On Wednesday June 26th, the third annual Harbor Trucking Association DrayTECH conference took place at the scenic waterfront Hotel Maya in Long Beach. This year, NEXT stepped in as the title sponsor of the event, which attracts a number of freight companies, panelists, truck drivers and sponsors all with a vested interest in solving some of the most complex issues surrounding drayage.
The event kicked off with a panel on CleanTech, featuring representatives from XOS Trucks, Clean Energy and Crossroads Finance. An afternoon panel discussed the issues of equipment visibility and tracking technology, with an emphasis on the ongoing pain point of chassis availability at the ports, especially during peak season.
LA Metro held a breakout session on how to improve the LA county freight transportation system. Overall, LA Metro is looking to play a bigger role in logistics (their original charter is to support transportation of goods and people throughout LA). They are also looking to change their relationship with truck drivers, which has been strained in the past. To change that, they are accepting input from a large number of sources. The discussion then turned to natural gas and EVs -- with companies like Edison and PG&E offering massive discounts through state programs ($100k+). Two carriers in attendance who have purchased EVs talked about how the trucks are literally sitting in a yard because there are no chargers powerful enough to charge the vehicles within driving distance. Clean trucking continues to be a hot topic, and one with many different perspectives.
The afternoon session concluded with representatives from the Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, Northwest Seaport Alliance, Port of Oakland and LA Metro discussing the state of affairs and the role of the public sector in 21st century port operations.
Before the final panel of the evening, guests enjoyed cocktails, hor'dourves and some beautiful SoCal sunshine outside the venue facing the Long Beach waterfront.
The evening concluded with Freightwaves introducing NEXT Chief Revenue Officer Bobby Napiltonia, (who brought down the house) with his discussion on the “New Norm” in the freight industry.
”We believe we’re due for a makeover. If you don’t, you should probably go home because there won’t be a place here for you tomorrow.”
“Transforming freight starts with drayage. It’s like a dance and if you stumble from the start, you fail.”
NEXT Co-Founder and CEO Lidia Yan took to the stage to reinforce the importance of the first mile and the need for change.
“We wanted to be the first technology company to really disrupt, change and resolve the problems that have existed for so many years.
By combining our virtual fleet and freight marketplace with owned yards/assets, we are able to increase truck turns and container moves resulting in faster deliveries for shippers and greater earning potential for drivers."
Both Napiltonia and Yan echoed that change begins with reimagining the current business model and forming partnerships to share data and work collectively to bring more transparency to the industry.
Harbor Trucking Association CEO Weston LaBar agrees and has long been an advocate for technology advancements in drayage operations.
“Technology will be what drives our industry, both literally and figuratively. We need to embrace sharing data and leveraging technology to provide visibility and accountability for cargo-owners. Gone are the days that progress in drayage will be decided by the slowest adopters. They need to get on board or be left behind. Together, HTA, NEXT, and other forward thinkers will lead our industry into a new industrial revolution that is driven by advanced technology. Viva La Revolution!”
In other words, hold on tight. Change is coming.