If there is anything in the trucking industry that has only become more valuable with time, it’s qualified drivers. Industry leaders re-affirmed the need for experienced drivers at this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. In anticipation of a new rule on entry-level driver training standards mandated by the highway bill MAP-21, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration held a public listening session during which some of the industry’s most experienced professionals shared their opinions about the form the new rule should take. Although ideas on the new rule varied, there was one area in which nearly all agreed – a strong focus on training is going to be a key to survival for any company in the trucking industry.

Today’s increasingly global business landscape has resulted in a marketplace where suppliers, manufacturers and customers often are located in completely different countries and even on different continents. The pressure on companies to adapt and excel in this new environment is constant. In a recent survey conducted by Aberdeen Group, respondents cited the rising complexity and globalization of operations as their top business pressure, followed by the need to improve supply chain operational speed and accuracy.

It’s easy for transportation companies to focus on the same prominent initiatives when looking for ways to innovate and preserve resources – rising fuel prices, increased globalization, pressures to differentiate from the competition.

However, another potential menace to your efficiency and budget may be lurking within the heart of your operations: a less-than-optimal electronic data interchange (EDI) system that is hindering your transportation management system’s (TMS) ability to successfully integrate and operate as you grow.

Although they still are uncommon enough to rate a mention in the media whenever they are introduced, alternative-fuel fleets are more than just a PR stunt these days. Whereas manufacturers and carriers used to proudly unveil alternative-fuel vehicles as “a glimpse of the future” and then go right back to concentrating on fossil fuels, today’s alternative-fuel fleets increasingly are taking their spot on the road right alongside their predecessors. As the transportation industry continues to make the transition away from fossil fuels and toward lower-emission alternatives, the question becomes less “Will the industry embrace alternative fuels?” and more “What path will it take to get there?”

The current state of our transportation infrastructure is bleak. Of America’s 605,000 bridges, 24 percent are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. While this may sound scary, the truth is that a structurally deficient bridge will eventually close or restrict traffic due to limited structural capacity, but the bridge is not in immediate danger. A functionally obsolete bridge is typically older and no longer able to support current traffic volumes, or isn’t wide enough to support vehicle sizes and weights. While the impacts of these deficiencies aren’t immediate, they contribute to traffic congestion and delays, negatively impacting our nation’s ability to move goods and services effectively and compete globally.

Apple CEO Tim Cook made headlines recently when he announced plans to move production for at least part of an existing Mac line to the United States. In fact, though, Apple joins a growing list of North American businesses – General Motors, General Electric, Microsoft and Ford among them – that have recognized that overseas offshoring is no longer the good deal it once was, nor does it comport with today’s supply chain demands.

Exports will drive U.S. port growth, and rail transportation is the critical link to support that growth. In fact, the President’s U.S. Export Initiative cites reliance on continued improvement of rail intermodal market share and intermodal connections as key to its success. Improving intermodal shipping is crucial for export growth and for the United States to compete in the global economy.

Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) has answered that call with its current infrastructure improvements, including on-dock intermodal rail at Port Miami for ease of ship-to-rail container transport.

As the second-costliest storm in U.S. history behind Katrina, Hurricane Sandy was also one of the biggest events of 2012. The images of cities and towns washed away by the powerful hurricane were unavoidable in the storm’s wake, and the effects are still being felt in early 2013 as residents of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states continue to rebuild.

Hurricane Sandy toppled buildings, washed out roads and knocked out power up and down the East Coast. The impact to many businesses was devastating, and the transportation and logistics industry did not escape unscathed. However, industry professionals have said that although Hurricane Sandy definitely made its presence felt, the repercussions of the storm on the industry have not been as severe as many would think.

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