March 2007 | News | Trends

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To prepare for the much hyped and debated Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule for rolling out the initiative.

The TWIC program, expected to begin this month, attempts to enhance port security by checking the background of workers before they are granted unescorted access to secure areas of vessels and maritime facilities.

The new rule—expected to impact more than 750,000 port employees, from longshoremen to truckers—lays out the enrollment process, disqualifying crimes, usage procedures, fees, and other requirements for workers, port owners, and operators.

Specific measures include:

Security threat assessment. TWIC applicants will undergo a comprehensive background check that targets criminal history records, terrorist watch lists, immigration status, and outstanding wants and warrants.

Technology. The credential is a Smart card containing the applicant's photo and name, an expiration date, and serial number. In addition, an integrated circuit chip stores the card holder's fingerprint template, PIN number, and unique identifier.

Eligibility. Individuals who are lacking lawful presence and certain immigration status in the United States, connected to terrorist activity, or convicted of certain crimes are ineligible for a TWIC.

Use. During TWIC's initial rollout, workers present their cards to authorized personnel, who check their photos, inspect the TWIC's security features, and evaluate the card for signs of tampering. The Coast Guard will verify TWIC cards when conducting vessel and facility inspections, and through spot checks using handheld readers, to ensure credentials are valid.

Cost. The fee for TWIC ranges from $139 to $159, and the cards are valid for five years. Workers with current, comparable background checks—such as a Free and Secure Trade credential, hazmat endorsement to a commercial driver's license, or merchant mariner document—pay a discounted fee, between $107 and $127.

Biometric data. Applicants provide a complete set of fingerprints and sit for a digital photograph. Fingerprint checks will be used as part of the security threat assessment.

Privacy and information security. The entire enrollment record—including all fingerprints collected—will be stored in the Transportation Security Administration's system, which is protected through role-based entry, encryption, and segmentation to prevent unauthorized use.

TWIC enrollment will begin at a small number of ports, and will comply with the schedule established in the SAFE Port Act. Additional deployments will increase and continue throughout the year at ports nationwide on a phased basis.

More information on the TWIC program and the final rule is available at www.tsa.gov/twic.

Rail Volume Spikes

As the trucking industry battles congested chokepoints and capacity constraints, U.S. railroads are tailoring their services and meeting the demands of stateside shippers.

For the ninth consecutive year, total freight volume on U.S. railroads, as measured in ton-miles, set an annual record, according to the Association of American Railroads' (AAR) year-end report.

Total volume for the first 51 weeks of 2006 reached 1.712 trillion ton-miles during the week ending Dec. 23, breaking the 52-week record of 1.696 trillion set during 2005. That volume was 2.6 percent above the total for the first 51 weeks of 2005.

AAR also reports that for the fifth consecutive year, and the 18th time in the past 20 years, intermodal freight on U.S. railroads set an annual record. Intermodal volume for the first 50 weeks of 2006 reached 11,875,340 trailers or containers during the week ending Dec. 16, breaking the 52-week record of 11,693,512 set in 2005.

Coming to a Warehouse Near You

Toyota provides fuel for thought with its development of the industry's first fuel cell lift truck, which it debuted at ProMat 2007 in January. Toyota Industries Corporation, in concert with Toyota Motor Corporation, created the prototype, called the Toyota FCHV-F.

Using hydrogen as its main power source, the Toyota FCHV-F produces electricity without combustion, and generates zero carbon dioxide emissions. The lift truck reduces overall operating costs due to less fuel consumption and lower maintenance requirements.

"Toyota's commitment to the environment is widely illustrated through its vast motor vehicle and truck applications," says Shankar Basu, president and CEO of Toyota Material Handling USA. "This is the first example of a fuel cell lift truck, however, that is designed to significantly reduce emissions."

Maintenance is significantly lower than for electric lift trucks, whose batteries must be periodically charged, refilled with water, and replaced.

In addition, the fuel cell hybrid system ensures constant power delivery and performance, eliminating the reduction in voltage output that occurs as batteries discharge.

These and other features ideally suit fuel cell lift trucks to conditions found at large distribution centers, where trucks often run continual 24-hour shifts. These individual plants will be able to establish their own hydrogen fueling stations and achieve significantly lower total logistics costs.

Toyota plans to continue to advance its fuel cell technology, and bring a fuel cell lift truck to market within the next few years.

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