FedEx Freight expanding e-commerce returns service

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023:

FedEx Freight expands e-commerce returns service

FedEx Freight, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (CCJ Top 250, No. 1) has expanded its FedEx Freight Direct e-commerce offering for returns of big and bulky items (such as outdoor patio furniture, grills, and exercise equipment) from or through the door of residences and businesses.

Offering label-less returns, flexible pickup windows with proactive notifications, shipment visibility, and technology capabilities connecting the return to the original shipment, FedEx Freight Direct now covers nearly 100% of the U.S. population for Basic Pickup and Basic by Appointment Pickup, and 90% of the contiguous U.S. population for Standard Pickup.

Return pickups are made by FedEx Freight team members in uniform, using company-branded equipment. FedEx Freight invested in technology that provides customers with greater visibility for their shipments, real-time estimates for scheduling and pickup status, and flexible two-hour pickup windows. Customers can opt into SMS text message or email notifications. The company optimizes route design for drivers by using technology to monitor distance between stops, appointment windows, driver availability, and traffic patterns.

“We wanted to simplify the process for our customers and their consumers,” said Bonnie Voldeng, Vice President FedEx Freight Direct. “We’ve designed a returns solution, much like our delivery service levels, that simplifies the process for all parties involved, offers greater visibility, removes the hassle of printing a label, and provides flexible two-hour pick-up windows. These are all just examples of how FedEx Freight Direct is providing value and enhancing the overall customer experience.”

FedEx Freight Direct uses vendors as needed, including in Alaska, Hawaii, NYC metro area, and for hard-to-navigate areas.

Hours regs suspended for certain fuel haulers in four states

Two states out West and two in the Midwest are exempting certain truck drivers from the hours of service regulations due to ongoing weather events.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Friday issued an executive order declaring an energy emergency related to a shortage of residential heating fuel in the state.

As a result, truck drivers in the process of obtaining or hauling residential heating fuel in Wisconsin are exempted from the hours of service regs.

In his declaration, Evers said winter weather conditions have created strong demand for heating fuel, and added that multiple terminals across Wisconsin have limited supplies of product on-hand, are on allocation, or are loading off of the pipeline, which is resulting in long wait times and drivers traveling longer distances to obtain product.

The declaration is in effect “as long as drivers transporting residential heating fuel are providing assistance for the emergency, or for a period of 30 days,” through Feb 4, whichever is shorter.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Jan. 4 issued an emergency declaration due to heavy rainfall, flooding, strong winds and more in the state. According to the declaration, storms have forced the closure and caused damage to highways and roads, and continue to threaten critical infrastructure.

As a result, Newsom is allowing drivers transporting fuel in support of relief operations to exceed the hours of service limits. Drivers are still required to maintain a record of duty status, regardless of the number of hours worked each day. The logs shall then be prepared, submitted and maintained, as required by the California Code of Regulations.

Additionally, in neighboring Nevada, Gov. Joe Lombardo has declared an emergency due to storms impacting the supply of propane. “A series of storms and unsettled weather conditions have compounded existing propane supply chain problems and are anticipated to continue impacting parts of the state of Nevada in the coming weeks,” the order reads.

Lombardo’s declaration waives Part 395.3 of the federal hours of service regulations for propane delivery drivers for 15 days, as of Jan. 6.

Finally, in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued a new emergency declaration to ensure timely access for Iowa residents to supplies of motor and heating fuels.

The declaration suspends hours of service provisions for drivers delivering propane, diesel No. 1, diesel No. 2, natural gas, and other fuels used for residential, agricultural, and commercial heating purposes. The declaration is effective through Feb. 5, unless it is terminated sooner.

EV charging station provider partners with EV fleet maintenance firm

EV charging facility developer and operator Voltera has announced a strategic partnership with EV fleet maintenance leader Amerit Fleet Solutions. This nationwide partnership will provide comprehensive mobile fleet maintenance support onsite at EV charging sites that Voltera builds for its clients. 

Voltera’s partnership with Amerit includes inspections, maintenance and technical support, performed on location as vehicles are charging in Voltera’s charging sites nationwide. This is one of many amenities and services that can be added as Voltera builds EV infrastructure for its clients, helping to minimize fleet downtime and improve fleet operations.

Amerit’s EV Ready Technician Program ensures technicians have undergone extensive training and are certified to perform necessary maintenance and repair on the newest electric vehicles across a broad range of OEMs.

“Amerit is an industry leader in fleet maintenance and has demonstrated a laser focus on the new area of EV fleet maintenance,” said Matt Horton, CEO of Voltera. “Voltera is not just deploying charging; we are managing operations on behalf of our customers which includes bringing strategic partners to the table, like Amerit, to maximize vehicle availability.” 

First Call Logistics opens new Texas facility

First Call Logistics, together with its asset-based division FC TRANS and parent organization Horton Fruit, recently opened a new location in Irving, Texas.

The facility, built to house 35,000 square feet of dry storage and an additional 13,000 square feet of temperature-controlled space, provides a strategic expansion for both First Call and Horton's shipping, warehousing and distribution networks.

"We are thrilled to be operating in Texas, and to become a resource for all types of businesses," said Horton President Mike Wise. "Our team has extensive experience in produce and logistics, and now we can offer efficient and effective solutions to our customers from a region experiencing tremendous growth."

The office's location gives First Call partners several key advantages to managing dry goods and produce originating from Mexico and Texas, including quick access to a variety of fresh products and a crucial quality assurance checkpoint for more successful deliveries.

Horton Fruit's sister company, Grow Farms Texas, will operate a sales office out of the new facility. 

First Call Logistics, FC Trans and Horton Fruit's combined resources enables this collaborative effort to answer increased demand for both full truckload and LTL shipments and provides partnering businesses with more efficient year-round supply chain solutions.

Through the new Irving location, FCL and its partnering companies gain access to an extensive supply of goods in the Food & Beverage vertical, including:

Horton Fruit's packing and distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky, along with its Midwest and Southeast fruit and vegetable growing programs and partnerships sold under the Grow Farms brand.

A substantial network of operators in Mexico, represented by Grow Farms, supplying mangos, avocados, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and beans as well as Texas farmers producing Texas cabbage and onions.