Archive for February, 2010

Somalia Pirates Grab Freight Vessel, the Rim, Ocean freight, freight carrier

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The European Union naval partnership (EUnavfor) thinks the crossbones and skull of Somalia pirates could be flying from the flag pole of the North Korean freight carrier, the Rim, after the cargo vessel was seen heading toward an area off the coast of Africa where Somalia pirates are in control of things. The Rim is the thirteenth hijacked vessel, along with over 263 sailors now that the Rim has been hijacked, that’s still in the hands of the Somalia pirates, and one of over 80 ships that the pirates operating along the coast of Somalia have hijacked in the past two years. The ships taken do include several large freight carrier ships, along with smaller ships, moving along the trade routes running through the Gulf of Eden.

The fate of the crew members hasn’t been talked about much lately, but this has to be the main concern of all agencies involved in the problem. There are family members of these kidnapped individuals that are spending uncomfortable times while they wait to hear news that their loved ones have been released and we hope this is resolved safely and quickly. The pirates appear to have their own timetable for events to follow and will probably be demanding compensation for the return of the captives in their own time. There are many in the world opposed to paying ransom to the Somalia pirates for the return of the ships, the cargo they were carrying and the crew members.

The authorities tasked with patroling the trade routes the pirates prey on believe it’s possible the Rim might have wandered off the internationally recommended transit corridor in use and was attacked by Somalia pirates once this happened. Freight carrier vessels need to stay on the path that has been laid out for ships moving through the areas where pirates are known to operate, but ships can easily go off track and this is when they become vulnerable to attacks by pirates.…tid=20017745819

Finnish Freight Workers Threaten Strike Action, Finnish freight, shipping companies, freight carrier

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Overseas shipping companies bringing freight in and out of Finland will have to alter their plans and maybe put them on hold until Finnish dock worker finish their negotiatons with the Finnish Port Operators Association. This is because the Finnish Transport workers union AKT has sent the word out to its members to prepare for strike action in order to get the negotiations over changes the freight carrier workers want to the agreement they have with the agency back on the rails and moving forward.

The strike will definitely bring freight carrier movements at the ports of Finland to a crashing halt and the it wouldn’t be surprising if the Finnish government stepped in to order the workers back to work, if the dispute goes on to long. After all the movement of freight into and out of Finland is essential to the health and welfare of the people and nation, so hopefully for both sides sakes they get to work and get this settled, soon.

The negotiations are suppose to continue once the mediator arrives onto the scene and it appears this person can’t arrive to soon, as far as the workers and people of Finland are concerned. Hopefully, the mediators arrival gets things back on track and the negotiations start up again.

If the mediator isn’t able to get things back on track and the negotations successful, then the strike could begin sometime around the 19th of February. This date is going to be important for firms that have to export or import freight into Finland and they’re surely looking at ways to take care of the work they have to do in some other way, just in case the strike does start.…tid=20017745583

Lack of Engine Break Aided TN Coal Truck Crash, Overloaded: Truck Firm and Mine Fined, bulk trucking, ship freight, trucking loads

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Bulk trucking of commodities isn’t a sexy topic, but it is how stuff gets to market, whether it is orange trucks taking fruit out of orange groves in central Florida or coal trucks working their way down mountains in Kentucky and Tennessee. However, the flatlands of central Florida are a lot easier to ship freight through than Appalachian mountains.

A coal truck crashed in Tennessee last October going down a mountainous road; a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration report found that the truck was both overloaded and had its engine brake disabled; the trucker was going too fast, but the lack of engine brakes didn’t help matters. Engine brakes are noisy, so many towns ban their use, but they help slow a truck down in a pinch. However, the lack of a “Jake brake” (the Jacobs Company is the leading maker) may have been the difference between keeping the truck upright and having it overturn.

Both the mining company and the trucking company were fined for safety violations; one of the reasons why the DOT is so hawkish on weight issues is that trucking loads are harder to handle when they are overloaded. Having spent some time near the coal-mining areas of Kentucky, I experienced some of those winding roads and would not want to be driving an overloaded truck on those roads.

The effort to achieve cheap freight costs has its side effects, and in this case, the loss of life is one of those side effects.


747-8 Freighter to Debut Monday, Cargolux and Nippon Cargo on Buyer List, freight carriers, trucking loads, ship freight

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Air freight has had a good 2009 compared with ship, rail and truck based freight carriers. Evidence of that good business is coming out of Seattle, where the new freight version of the 747, the 747-8, is going to make its first flight tomorrow. Ten of the behemoths are already on order from Luxembourg-based carrier Cargolux and eight more are on order from Nippon Cargo Airlines. With a $310 million list price, Boeing has made about a $5 billion dent in the trade deficit with those sales.

The new 747-8 is a bit larger than the current 747s, is more fuel efficient and produces fewer emissions. However, green freight haulers won’t sell unless there is freight to haul, and the upturn in the air cargo market has made such planes feasible. Airbus has a bigger cargo plane on the drawing board, a version of their A380 passenger jet, but they have yet to get a sale for one; the 747-8 has the advantage of fitting into existing 747 slots in airports, while the largest-in-the-world A380 doesn’t fit existing slots as well.

Trucking loads should be increasing as well in this environment, as it generally takes a truck to ship freight to and from the airport; ship-to-plane or rail-to-plane transfers aren’t as common. Air freight is generally more time sensitive than other freight, so trucking logistics firms should benefit from taking care of the transport needs of customers on both ends of the 747-8 flights in a timely manner.


Notices of Arrival Now Needed for Port-au-Prince, Port Traffic Above pre-Quake Levels, freight agent, container transport, freight carriers

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Three weeks into the Haitian rebuilding effort and we’re seeing a return to normalcy; the Port-au-Prince port is now asking for freight carriers to file notice of arrival forms ahead of time. Traffic is heavy there, as 2000 20-foot unit equivalents are flowing through the port daily, more than the average day before the earthquake. The US Coast Guard admiral for that region is suggesting that smaller ships bringing aid into Haiti use smaller ports like Cap Haitian.

There have been a lot of small efforts to bring help to Haiti; news broadcasts and newspapers (and especially church bulletins) always seem to have one or more charities looking to send help to Haiti. Once the aid items have been collected, it has to be loaded into a trailer. Then container transport needs to be arranged to a port and shipped down to Haiti.

Now, all that aid is trying to get into the country as the relief aid starts to come in. Good intentions don’t get as far in Week 3 of a crisis as they do in Day 3, as the misguided Baptists from Idaho found out when they got arrested trying to save kids from the Haitian mess and bring them back to the US without proper approval. Aid going in needs a freight agent to make sure things go smoothly as well.

A lot of that freight is being brought in on a pro-bono basis by truckers, but that cheap freight might not last forever, and future shipments might need to be on a for-hire basis.


CA Trucking Firm Fudging on Contractor Status, Case Setted With State AG Brown, trucking transport, owner-operator trucking

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The city of Los Angeles has been trying to keep owner-operator trucking firms out of the Port of Los Angeles, trying to do so under the aegis of environmental safety rules. Thus, when I saw a case with an LA dateline dealing with independent contractor law in trucking, I wonder if it had anything to do with that movement.

As it turns out, state attorney general Jerry Brown, a former governor and presidential candidate in the 70s, had a righteous bust in the case in the news, where the company in question, Pacifica Trucks LLC, settled a case where they were trying to treat drivers as independent contractors when Pacifica supplied the truck and other tools.

Trucking companies can treat owner-operators as independent contractors, since they are providing a service with their own equipment. If the trucking transport company owns or leases the tractor that the driver is using, they are likely to be considered an employee, which is what Pacifica found out the hard way.

Treating drivers as independent contractor keeps firms from having to pay Social Security taxes, worker’s comp insurance and unemployment taxes, so there is always a temptation for managers and accountants to try and push the envelope and try to get some workers in as contractors. However, if they’re using your stuff to do the job, they are probably going to be treated as employees; then you’ll have to pay back taxes with penalties and interest, which won’t help the bottom line. OOs are contractors, other drivers generally aren’t.


WV Looks to Add Toll Roads, I-64, I-79 Possible Additions, freight rate, interstate transport, freight carriers

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Governments have three common choices when looking to get transportation funding; cut spending elsewhere, raise fuel taxes or look at toll roads. When faced with those three prospects, toll roads frequently become the least painful of the three choices. They have the advantage of being able to tax interstate transport activity, hitting truckers and drivers who may just be going through the state.

Pennsylvania has talked about making I-80 a toll road; it runs through a more rural part of the state and is mostly used by traffic going from the east coast to Ohio and the rest of the country. While the locals along the route of I-80 may not like it, it is one option to increase funding.

West Virginia is the most recent state to look at adding to their toll road coverage beyond the West Virginia Turnpike covering the southern part of I-77. I-64, I-79 and the northern part of I-77 might be candidates for tollage, which would not please freight carriers going through the area. In a tough economic environment, trucking transport firms are working to stay afloat, and extra tolls will hit their bottom line, especially if the freight rate on a trip had been set previously without factoring in the added tolls.

If Pennsylvania does go ahead and make I-80 a toll road with Washington’s blessing (the DOT has to OK making an interstate a toll road), penny-pinching traffic heading west might shift to I-64 as a east-west route if the main interstates heading out of the northeast (I-90, I-80 and I-76) are all toll roads. That might have more trucks heading down WV way and make tolling the road more likely.…roadagency.aspx

ATA Looks to Curb Speculaton in Oil Futures, Speculators Add Liquidity, Drive Prices, freight carriers, trucking services

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

A variety of fuel-using groups, including the American Trucking Associations, are looking to Congress to control “excess speculation” in oil and fuel derivatives markets; high oil prices have caused higher prices in the trucking services industry and rogue traders are an easy target. “Derivative” has become a scary word in economic discourse, but the issue at hand is mostly oil futures, where people lock in a price for future delivery of a product. Agricultural futures date back to the 1800s, where farmers and buyers of farm products would lock in prices for their products; oil and fuel futures are more recent creations, dating back to the 1970s.

Not everyone that is in the futures market is looking to hedge a sale or a purchase; some speculators may step in if they see prices out of whack and wait for the price to recover, when they take an opposite position and pocket the difference in prices. If there are more people that are interested in selling then there are buyers in the futures markets, speculators can step in to buy contracts; conversely, in a market with an excess of buyers, speculators can step in and be on the sell side of the deal. In such situations, speculators provide liquidity to the market, keeping prices from going on too much of a roller-coaster ride.

Thus, over-regulating speculators can be problematic, for if non-hedgers are precluded from the markets, prices would be more volatile. That wouldn’t be good for the financial markets or the freight carriers looking to hedge their price on diesel fuel.

If speculators were betting on prices going down, the ATA wouldn’t be complaining about excess speculation; it’s only excessive if the price is going in the wrong direction. There does seem to be a bit of institutional money with long positions in oil futures betting on high oil prices, but regulators will need to be cautious in not taking liquidity away from the energy futures markets in the name of hunting down over-speculation.


Port of Prince Rupert Expects to Grow, Canadian container transport terminals

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Container transport in 2009 was actually pretty good for the Port of Prince Rupert, along the West Coast of Canada’s province of British Columbia . Despite the economic problems around the world, the Port of Prince saw an increase of about 15 percent in container freight volumes moving through the Fairview Container Terminal. My friends at the Fairview Container Terminal indicated to me that the union and officials at the port were looking forward to a much better 2010. This is after a 2009 at the Port of Prince Rupert that was pretty good when compared to most of the freight industry.

The future of the container transport port is looking pretty good and they’re planning to increase the freight handling capacity of the Fairview Container Terminal by about 4 times in the future. The city of Prince Rupert also hosted the recent 51st Annual ACPA Conference in Prince Rupert, during which they discussed problems facing the Canadian container transport industry in the future. The presentation talked about things like sustaining freight ports in an industry that is turning green, surviving the recovery and moving freight in a green world.

The Port of Prince Rupert is a big employer in the region around the city and the continued growth and health of the city is tied to the success of the port. My longshore friends that work at the Fairview Container Terminal tell me they’re confident in the future of the freight industry in Canada and around the world. That the future plans for the container terminal outlined are expected to provide growth for other industries in the region, jobs for the citizens of British Columbia and opportunities for further growth in the container terminal industry of Canada.…20017743220.htm

British Ports at Crossroads in History, British freight, container transport

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The container transport ports of the United Kingdom are coming to a crossroads of sort in their history as new sources of energy and environmentally friendly goods will be coming through the ports, rather than the energy sources and goods we have been using for the past century and a half, in the future. 2009 was a tough year to be a container port in Britain and ports like Teesport and the Port of Tyne have begun plans to bring both ports into the century of the environment, the twenty-first century.

Teesport lost one of its biggest customers in 2009, with the closure of Teeside Cast Products (TCP), but the port is pinning its future on the growth of the container transport industry at the port will help alleviate some of the problems produced by the closure of the facility. The volume of containers being moved through Teesport increased by over fifty percent in the last half of 2009 as compared to the year before, according to Teesport officials. This is good news for the many of the workers who lost jobs when Teeside Cast Products closed as the employer as stated that it would be moving many of these workers to the container transport side of their business.

The ports of the United Kingdom have problems that they have to deal with if the container freight industry is to grow in the United Kingdom, but the government and industry are currently talking about ways to improve the port system. The growth of the energy sector in the United Kingdom will provide the ports with extra business they’ll need and with the increase in container freight movements in the ports, they should have enough business and freight volume to keep the ports healthy.…4167679719&sp=1