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Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Logistics Intelligence Brief
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Trucking

Schneider CEO Rourke predicts higher TL rates well into 2021

Logistics Management John Schulz October 12, 2020

The confluence of COVID-induced disruptions to supply chains and unpredictable trucking demand levels will mean sharply higher truckload rates well into 2021, a leading TL executive is predicting. Mark Rourke, president and CEO of Schneider, the nation’s second-largest truckload carrier, said the nation’s supply chains are in “a highly unique period” in our recent history. Those changes are playing havoc with usual, predictable seasonal patterns of freight and are causing higher costs for carriers, who are passing on those costs to shippers in the way of higher rates. “We have way more demand than we have capability and capacity to handle,” Rourke told LM. “The way we’ve had to ramp down (in April) and then ramp up (in late summer) is fairly unprecedented in my 33 years in this industry.” “You have these networks that are a mess,” he explained. “You have certain areas where food or consumer demand are up 20% to 30%, but it doesn’t mean you have 20% to 30% more trucks. You just have dislocation between where you have trucks and where you want trucks.”

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Spot market rates hit record highs as truckers see hot freight demand, DAT says

DC Velocity October 12, 2020

Looking at the amount of freight moving around the country, volumes for September spot van, reefer, and flatbed were similar to August but load-to-truck ratios increased across all three equipment types as available capacity tightened. That pushed the DAT Truckload Volume Index, a measure of dry van, reefer and flatbed loads moved by truckload carriers, to rise 6.1% from last month and rise 13% compared to September 2019. Forecasting future conditions, DAT found that the market shows no signs of easing up. In one important sector, grocery store chains are adjusting their lean-inventory strategies and have begun stockpiling for a possible surge of Covid-19 cases in the fall and winter, DAT said. Likewise, major retailers have starting stocking up for the holiday shopping season earlier than usual and are lengthening their sales deals to accommodate shifting demand from consumers. For example, the historical holiday surge is now less monolithic, and features a series of separate spikes, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday, and Christmas

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Shippers/3PLs

An October Amazon Prime Day Opens a Remade Holiday Shopping Calendar

The Wall Street Journal Sarah Nassauer October 12, 2020

Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and Amazon. com Inc., as well as smaller specialty retailers, are starting online holiday deals this week, instead of their usual launch in November. Retailers want to reduce crowding in stores, lighten what is likely to be a crushing load on the e-commerce supply chain, and lock in sales early to hedge against political and economic uncertainty, according to industry executives. Retailers are rushing to import holiday inventory. U.S. ports processed about 2.1 million cargo-container equivalents in August, up 8% from a year earlier, according to the National Retail Federation, a membership organization that promotes the industry. That is the highest number of containers imported monthly since the NRF began tracking imports in 2002, the group said. “Some holiday merchandise that normally wouldn’t arrive until Halloween is already here,” said Jonathan Gold, the NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy.

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Surging Online Sales Drive Growth for Shopify’s Fulfillment Service

The Wall Street Journal Jennifer Smith October 12, 2020

The Shopify Fulfillment Network that handles the storing, packing and shipping of goods for online sellers “enrolled more merchants and increased our fulfillment volume…by two-and-a-half times over Q1” in the second quarter, Thomas Epting, director of the network, told The Wall Street Journal. “We’re seeing good in-year growth and certainly ample demand.” Covid-19 has pushed e-commerce “forward by 10 years,” Mr. Epting said. “We’re building SFN with the goal of having our merchants be as ready for the future of commerce as they can be.” Shopify plans to spend $1 billion over five years building an asset-light network that uses the company’s software to connect merchants with warehouse operators. The service uses machine learning to advise customers where to place inventory, which items to restock and to route orders to the closest fulfillment center.

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Industry

Supply-chain upheaval threatens peak plans, ‘21 budgets

The Journal of Commerce William B. Cassidy October 12, 2020

As the peak pre-holiday shipping season looms over US shippers, businesses are scrambling to secure needed capacity while trying to determine transportation budgets for 2021. That is an increasingly tall order in an uncertain economy and transportation market. “In my career, I’ve never seen all facets of the supply chain in upheaval at the same time, until now,” said John Janson, global logistics director for Seattle-based Sanmar, an importer and wholesale distributor of custom apparel.

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Global parcel volumes expected to double by 2026 on e-commerce boom

The Journal of Commerce Cathy Morrow Roberson October 12, 2020

The higher parcel shipping revenue in the US can be attributed to a smaller competitive environment compared with other geographies. While there are a number of regional and local last-mile delivery options, the US small parcel market is dominated by FedEx and UPS. As a result, shippers pay higher shipping rates and surcharges. FedEx and UPS have stated on numerous earnings calls that elevated shipping rates and surcharges are necessary to manage costs for highly automated networks. Amazon emerges as major player Still, Pitney Bowes’ Shipping Index notes that Amazon Logistics has emerged as a major last-mile player due to its rapidly increasing delivery capacity. Amazon has more than 75 fulfillment facilities in the US and is opening more than 1,000 delivery hubs located closer to customers for faster delivery times. In an August 10 tweet, Dave Clark, senior vice president of Amazon operations, noted that the company had over 400,000 drivers within its dedicated last-mile delivery network. Related: Supply Chain Dive Parcel shipments passed 100B in 2019, will more than double by 2026: Pitney Bowes LinkPitney Bowes Parcel Index

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September trailer orders go bonkers at 52,000 units

FreightWaves Alan Adler October 12, 2020

“There is expansion demand, replacement demand, dealer demand — just an enormous amount of demand for dry vans to keep consumer goods on the move,” Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said in a press release. “Fleets are expecting the hot freight market to continue into 2021 and want to be prepared with adequate capacity.”

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COVID-19 and supply-chain recovery: Planning for the future

McKinsey October 9, 2020

Diane Brady: Susan, you spoke a little bit about the regional variations in industry. I’m curious, as you looked across industries, which ones are furthest behind? Are there particular ones that really strike you as most vulnerable, and where would they need to invest? Susan Lund: One thing that we’d say is there’s certainly no industry that’s uniformly out ahead on this. There are companies within each industry that are leaders and have set up risk-management systems in their supply-chain operations, that have used big data analytics to forecast demand, who scan the horizon and see shocks coming and respond. But there’s no industry that’s done a great job. In fact, a survey that we did in May of global supply-chain heads found that only in one industry—aerospace and defense—25 percent of companies thought that they had already fully digitized their supply-chain operations. And all the other industries were lower than that. So every industry just has massive opportunity to get out ahead of this.  

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Government/Safety

What people are saying about FMCSA’s idea to pause the 14-hour driving window

Transport Dive S.L. Fuller October 12, 2020

The FMCSA asked the public in August to comment on an idea: allowing drivers one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, and no more than three hours, that would pause the 14-hour driving window. This concept was almost part of the HOS final rule. But when the updates became official Sept. 29, the pause was missing, and public comments against it were the determining factor, according to the agency. When the FCMSA resurfaced the idea, it was in the form of a Split Duty Period Pilot Program. Drivers would still need to take 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of a shift.

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Republican T&I Leader Sam Graves Touts New Technologies, VMT

Transport Topics Eugene Mulero October 8, 2020

He also restated his endorsement of a vehicle-miles-traveled fee as an approach for funding surface transportation systems. He argued VMT technology is capable of immediate deployment. A VMT fee consists of charging motorists for their actual driving rather than relying on the fuel purchased. Graves and other proponents, including some senior Democrats, argue the VMT approach more closely resembles driving habits in the growing landscape of fuel-efficient vehicles.  

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Workforce

Women in Trucking, CarriersEdge to launch Diversity & Inclusion Index

Freight Waves Linda Baker October 12, 2020

Women in Trucking (WIT) and CarriersEdge are launching a survey and contest to collect and share best practices in diversity and inclusivity across the industry. The WIT Diversity & Inclusion Index, to be unveiled formally during WIT’s annual conference in November, will document the programs that fleets currently use and recognize creative solutions in different areas. “Our approach is going to be to make companies try and put their best foot forward,” said Jane Jazrawy, CEO of CarriersEdge, a provider of online training for truck drivers.  

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As recovery looms, trucking faces driver supply dilemma

Fleet Owner John Hitch October 12, 2020

Due to the pandemic, training schools and the Department of Motor Vehicles installations have reduced capacity or closed—with some schools dropping by 40%, limiting the amount of newly certified drivers available. Furthermore, 71% of fleets halted training programs, according to an NTI survey. All together, Shaver said the new pool of drivers could be reduced by 30 to 40%. “The average age in the pool of fleets that we survey is 54 years old, the average age of new entrants is 38 years old, and new entrants do not make up for add for exits,” Shaver said. “Millennials are really at the early stages of entering the industry.”

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