May 17, 2020

FedEx successfully ships T-Rex across USA to Washington

Freddie Pierce
3 min
The T-Rex at its former home
A 65 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex has been traveling in a dedicated custom truck via FedEx to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natu...

A 65 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex has been traveling in a dedicated custom truck via FedEx to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C, USA, and is due to arrive today.

The skeleton which is on loan from the Museum of the Rockies in Montana for the next 50 years, is going to travel on a specially branded Custom Critical truck. For its safety and security, the T-rex will be monitored around the clock by FedEx shipping innovations including ShipmentWatch and SenseAware™ that ensure its temperature is maintained throughout the journey. Once it arrives, the T-rex will be the centerpiece of the new dinosaur hall at the National Museum of Natural History. 

The T-Rex being loaded into the truck in Montana


Rancher Kathy Wankel first discovered an arm bone of the dinosaur in 1988 in the Fort Peck Reservoir – the first T. Rex arm bone ever found. Afterwards, a team initiated an intense excavation around the reservoir. The search resulted in the unearthing of 80% of the dinosaur’s skeleton and the Nation’s T. Rex is now regarded as one of the most complete specimens known to man.

Mark Robinson, the Museum of the Rockies director of marketing, said: “The T. rex set off to the nation's capital with a police escort through downtown Bozeman as crowds cheered the truck carrying it, this following a two-hour send-off celebration”

FedEx Custom Critical (FCC), the FedEx operating company charged with transporting the skeleton, have worked closely with museum personnel from both the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, and the Smithsonian to strategically place the bones on pallets and develop a safe and secure packing method prior to embarking on the four-day trip.

Virginia Albanese, president and CEO for FedEx Custom Critical, which handles high-end cargo, said:  “Each crate needs to go in a specific spot inside the temperature-controlled truck because it's important not to have too much weight over any one axle.”

Some of those innovative features include:

Technology called FedEx ShipmentWatch featuring SenseAware, which offers near real-time monitoring of environmental factors such as location, temperature, humidity light exposure and barometric pressure; On-board satellite through the FCC SecureComm Command center that allows the truck to be tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year; and OmniTracs technology (formerly Qualcomm) that allows the FCC team to directly communicate with drivers.

A “chase vehicle” (FCC van) that follows the truck and will assist with any potential issues during the transport. GPS technology will also guide the driver along the fastest, safest route. And a member of the FCC team is always watching the shipment’s progress, temperature levels and security from the Command centre.

FedEx is no stranger to unique shipments. The company works with museums, art galleries, and NASA among many others on a regular basis to support the safe delivery of priceless artefacts and equipment.

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Jun 19, 2021

Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried

Rob Wright, Executive Director...
4 min
Logistics professionals need urgent solutions to a shortage in drivers caused by a perfect storm of Brexit, COVID-19 and compounding economic factors

While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks. 

A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so. 

What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.

"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"

That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.

But where has this skills shortage stemmed from? 

Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.

COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.

It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing. 

So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done? 

Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change. 

Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.

Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line. 

On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains. 

Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months. 

Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector

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