Trucking and Marine Update

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By Kim Biggar

A synopsis of the June trends in trucking and marine.

June 3: Truckers on Edge as Civil Unrest Rages in Major U.S. Cities – FreightWaves

Peaceful protests and civil unrest have erupted in nearly 140 cities in the U.S. over the last eight days since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fears about public safety have left truckers who deliver freight in many of the affected areas on edge.

Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, advises truckers travelling through potential protest areas to practise good situational awareness.

“Don’t go into areas with curfew restrictions and keep updated on the latest news reports of activity and avoid those areas,” Rajkovacz said. “If you can bypass major cities instead of running through a downtown area, it’ll make your job easier.”

And, he said, trucking companies have an obligation to ensure they are not putting drivers in a no-win position.

June 5: U.S.-Canada Truck Border Crossings Rebound – Ontario Trucking Association

Border data from the Canada Border Services Agency points to a continued uptick for freight, trade from the staggering pandemic plunge, Freightwaves reports.

The number of trucks crossing the U.S.-Canada border reached its highest level since late March. Nearly 86,000 truckers entered Canada from the U.S. during the week ending May 31. That represents a decline of almost 22% compared to a year ago.

U.S. freight volumes have surged since the Memorial Day weekend.

The latest data point offers yet another positive signal for cross-border freight as it slowly recovers from the COVID-19 slowdown. It also aligns with the rebound in freight volumes in the U.S. and Canada.

June 15: Pandemic Accelerates Fleets Toward Electronic BOLs, PODs – Transport Dive

With social distancing measures required, fleets needed to reconsider how to protect drivers. One way to do that is through electronic documents instead of paper ones.

“The pandemic exposed a pinch point: signing the proof of delivery (POD) and bill of lading (BOL),” said Brian Fielkow, CEO of Jetco Delivery in Houston. “Normally signed by the shipper and the driver, keeping a social distance between the two put a new spin on how that’s accomplished.”

June 23: Carriers Need to Change to Adapt to COVID-19 Challenges: Logistics Report – FleetOwner

After a trying 2019, COVID-19 has created even more challenges for the trucking industry in 2020. The pandemic created a hectic spring that saw sharp demands spurred by stay-at-home orders and panic buying that was contrasted by withering demand from closed businesses. Plus, a looming recession has created market uncertainties.

Motor carriers who don’t adapt to the new normal of this COVID-19 world might not make it to the other side, according to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) 2020 State of Logistics Report, which was released on June 23. But those carriers who do adapt and find a way to survive the uncertainties of 2020 could find themselves in a good position — with less competition — once the U.S. emerges from the pandemic.

Marine

June 2: Ports and Shipping Representatives Urge Faster Digitalization to Cope with a Post-COVID ‘New Normal’ – Lloyd’s Loading List

Ports and shipping representatives have issued an “urgent call to action” to accelerate the pace of industry digitalization and for the wide-ranging adoption of secure electronic data exchange, to cope with a post-COVID-19 ‘new normal.’

The grouping of 10 major ports and shipping associations and interest groups called for “accelerating digitalization of maritime trade and logistics” after the pandemic “painfully demonstrated” the absence of functioning and consistent worldwide systems for electronic data exchange. The partners highlighted that only 49 of the 174 Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) currently possess functioning Port Community Systems, calling for “wide-ranging adoption of secure electronic data exchange.” 

The co-signees included nine priorities for action.

June 15: ITF Tells Seafarers to Stop Work as Crew Change Deadline Passes – gCaptain

The International Maritime Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has taken the unprecedented move of telling the world’s seafarers to stop working if their employment contracts have expired and they are awaiting repatriation home.

The move from the ITF and its affiliated unions comes after months of calls on governments to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’ and exempt them from COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The inability to conduct regular crew changes has emerged as one the most critical issues facing the global shipping industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 16: Crew Crisis Is on Verge of Becoming Global Trade Crisis – American Shipper

Watching the growing threat to global trade from the stranded-crew crisis is like watching a train wreck in slow motion—and the governments of the world still don’t see it coming.

A June 15 deadline was set by the union representing seafarers, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), to resolve the crew-repatriation issue, get many thousands of seafarers stranded by COVID-19 travel restrictions back home, and designate all seafarers “key workers” who can travel unrestricted.

That deadline has predictably come and gone, and fallout for the global shipping industry and world trade now appears virtually certain.

June 23: Maritime Cyberattacks Have Quadrupled Since February: Report – The Maritime Executive

The British Ports Association and the UK-based risk management firm Astaara have released a new study on the wave of cyberattacks seen by maritime stakeholders over the past four months.

The upward trend is driving increased interest in security, according to Astaara. “Now, more than ever, the advantages of

[digitalization]

should be capable of being realized, but only if the corresponding management resilience and recovery plans are in place and practised,” said Robert Dorey, CEO of Astaara. “Processes need to be continually reviewed and updated as necessary, training provided, and new approaches to monitoring assessed and adopted.”

He noted that the new remote-work alternatives to standard operations like surveys and marine superintendent spot inspections have created new vulnerabilities for shipowners. Remote working has been identified as a major risk for security, as the attack surface is broadened.