Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter. Here we’ll get you caught up on all things WHAT THE TRUCK?!? and bring you up to date on the world of freight as we see it. Like the newsletter? Forward it to a friend. Enjoy! — Dooner
Operation Speed Bump
How it started — On Dec. 13, America rejoiced and logistics professionals flexed as the first rollout of coronavirus vaccines departed from Pfizer’s facility in Portage, Michigan. Groups of onlookers showed up to cheer on the UPS and Boyle Transportation trucks as they made their way toward airports and distribution centers around the country. As The Joker said in “The Dark Knight,” “Nobody panics when things go according to plan.”
How it’s going — The federal government set a target of vaccinating 20 million people with their first dose of the vaccine by the end of 2020; however, only 12.3 million people have received their first shot. With over 31 million doses distributed, experts warn that the U.S. is falling behind.
From the top down — While delivery of the vaccines has not been a problem, supply chains still need distribution to the end user in order to function. So, why the bottleneck? One reason is that Operation Warp Speed leaders waited more than two months to approve a plan to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines proposed by U.S. health officials, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Other issues — “IBM reported there is a global phishing campaign targeting the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain, and there were reports of a pharmacist who deliberately destroyed 500 doses of the vaccine,” according to commentary by Brian Aoaeh. In addition, medical professionals are still working to get the public to embrace the idea of a vaccine that to many seemed rushed. Adding to the anxiety are situations like the one in Norway where 33 people ages 75 and over died following immunization, Bloomberg reported. Those patients were seriously ill prior to receiving treatment.
Could be worse — Only 422,000 vaccines have been administered in France.
Highway to the danger zone — Social media has been abuzz since the election with calls to protest President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and policies. We’ve covered #StopTheTires organizers in previous issues of this newsletter, who have called upon drivers to either stop or slow roll their trucks.
Will it happen? — The group has had to cancel and reschedule several planned protests since they formed a few months ago. Right now, indications on their Facebook group point toward low participation.
In the event of protests — Even without #StopTheTires, there is still the possibility of protests at or near the U.S. Capitol and state capitols throughout the country. So far, turnout has been nominal but after the events of Jan. 6, few are willing to take any chances. ITI has a new course designed just for drivers to help them in the event they enter a conflict zone.
The course advises the following:
- Avoid provoking or engaging with protesters.
- Set the parking brakes.
- Lock all doors and windows.
- Remain in the vehicle if safe to do so but never if you feel at risk.
- Call law enforcement.
- Use a mobile phone or dash cam to record the event.
Spot market slips
Downtrend — This week the spot market caught back up with the Outbound Tender Reject Index (OTRI). OTRI continued its methodical descent from the all-time high on Christmas Day to 22.38% as of last Friday, Andrew Cox reported. According to Truckstop.com data available in SONAR, the national spot rate average for dry van, inclusive of fuel, fell from $3.04 to $2.85 per mile.
Best/worst dry van lanes — Elkridge, Maryland, to Hartford, Connecticut, $4.69. Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles, $1.32.
Do you tip a drone?
Cleared for takeoff — Last friday, the FAA granted American Robotics the a-OK to fly its Scout drone in commercial operations. What makes this news is that the approval includes the ability to operate “beyond-visual-line-of-sight” of the operator.
“The commercial drone industry is growing quickly and providing significant benefits to the American public but enabling expanded operations beyond visual line of sight is critical for the industry to truly take off.” — Lisa Ellman, partner and chair of the Global UAS Practice at Hogan Lovells and executive director of the Commercial Drone Alliance
Pizza is here — If you live in Israel, pretty soon a drone may be delivering your pie to you … sort of. Restaurant tech company Dragon Tail Systems on Monday announced, “the deployment of an autonomous drones control and optimization system to increase restaurants’ delivery capabilities by flying meals to delivery drivers for pick-up in remote landing zones.” So, while the pizza won’t be delivered directly to the hungry customer, it will make part of its journey to them via drone before being picked up by a human driver for the final delivery.
But why? — The reason for this is that it accelerates the approval process as the drones need to use far fewer flight paths. They’ve joined forces with Pizza Hut to launch the new program. So, while the drone may not judge you for ordering pineapple on your pizza, the driver still may.
DroneWaves — It’s safe to say that we’re only at the beginning of learning what’s possible with this evolutionary technology. When we say that the possibilities seem endless, we’re not kidding. Hear from drone manufacturers, shippers and more that are utilizing these devices to completely revolutionize transportation at the first and last miles of supply chains. What role will drones play in the supply chains of the future and how will you prepare? Join us April 30 for our live and free virtual event DroneWaves.
Winds to watch for
The week the winds won — While only 4% of drivers said high wind was the worst kind of weather to handle behind the wheel in a recent FreightWaves poll, last week it got the better of a number of drivers crossing the country.
“If possible, drivers should head for a truck stop and find a parking spot between two trailers. This is a good way to stay protected from a windstorm.” — FreightWaves Director of Weather Analytics Nick Austin
Three days a week — WTT?!? is now LIVE Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon ET on FreightWaves.com, FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn and Facebook, and on demand on podcast players everywhere.
Girl power — Last week we welcomed some of the strongest male voices in the business on the show. This week, it’s the ladies’ turn as we highlight two amazing women who are pushing the boundaries of freighttech and fintech.
Melonee Wise, CEO, Fetch Robotics — Wise joins us to talk about how the supply chain industry has been turned on its head amid the pandemic and how robots and automation have stepped in to keep businesses safe and afloat. She also has some stunning predictions around the future of fulfillment amid the e-commerce boom.
Allison Barr Allen, COO/co-founder, Fast — Allen and the team at Fast are rapidly accelerating and reducing friction at online checkouts with one click, no password purchasing for e-tailers and the 5 billion global online consumers who buy from them.
Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Fridays and Wednesdays on FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn and Facebook or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.
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Don’t call it a comeback!
Your turn —One thing I love about logistics is that since for a lot of us it was a second or third path in life, it leads to some remarkable comeback stories. People who entered an industry they knew nothing about and rose to the top of it. What’s your comeback story? Got a good one? We’ll feature it on WHAT THE TRUCK?!? in a new Comeback Stories segment. Email me here, reply to this newsletter, connect on LinkedIn or tweet me below to be considered.
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