2014 will surely go down as a momentous year — and not in a good way — for those who depend on international container transportation. Hardly a year of progress, this was a year when the system regressed.
The less-than-truckload industry saw some resurgence in 2014 with carriers’ ability to dig out of suboptimal returns from low-single-digit operating margins. Third-quarter results for publicly traded LTL carriers show a collective operating ratio of 92, a significant improvement from 94 a year ago. This should give LTL carriers optimism about achieving a much-needed 10 percent operating margin by the third quarter of 2015.
From crumbling roads and bridges to congested airports and a “vast majority of seaports in danger of becoming obsolete,” a 60 Minutes television newsmagazine feature pulled no punches about the risks not only to U.S. competitiveness and freight supply chains, but also to the safety of the American public.
If a seal is broken or missing, should a motor carrier be held liable for the destruction of perfectly good boxed, skidded or palletized freight that shows no evidence of contamination or malicious tampering?
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union's monopoly has kept its wage and benefits package so out of the line with other U.S. workers, and prevented major productivity improvements at U.S. West Coast terminals.
This week's blast of cold weather is an unwelcome reminder of last winter’s polar vortex and a portent of supply chain disruption to come.
Supply chain security analyst
The recent attack on a Egyptian Naval patrol boat serves as a reminder that Egypt’s relative calm should not be mistaken as a sign of stability, and that maritime interests tied to the Suez Canal are far from insulated from country's many security problems.
I’m not certain why it is that, every time I mention transfer of title in any connection with a question about an Incoterm, somebody feels obliged to “correct” me by emphasizing that Incoterms don’t control the transfer of title. I know that.
Given Ebola’s combined potential for substantial loss of life and economic disruption, it certainly could qualify as a weapon of mass disruption-level threat, so why not treat it as one? Take Homeland Security’s defense of the international supply chain, for example. Substitute “WMD” with “Ebola,” and “freight conveyance” with “foreign traveler,” and the tactics are essentially identical.
Susan Kohn Ross
Two recent cases serve as reminders of the expanding effort by enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to criminalize civil violations.
With intermodal loadings in record territory and the railroads pushed to the limit to move the volume, it might seem a bit strange to be sounding an alarm about a slowdown. But the intermodal industry is entering a period of vulnerability after a prolonged period of growth. While trouble isn’t inevitable, intermodal’s near-term destiny has passed to forces outside of intermodal’s control.
Michael D. Scheid
When looking at the list of Top 50 Global Transportation and Logistics Providers, the major takeaway is that consolidated revenues for these multibillion-dollar companies showed flat growth in 2013. This suggests top-line growth for these companies slowed during the year and, while it did for many, adjusting revenue growth for foreign currency fluctuations tells a much different story.
Truck weight reform legislation known as the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, which is pending in Congress and likely to be considered in 2015 as an amendment to the next highway reauthorization bill, would help shippers address the capacity crisis by giving each state the option to raise truck weight limits on appropriate portions of its interstate highways.
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