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Check Call: The biggest international stage

FMCSA makes complaining easier | Mexico’s vaccination approach

Check Call the Show. News and Analysis for 3PLs and Freight Brokers.

Hot Take

Image: Pinterest/Skiing memes

Every four years athletes from all over the world come together to compete at the Winter Olympics. This year they were held in Beijing. I don’t know if everyone watches the Olympics like I do, but I’ve always wondered how the heck do all of these people get there, the equipment, the housing, etc? What all goes into the logistics of the Winter Olympics? 

Turns out each city handles it a little differently. The official carrier of the Olympics is UPS — what I wouldn’t GIVE to see the terms of that contract. UPS will set up a warehouse nearby to serve as a final-mile delivery hub for all things going to the Games. All equipment, starting gates, banners, etc., if it gets shipped to the Winter Games, it goes through that warehouse. It’s the same for leaving the Games. 

The Winter Games in Beijing presented a unique situation for the athletes themselves. As we know, China has a strict zero-tolerance policy for COVID-19 and hasn’t really been the most welcoming to tourists and those traveling to the country. Sounds like the perfect time to have thousands of people descend upon the country. 

Athletes armed with PCR tests, QR codes and passports could only reserve seats on special temporary flights specifically for the Olympics, unless they had a big enough delegation like the U.S. that just chartered a plane. 

Once inside China, every single person who touched the Games, from cooks to media to athletes, no one was allowed to leave the bubble and no one from the public was allowed to enter. Daily COVID tests were administered to every single person. 

As if that wasn’t enough of a headache, you have to make snow in a place that’s arid and not plentiful in excess water. To make the artificial snow for the Games, Chinese officials had to pump water into the ground to allow it to freeze, making a sheet of ice for the artificial snow to stick. 

The water to create the artificial snow came from a reservoir 18 miles away. Pump stations had to be built along the route and up the mountain to get snow all the way to the top. This reservoir served farms and local communities. They shouldn’t have been massively affected because once the water was on a closed loop, it was reused as it melted to create more snow for the Games.

The Olympics is one of the largest international stages. It’s no surprise that it leaves host cities in debt for years to come for two weeks of fame. 

Quick Hits

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

The FMCSA has made an effort to improve a system created for truckers to register complaints of harassment and coercion by carriers and shippers.The agency wants to take the data from complaints and turn it into enforcement action that creates policies that are safer for motor carrier operations and improve consumer protection. The TIA and OOIDA have been vocal about the lack of functionality this system has. 

Drivers are not receiving a satisfactory response level when they call in complaints, resulting in carriers not filing complaints of harassment and mistreatment. Now that the agency is making headway in response follow-up and improving the reporting process, the hope is to get drivers using the tool again to report double brokering and other dangerous situations. To make a complaint on the National Consumer Complaint Database, start here

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Now that Canada has gotten itself together, all eyes are on Mexican truck drivers and their acceptance of the vaccine rules and it’s looking like it will be business as usual at the U.S.-Mexico border. Currently Mexico has no vaccine requirements for drivers entering the country and the United States requires Mexican drivers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter. 

Mexican anti-vaccine activism isn’t really a popular thing. There is much less talk of anti-vaccine sentiments in the press and no real protests against the mandate. Legal and compliance lead for Nuvocargo, Josefina Blanco, has said the Latin American mentality is more of “I’m excited that I get a spot for a vaccine.” Carriers in Mexico have been working more proactively, communicating delays for reduced capacity or sick drivers. 

There aren’t as many long-haul drivers crossing from Mexico into the U.S. A majority of the drivers are on a dray system in which you pick up the load at the border, cross into Laredo, Texas, drop the freight and return to Mexico. The group of drivers to get vaccinated is much smaller. It’s still important to remember that if you have a cross-border shipment into Mexico, there will be delays, there will be visibility issues. But this isn’t anything new, just typical Mexico. 

TRAC Thursday

SONAR TRAC Market Dashboard Dallas to Cincinnati

Clearly the Midwest is trying to get on that three- to four-day workweek life. For the second week in a row, the Midwest has unsubscribed from the back half of the week. Winter storm warnings are in effect from Dallas all the way to the Dakotas. It could be blizzard conditions or just a casual 1-2 inches of ice — really just depends on what brand of Mother Nature crazy you’re working with.

That being said, loads will no doubt be affected. If your shippers are open, advise them transit will take longer as highways start to pile up with accidents and people who think an all-wheel drive truck can go 80 mph down the interstate. The FreightWaves TRAC rate does show Dallas to Cincinnati at $2.67 per mile, which is lower than the beginning of the month. The winter weather might be affecting the time it takes for a shipment to arrive, but clearly not the price. 

Who’s with whom

Brown Bear Transportation, a division of Roberts Energy, announced Monday that it is expanding its reach throughout the Northeast with the recent acquisition of petroleum hauler Abenaqui Carriers. The acquisition will expand Roberts Energy as one of the largest direct fuel suppliers and petroleum common carriers in the Northeast. This acquisition seems like the best of both worlds in regard to the company facing an influx of cash and no layoffs for Abenaqui Carriers. 

Cummins Inc. a longtime diesel engine manufacturer, has entered the electric ring. Cummins has announced the acquisition of Meritor Inc., makers of electronic axles, for $3.7 billion in cash, allowing two companies to merge as one with complementary products. The motivation behind the acquisition is to allow both companies to operate most cost effectively together. 

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Mary O'Connell

Former pricing analyst, supply chain planner, and broker/dispatcher turned creator of the newsletter and podcast Check Call. Which gives insights into the world around 3PLs and Freight brokers. She will talk your ear off about anything and everything if you let her. Expertise in operations, LTL pricing and procurement, flatbed operations, dry van, tracking and tracing, reality tv shows and how to turn a stranger into your new best friend.