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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Industry

LMI: Tight capacity, high prices drive expansion

DC Velocity September 7, 2021

Business activity across the logistics industry continued its unprecedented growth stretch in August, marked by tight capacity and high costs as companies worked to meet historic levels of demand, according to the monthly Logistics Managers’ Index (LMI) report, released today. The LMI registered 73.8 during the month, down slightly from July’s reading, but still the fifth highest reading in the report’s five-year history, according to LMI researchers.
“By any measure, this summer has seen unparalleled rates of expansion in the logistics industry—largely driven by rapid price growth and significant tightening of capacity,” according to the report. “… It seems likely that the tightness and high costs we have observed through the summer will continue into the fall.”
LMI researcher Zac Rogers, of Colorado State University, said the slight dip in August reflects declining inventory levels due to supply chain backups and product shortages across many industries. He added that there’s no immediate sign of relief from those backups, noting that the LMI transportation capacity index continued to contract in August, registering 40.5, its 15th straight month of decline. Transportation prices remained high as well, with the LMI’s transportation prices metric rising nearly 3 percentage points to a reading of 93.7—the fifth time in six months the metric has registered in the 90s.
Link: Council Of Supply Chain Management August 2021 Logistics Manager’s Index Report

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Diesel Rises 3.4¢ to $3.373 a Gallon

Transport Topics September 7, 2021

Diesel has risen in two straight weeks, totaling 4.9 cents a gallon, after dropping in four of the previous five weeks.
Trucking’s main fuel now costs 93.8 cents more a gallon than it did at this time in 2020.
The average price increased in all 10 regions in EIA’s weekly survey. The highest rise was 4.4 cents in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast area. The smallest increase was nine-tenths of a cent in the Central Atlantic.

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Port delays lengthen as winter peak draws near

DC Velocity September 7, 2021

Port delays have continued to worsen as time runs short for retailers trying to stock up on inventory for the winter holiday rush, statistics from a new report show.
Triggered by the rush to stockpile goods and exacerbated by variables like pandemic labor issues and a long-term e-commerce boom, the trend has led to an imbalance between inbound and outbound shipping containers.
By one data point, the flow of inbound containers entering the Port of Los Angeles increased 60% for August 2021 as compared to the same month last year, according to Container xChange, a Hamburg, Germany-based neutral, online platform for container logistics.
That surge has created the highest differential at that California facility than at any port tracked by Container xChange over the past three years, the company said. Specifically, the firm’s container availability index (CAx) for the port of Los Angeles is now at 0.88 for 20-foot containers and 0.90 for 40-foot containers, where 0.50 is the balance of inbound and outbound containers and anything greater than 0.50 represents a surplus of containers at a given port.

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Oil Demand Monitor: Motorists Return, Flying Throttled Back

Bloomberg Steve Voss September 7, 2021

Separate government data for the U.S. and U.K. show passenger car miles were between 5% and 2% below pre-pandemic levels, little different to recent weeks, while gasoline demand in those countries was 1% above and 4% below, respectively.
Total oil products demand in the U.S. surged to an all-time record in the week ending Aug. 27, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration. That’s as gasoline demand hums along at pre-Covid levels and jet fuel consumption rose to its highest level since the epidemic began.

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Workforce

Americans Say They’re Now Less Likely to Work Far Into Their 60s

Bloomberg Alexandre Tanzi September 7, 2021

More than 1 million older workers have left the labor market since March 2020. Some Americans have been rethinking their priorities after the trauma of Covid-19 -- with a bigger nest egg to fall back on, thanks to exuberant financial markets. For others the withdrawal may be involuntary, driven by a lack of employment prospects.

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ILA says won’t work automated vessels at US ports

The Journal Of Commerce Michael Angell September 7, 2021

Subscription-Based

Members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) would not service automated container ships if they were to ever call on US East and Gulf Coast ports, ILA’s chief said Tuesday, staking out the union’s stance on robotic technology as maritime automation projects gain ground across the globe.
ILA president Harold Daggett said in a statement that any autonomous ships calling on ports under the ILA’s jurisdiction “won’t be unloaded or loaded by ILA members.” Daggett said the various automation projects around the world threaten the job security of the maritime workforce.
“Workers around the world are under assault from the threat of automation by greedy companies only interested in making money and eliminating workers who helped them build their success and companies,” Daggett said. “It’s got to stop, and my ILA will do what it needs to do to save our jobs and the jobs of maritime workers around the world.”

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Dollar General offers $5K bonuses in push to recruit truck drivers

Transport Dive Sam Silverstein September 7, 2021

Dollar General reached a goal it announced in July of hiring 50,000 workers ahead of Labor Day, but it is still aggressively looking to add to its workforce, according to a press release on Wednesday.
The company is offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus to people who accept positions as drivers for its trucking operation, known as DG Private Fleet, through Jan. 28, 2022.
Dollar General is continuing its efforts to attract prospective employees as it expands its store fleet and invests in its distribution capabilities.

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

Traffic Deaths Rise in Q1 Despite Decline in Miles Traveled

Transport Topics Eric Miller September 7, 2021

Risky driving behaviors that have become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic were the primary contributor to a 10.5% increase in total fatalities during the first quarter of 2021, despite fewer vehicle miles traveled, according to an “early estimates” report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA estimates that 8,730 people died in total motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first three months of 2021, up from 7,900 fatalities estimated for the first quarter of 2020. The new report said the number of vehicle miles traveled during the first quarter of this year decreased by 2.1% during the first three months of 2021, or about 14.9 billion miles fewer compared to the first quarter of 2020.
“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there were marked increases in fatalities, and the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2020. This trend has continued into 2021,” the report said.
The report does not break down truck-involved fatalities, but the number is included in the overall traffic statistics. NHTSA’s early estimates for 2020, first reported in June, showed that while overall fatalities on U.S. roadways increased by 7%, they were actually down 2% in large truck-related fatal crashes.

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Shell builds bridge to zero-emissions future with 10.8 MPG truck

Transport Dive Jim Stinson September 7, 2021

Transport Dive Jim Stinson September 7, 2021
• The Shell Starship 2.0 tractor-trailer, a prototype Class 8 the company is developing with technology that can increase fuel efficiency in diesel-powered trucks, posted a score of 10.8 miles per gallon on a cross-country journey from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this year.
• In a press release, Shell said the test was an improvement from its 2018 run, when the Starship 1.0, as it was known then, got 8.94 MPG. Both performances are better than the 6.4 MPG average of North American fleets, Shell officials said. Shell noted the 2.0 actually carried more weight than the 2018, version, increasing the payload by 18%, from 39,900 pounds of clean reef material in 2018 to 47,100 pounds in 2021.
• Shell displayed the Starship 2.0 at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo, which is traditionally a show for OEMs and suppliers that aim for zero emissions. As fleets make the long-term transition to battery-electric vehicles and fuel-cell electric vehicles, the innovations that the Starship 2.0 made could remove 275 million tons of carbon annually, if adopted by every fleet in North America, Shell said.

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Technology/Innovation

RFID and sensor tech get cheaper, faster and more pervasive

Supply Chain Dive Jen A. Miller September 7, 2021

In "Innovation Driven Resilience," the 2021 MHI Annual Industry Report, MHI and Deloitte surveyed more than 1,000 supply chain professionals worldwide about innovation investments in the supply chain. They found that 52% of companies are increasing or substantially increasing their investment in sensors and automatic identification. Of the respondents, 42% said they use sensors and automatic identification today, and 27% plan to adopt the tech in one to two years.
That pervasiveness has been pushed along by two factors, said Riemann: The technology is better and cheaper.

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