Pennsylvania bans trucks on most highways

The latest winter storm pounding the East Coast prompted the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to impose some truck travel bans as of 8 p.m. Tuesday night. According to a statement from PennDOT, there is a ban on empty straight CDL-weighted trucks, tractors hauling double trailers, tractors hauling empty trailers, trailers pulled by passenger vehicles or […]

Utility Launches 4000AE Drop Deck Flatbed Trailer

Utility Trailer Manufacturing has introduced its 4000AE Drop Deck flatbed trailer designed to haul heavy or awkward loads.

The 4000AE Drop Deck features a combination of 3- and 4-inch aluminum crossmembers. It comes standard with a 39,000-pound. coil haul package with a 5-foot span of 4-inch tapered to 3-inch aluminum crossmembers on 8-inch centerlines.

The 4000AE Drop Deck also features the ConMet aluminum hub system, and delivers an additional 541 pounds of weight savings compared to the previous design.

“Our new 4000AE Drop Deck incorporates the advanced technology that is found in our 4000AE combo flatbed, delivering the long-term benefits of both steel and aluminum,” said Brett Olsen, marketing manager for Utility Trailer Manufacturing. “In fact, a customer will discover that it weighs less than some all-aluminum trailers yet it’s available at a more sensible combo-trailer price.”


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OOIDA Sues Pennsylvania Turnpike over Toll Hikes

<p><em>Photo: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission&nbsp;</em></p>

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for what it claims are excessive toll increases that place “an undue burden on interstate commerce while improperly diverting toll revenue to other projects unrelated to the turnpike.”

The suit claims that interstate commerce laws governing the Pennsylvania Turnpike “hold that tolls can only be used to maintain or expand the 359-mile highway for which the tolls are levied," according to the association.

OOIDA and its co-plaintiffs, including the National Motorists Association and several small fleet and owner-operator companies, have requested an injunction to halt the commission from “overcharging customers to pay for non-turnpike projects” as well as to prevent the commission from borrowing money to help meet its obligations to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and in turn, to keep PennDOT from spending the money it received from the commission. Lastly, the suit seeks to have the alleged overcharges refunded to turnpike users.

“PTC’s tolls unduly burden interstate commerce by causing the Pennsylvania Turnpike System to be used as a revenue-generating facility designed to underwrite expenses incurred by PennDOT in providing services and facilities throughout the Commonwealth that have no functional relationship to the Pennsylvania Turnpike System,” the lawsuit contends.

The commission has hiked tolls for each of the past 10 years, including a 6% increase in January, at least in part to help cover the PennDot payments, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

“The tolls charged far exceed the value of the use of turnpike and the costs to maintain it,” said Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO of OOIDA, in a statement. “Truckers have especially overpaid the price at as much as 70 cents per mile.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.

“Truckers and motorists are not ATMs to fund everything under the sun,” Spencer said. “The ongoing, economic drain on unsuspecting turnpike users is the epitome of highway robbery.”


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uStart Engine Starting System Available for Class 7-8 Trucks

Ioxus has added a uStart energy storage solution for Class 7 and Class 8 day cab trucks and tractors with up to 12-liter engines.

uStart is a smart power solution designed to improve starting reliability and extend battery and starter life. Installed by the OEM or as a retrofit; as a drop-in Group 31 battery replacement, uStart provides a higher level of starting power not available in typical batteries, particularly in tough duty cycles or cold weather, according to Ioxus.

uStart reduces the number of batteries a truck would require throughout its service life. In addition, uStart systems reduce stress on starters and provide jumpstart capabilities.

uStart smart power systems are based on ultracapacitors, which are used as energy storage building blocks. The systems utilize smart power electronics to intelligently monitor, manage and control power on a vehicle’s electrical bus, minimizing cycling on the remaining batteries. uStart also has jump start capabilities, which eliminates costly and time-consuming roadside service calls for engine starting issues.

“With a solid foundation in ultracapacitor design and manufacturing, Ioxus has developed patented power management systems that are deployed across several applications where reliable, on-demand power is needed”, said Mark McGough, president and CEO at Ioxus.  “uSTART smart power systems are already widely used in Class 6 models in package and other delivery truck markets. After extensive field testing, we are proud to announce that uSTART is proven to provide those same benefits to operators of Class 7 and 8 day cabs.”


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Schneider Completes Shift to Company-Owned Intermodal Chassis Network

<p><strong>Over a four-year period, Schneider purchased 15,000 intermodal chassis.</strong> <em>Photo: Schneider</em></p>

Trucking giant Schneider has completed its conversion to a company-owned and managed chassis fleet after buying 15,000 intermodal container chassis over the past four years.

The company began implementing the program in 2014 to assure access to lightweight, quality chassis when and where shippers and drivers needed them.

“We began investing in chassis because we realized we could deliver a better experience to our customers and dray drivers by controlling our own assets,” explained Jim Filter, senior vice president and general manager of Schneider’s Intermodal division. “The shared chassis pool that carriers often use creates significant delays for drivers, primarily at the ramp or when experiencing a breakdown on the road. When there isn’t an available chassis, the container is grounded. When one becomes available from the pool, they are often older, heavier, and fraught with mechanical problems.”

Owning a chassis fleet also means that the weight of all Schneider’s chassis are the same. This allows the shipper to know how much weight they can haul with every load. Because the demand for chassis in shared pools can outstrip supply, Schneider says, it also will have an advantage because the company has more control.

Schneider can also control the condition of its chassis fleet, because it will maintain the equipment to identify issues and make repairs before they turn into more critical problems.

“With the Schneider chassis, shippers can expect fewer delays and greater efficiency, as we’ve supplied plenty of chassis at each ramp location,” said Filter. “We even created our own technology that tracks utilization, turn time and location, so we can ensure there is the right number of chassis at every ramp and we can keep shippers’ freight moving.”


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Earnings Watch: FedEx Surges, Daseke Rebounds

Parcel and trucking giant FedEx posted a big gain in profits during its most recent quarter, while Daseke, the owner of several flatbed and specialized carriers, moved from a loss to a profit in both the final quarter of 2017 and for all of last year.

FedEx Corp. reported net income compared to a year ago more than tripled in its fiscal third quarter ending Feb. 28, totaling $2.07 billion, as earnings per share rose to $7.59 from $2.07.

Revenue in this most recent quarter grew to $16.5 billion from $15 billion a year earlier.

The net results include a tax benefit of $1.53 billion, or $5.60 per share, due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress late last year.

FedEx said it benefited from higher base rates, increased volume at FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight, and favorable fuel prices. The results were negatively affected by significantly higher variable compensation accruals, increased peak-related costs at FedEx Express, and adverse weather.

The FedEx Freight segment saw operating income improve 34% from a year ago to $55 million as revenue increased 14% to $1.69 billion.

Revenue increased due to less-than-truckload revenue per shipment growth of 8% and average daily LTL shipment growth of 6%, according to the company. Operating results improved primarily due to the benefit from higher LTL revenue per shipment, partially offset by higher variable compensation accruals.

The FedEx Express segment saw operating income decline 24% to $424 million despite higher revenue. This was attributed to an additional $170 million in costs in several forms, including its integration of TNT Express, adverse weather, and increased peak-related costs.

FedEx Ground reported revenue increased 11% to $5.22 billion as operating income moved 23% higher to $634 million. Strong revenue growth was driven by average daily package volume growth of 6% and higher base rates.

FedEx has raised its fiscal 2018 outlook, due to foreign tax benefits, U.S. tax reform and the company's improved operating performance. The company now expects full-year earnings, before certain pension accounting adjustments, to be between $17.90 and $18.30 per share.

Daseke Moves Back into Black

Daseke Inc. posted net income of $38.8 million, or 82 cents per share, in the final three months of 2017, compared to a net loss of $10.8 million, or a loss of 57 cents per share, a year earlier. Net income in the fourth quarter of 2017 included a $46 million tax benefit as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Revenue in the most recent quarter increased 71% to $257.2 million. The gain was driven by the acquisition of seven operating companies during 2017, according to Daseke. Excluding the acquisitions, revenue increased 14% due to higher freight rates.

For all of 2017, net income was $27 million, or 59 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $12.3 million, or a loss of 81 cents per share, in 2016.

Revenue last year improved 30% from 2016, totaling $846.3 million. Excluding the acquisitions made by the company in 2017, revenue increased 6% due to higher rates and higher fuel prices, which increased fuel surcharge revenue, according to Daseke.

“Acquisitions remain a key tenet of our growth strategy and in 2018 we will focus on three areas,” said Don Daseke, chairman, president and CEO. “First, we will look at specific market niches where we would expect to generate higher margins, such as our entrance into the high-security cargo market in 2017. Second, we will seek small, highly accretive tuck-in acquisitions that benefit from our scalable platform. Finally, we will continue our general stated strategy of flatbed and specialized transactions, but with a sharper focus on organic growth once integrated."

n 2018, Daseke Inc. expects to grow revenue on an organic basis to approximately $1.35 billion compared to $846.3 million in 2017. Also, it expects to grow organic adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to approximately $150 million compared to $91.6 million in 2017.

From the HDT archives (2015) – Q&A: Don Daseke on Building a Nationwide Flatbed Carrier


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Cummins Delivers the Power of Choice

<p><strong>Cummins highlighted the new name at its booth at the Technology &amp; Maintenance Council annual meeting.</strong> <em>Photo: Deborah Lockridge</em></p>

Cummins is repositioning itself in the heavy-duty marketplace with a new name for its expanding portfolio of motive technologies. The new name, Cummins Integrated Power, denotes both the company’s expertise in technology integration and its reach into different alternative fuel segments, including diesel, natural gas, hybrid and battery-electric. 

Cummins Integrated Power made its debut at ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in Atlanta earlier this month.

“As a global, independent supplier, Cummins is uniquely positioned to work with a variety of partners and suppliers to provide the broadest portfolio of integrated power to our customers,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of Cummins Engine Business. “Our expanding portfolio of diesel, natural gas, hybrid and electrified power is a testament to our dedication to delivering the right technology at the right time.”

CPI’s diesel engine side will feature the X12 and X15 engine platforms, both of which can be paired with Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies’ Endurant transmissions for optimum efficiency. Each of these integrated diesel powertrains harnesses the power of Cummins’ Adept suite of fuel-saving features, capitalizing on the electronic capabilities of the engine and transmission to make powertrain control decisions in real time. 

“The joint venture with Eaton has provided complete transparency between the two components and we are working more closely together now which brings additional efficiency to the powertrain,” said Teresa Voors, Cummins’ global powertrain sales and marketing director. 

<p><strong>Rounding out the Cummins Integrated Power portfolio, for now, are hybrid and battery-electric vehicles. In 2017, Cummins unveiled the AEOS electric concept vehicle, on display at TMC.</strong> <em>Photo: Deborah Lockridge</em></p>

On the alternative fuel side, CIP natural gas power portfolio offer several engines from its joint venture with Westport (Cummins Westport), including the B6.7N, L9N, ISX12 G and the Ultra-Low NOx ISX12N. Voors said production volumes for these engines have remained very consistent even though natural gas is not talked about as widely as it once was. 

“The natural gas engines do quite well for customers with certain sustainability goals,” she said. “It's still an important product line, and we have the economies of scale to keep up a platform like natural gas, offering it across a broad range of OEM trucks.”

Rounding out the Cummins Integrated Power portfolio, for now, are hybrid and battery-electric vehicles. In 2017, Cummins unveiled the AEOS electric concept vehicle. It’s still early in the game, but Voors said CIP is looking at a 2019 launch for a battery-electric transit bus powertrain. 

“That's the market that makes the most sense right now, so that’s where you will see us first,” she said.

By offering more than one solution and more than one type of fuel, CIP is well positioned to offer customers the best choice of powertrain options that fit with their individual sustainability goals, according to the company.

“Cummins has a long history of delivering reliable power and service to our customers, and our commitment to a growing Cummins Integrated Power portfolio will only enhance our offerings,” said Mike Taylor, general manager, global powertrain integration.  


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Businesses May Apply for Exclusion from Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum

The Department of Commerce Department has outlined a process that would allow individual American businesses to apply for an exclusion from the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum recently enacted by the Trump administration.

Businesses may submit requests to the Office of the Secretary of Commerce for an exclusion if the affected parties can argue that the the U.S. can’t produce enough needed steel or aluminum materials or those are not able to be produced to the quality needed. There can also be exclusions based on specific national security considerations.

All exclusion requests or objections to submitted exclusion requests will be made publicly available, unless the requests are subject to government-imposed access restriction or other national security controls, such as classified information.

The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, a trade group that includes the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association, took issue with the fact that only individual companies and organizations may apply for the exclusions and is urging the Trump administration to allow trade associations to apply on behalf of members.

MEMA has publicly opposed President Trump’s tariff plan, saying in a statement, “The burden of these tariffs, as always, will be passed on to the American consumer.”

On March 8, Trump signed an executive order that placed a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum that is scheduled to go into effect on March 23. Imports from Canada and Mexico will initially be exempted from the tariffs and the order  left the door open for exemptions for other countries in the future.

The tariffs were strongly opposed by many groups in the U.S. over fears of increased prices and the possibility of a trade war with other countries that could affect the prices and availability of other imports and exports. White House Chief Economist Gary Cohn reportedly clashed with the president over the matter, ultimately deciding to resign because of it.

On March 18, a letter signed by 45 trade associations, including the Auto Care Association. representing a range of major companies urged the president not to impose tariffs on U.S. imports from China. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. was preparing to impose $60 billion in annual tariffs against Chinese products to combat the trade deficit between the two countries. China is the largest U.S. trading partner, importing more than $460 billion annually.

In the letter, the trade groups argue that the steep tariffs would “trigger a chain reaction fo negative consequences for the U.S. economy, provoking retaliation; stifling U.S. agriculture, goods, and services exports;and raising costs for businesses and consumers.”

While the trade groups agree with the president that China has propagated unfair trade practices and policies, it believes that the tariffs will only harm American businesses, workers, and investors.


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RoadPro Introduces Roadking Bluetooth Headsets

RoadPro has introduced a new line of Bluetooth headsets and mobile tech accessories from RoadKing, featuring noise canceling technology.

The Bluetooth headsets are able to reduce ambient noise levels through the noise canceling technology to improve the listening experience.

Bluetooth wireless technology allows the headsets to be paired to any Bluetooth enabled device and offer up to 66 feet of operating range. Featuring soft, large protein leather earpads, the headsets are designed for comfort and have battery life for up to 40 hours of talk time.

Along with new headsets, the Roadking line of products includes heavy duty chargers and charge and sync cables that are compatible with Lightning connectors and feature heavy-duty metal connectors with a 6-foot reflective nylon braided cord.

Also added are two oversized industrial phone cases that come in two different mounts and are universal to fit several types of mobile phones. With a molded rubber carbon weave and nylon construction, they have a stainless-steel rotating Sure-Lock clip system and a scratch-free microfiber interior lining.


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