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Friday, February 19, 2021

Logistics Intelligence Brief


Freight Markets Gain Momentum as 2021 Begins

Cass Freight Index February 18, 2021

The shipments component of the Cass Freight Index accelerated to 8.6% y/y growth in January 2021 from 6.7% y/y growth in December. This was higher than the 7.8% predicted in this month’s ACT Freight Forecast report (an in-depth report written by this author). The freight rates embedded in the Cass Freight Index accelerated to a 10.1% y/y increase in January from a 6.0% y/y increase in December. The acceleration reflects the fact that some contract rates adjust at the start of the calendar year. Last year the renewals were generally at lower rates, and this year the situation is quite the contrary. This data series is diversified among all modes, with truckload representing more than half of the dollars, followed by rail, LTL, parcel, and so on.

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Rates surge, no ‘significant rate relief’ in 2021, Cass Says

Freight Waves Todd Maiden February 18, 2021

Data released Thursday by Cass Information Systems (NASDAQ: CASS) highlighted advances in the company’s shipments and expenditures indexes during January. The shipments component increased 8.6% year-over-year with the expenditures index surging 19.5%. The data showed shipments improved 3% from December on a seasonally adjusted basis, which was the largest move since September. “This acceleration takes us another step closer to the strong growth environment which we expect to continue in 2021, due in no small part to easy comparisons,” according to the report’s author, ACT Research’s Tim Denoyer. “As these higher volumes meet rising contract rates, it is clear that this index is headed for growth rates over the next several months not seen since 2010-2011,” Denoyer added.

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Walmart posts ‘record’ Q4 thanks to online and holiday demand

Retail Dive Maria Monteros February 18, 2021

Walmart's results continue to be shaped by a rising number of COVID cases during the end of 2020, capping off a robust year with a Q4 that rode on e-commerce and holiday shopping demand. During the pandemic, Walmart has leaned on its scale, existing e-commerce assets and status as a one-stop-shop to cater to consumers' evolving needs. In Walmart's earnings presentation, the company said the stimulus money late in the quarter helped boost sales performance in categories related to home, electronics, sporting goods, outdoor living and toys. Its grocery category reflected broad-based strength across most of the retailer's categories. The category also reaped the benefits of expanded store hours, store pickup and delivery.

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Gartner: 77% of companies invest in deeper supplier relationships for resilience

Supply Chain Dive A.B Brown February 18, 2021

• More than three-quarters (77%) of companies said they are investing in deeper and more collaborative supplier relationships to improve resilience and agility, according to Gartner's "Future of Supply Chain: Crisis Shapes the Profession" report. • Survey respondents also listed diversifying their supplier base as a strategy to establish more business resilience, with 63% and 23% reporting they are already investing and plan to invest within two years, respectively. • The single greatest technological investment across the board was for supporting supply chain visibility and mapping. Currently, 66% of companies are investing in the technology, with 25% planning to invest within the next two years. Only 9% of respondents reported no plans to invest over the next two years.

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AscendTMS, Uber Freight Partner To Streamline Carrier Logistics

Truckinginfo.com February 18, 2021

Uber Freight has integrated its network into the AscendTMS transportation management software. Carriers of all sizes can now search and find loads from Uber Freight’s network directly in the AscendTMS platform. Under the integration, AscendTMS can match trucks in a carrier’s fleet that are soon to be empty with an Uber Freight load currently available, including those loads with minimal deadhead and minimal wait times for the carrier’s truck drivers, AscendTMS officials said in a press release.

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DTNA’s Outgoing CEO Roger Nielsen Reflects on Industry’s Transformation

Transport Topics Seth Clevenger February 18, 2021

Nielsen mentioned a recent conversation with a national truck stop operator about how to establish a hydrogen fueling network to support fuel cell electric trucks in the future. “Those kind of conversations are something I never could have imagined when I first started at the company 35 years ago,” he said. Nielsen envisions a place for both hydrogen fuel cell technology and battery-electric trucks in the years ahead.

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Software startup looks to automate cargo unloading fee payments (Subscription Based)

The Journal of Commerce Eric Johnson February 18 2021

The size of Relay’s venture capital funding, which was raised over a six-month period in the second half of 2020 — its first outside investment — suggests its investors believe it is a big opportunity, but it also reflects Relay’s head start on the problem. Droege said building the capability to automate payments between individual carriers and receiving facilities has required building one-off connections that take time. “We worked with [distribution centers] and warehouses in order to implement some of these changes,” he said. “It requires not only participation from the carriers, but the facilities that they drive into. And there are a lot of smaller, one-off groupings of facilities. We added facilities one at a time and carriers one at a time.” Relay’s approach benefits receiving facilities by making lumper payments more secure, Droege said, because personnel is no longer handling large amounts of cash or checks. Lumper fees can range from $50 to a few hundred dollars per shipment, depending on the type of freight and receiving facility.

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Technology startups benefitting from early successes, failures in trucking

CCJ Aaron Huff February 18, 2021

Technology startups and venture capital (VC) firms have been making big bets in the trillion-dollar trucking and logistics (T&L) industry. In May 2020, management consulting company McKinsey tracked a total flow of $28 billion in funding to T&L technology startups from 2015 to 2019. Despite a global pandemic, funding soared in 2020 to $1.7B across 683 deals, according to market research firm CB Insights. All startups have to make critical early decisions, the most important of which are what core technologies to build or not build; what to sell; and the go-to-market strategy, said Dr. Çetin Meriçli, chief executive and co-founder of Locomation. Wagers are especially high in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, despite early attempts that failed such as when Uber Freight cancelled its autonomous truck program in the summer of 2018.

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LA-LB port workers getting vaccinations, as supply allows (Subscription Based)

The Journal of Commerce Bill Mongelluzzo February 18, 2021

Dockworkers, who handle the containers that carry the personal protective equipment (PPE), syringes, and other medical supplies the nation depends upon to fight the pandemic, are among those who are at high risk and are now eligible to receive the vaccine, International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Coast Committeeman Frank Ponce De Leon said in a Wednesday press release.

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Biden Reverses Trump Move to Industry-Led Apprenticeships

Fleet Owner Deborah Lockridge February 18, 2021

President Biden has revoked an executive order issued by his predecessor that expanded apprenticeship programs in an “industry-led” model, instead announcing plans to expand the Labor Department’s registered apprenticeship programs favored by organized labor. The Trump administration created “industry recognized apprenticeships.” The idea was that the Department of Labor would bring together trade and labor groups to design and certify high-quality apprenticeships appropriate for each industry, emphasizing that each industry could define its industry needs and appropriate apprenticeship programs, rather than managing apprenticeships from Washington, as then-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta explained during the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in 2017.

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A Tale of Two Carbon Prices to Shape Biden’s Climate Policy

Bloomberg Gernot Wagner February 19, 2021

Imagine a $50 price per ton of carbon dioxide this year. Exxon Mobil Corp. has. The oil giant has joined BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and others in support of just such a price. It would rise at an annual rate of 5%, plus inflation. In exchange, these companies expect that “all current and future federal stationary source carbon regulations, for example, would be displaced or preempted,” according to the Climate Leadership Council. The group’s plan is also backed by a number of economists. Now imagine a $125 price per ton of CO₂ emitted today. It would be considered in every rule, regulation and policy enacted as part of President Joe Biden’s “whole-of-government” approach to tackling climate change. Exxon and others with lots at stake have done that, too, and it’s precisely this scenario some of those supporting the $50 price hope to avoid.

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Pandemic Forces Cancellation of NTDC for Second Consecutive Year

Transport Topics Dan Ronan February 18, 2021

For the second summer in a row, the National Truck Driving Championships & National Step Van Driving Championships are being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Feb. 17 letter to the truck driving community, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear listed a multitude of reasons that led the federation to forgo the event. “After discussing major challenges such as travel bans, equipment donations, CDC restrictions, ability for state trucking associations to host events prior to August and building capacity in Minneapolis, the decision has been made to cancel” the events, he said. This year’s competition had been scheduled for Aug. 11-14 in Minneapolis.

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