industry insights

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck is scheduled for May 14-16, and the agency has said inspectors will focus on tractor protection systems. Specifically, inspectors will look at the tractor protection valve, trailer supply valve and anti-bleed back valve, which CVSA said are critically important vehicle components but may be overlooked during trip and roadside inspections.

[Read more...]Show less

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, also called ADAS, are designed to augment driver capabilities and enhance safety. They also have the added benefits of increasing driver comfort and improving the overall driving experience.

[Read more...]Show less

Innovation, research and development of commercial vehicle technology continue to increase, and there has been an unprecedented wave of private investment, public funding and policy focus across the commercial transportation sector, bringing more sustainable solutions to fleets.

[Read more...]Show less

You leave your truck for the night and return the next morning. In between, anything could happen. How do you know your vehicle is still in tip-top shape? You won’t unless you conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection.

[Read more...]Show less

Fuel theft is a significant concern for trucking companies, leading to financial losses, increasing business costs and potentially disrupting operations. Fuel theft can happen in various ways, from drivers misusing company fuel cards to criminals installing skimming devices at fuel pumps to capture payment card information, which they then use until a fleet manager deactivates the card.

[Read more...]Show less

Original equipment manufacturers are constantly developing new technology, safety enhancements and comfort features, and running late-model equipment can give fleets a competitive advantage. Benefits of new OEM technology include:

[Read more...]Show less

As a professional driver, you face countless challenges on the road, and you can’t anticipate them all. But here’s one that’s totally within your control: keeping your cargo safe and secure.

Proper cargo securement is more than just making sure every item in your trailer or flatbed is tied down. It also involves achieving the right balance. When your cargo is evenly distributed, you’ll avoid the risk of load shifting. It’s a serious problem that makes a truck difficult to drive. It can even cause a truck to roll over.

A few ways to secure your cargo and prevent load shifting:

  • Sweep out your trailer so you start with a clean floor.
  • Inspect all securement devices (tie-downs, ratchet straps, chains, binders, cargo nets) for signs of wear and tear. Replace any damaged tie-downs and be sure to always carry more than needed just in case a replacement is needed while on the road.
  • Check the working load limit (WLL) of your tie-downs so you don’t overstress them.
  • Inspect the load you’ll be hauling. Look for the weight (which should be listed on the bill of lading) and length of your cargo.

As you load

  • Use the right number of tie-downs. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recommendations call for:
    • One tie-down for items that are 5 feet long or shorter and weigh 1,100 lbs. or less
    • Two tie-downs for
      • Items that are 5 feet long or shorter and weigh 1,100 lbs. or more
      • Items that are longer than 5 feet but shorter than 10 feet
    • Use additional tie-downs for every extra 10 foot of length
    • Unsure of how many tie-downs to use? Add an extra tie-down or two to be extra cautious.
  • Make sure all securement devices are tight but not too tight—they should snap like a rubber band.
  • Use edge protectors to prevent straps from damaging your cargo.
  • Secure any rolling cargo with chocks, wedges or cradles.
  • Distribute your load as evenly as possible and try to secure cargo to fixed points inside your trailer or on a flatbed.

As you drive

  • Inspect your cargo within the first 50 miles, then every 3 hours, 150 miles or at change of duty. Make sure nothing has shifted or moved. Tighten any loose tie-downs.
  • Drive safely. Take tight curves slowly. Avoid harsh braking. Slow down in inclement weather.

Remember, proper cargo securement is the driver’s responsibility. Take the time to balance your load, drive safely, and check your load in transport to keep you and your cargo safe.

Cargo theft spiked last year, with thieves becoming more strategic and targeting high-value loads.

“The motives and the way the criminals are operating has changed, and cargo theft is increasing tremendously,” said Keith Lewis, vice president of operations at CargoNet, a Verisk company.

[Read more...]Show less

Sustainability within the supply chain continues to improve, creating economic and environmental benefits for shippers and transportation providers. A wide range of solutions that can reduce carbon emissions, increase efficiency and improve operations is already available, and new solutions are on the horizon.

[Read more...]Show less

Uncertainties around the economy, consumer spending and freight demand remain, and predicting capacity demands, consumer behavior and business needs can be challenging in the current operating environment. However, there are strategies fleets can use to prepare for the year ahead, no matter what it brings.

[Read more...]Show less

New regulations affecting fleet operations are increasing, and carriers must comply with existing requirements while keeping up with the latest changes. The federal government and some states are creating stricter emissions requirements. California often takes the lead at the state level, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has adopted several measures that are being introduced or implemented in other states.

[Read more...]Show less

The strategic utilization of trailers provides a scalable solution that helps fleets meet shifting transportation capacity or storage needs without the long-term commitment and expenses associated with adding trucks or leasing warehouse space.

[Read more...]Show less

Maintenance of Class 8 vehicles is central to ensuring reliable, safe equipment, but maintaining, diagnosing and repairing equipment is a complex process. Ongoing training is essential for maintenance technicians to stay current on changes in equipment technology, increase their skills and grow their careers.

[Read more...]Show less

After several tumultuous years, the supply chain continues to improve, and shippers and carriers are getting back in sync, according to the 34th Annual State of Logistics Report. Even still, it remains important for those in the supply chain to focus on relationships, efficiency and resiliency amid rising costs and economic uncertainty.

“If the past years have taught us anything, it is that uncertainty is now a near constant in the global economy, and the smartest way to respond in good times is to gather resources for when conditions suddenly shift again,” according to the report, entitled The Great Reset.

The Annual State of Logistics Report is produced for the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) by the global consulting firm Kearney and presented by Penske Logistics.

In 2022, the market swung back sharply in shippers’ favor, and supply and demand largely rebalanced across all transit modes. However, Balika Sonthalia, a partner with A.T. Kearney and co-author of the report, said it is important for companies to take steps to remain the shipper of choice because the pendulum will eventually swing. “We’ve seen this before, and carriers will remember how you treated them,” she said.

Sonthalia added that third-party logistics providers are continuing to provide valuable guidance to shippers. Before the pandemic, logistics was often considered a side function, but it has continued to gain attention and is now widely seen as a strategic differentiator. “Companies look at 3PLs less for pointed solutions and more for strategic partnerships to run certain flows soup to nuts,” she said.

Overall Costs and Trucking Capacity

Those partnerships are increasingly important as companies work to manage costs and capacity. Costs have increased, with overall U.S. business logistics costs rising 19.6% to $2.3 trillion in 2022, compared to $1.85 trillion last year, representing 9.1% of the national GDP — the highest percentage of GDP ever. It also marks a 46% USBLC increase between 2020 and 2022.

Plus, transportation costs reached $1.39 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion in 2021. Road freight, the most significant segment of U.S. logistics expenditure, increased to $896 billion from $844.5 billion in 2021.

Road freight saw little change in overall demand, but capacity increased throughout 2022. Sonthalia said the dry and load-to-truck ratio — a figure calculated by dividing the total loads by the number of available trucks — is at the lowest it has been since June 2020, which is a signal of the level of capacity available in the market.

As a result of shifts in capacity supply and demand, there was a greater spread between spot and dry rates than in previous years, according to the report. From January 2022 to January 2023, the spot rate dropped 23%. The changing dynamics caused shippers to seek a new balance among dedicated, private and one-way services.

Resiliency and Near Shoring

Sonthalia said costs have always been a factor in supply chains, but resilience has become a top priority, which is leading to more diversification and reshoring. “I think we’ll see more diversification by volumes. As that happens, your origin for shipments changes, and there is an entire ripple effect,” she said, adding that U.S. companies have been moving supply chains closer to home. The report noted that American imports of Mexican manufactured goods grew 26% last year.

Visibility is an essential tool when increasing resilience, Sonthalia said, explaining that having visibility into inventory lets shippers make strategic decisions to pivot quickly if a disruption occurs. Technology can provide the necessary visibility to increase resiliency while helping reduce costs.

According to the report, 3PLs are investing heavily in their technology offerings, with respondents reporting that 96% of 3PLs have migrated to the cloud compared to 86% of shippers, and 80% of 3PLs are investing in Internet of Things technology compared to 77% of shippers.

Other Key Findings:

  • E-commerce sales remain strong. In 2022, the U.S. e-commerce market grew by 8% to $1.03 trillion compared to $871 billion in 2021, constituting 14.5% of the entire U.S. retail market.
  • U.S. parcel market costs increased by 4.7% compared to 2021.
  • Motor carrier costs grew 6.1% year over year. The report noted that carrier margins were threatened by low rates and higher resource costs.
  • Class 1 railroad costs increased 17.6% year-over-year. Railroads saw operating income increase by 8% and total revenue increase by 14%. However, rising costs undermined operating ratios, and the sector suffered from service-related issues, ongoing congestion and high-profile derailments.
  • Air freight costs increased by 1.7%. Worldwide air cargo revenue is projected to reach approximately $150 billion in 2023, 25% below 2022 but still 50% higher than the pre-COVID revenue figures from 2019.
  • Domestic water costs increased by 18.4%. Major ocean liners saw combined global operating profits of $215 billion in 2022, but the trend has lost steam, and 2023 profits are projected at $43 billion, an 80% year-over-year decrease.

The full report is available to download here:

When you press the brake pedal on your truck, you expect an instant response. Yet any number of issues can cause your vehicle’s braking systems to fail, increasing your risk of a serious accident while putting you and your cargo in danger. That’s why maintaining your truck’s braking system is so important and a major part of your Pre-Trip Inspection.

To ensure brake safety every day of the year, here are 10 tips to help ensure your brake linings and pads are ready for the road:

1. Inspect all the parts of the brake linings and pads that you can see during pre- and post-trip inspections.

2. Check for signs of missing or damaged brake lining, such as grooves in the drum from rivet contact.

3. Look at the shoe-to-drum clearance and ensure that there is adequate lining on the shoe.

4. Try to find any signs of leaks from the hub or other components that may contaminate the lining or pad surface.

5. Look for any missing lining blocks.

6. Scan for visible cracks or voids in the lining block.

7. Check for any exposed rivets or lining blocks that look loose on the shoe.

8. On disc brakes, pay close attention to the condition of the rotor. Look for either metal-to-metal contact or heavily rusted rotors across the entire friction surface on either side.

9. Make any repairs in accordance with the brake manufacturer’s requirements and guidelines.

10. Note any brake lining or pad-related issues in your driver vehicle inspection reports and report them to the motor carrier.

In addition, always check for these brake-related items during pre- and post-trip inspections:

  • Any missing, non-functioning, loose or cracked parts
  • Audible air leaks coming from around the brake components and lines
  • Slack adjusters that are different lengths
  • Air pressure below 90-100 psi
  • Rust holes or broken springs in the brake housing section of the parking brake
  • Malfunctioning ABS warning lamps

Remember, a properly conducted pre-trip inspection will go a long way toward passing a brake inspection — and keeping you and those around you safe.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) technology has continued to develop and is a growing alternative to traditional diesel and other alternative powertrains in certain applications. The 2023 State of Sustainable Fleets report found that interest in BEVs has spread across medium- and heavy-duty fleets and has attracted more attention than other clean drivetrains.

[Read more...]Show less

Regular maintenance is critical to equipment’s safety, reliability, and efficiency, helping fleets and drivers prevent mechanical failures, avoid roadside violations and maintain uptime. However, maintaining equipment can be complex, requiring significant investments in tooling, training and labor. Penske can ease the maintenance burden on trucking companies through its contract maintenance plans, allowing carriers to focus on their customers and business.

Penske’s maintenance partnerships start by bringing carriers’ trucks up to Penske’s high quality standards with a regular maintenance schedule. Program benefits include:

Easy Access: Customers can access a nationwide network of more than 900 shops and 10,000 technicians.

Discounted Rates: Penske offers tire retreading, DPF filter cleaning and rental trucks at preferred rates as part of its contract maintenance program.

Roadside Support: While preventive maintenance helps curb roadside failures, breakdowns happen. The key is getting equipment back up and running quickly. There are more than 12,000 service providers who deliver 24/7 roadside assistance.

Fleet Services: Regulatory compliance requires careful documentation and can be a time-consuming process, but Penske’s Fleet Services and Operating Tax groups offer vehicle licensing, permits and tax reporting services, taking the complexity out of compliance.

Fueling Services: There are more than 360 Penske fueling locations, and when customers fuel at Penske locations, they have the benefit of customer service representatives who conduct vehicle and safety inspections and top off the oil, windshield washer fluid and antifreeze during fueling.

Visibility: Customers have access to real-time fleet data with Fleet Insight™ to help them make proactive decisions and keep their vehicles on the road.

Data Analytics: Penske analyzes vast amounts of data from across its network, including remote diagnostics, to understand when specific components may fail on each vehicle type. Detailed information allows shops to be proactive and schedule a repair before there’s a problem.

Dynamic PM: Penske’s Dynamic PM services analyze specifications and trends unique to each fleet, delivering the right preventive maintenance at the right time. Technicians completing a Dynamic PM use speech recognition technology to guide and record specific inspection steps, which ensures techs can focus on accuracy, safety and quality.

Extended Hours: Some locations offer extended hours and weekend availability so technicians can perform maintenance to help boost fleets’ uptime.

To learn more about how Penske’s Contract Maintenance can benefit you, contact 855-345-7268.

A strong maintenance program can reduce downtime, increase safety and improve fuel economy, but technician shortages, equipment demands and time constraints can make it hard to ensure equipment is getting the care it needs. Penske has several maintenance solutions – contract maintenance, on-site maintenance, mobile maintenance and managed maintenance – that can help fleets increase their maintenance capacity, so every piece of equipment is seen on schedule and repaired quickly.

[Read more...]Show less

Increasing uptime and managing costs are critical for fleets, especially in the current operating environment. Leasing can provide several benefits to fleets, including reducing breakdowns, driving down maintenance costs and improving their fuel economy, which all impact the bottom line.

[Read more...]Show less

No one wants to experience a roadside breakdown, but machinery can fail, even at the most inopportune time. When motor carriers and drivers find themselves needing emergency breakdown services, speed is critical.

Penske’s 24/7 Roadside Assistance has 12,000+ emergency providers to respond to drivers’ needs day or night. Plus, the call center is staffed by experienced, in-house Penske personnel who have detailed knowledge of trucks and understand the specific problems drivers may be experiencing.

Vehicles are repaired within a short amount of time, and if more lengthy repairs are necessary, Penske provides a rental or substitute vehicle.

Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections Are Essential

The ultimate goal is to prevent a roadside event from occurring in the first place, and drivers play an essential role in reducing over-the-road breakdowns. Thorough pre-and post-trip inspections can ensure trucks are in good working condition before they hit the highway.

Drivers should look for leaks, damage, operable lights, properly secured cargo, sagging equipment and anything else that seems out of place. Common problems drivers may find include damaged lights, cracked windshields, faded placards, and chaffed light cords and hoses. Drivers should also pay particular attention to tire pressure. If drivers have any concerns about tire pressure, they can stop at a Penske location so technicians can inspect their tires.

Additionally, when drivers fuel at a Penske location, the customer service representatives who fuel the truck also walk around the truck and check the vehicle to ensure headlights and taillights are working and mudflaps are in good condition, which can prevent issues on the road.

Timely PMs Help Drive Uptime

Penske focuses on preventive maintenance (PM) to help increase vehicle uptime and strives to have trucks go from one PM event to the next PM event without ever having to come back. Penske Truck Leasing follows a rigorous maintenance schedule for customers that includes using advanced system analytics to identify potential failures before they occur.

With dynamic preventive maintenance, technicians can adjust inspections based on failure rates and a vehicle’s history. Penske Truck Leasing captures and analyzes maintenance and vehicle data throughout its entire fleet, creating a thorough base of knowledge that allows technicians to customize maintenance.

Access Help

If a roadside breakdown occurs, help is just a call or a click away. Drivers and carriers can call 1-800-526-0798 or take advantage of digital fleet tools that offer instant visibility.

With Fleet Insight™, Penske’s secure website for fleet data, and the Fleet Insight™ mobile app, carriers can submit 24/7 roadside assistance requests and view real-time updates. They can track breakdown and repair details, see detailed charges for easy verification, identify and address recurring issues, and predict downtime more accurately.

With the Penske Driver™ app, drivers can submit and get real-time updates on roadside assistance requests and remain updated on the status of service, avoiding future phone calls. They can also use the app to check in for service at Penske locations and find rental, leasing, service, parking and fueling locations.

If drivers experience a roadside event (such as a breakdown or maintenance issue) within 40 miles of a Penske location, they can contact the location directly rather than contacting 24/7 Roadside Assistance— saving a step in the process and speeding up service. Locations are equipped with technicians and roadside assistance vehicles to serve drivers faster.