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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Trucking

Northeast trucking rates heat up amid cargo shift from LA-LB

The Journal Of Commerce Ari Ashe September 14, 2021

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Trucking rates have risen out of the Northeast in the last six weeks, the result of a spike in demand from shippers using the Port of New York and New Jersey as an alternative to the congestion in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Savannah, logistics providers say.
Jason Ickert, president of Sonwil Logistics, said New York-New Jersey is a significant driver of the loads coming to his company. Sonwil is one of the top brokers of truckload freight out of Elizabeth, New Jersey, according to DAT Solutions’ load board.
“For shippers who are manufacturing and distributing in the Northeast, the increased truckload demand, without a relative increase in capacity, has caused a rise in cost per-mile and cost per-load that is significantly higher than what their cost-profit forecast models could predict,” Ickert said.
Justin Maze, senior manager of operations for digital freight broker Transfix, said the demand in the Northeast has disrupted the normal seasonal pattern in long-haul trucking.
“Normally, truck drivers are going to the West Coast by this time of year for the big shift in retail goods being transported across the US [for the holiday season]. But, in my opinion, the Northeast is going to get even tighter in the next few months. It’s already the tightest market with more than 10 loads for every one truck available,” Maze told JOC.com. “Goods are not coming through their normal port of entry for the holiday season.”

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Industry

Unprecedented import volumes to continue well into 2022: analysts

The Journal Of Commerce Bill Mongelluzzo September 14, 2021

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A lack of vessel capacity in the trans-Pacific and a shortage of chassis won’t show the first signs of easing for at least six months, but even then US import pressures will continue to slow velocity through ports, rail ramps, and warehouses, according to industry analysts.
“More than 400,000 TEU are just sitting there [off Southern California],” Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime, told the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) Expo in Long Beach Monday. “The way to solve this is to resolve the bottlenecks, and the solution is landside.”
Jensen’s comments were borne out by Monday’s anchorage report by the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which showed a record 56 container ships at anchor awaiting berthing space, and an additional 31 container ships at berth being worked. The Los Angeles Port Optimizer on Tuesday listed the average time of vessels at anchor at 8.5 days. Los Angeles-Long Beach accounts for 50 percent of US imports from Asia, according to PIERS, a JOC.com sister product within IHS Markit.

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IANA 2021: Massive Imbalances Plague Intermodal Industry

Transport Topics Jerry Hirsch September 14, 2021

“The intermodal industry is under unprecedented strain,” said Larry Gross, founder and president of Gross Transportation Consulting. “A host of problems have ricocheted across the entire industry.”
Virtually every segment, from shipping to rail to trucking, struggles to get capacity in the best locations and find enough drivers and staff to keep operations running smoothly, he said.
“Part of the challenge that we face is the lopsided nature of development in the wake of COVID,” Vespucci Maritime CEO Lars Jensen said.
“You could offload a gigantic amount of containers into the terminals, but what happens is that the importers do not pick up those containers as fast as they used to,” Jensen said. “This creates a lopsided mess in transport.”
Moreover, Jensen said that there are at least 50 containerships sitting idle outside of the massive Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach complex, waiting to be unloaded. That represents about 400,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) floating outside the port.

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August Trailer Orders Climb Past 15,000, FTR Reports

Transport Topics September 14, 2021

“Fleets are desperate for more new trailers today, and they perceive an even greater need next year,” Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said in a release. “When trailer makers begin booking at full throttle for 2022, there could be a record number of trailer orders for the month.”
Meanwhile, manufacturers will roll the orders they couldn’t build this year into the first quarter of 2022. This and the uncertain supply chain make it difficult for trailer builders to slot orders and plan production for next year, according to FTR.

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Shippers/3PLs

Inventory levels jump as manufacturers hold onto work-in-progress products

Supply Chain Dive Max Garland September 14, 2021

Inventories in August saw their highest level of expansion since November 2018 as supplier delivery rates exceeded production levels, according to the Institute for Supply Management's latest manufacturing report.
Inventory levels rose in August after a month of contraction, according to the ISM's Manufacturing Inventories Index. Delivery rates topping production levels "is a positive indication that the supply chain is finally making headway," ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee Chair Timothy Fiore said in the report.
However, inventories remain unstable due to supplier constraints. Both the transportation equipment and the computer and electronic products industries had parts shortages, but still made significant contributions to inventory gains as work-in-progress products are being held onto longer, Fiore said.

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Workforce

Parcel and 3PL employers seek labor for winter peak push

DC Velocity Ben Ames September 14, 2021

Parcel delivery and logistics giant UPS Inc. is hiring more than 100,000 seasonal employees to support the anticipated annual increase in package volume that will begin in October 2021 and continue through January 2022. While most of those full- and part-time jobs—primarily package handlers, drivers, driver helpers and personal vehicle drivers—may come with an expiration date, UPS said that many will last longer. Over the last three years, about one-third of people hired by UPS for seasonal package handler jobs were later hired in a permanent position when the holidays were over, the Atlanta-based company said.
In fact, just a week earlier, retail giant Walmart said it was likewise hiring 20,000 new workers across its supply chain operations, but that the jobs were permanent positions divided between full-and part-time capacities for tasks including order fillers, freight handlers, lift drivers, technicians, and management positions.

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Amazon Adding 125,000 Workers in U.S., Opening Dozens of Facilities

The Wall Street Journal Sebastian Herrera September 14, 2021

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Amazon.com Inc. said it plans to add 125,000 employees in the U.S. and has lifted its average starting wage as it continues to rapidly expand its vast warehouse operations in a tight labor market.
The tech giant on Tuesday said it has opened more than 250 facilities this year and plans to open another 100 across the country in September, deepening its pool of locations used to store, sort and ship its packages.
It said it has lifted pay for workers in such facilities to an average of $18.32 an hour as it seeks to fill those locations and replace workers who leave existing jobs. That follows a move in April to increase wages between 50 cents and $3 an hour for more than 500,000 employees.

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

The best way to eliminate driver distractions in a smartphone age

Freight Waves Jack Glenn September 14, 2021

Motor carriers have tried everything to curb distracted driving-related accidents, from embracing hands-free solutions with phone mounts to even installing driver-facing cameras. However, the urge to check one’s phone proves too strong for some drivers, regardless of the “solution.”
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, if you are driving 55 mph and take your eyes off the road for five seconds to send a text message, you have traveled the length of a football field without looking at the road.
The fact is, a big rig demands the full attention of its driver — anything less is unacceptable.
One Colorado-based technology company has developed a fleet-safety solution that prevents distractions before they happen. Motion Intelligence vastly diminishes mobile device distractions and reports noncompliance.
“Distracted driving is caused by an addiction to our mobile devices, especially while we are driving,” Meurell said. “The Evvy app eliminates the mobile device addiction by keeping the driver limited to hands-free calls and access to a navigation and music or podcast apps during the drive. The recent addition of the Evvy Scoring and Rewards program gives drivers a score based on their safe-driving performance and a platform for managers to reward their drivers for improving their driving scores. This motivates a driver to do well while eliminating bad behavior.”

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7 new indictments handed down in Louisiana staged accident scam

Freight Waves John Kingston September 14, 2021

According to the indictment, the setup for the collisions was largely the same plan that appears in virtually all the other indictments and guilty pleas: A team is put together with an attorney leading the way, a spotter looks for potential victims and identifies that to the cars filled with passengers — the “slammers” — who then collide with the truck. In some cases, the actual driver gets out of the car and somebody else gets in their place.

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Big Truckers Say Vaccine Mandate Could Push Drivers Away

The Wall Street Journal Jennifer Smith September 14, 2021

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Trucking companies worry that workers who balk at the requirements could decamp for smaller fleets that don’t fall under the mandate or turn to gig-economy jobs, further shrinking the pool of drivers at a time when a shortage of transport capacity is slowing delivery times and driving up costs for retailers and manufacturers.
Mr. Fuller said that the federal requirement could “create additional stress on each point of the supply chain,” rippling across trucking, warehousing and manufacturing workforces and potentially creating “the situation where we have empty shelves.”
Dave Jackson, chief executive of Phoenix-based Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc., the largest truckload carrier in North America, said the testing requirement poses a major logistical hurdle for operators that could slow deliveries and affect wages for drivers, who are typically paid by the mile.
Federal safety rules that limit truckers’ hours behind the wheel “do not allow a driver to stop the clock once it starts, for example to take a Covid-19 test,” he said. “Once hours are lost, they cannot be restored, he said, “and [that] could impact availability to drive and deliver loads in an already supply-starved freight transportation environment.”

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Technology/Innovation

TrueCommerce buys rival to build scale in supply chain messaging market

The Journal of Commerce Eric Johnson September 14, 2021

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Business connectivity platform TrueCommerce’s acquisition of competitor DiCentral enables it to build scale in a market where e-commerce is pushing brands toward more online supply chain coordination.
TrueCommerce, which in part acts as a messaging exchange linking retailers and manufacturers to logistics providers, competes primarily with SPS Commerce as a platform to coordinate messages between suppliers, customers, and other supply chain partners. The platform is integrated with enterprise resource planning systems such as SAP, Oracle Netsuite, and Sage, and online seller platforms such as Magento, Shopify, and Woo Commerce.

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Money and range: Experts note roadblocks to EV adoption

Transport Dive Jim Stinson September 14, 2021

At the end of 2019, there were 2,000 heavy-duty electric trucks and buses on the road, according to Tim Denoyer, ACT Research vice president and senior analyst. Denoyer said he believes that could rise to 4,000 units, including Class 7 electric buses, by the end of 2021. It's more but far from the progress that planners hope for.

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