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Summer of discontent for port drivers

Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter. In this issue, port protests hit Baltimore; Ford’s drone trucks; world’s largest container ship; and do delivery apps deliver to trucks?

Drivers take to the ports to make a stand against low pay, delays, regulations

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Growing pains — 2022 has been the year of the trucker protest, starting with the Freedom Convoy in Canada, a laughable re-creation in the U.S. with the People’s Convoy, and then the most recent protests in August over AB5 at the Ports of LA/Long Beach and Oakland. On Wednesday, drivers serving the Port of Baltimore took to the streets to make their voices heard. The Frederick News Post reports, “[They’re protesting] continued pickup delays, which are deliberately being ignored by port management to save money.”

“Ports America Chesapeake and the Maryland Port Administration remain focused on accommodating current and future cargo demands at Seagirt Marine Terminal. We have made significant progress on our infrastructure projects to improve efficiency, capacity and turn times at Seagirt Marine Terminal.” — Memo from Port of Baltimore

The port says — Business has been booming at the Port of Baltimore but for truckers who don’t get paid for the first two hours that they wait, that may not be a good thing. More congestion means longer waits but it isn’t all bad news. In fact, Maryland has made a historic investment in its port infrastructure. The fruits of those efforts are starting to appear now too. Ports America Chesapeake and the Maryland Port Administration have worked to improve vessel berths and update their digital appointment system this summer. In the fall, they plan to add new Broening Highway inbound lanes that promise to increase the number of lanes by 40%. A new Vail Street outbound gate will be opening late fall that will increase capacity by 50%.

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“We’re the only ones asked to work for free. It comes down to management.” — John Richardson-Allaire, owner of Turnpike LLC, in The Frederick News Post

A common complaint — It isn’t just the Port of Baltimore where drivers feel this way. A port trucker movement in New York/New Jersey has been making the case that port drivers should get compensated for all hours worked. Billy Randel, a 30-year trucking veteran, is the chief organizer for Trucker’s Movement for Justice and the protest at the Port of Baltimore. He was also this week’s guest on the Back The Truck Up podcast.

What next? — Although the protest at the Port of Baltimore is scheduled to run through today, it may not make much of an impact. Only a dozen or so drivers participated on Wednesday. Although there were many honks in support, cargo kept flowing. Ironically, one of the protesters said, “I’ve never seen this many trucks go in and out of this port so fast ever.” But, with low rates, high inflation and the same issues existing at ports across America, it may only be a matter of time before the next protest rises up.

Turning your truck into a delivery mothership

Ford

Drone on Final-mile FreightTech has everyone trying to crack the code on cheap, sustainable delivery that can also incorporate drones. Big problem though: range. How do you fix it? Ford has filed a patent that would turn delivery trucks into drone deployment stations. Supply Chain Dive reports, “through this system, a drone can return to its origin vehicle post-delivery, or fly to another vehicle or a fixed docking station if needed.” In fact, that is what makes this patent unique from solutions that Amazon and Walmart have envisioned. 

DroneDJ says, “At its most basic level, the scheme would extend fixed-location storage and logistic facilities to mobile platforms (i.e. trucks), to and from which UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] would fly round-trip runs to customers’ homes.”

Will food delivery apps deliver to your truck?

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Good news — Stuck in detention, got a long layover at a yard, or can’t make it over to the nearest grocery store? You’re in luck. A number of Redditors have pointed out that they’ve had good luck with DoorDash and Instacart bringing orders directly to drivers’ trucks. Ethereal Keeper says, “Used Instacart for Aldi’s in cartersville last weekend, highly recommended.” TrucknGawd agrees: “I have used instacart several times and they have never had an issue delivering to the truck.” Majentapink13 recommends that you “leave specific delivery instructions, but not depend on people reading them. Call or message delivery people to verify things. When possible, I have better luck using the hotel address near the truck stop lot and walking over to pick it up.” As for all the delivery fees these apps tack on … can’t help you there.

Move over Ever Alot, there’s a new queen of the big ships

CSSC

That’s no moon — The MSC Tessa just hit the water from its dock at Jiangnan Changxing Shipyard in Shanghai. This hulking beast clocks in at 24,116 TEUs, making it the world’s largest container ship. Has anyone checked on Rachel Premack?

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WTT Friday

Crack of the supply chain bullwhip — Retail inventory overflow, warehouses filled to the brim and consumer spending shifts. Friday LIVE on WTT, Mr. Supply Chain Daniel Stanton drops by the show to talk about the other end of the supply chain bullwhip cracking. 

The second-largest cost for operating a truck is fuel (especially this year!) Chris Jones, EVP of industry and services at Descartes, shares how tech is helping to reduce this cost burden for carriers. 

Wars are won with logistics, so it is no surprise that this industry is a welcoming home to veterans. However, how can we better support our servicemen and women when they enter civilian life? Ivan Hernandez, owner at Vets2Trucking, shares how he is helping to get vets into the cab. 

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Timothy Dooner

Dooner is an award-winning podcaster, content producer and host who is currently the director of audio at FreightWaves and the creative director of Back The Truck Up. In under a year he helped build FreightCasts, the world’s largest logistics and supply chain podcast network in media. He produces and co-hosts the hit podcast and FreightWavesTV show, WHAT THE TRUCK?!? WTT is ranked in Apple Podcasts top-20 Business News podcasts. He also writes a newsletter of the same title with over 10k subscribers in the supply chain and trucking niche. Dooner has been in freight since 2005 and has held directors positions in operations, sales, consulting, and marketing. He has worked with FedEx, Reebok, Adidas, L.L. Bean, Hasbro, Louis Vuitton, and many more high level clients across the full spectrum of the supply chain. He was a featured speaker at TEDx Chattanooga.