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February 17 2020

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40 The Journal of Commerce | Februar y 17 2020 www.joc.com Surface Transportation US SHIPPERS, LESS-THAN-TRUCKLOAD (LTL) carriers, and third-party logis- tics providers (3PLs) are increas- ingly adopting digital ways of doing business, as both carriers' need for cost-saving efficiencies and shippers' desire for greater visibility drives digitization at a quicker pace, speak- ers at the SMC3 Jump Start 2020 Conference in Atlanta said. "We're going to digital," Angelo Ventrone, vice president of logistics at packaging materials distributor Uline, said of the shipper-carrier relationship. "I hate to preach, but it's time LTL car- riers got into digitalization." As e-commerce evolved, "the LTL industry just watched," Ventrone said during a panel at the event. "Don't rely on your shippers to do it." Shippers need increasingly spe- cific, detailed data, he said. "Give your shippers the tools, something easy to implement, and then give the data back to us clean and accurate to show us where our shipments are, not just that they're out for delivery," said Ventrone. LTL carriers used to think they would lose customers if they required electronic bills of lad- ing. Not anymore, Ventrone said. Unplugging the fax Carriers are pushing for elec- tronic bills of lading (BOLs) and other digital connections, too. Pitt Ohio already processes 10 percent of its BOLs electronically, said Geoff Muessig, chief marketing officer. Its goal is 80 percent. "The technology is out there," Muessig said. "What's been lacking is the willingness of both parties to rack and stack the projects and say this is a priority." Many LTL carriers say they still receive a fair number of handwritten THE MERGER OF chassis providers FlexiVan Leasing and American Intermodal Management (AIM) in late January created a combined fleet of 137,500 marine units across the United States and a stronger player set to benefit from the legacy IT system and GPS tracking capability AIM brings. Under the deal, terms of which were not disclosed, FlexiVan will receive an injection of relatively new chassis with the latest safety features, such as radial tires, automatic braking systems, and LED brake lights, the companies said in a joint statement. Additionally, AIM's chassis will now be capable of handling ocean contain- ers under a door delivery, which also benefits cargo owners and truckers looking for reliable equipment. "The combination of AIM and FlexiVan will provide strong finan- cial support to continue the upgrade of FlexiVan's fleet, support signif- icant investment in new assets, and fund ongoing development of innovative IT systems, all of which will allow us to deliver an industry- leading customer experience," Charles G. Wellins, president of FlexiVan, said in a statement. The deal was made possible through private equity firm I Squared Capital's acquisition of a controlling interest in FlexiVan, one of the top three US marine chassis com- panies. The merger will have "an immediate benefit of extending the reach of AIM's existing fleet of new, technology-equipped chassis and asset management capabilities across the broader US footprint of FlexiVan," said Ronald D. Widdows, executive chair- man of AIM, who will become CEO of the merged companies operating under the FlexiVan name. Widdows added that AIM contributes its visibil- ity intelligence and a suite of products that enjoys a larger footprint. Despite the additional units narrowing the gap, FlexiVan's fleet remains the third-largest chassis provider in the US behind TRAC Intermodal and Direct ChassisLink (DCLI). TRAC is the largest with 180,000 units, while DCLI owns, leases, and manages more than 153,000 marine chassis in the US. AIM emphasizes the use of tech- nology to provide cargo owners and truckers visibility into the location of their container and chassis. Each AIM chassis is equipped with a GPS sensor; an accelerometer that can transmit distance, speed, and direction; and a load sensor that notes and commu- nicates when a container is mounted and dismounted. JOC email: ari.ashe@ihsmarkit.com twitter: @arijashe Trucking | Rail | Intermodal | Air & Expedited | Distribution Flexing up AIM-FlexiVan merger forges stronger chassis operator By Ari Ashe Paper tigers Shippers working with LTL carriers in drive toward digital bills of lading By William B. Cassidy FlexiVan's newly bolstered fleet of 137,500 marine chassis remains the third-largest in the US behind TRAC Intermodal with 180,000 units and Direct ChassisLink (DCLI) with 153,000. Shutterstock.com

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