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Monday, July 20, 2020
Logistics Intelligence Brief
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Trucking

Volumes stay strong, up 25% year-over-year in a recession

Freight Waves Seth Holm July 18, 2020

As expected, freight volumes have roared out of the Independence Day disruption and currently sit at 12,592. The Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) remains up 25% year-over-year, hardly falling from its pre-July Fourth peak. July of last year (2019) exhibited typical freight seasonality, so yearly comparisons are relatively easy. 2018 was a banner year for freight volumes and yet, currently freight volumes are 23% higher than 2018.

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DAT Truckload Volume Index shows solid seasonal patterns in June

Logistics Management Jeff Berman July 17, 2020

DAT’s data found the following takeaways for June:

  • the load-to-truck ratio for vans almost doubled, for the second straight month, to 3.5, well up from an April low of 1.0, and up 12.9% annually, showing a market “with more freight than trucks on the DAT One load board network,” according to DAT;
  • the national spot van rate average—at $1.80—was up 21 cents over May and off 9 cents compared to June 2019;
  • spot reefer volumes rose 4.5% from May to June, driven by a increases in seasonal produce freight out of the Southwest, West Coast
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Spot rates approach normal levels as demand surges

Fleet Owner John Hitch July 17, 2020

Dry van posted an average of $1.80 per mile across the country, which is 13% higher than May, though down $0.09 from last June. Van load-to-truck ratio, which hit a low in April of 1.0, is now at 3.5. That’s nearly 13% better from June 2019.

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Supply chain shuffle keeps capacity tight

Freight Waves Zach Strickland July 18, 2020

The two components displayed measure inventory levels and domestic transportation capacity. The LMI is based on a scale similar to the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which is more focused on manufacturing. It ranges from 1-100 with values below 50 indicating contraction and those above 50 indicate expansion. According to the most recent results, from June, the inventory level component increased from 56.6 to a stronger 64.2. Normally rapidly rising inventory levels indicate poor sales or declining demand. That would make sense except for the fact the transportation capacity figure fell from an expansive 57.87 to a slightly contracting 49.56, an indication that the domestic freight market is tightening and rates are increasing. If demand were soft, transportation capacity normally loosens as less freight moves.

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J.B. Hunt cautious on Q3 volumes despite June intermodal surge

The Journal of Commerce Ari Ashe July 17, 2020

“We have some potential signs of inflection in the demand curve. We will look for more direction from import data, inventory levels, and retail sales information, as well as thoughtful input from our customers to build confidence in the trends into the second half of the year,” CEO John Roberts said on the company’s second-quarter conference call Thursday. “Having said all that, we are cautious. A recent spike in COVID cases and the uncertainty of what that may present will [cause us to] hold back on any changes from our current state of conservative thinking.”

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Shippers/3PLs

The Next Phase of the Retail Apocalypse: Stores Reborn as E-Commerce Warehouses

The Wall Street Journal Christopher Mims July 18, 2020

Welcome to the next phase of the “retail apocalypse.” This conversion—which Sam’s Club has also completed for five other big-box stores throughout the country—is part of a burgeoning trend in which retail spaces of all sizes are being converted into e-commerce fulfillment centers. The global pandemic may have turbocharged the shift from bricks-and-mortar retail to online shopping, but the rate of conversion of retail into industrial spaces has been accelerating for years, says Matthew Walaszek, associate director of industrial and logistics research at CBRE Group Inc., the world’s largest commercial real-estate services firm by revenue.

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Industry

‘We’ve never seen something like this’: Volvo North American truck deliveries plunge 79%

Transport Dive Jim Stinson July 17, 2020

Volvo Group's North American deliveries for new trucks fell 79% for Q2 2020, and North American orders fell 44%, both compared to Q2 2019, CEO Martin Lundstedt said during a Friday call conference with investors, as many fleets put buying plans on hold due to market volatility and economic uncertainty. Worldwide, deliveries fell 58% year over year (YoY), and orders plunged 47% YoY.

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Trailer Makers Anticipate Rebound After Fleets Recover From Pandemic

Transport Topics Steve Brawner July 17, 2020

The trailer industry — already on the downside of the economic cycle prior to the COVID-19 outbreak — was forced to make further production cuts and alter manufacturing processes as the pandemic took hold. But if history repeats itself, the industry could be headed for a long upturn when the economy rebounds, said Sean Kenney, chief sales officer for Hyundai Translead.

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Technology/Innovation

FedEx installs robotic arms for automated parcel sorting to handle rising e-commerce volume

Supply Chain Dive Morgan Forde July 17, 2020

"We’ve progressed our work with robots and automation," he said. "FedEx Ground has been working with Vecna Robotics to test their autonomous tuggers to facilitate the movement of oversized goods within their hub operations." The carrier began working with the company during peak season 2018, aiming to ultimately eliminate the need for human drivers in its Greensboro, North Carolina, facility.

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Government/Safety

Retaining experienced drivers will solve many trucking woes

Land Line Tyson Fisher July 17, 2020

According to the study, driving experience has a greater impact than age. In other words, a 55-year-old driver with less than one year of experience is much more likely to crash than a 35-year-old trucker with 10 years of experience. Even the study itself highlights the importance of keeping experienced drivers: “It would be beneficial for fleet managers to focus on retaining older, more-experienced drivers and engage them in driver mentoring programs before they retire so inexperienced drivers can benefit from their knowledge.” Overall, regardless of age, truckers with more than five years of experience driving had lower moving violation rates than drivers with less experience. The same holds true for crash rates as well.

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OSHA orders carrier to reinstate driver after raising safety concerns

Freight Waves Clarissa Hawes July 18, 2020

A California trucking company has been ordered to pay and reinstate a former truck driver it allegedly fired for raising safety concerns about hauling overweight loads. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said Wednesday it has ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. (JHOS) of Wilmington, California, to rehire and pay the driver, considered a whistleblower, more than $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages and $5,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.

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Workforce

You’re It! FedEx and UPS Drivers Engage in Pandemic-Era Game of Tag

The Wall Street Journal Paul Ziobro July 17, 2020

While FedEx Corp. and UPS fight for customers and global supremacy in the delivery sector, a friendlier battle is being waged on streets across the U.S. FedEx and UPS drivers have taken to using sticky door labels, typically for notifying homeowners and businesses of a delivery attempt, in a quest to tag their rivals with their colors. It isn’t clear when the tradition started, but it has caught on during the coronavirus pandemic to lighten a dark time and break up the monotony of an increasingly taxing job. Drivers share photos of their conquests on social media.

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