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NewsSmarter CapacityTop StoriesTrucking Regulation

Consumer goods group lobbies for federal ‘air traffic control’ for trucks

Carriers would be required to participate in government data collection to measure available freight capacity

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry wants the federal government to get involved in initiatives that measure freight demand — currently deployed solely by the private sector — to get a more accurate picture of available trucking capacity.

The proposal was included in a study released Tuesday sponsored by the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Iowa State University. The purpose: Identify, through industry comments and suggestions, supply chain challenges and opportunities for the CPG industry that are directly impacted by public policy in the wake of the pandemic.

“The pandemic displayed just how fragile and essential supply chains are, especially for vulnerable populations where access, affordability and availability are paramount,” said CBA President and CEO Geoff Freeman.

“Supply chains deliver for millions of consumers every day, yet they don’t receive the necessary coordinated attention from our policymakers. Greater federal leadership on supply chain policy will lead to a stronger economic recovery, growth and stability for future crises.”

One of the focus areas was assessing ways to optimize freight movement over national transportation networks, particularly in the trucking sector. Truck transportation makes up more than 40% of total freight logistics costs in the country, the study noted, and transportation accounts for the largest share of order cycle time variability in most supply chains, “thus affecting inventory levels, stock-out costs and on-time delivery.”

One way to tackle those costs would be to devise a highway traffic control system similar to the air traffic control system regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“There are several private sector initiatives doing this (e.g., Project 44, Macro Point and Trimble), but each is constrained by the number of shippers and carriers subscribing to their service,” the study points out. “Only the federal government can mandate the participation of all trucking companies (and other highway users) to achieve true optimization.”

It noted that the government, along with issues involving data security and protecting proprietary information are the primary obstacles because “Internet of Things” technology that optimizes freight capacity already exists. “The system could also include passenger vehicles for urban and last-mile parcel delivery,” the study suggested.

CBA’s study cited data privacy issues raised by the U.S. Department of Transportation in its National Freight Strategic Plan released last year, in which it stated that advances in technology that allow for more cost-effective collection and analysis of public and private data would better inform DOT policy decisions.

However, the study asserts, DOT “does not seem to consider that it may have a role in collecting and sharing data that would benefit the public” on a national level, even though DOT’s strategic plan describes a successful program funded by DOT that optimizes short-haul drayage at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

CBA recommended creating a White House Office of Supply Chain (OSC) to coordinate supply chain policies among federal agencies and also to coordinate with the private sector.

“The OSC should focus on three high-level (or macro-level) objectives of national supply chain policy: Supply Chain Security, Supply Chain Efficiency and Supply Chain Resilience. These are the fundamental requirements of a strong and enabling national supply chain. The OSC should develop national supply chain policies and the metrics for assessing progress in achieving them.”

Related articles:

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

14 Comments

  1. Dumbest thing I heard yet more control say they can down the country more do you know as a driver what they can do when they control the trucks more serious than you think as a driver you should be able to think on your own thats the most dangerous think to the government second trucks have more control than the government themselves as a group but thats long gone but once they have the truck they can control where you live where hospitals will be and transport of guns and ammo that pretty much is what they want it’s all about the communist agenda for America and in a simple note quit putting anybody in a truck not everybody is suited to drive and be safe out here 35 years of driving never saw it this bad leave the trucking up to us drivers please

    1. (sarcasm alert) After watching how well the California Government handled the logistics of the Covid vaccines…….then they blame everything on people that had nothing to do with the distribution.

      Do we really need the Feds to dictate the availability of transportation? The next step is for government to dictate wages in spite of the profitability of the company. They already do that in California with the “hero pay” laws.

      Maybe the Feds could do something constructive like put a cap on lawsuits and stop these “nuclear lawsuits” that bankrupt companies and put hundreds of people out of work all for the benefit of a bunch of ambulance-chasing lawyers.

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