Commentary

As much of North America thaws out from a brutal winter, the burning question in freight transportation is whether the heavy congestion experienced in many areas was solely a weather-related phenomenon or whether limits in transportation capacity are finally starting to be revealed.
In my 42-plus years in the industry, I’ve seen many variations of what we now call alliances — joint services, slot-charter arrangements, vessel-sharing agreements, alliances and now mega-alliances — and more no doubt will follow.
Congress again will consider an infrastructure fund, this time supported by a 1 percent tax on freight charges. Why shippers shouldn’t lose sleep about it becoming law.
Few in the industry combine the breadth of experience and willingness to share their opinions in an open forum. Ron Widdows, former NOL-APL chief who now heads Hamburg-based Rickmers Group, is one of them.
If you think drayage is a tough job today, imagine doing it with horses.
Though it seems odd to hear myself called an “elder statesman,” my 42 years in transportation allow me an opinion of the industry today. Is it better or worse, or just different?
Combine several hundred longshoremen on a work break with energetic speakers using microphones they don’t need, and you get a lot of noise.
Few trucking companies, it’s safe to say, were sad to see 2013 end.
Transshipping can be fraught with costs, time and risk that need to be fully recognized, weighed and accepted before proceeding with this option.
We are an LTL carrier. Some shippers of products used in food packaging are placing restrictions on us that we are questioning.
When Ron Widdows, CEO of shipowner and lessor Rickmers Group, was asked at the TPM conference, “Is there any hope for this industry?” he replied: “Unless the people who are running the companies get to the point where they can price the product at a level where they can make money, then we will stay at the same rate levels for years.”
Port congestion that spills out into the real world in the form of truck lines, pollution, supply chain delays and occasional violence is a rapidly escalating problem affecting foreign trade.
There were no real losers among U.S. South Atlantic and Gulf ports that have ambitious expansion plans under the Obama budget released last week.
As a general rule, “shipper” and “consignor” refer to one and the same person/entity, in law and general usage. Still, there is a difference, and one that occasionally becomes important.

Pages