Dec. 20, 2017

Electronic Logs Go into Effect for U.S. Truck Fleet

The promise of corporate tax reform, strong GDP numbers and positives in most economic indicators are a significant source of optimism. But, as usual, there are warning signs that can scuttle the growth trend for the industrial economy.

For the manufacturing sector, one of those issues is the ability to move material. That push possibly got a little tougher this week.

On Monday, the Department of Transportation’s long-awaited rule mandating the use of electronic logs by the nation’s trucking companies went into effect. Its effect on the transportation industry is yet to be known.

The rule change has been championed for years by the American Trucking Associations and most major trucking fleets. The larger carriers had long-ago installed the machines in their vehicles, recognizing the value in doing away with the time-consuming manual logs and aiding their compliance with Hours of Service and other requirements.

However, the nation’s smaller carriers, as well as its independent owner-operators, have not been as enthusiastic about the implementation of electronic logs. The question that hovers over the industry is how many of those smaller carriers follow through on installation, and how many depart the industry rather than comply.

Earlier this year, transportation analyst Eric Starks of FTR Associates, estimated the fleet would suffer a 4 percent loss in capacity from drivers who don’t make the shift. An additional, if temporary, decline in productivity could result as the late-adapters get accustomed to the technology.

In a sluggish economy, this kind of productivity hit might be easier for the industry to absorb. But metals companies are operating in a market that’s moving along nicely and in an economy with historically low levels of unemployment. In that scenario, a jolt to capacity may not be a cause for concern, but it’s at least a reason to take notice.

For more news in metals logistics, see the January issue of Metal Center News.

And please enjoy a wonderful holiday season. 


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018