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In trucking, VR simulator training moving to center stage, says Florida firm



In trucking, vr simulator training moving to center stage, says florida firm
Virtual reality has emerged as a training mainstay for high-risk professions. In trucking, says Advanced Training System's John Kearney, simulation is attracting much-needed new candidates to the profession and turning out better prepared, safer drivers. (Courtesy: ADVANCED TRAINING SYSTEMS)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Recent research from Brandon Hall Group shows that the use of virtual reality (VR) as a training modality is growing rapidly in “high-consequence” industries —those in which operator mistakes can cause significant property damage or fatalities or both. According to the study, nearly one third of surveyed companies in such industries identified VR tools as a top learning priority over the next 24 months — a 60% increase over two years.

“We’re definitely seeing that in the motor freight industry,” said John Kearney, CEO, Advanced Training Systems, a company that designs and manufactures virtual simulators for driving training among other applications. “Trucking companies, driving schools and the general public are increasingly aware that simulation training — that is to say, virtual reality — helps produce drivers who are better prepared to deal with any situation they might encounter.”

Simulation, Kearney said, solves a classic training dilemma: how do you safely prepare trainees to deal with dangerous or extraordinary situations?

Once dismissed as a toy, VR has been objectively shown to offer measurable improvement in the performance of tasks as disparate as flying advanced jets and handling dangerous chemicals. This, Kearney said, makes it a natural for truck drivers.

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics cites vehicle crashes as the leading cause of workplace deaths in the United States.

Over 90% of such accidents, according to the National Highway Safety Administration, are at least partly because of driver error.

Training with simulators is relatively new to the trucking industry compared to other professions and Kearney said his firm has been at the forefront of advocating for simulation to be a training standard among the trucking industry for years.

“Pilots are required to train via simulation — professional truck drivers should, too,” he said. “With all the high technology, this is a new era of CDLs.”

In addition to enhancing driver safety performance, simulation, by reducing the required amount of on-the-road training students must spend with a single instructor, and expediting instruction success, is helping attract more women to the truck driving field, Kearney said.

Advanced Training Systems helped with a Fox Business report on a Women In Trucking story in December 2019.

According to the American Trucking Associations, the number of women truckers in the U.S. has increased by about a third since 2003.

Through community college-based commercial driver’s license programs, which increasingly include simulator training, the industry is also actively recruiting new drivers from the ranks of industries where employment is sagging, such as laid-off miners in Appalachia, Kearney said.

Beyond reduced training cost and improved safety preparedness, Kearney noted, simulation offers long-term financial benefits to trucking companies. A trainer for an oilfield service company in Texas, for example, says simulator training has resulted in both fewer rollovers and fewer overall accidents. A Canadian bulk commodity hauler reports that by teaching correct driving technique, simulation training has reduced the company’s fuel cost by an average of 30%.

“All in all,” Kearney said, “simulation training is doing two important things for trucking. First, it is producing better-trained, safer, and more cost-effective drivers. Second, by helping open trucking to people who might not previously have considered it as a profession, it is providing at least a partial solution to a chronic driver shortage. My colleagues and I are proud of our work and delighted to do our part to help this great—and essential—industry.”

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.3% in 2019



Ata truck tonnage index increased 3.3% in 2019
After falling 3.4% in November 2019, the Truck Tonnage Index recovered in December, posting a 4% monthly increase. (courtesy: ATA)

ARLINGTON, Vir. — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.3% in 2019, about half the annual gain in 2018 (6.7%). The increase was the tenth consecutive year in which the tonnage index has risen above the previous year.
The advanced SA For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 4% in December after falling 3.4% in November. In December, the index equaled 118.2 (2015=100) compared with 113.6 in November.
“Last year was not a terrible year for for-hire truck tonnage, and despite the increase at the end of the year, 2019 was very uneven for the industry,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The overall annual gain masks the very choppy freight environment throughout the year, which made the market feel worse for many fleets. In December, strong housing starts helped advance the index forward.” It is important to note that ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight.
November’s reading was revised down slightly compared with the December 2019 data. In December 2018, the SA index rose 3%, which was preceded by a 2% year-over-year drop in November.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage hauled by the fleets before seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.7 in December, 2% below the November level (115.1). In calculating the index, 100 represents the index from 2015.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Rates slip amid strong holiday freight



Act research for-hire trucking index: rates slip amid strong holiday freight
For-hire index rates slip, but signs of freight recovery in 2020 "encouraging" (©2020 FOTOSEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. – The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index showed improvement in for-hire freight volumes and utilization. The data used in the Index included December. Respectively, the data indicated 55.5 and 52.3 diffusion index readings, both up four points from November on a seasonally adjusted basis. But even as for-hire capacity contracted again, the Freight Rates Index slid to 48.7 in December.
The ACT For-Hire Trucking Index is a monthly survey of for-hire trucking service providers. ACT Research converts responses into diffusion indexes, where the neutral or flat level is 50.
Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s Vice President and Senior Analyst commented, “We see encouraging signs that the freight downturn is in its late stages and the market will rebalance in 2020. However, the ongoing rate pressure, even as volumes ramped into the holidays, is symptomatic of ongoing excess industry capacity. Our survey respondents clearly get it, and reduced capacity for a sixth straight month, so we can pretty easily deduce that private fleet capacity additions through year-end 2019 are the main factor continuing to pressure for-hire rates.”
The ACT Freight Forecast provides forecasts for the direction of truck volumes and contract rates quarterly through 2020, with three years of annual forecasts for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal segments of the transportation industry. For the truckload spot market, the report provides forecasts for the next twelve months.
In 2019, the average accuracy of ACT’s truckload spot rate forecasts was 98%. The ACT Research Freight Forecast uses equipment capacity modeling and the firm’s economics expertise to provide anticipated freight rates, helping businesses in transportation and logistics management plan with confidence.

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2019 trading performance ended on a sour note for transportation companies



For major shippers, 2019 ended on a sour note; transportation companies have worst trading performance across market.
Transportation companies are showing the worst performance across the market and trading. Shares in railroad, trucking and ocean shipping companies are selling off. (Courtesy: FotoSearch)

For major shipping companies dealing with trade wars and slowing global growth, conditions appear to have deteriorated as 2019 came to a close.

Transportation companies are the worst performers across the market in trading. Shares in trucking, railroad and ocean shipping companies are selling off.

The trade war between the U.S. and China has taken a toll. Government data showed Friday that China’s economy grew by 6.1% last year, down from 6.6% in 2018, and a multi-decade low. The Trump administration has agreed to cancel planned tariff hikes on additional Chinese imports as part of an interim deal announced this week, and Beijing promised to buy more American farm goods.

Punitive duties already imposed by both sides, however, will stay in place.

JB Hunt Transport Services Inc., a trucking company, on Friday reported profits that fell well short of what industry analysts had expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Shares in that company are down 2.7%.

FedEx reported last month that its profit slid 40%, hurt by higher costs, a shorter holiday season and its move to cut ties with It too, cut its profit expectations.

UPS reports fourth quarter and full year results at the end of the month. Its shares have been falling over the past month and were down in trading as of Friday.

Global shipping and logistics provider Expeditors International said Friday that it expects fourth quarter operating income to fall between $177 million and $183 million.

CEO Jeffrey Musser cited trade disputes and slowing growth for a number of economies. The report comes a day after the railroad CSX reported a 7% decline in the freight it hauled during the final months of the year.

“We’ve seen impacts throughout the year from these market conditions, but the pace at which these changes occurred accelerated dramatically in the fourth quarter,” Musser said. “We know this environment will change over time, as it always has in the past.”

Shares of Expeditors International of Washington Inc., based in Seattle, slumped almost 5%.

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