in on the action by designing an electric-driven concept van that launches drones from the roof loaded and launched without the operator having to get involved at all. The drone takes off, makes the delivery and returns to the vehicle completely autonomously.

Since drones weigh less, are more powerful and offer better levels of reliability than they used to, their payload-to-weight ratio and energy consumption allows them to better fill this niche needs without eliminating truck driver jobs.

Last-Mile Robot Deliveries

A company called Starship Technologies has designed a six-wheeled robot that can make short deliveries within a particular radius from the company’s headquarters. These robots can also operate in tandem with – or be launched from – traditional delivery vehicles.

Daimler has also gotten into the robotics delivery game. Early tests of their new robotic technologies involve delivering groceries or takeout food. Daimler has provided the traditional delivery vehicles for Starship’s budding technology, developing what they dub the “Robovan.” Much like the UPS example, this configuration allows the van to approach, then a robot exits the van and makes the delivery before continuing on.

A racking system back at fleet HQ loads 400 packages over a nine-hour shift. Compare that to prior loading and delivery methods – 180 packages over an 8-hour shift, and you can see where the 100% efficiency increase makes a huge difference.

What we could see, decades down the road, if all of these technologies come together are semi-autonomous electric vehicles deploying drones and robots to complete final mile deliveries.

The Sea-Change in Consumer Buying Habits

Sure, we’ve been talking a lot about small to mid-size regional last-mile fleets utilizing advanced technologies to get packages delivered in innovative ways, but a larger conversation surrounds how larger item delivery and customer service advances will change the game at the other end of the spectrum.

As UPS and FedEx feel the strain of the capacity crunch – a topic we’ve brought up before – smaller parcel operators have been filling the void, taking on business handling big, heavier items than would normally fit their automated loading and delivery systems.

What’s an example of this? Think omni-channel purchases. Imagine a consumer researching a washing machine online, then call a brick-and-mortar store to ask about the brand and brand pricing, then place the order for delivery. Rather than carry their own costs for fleets and truck drivers – unlike large players like Wal-Mart – most retailers prefer to outsource their deliveries through these omni-channels.

As a matter of fact, a recent survey found that people are more inclined to purchase large items online than ever before. In 2012, up to 38% of consumers were unwilling to purchase a large appliance online, whereas in 2016 that number had dropped by a huge amount, to a mere 12%. The fact is, more consumers are willing to purchase large appliances and other items for their home online than ever before which is changing the last-mile shipping landscape in a big way. But how?

Where Parcel Carriers Take Advantage

In the past, large items were delivered in one of two ways, either from the guy at the store you bought the large item from, or shipped on a truck via LTL.

The problem lies in where these items are being delivered. For LTL carriers – even if all they are pulling is a 33-foot pup, small by their standards – getting a Class 8 commercial motor vehicle in and out of residential neighborhoods isn’t easy. Whether it be overhanging tree branches or mailboxes, there’s a lot large big rigs have to deal with when they are attempting to make their way around residential neighborhoods for last-mile deliveries.

Also consider that these trucks are delivering heavy items being offloaded on trailers designed more for loading docks and street-side buildings than they are for side-streets and cul du sacs. Also, these deliverables may require a signature. Will someone be home when the big rig arrives?

This is where the little guys come in. Small parcel carriers are developing logistical options and investing in mid-size vehicles that allow them to get larger purchases to the customer faster and more efficiently, with less hassle on everyone’s part.

Larger companies are also finding success partnering with smaller parcel carriers to complete these shipments. After all, no one wants to lose business, especially if a new relationship between large and small carrier – one that benefits both financially – can be established.

This is especially true where items need to be set up or installed. This is where we go back to the “white glove” service discussion. There is greater value-add and customer satisfaction when a consumer buying a large item doesn’t only get it dropped at their doorstep, but also counts on someone coming into their home to help set it up.

Quite frankly, we’ve evolved from the ‘do-it-yourself’ to the ‘do-it-for-me’ crowd, and smaller carriers are stepping in to fill the void.

The fact is, e-commerce and the ability for consumers to shop online is reshaping trucking. Whether it be through the onset of drone delivery, robot-vehicle combination delivery, or new opportunities for small parcel carriers, seeing the trucking landscape evolve sure is exciting, isn’t it?

We certainly think so, and you can count on us at the QuickTSI blog to be right here reporting on it as soon as it happens.

The Secret Tips to Running a Trucking Business

Running a business of your own is basically part of the American dream. There’s nothing more exciting than the thought of being your own boss and being able to make a lot of money. You’d like to run your own business, but you aren’t sure what kind you’d like own. You don’t want to sell things to other people, and you don’t want to go into the food or service industry. You’ve considered turn-key operations where the money makes itself, but you think you’d want something that’s more hands on.

If you want to try something different, running a trucking business could be the new venture you’re looking for.

A profitable industry

It’s been known that the ability to drive a fleet vehicle is a coveted job skill. Being able to drive a big rig can make you money, but owning a company that sends out the rigs is even more profitable.

If you’re looking for something that’s profitable, the trucking industry could be what you need.

It’s estimated that the industry itself generates around $650 billion in revenue every year, and that number is only expected to grow.

There are over 11 million registered large trucks in the country, so you won’t have an issue finding the equipment you need to get started.

There’s money to be made in the industry, but only if you’re a good fit for the job.

What to consider before running a trucking business

Trucking is a growing and popular industry, but that doesn’t mean that just anyone can succeed in it.

Almost any budding entrepreneur thinks that they would be perfect for it, but a lot goes into being able to manage a fleet.

Aside from having a good business sense you need to have management skills, the ability to problem solve, and the ability to analyze data.

You’re going to be wearing a lot of hats when you’re running your business, and you need to be prepared to handle the workload.

If you want your business to be successful, there are a few things you need to do.

Estimate your costs accurately 

Starting a trucking business isn’t as simple as buying a few fleet vehicles and getting some drivers.

Running a trucking business costs a lot of money that goes beyond the price of the trucks and the employee’s salaries.

Maintenance can cost a significant amount of money.  Trucks need to be examined frequently to make sure that they’re running well.

Some companies take maintenance so seriously that they’ll have a mechanic look at each truck when it comes back from a delivery.

There’s also the cost of employee benefits and insurance. Both vehicles and employees need to be insured for a variety of things.

On top of this, there’s rental costs for your lot and business, and other costs are bound to pop up along the way.

Talk to a financial adviser so you can determine what you’ll need money wise to start your business.

This is important because you’ll need to…

Get a good loan 

 

When you’re discussing your budget with your financial adviser, make sure to talk about the loan amount they think is best for you.

Since you’re getting a loan, it’s also important to make sure that you look like a great potential investment to your lender.

Take some time to bring up your credit score before you apply.  Also, consider asking someone with stellar credit to co-sign your loan if you’re worried about your score.

Consider subcontracting truck drivers 

Now that you’ve spent some time considering finances, you may be wondering how you can afford to pay your employees.

If you want to save money on operating costs and still have good drivers, you may want to consider using subcontracted truck drivers.

These truck drivers are hired per contract for specific jobs, they’ll only work when you need them to.

This can be the ideal set up for people that are interested in running a trucking business but want to start their company with less capital.

Data and software are your best friends

When people think about running a trucking business they usually don’t think about software.  But the right kind of software and data collection methods can ensure that you’re running your business in the best way possible.

The right kind of software can make managing finances a breeze.  You’ll have one place where you can keep all of your paid and outstanding invoices, employee payment information, account balances, and more.

Collecting data from trips is equally important.

Find out how often drivers are stopping to fill up, and how much fuel costs them in each state.  See which routes are the most efficient and which ones seem to take more time.

Having all of this data on hand could help you find more efficient routes for your drivers or could help save you money on fuel.

Perform maintenance frequently 

Remember how we mentioned that some companies will perform routine maintenance on every truck after it gets back from a delivery?

That may seem like too much, but it helps ensure that all fleet vehicles are in top running shape.

When you’re running a trucking business, it’s important to keep in mind how much wear and tear can occur on a running big rig.

Some of these truck drivers are running their vehicles non-stop for hours at a time while they travel across the country. Even trucking businesses that stay local can put some serious miles on their rigs.

If certain issues go unnoticed for too long, your rigs can get seriously damaged.

A loose belt or low oil may go unnoticed in a regular car for a few weeks or even months depending on how much it’s driven. All it takes is one long trip for damage to become apparent in a big rig.

Aside from having professionals routinely handle truck upkeep, it can be helpful to train your truck drivers in simple maintenance. Their dashboard can only tell them so much about the state of their vehicle.

Always put safety first 

Overall, it’s important to make sure that your trucking company and your drivers are compliant with all safety standards set by the American Trucking Association and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

There are rules about hauling certain kinds of materials, equipment usage, and nearly every aspect of trucking you can think of.

The trucking industry on average produces 5,360 fatalities and 142,000 injuries each year. When you’re running a trucking business safety should be your number one priority above all else.

Highway and driver safety clearly is a priority. Your truck drivers need to observe safe driving practices when they’re on the road. Drivers that constantly take shortcuts, speed, or drive aggressively shouldn’t be a part of your company.

Driver safety is only a small part of the issue. There are other hazards associated with trucking people can forget about.

Unsafe loading and unloading practices have the potential to harm employees or damage products. Drivers should also be thoroughly trained on hauling hazardous materials if you choose to go into that industry niche.

Find good clients 

The key to running a trucking business is to have a lot of clients you can rely on.

Some owners lull themselves into a state of false security once they land their first big contract. But it’s important to remember that the 6 or 7 figure contract you have today may not be there tomorrow.

Even if you have an excellent client you think will be with you for decades, you still need a solid business development plan to ensure that you’re bringing in new work.

If you can’t devote yourself to finding new clients you need to hire someone that can handle sales. Look for someone that specializes in the trucking industry and may already have some connections.

Bring on good talent 

Running a trucking business will be hard if your drivers have a reputation for being late or rude to clients.

Your truckers are going to represent your business on each trip, and you want to make sure you hire people that are up for the task.

There’s nothing wrong with hiring people that are new to the industry, but you may want a seasoned vet or two on your team in the beginning.

They’ll know the ins and outs of the industry, and they could even serve as a mentor for newer drivers.

Don’t risk bringing on someone with a bad driving history. They may have their CDL, but you should look into their personal background.

If they have speeding tickets, road rage incidents, or any charges involving drugs or alcohol, they probably won’t be good for your business.

Wrapping up

As you can see, running a trucking business requires a lot of work. You’ll need a good mix of reliable employees, the right equipment, and a mind for business if you want to succeed.

Do any seasoned trucking business owners have advice for people new to the industry? Tell us about it in our comments section!

If you have questions about trucking services, contact us so we can answer them.

 

Why GPS Fleet Tracking Technology Is Good For Your Fleet?

The technology discussion continues, and GPS fleet tracking technology sits at the top of the conversational heap. Why? Simply put, there are a lot of fantastic uses for this technology. The fact is, installing this technology could be one of the most important investments your fleet can make.

The use of GPS fleet tracking technology and software can help your business better understand their operations, communicate with their truck drivers and satisfy their customer needs on a far deeper level.

Looking for just a few different ways to make the best of this crucial technology? Here at the QuickTSI blog, we are all about helping you realize the potential of a more efficient and profitable fleet.

Number One: Fuel Savings
What’s your largest expense? Fuel costs. And to make it even more complicated, there’s nothing you can do to affect the price. But that doesn’t mean you are powerless to trim fuel costs where you can.

Using less petroleum just makes good business sense. In a White House press release that discussed the impact of a 2014 – 2018 fuel reduction program instituted by a fleet employing even simple GPS technology upgrades, net savings on a fully-paid-for rig could amount to $73,000 over the truck’s lifetime.

The use of GPS fleet tracking allows a real-time and historical view of fuel usage across the fleet. Not only can you keep constant track of how much fuel each of your commercial motor vehicles are using, but you can also compare historical averages with specific routes to optimize how best your assets are being used.

Number Two: Better Fleet Safety and Overall Behavior
There’s also a safety aspects here. Some of these GPS units come software designed to help their operators avoid mistakes on the road.

Users receive an alert if the unit detects an unsafe driving behavior, whether it be harsh acceleration, speeding, swerving, or harsh braking. Since we were just talking fuel safety, consider that safer truck drivers don’t exhibit habits that burn more fuel, either.

Beyond fuel cost savings, GPS allows a fleet to locate their truck driver at any given time. What if the truck driver is involved in an accident? Home base can pinpoint their location and immediately contact emergency services. Time is crucial in such instances, and these units save time.

Truck driver health is directly related to truck driver safety. Sleep apnea and operating a commercial motor vehicle while fatigued are considered occupational hazards. Both conditions also permeate the industry.

According to a 2015 report, over half of all long-haul truckers suffer from two or more of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Less than six hours of sleep

GPS units can alert a trucker of they start to drift. Advanced units even follow their eyes.

Beyond fleet tracking and health, GPS and fleet tracking units and software helps managers monitor potentially unsafe truck driver behaviors. This allows for individualized training programs to help truckers improve their overall truck driving performance.

Being able to take precise measurements of a truck driver’s hours of service (HOS) prevents regulatory violations and provides for better accountability.

Number 3: Strive for Sustainability Goals
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to better your motor carrier’s carbon footprint. If safety weren’t more important, this factor would be number two.

The transportation sector produces over a quarter of the globe’s carbon emissions. No matter what side of the environmental debate you’re on, there’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to keep your global atmospheric balance at more of an equilibrium, especially as so many other sectors do the same.

Beyond that, governments the world over are making moves to decrease their emission footprint, which directly impacts the transport industry with almost every move they make. No matter what the new Trump administration may do regarding trucking emissions regulations, fleets will continue to move in the direction, if for no other reason than that technology is moving them there by default.

Advanced GPS units and tracking software allows fleets to reduce their carbon footprint by helping them better plan routes and improve truck driver behavior. On this list, number three also goes together with number one.

Number Four: Run a Smooth Operation
If there’s one thing a fleet has enough of, it’s paperwork. By moving to GPS fleet tracking software, paperwork is removed from the equation. Thus, a digitally connected workflow takes the pressure off everyone from truck drivers to dispatchers, fleet safety managers, and those working at the back office.

Using GPS fleet tracking units, you can also integrate your fleet management telematics. Imaging collecting job management information, all communications, job allocation, routing and more, all in one convenient place with one simple unit.

Without these technologies, managers generally find it hard to figure out just exactly how productive their staff is. There’s simply too much paper and time-consuming analysis involved.

By utilizing advanced GPS units, fleet managers can monitor start and stop times, unauthorized breaks, long lunches and other aspects of what their employees are doing, and all in real-time.

This information can even be relayed to the truck driver via the in-cab unit. This creates a greater incentive for truckers to ensure they are following all the rules.

These units collect data that can be sent to a central computer mobile device. It allowed fleet managers to keep highly accurate records regarding everything from hours worked to critical maintenance information.

When reports can be analyzed and data put into clear models and graphs – the kind managers can easily make sense of – insight is gained into long-term trends that improve processes across the fleetwide. From routes to job sites to asset management and employee productivity, through technology a stronger fleet is built.

Unit integration allows fleet managers to efficiently and productively run all the integrated components of the operation.

Number Five: Minimize Costs
Believe it or not, many motor carriers use old landline and cellular methods for pinpointing a truck driver’s exact location. As the call drags on they are furiously writing pen-to-paper or consulting the map, perhaps even putting the information into a computer.

The fact is, utilizing GPS technologies can remove the hassle and streamline that entire scenario. GPS fleet tracking platforms can give fleet managers a real-time digital view of the fleet using precise mapping features and enhanced two-way communication to pinpoint exact vehicle locations. Gone are the days when a fleet manager or dispatcher is tied to a phone call trying to verify where a particular truck driver is located.

Fleets often utilize several different cell phone options to stay in touch with their truck drivers. In some cases, they require back-up cell phones to the regular cell phone.

When utilizing fleet tracking units with communication capabilities, truck drivers and dispatchers can communicate real-time, through the units or with two-way communication tools packaged with the units.

Having this level of visibility allows those back at the office to track routes and quickly route specific messages through the system to the appropriate parties. This way, everyone remains on task while doing the job. You can’t beat that level of efficiency. They can also ditch those expensive cell phone and even – in some cases – landline systems and step into the future.

The best part about this? The fleet can spend more time benefiting the most important part of their operation, their bottom line.

Number Six: Make Your Customers Happy
When you operate your business more efficiently and your employees are more happy and productive, you can generally expect to see a lot more happy customers.

Any business professor worth their salt will tell you that one of the most important parts of running a successful business is being able to offer a higher level of service than your competitors.

  • Happy employee = less churn = higher productivity = more profit = happy customer

The gains made by keeping your customers happy translate on down the line. And though it may not seem obvious from the start, GPS fleet tracking technology can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction.

This technology provides you with the ability to respond to customer needs far faster than you could answering a phone call, writing something down or having to relay a message through three different people.

If a shipper quickly requires a vehicle for a specific location, GPS fleet tracking technology can immediately identify the nearest vehicle and plot the most efficient route for the vehicle to reach the customer. Prior to GPS technology, this entire process would take far longer to work out, thus making the customer wait and adding unnecessary work and minutes to the job.

Final Thoughts
Certainly, some arguments against these technologies are there inherent costs, licensing fees, upfront installation costs and – in some cases – questionable return on investment. Still, the landscape is changing, with nearly every industry undergoing some form of technological disruption.

Motor carriers – the very backbone of the supply chain – are not immune to these changes. As devices proliferate and costs drop, now may be the time to consider advanced GPS fleet tracking units and software.

With California’s Fuel Tax Signed Into Law, What Are Other States Up To?

The QuickTSI fuel tax conversation goes far back and there’s a good reason for that. Change happens almost constantly.

Have you heard? California lawmakers recently said yes to a bill that will increase gas and diesel taxes to help fund a $52 billion infrastructure spending package. What the federal government is still discussing, California is moving forward on.

Of course, this bill would have to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Many signs point to Governor Brown signing the bill, if for no other reason than that he spent lots of time and political capital trying to get it to pass.

The gas tax legislation set to land on the Governor’s desk got through the State Senate by the thinnest of margins, with the minimum 27 votes it needed to pass. With the bill now clearing the State Assembly on a 54-26 vote line, it is very likely to become law.

The campaign over the law had certainly been contentious, with a recall effort even initiated by a citizen seeking throw out a State Senator who voted for the law. The chances of that recall’s success are slim, but it serves as a clear example of how passionate this debate was in the Sunshine State.

And yet, you may be surprised to hear of a certain group supporting the tax increase, and that’s the California Trucking Association.

The group released a public statement, saying:

“This transportation package is a win for all Californians, including the trucking industry, which has been significantly impacted by our deteriorating roads and infrastructure. The funding options provided in this measure will give our state a prudent and reliable revenue source to fix our roads and keep goods moving in and through California.”

The California Trucking Association was more inclined to get on board when an amendment put into the bill stated that truck owners would not have to retire, replace, retrofit or repower trucks within 13 to 18 years of their model year or when the vehicle hits 800,000 miles.

The bill aims to generate another $34 billion over the next 10 years to repair bridges, highways and roads. Another $11 billion will go to improve critical trade corridors.

Specifically, SB1 would increase the excise rate on gas by 12 cents over three years. Correspondingly, the excise rate on diesel would go up by 20 cents.

California currently employs a 1.75 percent sales tax on diesel purchases. This number is set to increase by 4 percent to 5.75 percent should Governor Brown sign the bill. But as California goes, so goes the nation?

Taking the Pulse
In most cases state officials around the country are at least discussing efforts to push for a higher fuel tax to fund infrastructure improvements.

Since the federal government has not raised the nationwide tax since 1993, many of the states in question feel debating this is a matter of priority.

In addition to the decreasing influence of the static federal fuel tax, higher-higher mileage vehicles, adjustments in citizen driving habits, and increased infrastructure costs cut into state’s budget.

In just the past four years alone, 19 states have opted to either increase or revise their fuel tax collection statutes. Another 16 of some of the same states are currently discussing if they should raise the tax on fuel purchases to fund bridge upgrades.

Even the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has weighed in on the issue, stating that the only way to generate the revenue to improve infrastructure was through a fuel tax increase. Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, recently stated that any increase should equally impact both diesel and gasoline. He also suggested that safeguards are put into place that will ensure the additional funding for roads and bridges can be paired bad or made only temporary.

So, what exactly is on State’s minds?

Alaska
Governor Bill Walker is putting his weight behind a bill that would triple the current 8-cent-per-gallon over a two-year period. HB60/SB25 increases the gas/diesel tax beginning July 1. On July 1, 2018, another 8-cents would be added to the tax.

The Alaska Trucking Association has also come out in support of the tax hike. According to Executive Director Aves Thompson, “The Alaska Trucking Association has long supported a fuel tax increase if the funds could be dedicated to transportation needs,” he said in remarks during an open hearing Senate Transportation Committee session.

He did raise one concern, stating that delaying the second phase of the tax increase to 2019, which would allow fleets to fully incorporate the fuel tax rate increases into their rate schedules without serious headache. If not changed, Thompson stated that Phase II may hit before trucking companies have fully incorporated Phase I, thus resulting in quite a sudden bump in rate increases.

Illinois
In Illinois, a house bill has been under debate that would increase the state’s 19-cent gas tax to 29 cents beginning July 1. The current 21.5-cent diesel rate would jump by a full dime, from 21.5 cents to 31.5 cents.

The funds would be broken up with 60 percent going to the state’s roads, bridges, and highways and 40 percent going straight to local governments for use according to their needs.

With the committee hearing regarding HB3136 having passed on March 28, we’ll soon see how the bill will play out once it comes up for vote.

Indiana
There are several bills up for consideration in Illinois. One such would help the state address the $1.2 billion it would need to raise the current tax of 18-cents-per-gallon for gasoline and 16-cents-per gallon for diesel.

With the taxes set to be indexed annually through 2024, state lawmakers have also written in annual adjustments capped at one cent. Instead of adding the tax to quarterly filing reports, the diesel surtax would be collected at the pump.

Considering Republican lawmakers in Indiana are voicing support for HB1002 on the House floor, passage looks likely.

Kansas
Infrastructure funding is just one part of a complex Kansas tax puzzle. At least three dozen road projects have been put off due to the over quarter-billion-dollar shortfall for fiscal year June 30.

To ensure transportation isn’t lost in the mix, multiple bills at the statehouse would raise the fuel tax by as much as 11 cents.

  • HB2412 and SB224 would institute a 5-cent tax increase.
  • HB2237 and HB2382 would add 11 cents to 35 on gasoline and 37 cents to diesel.

All the bills under discussion would raise tax revenues specifically outlayed for state highway funds to somewhere between 66.3 and 76.8 percent.

Montana
The situation in Montana certainly is dire. A shortfall in the highway revenue fund exactly a year ago – of which amounted to around $144 million – wound up delaying up to 30 highway projects, certainly no small number.

Since Governor Steve Bullock has made an open call for more revenue to complete badly needed infrastructure projects, state lawmakers have begun discussing ways to raise the current tax of 27 cents for gasoline and 27.75 cents for diesel. As a symbol of how difficult the issue has become, consider that he last time Montana had a debate this type it was 1993.

HB473, the bill most likely to come under consideration, would add an 8- and 7.25 cent tax to the gas and diesel taxes, respectively. The final revenue number set to go specifically to Montana’s crumbling infrastructure would amount to an additional $60 million annually.

Oregon
A number of different transportation funding bills are being tossed around in the Oregon statehouse. The state currently has a 30-cent-per-gallon fuel tax and one measure wants to raise that by 5-cents.

The catch? This wouldn’t happen any time soon. HB2121 wouldn’t impose the first rate implement until January 2023, quite a long time for carriers to prepare.

With Governor Kate Brown backing the bill, and a friendly atmosphere for its passage, this one looks like a sure bet, even if the pain won’t be felt for quite some years.

Tennessee
Governor Bill Haslam has already attempted to raise the state’s fuel taxes on other occasions. Now, multiple State Senate committees have voted to advance on of those efforts.

The Governor called for a raise of 21.4-cent gas rate by 7 cents and 18.4-cent diesel rate by 12 cents. The revised bill under consideration would adjust those numbers to 6 and 10 cents over a three-year period.

For even more detail into how this is playing out locally in Tennessee, check out this link, where State Representative Mike Sparks – a Republican – explains his position on the bill.

Utah
Already signed into law, Utah plans to raise $14.6 million in more revenue by 2020. The law he put his signature to – SB276 – will generate automatic increases. Currently, the state sits at 29.4 cents-per-mile, though the bill has a 40-cent ceiling cap built into it.

Estimates are that taxes will see a 0.6-cent increase in 2019 and 1.2-cent increase in 2020. Once a wholesale price of $1.78 is reached, SB276 would trigger a 15 percent increase in taxes on both gasoline and diesel.

West Virginia
On March 25, West Virginia’s Senate voted raise the state’s 32.2 percent fuel tax. Currently, the state imposes a 20.5-cent excise rate on gas and diesel purchases. A variable rate will be added, which will increase the number by another 11.7 cents.

With the bill now moving on to the house, time will tell whether it passes. In all, it would boost the excise rate to 25 cents and the variable to 15.2 cents.

Trucker Drivers Request Manufacturers : Quiet In The Cab, Please

If there is one thing that truck drivers routinely comment as something they would love to either lessen or eliminate, it’s noise, vibration and harshness in the cab. Still, manufacturers consistently say that engineering it out of their products is notoriously hard to do.

Today, truck manufacturers are putting their sights on cab noise and engine mounts. Yet where improvements are made, suddenly truck drivers can hear every other squeak and rattle from other places in the cab.

Another consideration is that not all noise and harsh vibration comes from multiple sources. From tires to suspension and the drive train, there is still more to consider than just the cab and engine mounts. Fortunately, the industry is pressing ahead with manufacturing modifications that help reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

All About Tires

Take tires, for instance. Tire manufacturers have been experimenting with more aggressive tread patterns. Lug and open-shoulder treads, for instance, are often noisier than rib-tread tires. Rib-tread tires Rib-tread patterns prevent noise from making its way into the cab by eliminating any potential physical contact with it.

Where truck drivers generally feel the most vibration is through the steering column. By ensuring tires are balanced when a complaint comes in, fleets can prevent exacerbated wear and thus unnecessary vibrations.

Another area where vibration becomes a problem is around downspeed drivelines. While engine downspeeding is a great way to improve a reliable method for improving efficiency and fuel economy, it creates a challenge where unwanted noise and vibrations are concerned.

When the engine downshifts, torsional vibrations produced by the shift are transmitted through the transmission, drive shaft and axles. All this movement can easily be felt by the truck driver as low frequency vibration.

Still, the industry is hard at work tackling these problems. Dana, a driveshaft manufacturer, is producing a driveshaft specifically designed for downspeeding. They claim it has characteristics allowing it to be balanced to one-half the industry standard, thus greatly reducing its vibrational footprint.

Suspension in Mind

Suspension also plays a huge role in reducing unwanted noise and vibration. Not only does the suspension help to minimize road inputs, but it also helps limit vibration inputs coming from the drive train.

In general, when handling noise and vibration coming from the drive train, air suspensions perform much better than leaf spring suspensions. Four air spring cushions are ideal, though this configuration is admittedly less spec’d.

Outside of spec’ing the right equipment to begin with, always make sure the equipment you are currently running with is in proper working order. If you see an obvious defect, such as a non-functioning shock absorber or a broken spring, make sure it is fixed immediately. This is a matter not only of noise and vibration, but a potential safety issue.

Transmissions, Clutch and Axles

Transmissions and clutch axles also contribute to in-cab noise. To combat this, clutch designers have come out with new schematics that provide a softer dampening rate. They also have longer travel to handle the high torque generated by a modern engine.

To cut down on transmission noise, manufacturers are focusing on the high-frequency whining sound that comes from the metal-to-metal contact when the gear interfaces with other components in the transmission.

Vehicle specifications surrounding axles also impact noise and vibration. Consider options like overdrive and single versus tandem axles. Even recent innovations in gear manufacturing are resulting in a quieter operation across the board.

With all the recent innovations in truck design, does this mean we can expect a radical change in road noise, vibration and harshness? As the marriage of trucking and technologies continues unabated, only time will tell.

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