Delivering goods to businesses and communities in a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly manner is a growing challenge, but one that many in the trucking industry are ready to face. Freight transportation leaders and stakeholders attended a Moving the World conference held today at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC. The event was hosted by Volvo Trucks North America, Volvo Group North America, and the American Trucking Associations (ATA), along with the Embassy of Sweden.
“The trucking industry faces considerable challenges as it strives to meet growing freight demand while operating on a highway system designed in the 1950s,” said Ron Huibers, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America. “The time is right for the U.S. trucking industry and other stakeholders to take a critical and creative look at how we’re going to meet a growing population’s transport demands in the years and decades to come. It’s important not only to our industry but to society as a whole, since nearly everything we touch and taste in our daily lives is at one point on a truck.”
Huibers spoke at the conference during a panel discussion on truck productivity. Also on the panel was John Woodrooffe, director of the transportation safety analysis division of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and John Runyan, head of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity.
“As an industry and as a country, we need to get a clear handle on the issues that affect truck productivity and get serious about possible solutions,” said Huibers. “The Department of Transportation has estimated that the cost to the U.S. economy from congestion alone – at seaports, airports, and on our highways – is as high as $200 billion per year. At Volvo, we see our role as one of fostering dialogue and encouraging innovative solutions. Our sponsorship of this conference is just a beginning. The timing is particularly good as the federal government considers ways to fund our nation’s highway program, which could have a significant impact on available solutions moving forward.”
To increase awareness of the issues that affect truck productivity and explore possible solutions, Volvo Trucks North America also launched a new website at the conference: http://www.moreproductivetrucks.com/. The intended audience includes people in the transportation industry, state and federal government officials, academic researchers and the general public.
The focal point of the new website is a series of videos that outline the challenges we face in the U.S. with hauling more and more freight. In the introductory video and five shorter clips, a group of experts weigh in on transportation infrastructure, highway safety, energy and the environment, public policy issues and freight transport efficiency. The site also contains links to online news, commentary, presentations and fact sheets covering a range of truck productivity topics.
“We want this new website to be a gathering place for people who are ready to address the challenges we face with freight transport in this country,” said Huibers. “The status quo is no longer an option – let’s get the conversation started so we can begin to implement appropriate productivity solutions.”
In addition to truck productivity, the conference in Washington today also featured panel discussions on environmental and safety issues, and a closing reception with remarks from the likely new Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.
Panelists focusing on the Environment and SmartWay were Byron Bunker of the Environmental Protection Agency, Drew Kodjak of the International Council on Clean Transportation, and Randy Mullet of Con-way Trucking.
Addressing the issue of truck safety were panelists Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO of Maverick USA, Inc., Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and a professional truck driver representing America’s Road Team, an ATA safety outreach initiative sponsored by Volvo Trucks.
Bill Graves, President and CEO of ATA, delivered the opening remarks.
"Existing restrictions on truck sizes and weights are unnecessarily low, hindering the productivity of America's trucking industry," Graves said. "Raising our standards, as our international counterparts have, will improve supply chain efficiency and bolster global competiveness through reduced logistics costs for businesses and consumers. Along with these economic gains, we can expect further improvements in highway safety and a smaller carbon footprint."
The event was part of the House of Sweden’s Fall 2010 Program Shaping Tomorrow’s World: Infrastructure & Intelligent Mobility, a series of seminars, roundtable discussions, performances, exhibitions and hands-on demonstrations held from September 30 to December 5.
Volvo Trucks North America’s operations and products are guided by the company’s three core values: Safety, Quality and Environmental Care. The Volvo VN and VHD trucks are assembled in the United States at the New River Valley Plant in Dublin, Virginia, while Volvo engines for North America are assembled in Hagerstown, Maryland. Both plants are certified to ISO14001 environmental and ISO9001 quality standards.
Volvo Trucks North America is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of trucks, buses and construction equipment, drive systems for marine and industrial applications, aerospace components and services, and one of the world's leading producers of heavy-diesel engines (9-16 liter). The Group also provides complete solutions for financing and service. The Volvo Group, which employs about 96,000 people, has production facilities in 19 countries and sells their products in more than 180 markets. Volvo Group sales for 2009 amounted to approximately $29 billion. The Volvo Group is a publicly-held company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Shares are listed on Nasdaq OMX Nordic Exchange and are traded OTC in the U.S.
December 1, 2010