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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Friday, October 22, 2021

Trucking

The trucking industry is in crisis. Here’s how government can help.

The Washington Post Henry Olsen October 21, 2021

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The industry had also struggled for years to meet the rising demand for drivers. Drivers were traditionally White men who never graduated from college. That demographic has been shrinking for decades, and neither women nor non-White workers have flocked to the field to fill in the gap. The industry’s problems have been compounded by federal rules that prohibit people under 21 from driving interstate rigs. That means that young people who know that college isn’t right for them can’t enter the field and must start other careers instead. It’s hard to get someone to switch gears once they’ve started acquiring other skill sets.
The industry is aware of these challenges and is trying to address them. Darrel Harris, president of Yellow Corp., is spearheading a pilot program to recruit more non-White drivers from urban communities. “Drive for Diversity” will target Chicago-area job fairs to find new sources of workers and will expand to five other communities if it proves successful. Harris, the first Black president of a major trucking company, is passionate about the initiative. As a man who never earned a college degree, he believes others can follow his path from dock loader to president.

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Truckload carriers see no pricing ‘pullback’ on horizon

The Journal of Commerce William B. Cassidy October 21, 2021

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Knight-Swift and its truckload competitors are adapting to a rapidly changing transportation landscape. Greater short-haul opportunities are one of those changes, as e-commerce remaps distribution networks and fulfillment and distribution centers spring up across the United States. Rising shipper demand for drop-trailer operations as opposed to live loading and unloading also benefited Knight-Swift.
“My expectations are that the strong freight environment Landstar has experienced in 2021 will continue through the fourth quarter,” Jim Gattoni, president and CEO of Landstar, told Wall Street analysts in a conference call Thursday. “I expect 2021 fourth quarter load volume on loads hauled via truck to increase in the 13 to 16 percent range over the 2020 fourth quarter.”

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ATA Outlines Concerns on How Vaccine Mandate May Affect Trucking

Transport Topics Eric Miller October 21, 2021

The letter notes that ATA supports the Administration’s goals of increased vaccination rates and clear health guidelines to enhance protections for all Americans. Its concern centers on the potential negative effect of the proposal.
ATA said that given the administration’s acknowledgment of supply chain problems and recent actions to try to alleviate those issues, the current direction of OSHA and OMB will exacerbate the supply chain crisis.
ATA said it’s clear that the time frames for the vaccine mandate, which could go into effect soon, could not come at a more difficult time for the U.S. economy. “The U.S. is already facing unprecedented supply chain disruptions and delays due to many factors, including significant labor shortages, production shutdowns, a shortage of raw materials, and pent-up consumer demand,” ATA said. “...Our data shows that a vaccine mandate may very well further cripple the supply chain throughout the country by forcing up to 13% of drivers to leave the industry entirely.”

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Industry

LaserShip and OnTrac must fill middle mile to become a true national carrier

Supply Chain Dive Max Garland October 21, 2021

Linehaul capabilities crucial for national expansion
Today, LaserShip serves 22 states in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S., plus Washington, D.C., reaching about 150 million customers. OnTrac delivers to every address in California and the major metropolitan areas of seven other Western states. Major Midwest markets like Chicago and Texas could be next, experts say.
But competing with FedEx and UPS requires more than last-mile delivery coverage. The linehaul infrastructure to move volume over long distances is critical, allowing LaserShip's customers to to move East Coast volume to the West Coast. Today, OnTrac relies on large shippers to linehaul volume into their network, and LaserShip would be able to reduce this dependency, said Nate Skiver, founder of consulting firm LPF Spend Management, in a LinkedIn post.
An expansion of linehaul capabilities for the combined network would be a big plus for e-commerce retailers with a national customer base, said Shipium CEO and co-founder Jason Murray in an email. That's a customer base LaserShip and OnTrac have a high interest in — the companies' news release touted the combination as the only pure-play last-mile delivery network for e-commerce retailers.

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What America’s Supply-Chain Backlog Looks Like Up Close (Video 5m)

The Wall Street Journal October 22, 2021

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California’s Port of Los Angeles is struggling to keep up with the crush of cargo containers arriving at its terminals, creating one of the biggest choke points in the global supply-chain crisis. This exclusive aerial video illustrates the scope of the problem and the complexities of this process.

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Why The Global Supply Chain Is Still Clogged — And How To Fix It (Audio 12m)

NPR Consider This October 21, 2021

Last week the White House announced a plan to help move the port of Los Angeles into 24/7 operating status. But that will only "open the gates" of the clogged global supply chain, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told NPR on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Another crucial supply chain link is the trucking industry, which is short tens of thousands of drivers. Bruce Basada, President of the Diesel Driving Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana, explains why.
The clogged supply chain is leading to delays and shortage on all kinds of products. NPR coverage in this episode includes excerpts from Scott Horsley's report on a shortage of glass bottles, Petra Mayer's story on the slowdown in book production, and Alina Selyukh's look at shipping delays for children's toys. Special thanks to Scott, Petra, and Alina for editing help on this episode.

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Tighter Warehouse Space Adds to the Supply-Chain Squeeze

The Wall Street Journal Lydia O'Neal October 22, 2021

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Warehouse availability in the U.S. fell to record lows in the third quarter, according to figures from real-estate firms that show industrial space is all but disappearing near some of the country’s busiest distribution hubs.
The third-quarter demand for industrial real estate exceeded supply by 41 million square feet, pushing the vacancy rate to 3.6%, down from 4.3% in the same quarter of 2020 and the lowest level in data going back to 2002, according to new figures released by real-estate firm CBRE Group Inc.
CBRE found the vacancy rate for warehouses near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., the gateway complex that is a major chokepoint adding to global supply-chain snarls, reached 1% in the quarter. The region’s vacancy rate was 2.3% in the same quarter of 2020.
“Space in our markets is effectively sold out,” said Thomas Olinger, chief financial officer of logistics real-estate firm Prologis Inc., in an Oct. 15 earnings call. “In the last 90 days, supply-chain dislocations have become even more pronounced, with customers acting with a sense of urgency to secure the space they need.”

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Q3 U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index sees decent gains

Logistics Management Jeff Berman October 21, 2021

“At the same time, the industry is facing one of the largest supply crunches in history, driven in large part by a major truck driver shortage. This shortage, along with rising fuel prices, is causing considerable spending increases for shippers,” he said.
With over the road capacity still very tight, Holland noted it is hard to gauge whether rates stay at current levels, based on data alone, while rates have been climbing for some time, as the capacity constraints have continued and shippers and carriers continue to adapt.
And with shipment growth still below pre-pandemic levels, he said that the market continues to adjust to what he called the new normal, with shifts in consumer patterns, in the form of travel and social events ramping up, retail adjusting back to more brick and mortar while online stays high.
“As consumer confidence continues to grow, industries and market sectors are expected to continue their rebounds,” he said. “In addition, the capacity shortage will need time to resolve, both in terms of new drivers on the roads, as well as additional trucks.”

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

Biden’s vaccine mandate has cargo giants in a pre-holiday panic

Politico Natasha Korecki October 21,, 2021

A trade group for air cargo giants like UPS and FedEx is sounding the alarm over an impending Dec. 8 vaccine deadline imposed by President Joe Biden, complaining it threatens to wreak havoc at the busiest time of the year — and add yet another kink to the supply chain.
“We have significant concerns with the employer mandates announced on Sept. 9, 2021, and the ability of industry members to implement the required employee vaccinations by Dec. 8, 2021,” Stephen Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association, wrote in a letter sent the Biden administration and obtained by POLITICO.
The letter, sent to the Office of Management and Budget , asks the administration to postpone the deadline until “the first half of 2022.” At issue is the requirement by the Biden administration that federal workers be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. Unlike private businesses, companies that act as federal contractors cannot opt out by instead submitting their workforces to frequent Covid testing.
Link: Cargo Airline Association Letter COVID-19 Requirements For Employers

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Congressional Republicans Sound Alarm Over Supply Chains

Transport Topics Eugen Mulero October 22, 2021

Supply chain bottlenecks at the ports and rising prices for certain goods are indicative of the administration’s inability to respond to the COVID-19-era economy, a large contingent of congressional Republicans told President Joe Biden.
Concerns about the leap in fuel prices were also expressed.
In a letter signed by 160 Republicans from the U.S. House of Representatives, the lawmakers point to policy directives and proposals from Biden and his senior team as a culprit for slowdowns at commercial seaports, and a steady spike in the cost of consumer products.

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California orders agencies to identify ‘priority freight routes’ for trucking weight exemptions

Transport Dive Edwin Lopez October 21, 2021

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is directing state agencies to work on short- and long-term ideas that could ease supply chain congestion, according to a nine-point executive order signed Wednesday.
In the short-term, the executive order gives agencies 30 days to identify "priority freight routes" to be considered for weight exemptions. It also calls for state agencies to identify parcels of land that could be used to store some of the cargo containers backing up San Pedro Bay ports.
Additionally, the order put timelines in place for longer-term ideas such as asking agencies for a list of supply chain infrastructure needs that could be included in the state's 2022 budget, and convening an industry panel tasked with exploring the effects of port automation on labor by March 1, 2022.

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Economy

Fed Beige Book finds labor and supply shortages are cramping the U.S. economy

MarketWatch Jeffry Bartash October 20, 2021

The Fed’s Beige Book, a period evaluation of the economy, shed more light on the unprecedented challenges facing the U.S. as it recovers from the pandemic. What’s hurting the economy the most right now are a lack of workers and the inability of companies to obtain badly needed parts and supplies.
“Fear and uncertainty of the delta variant continued to constrain growth, but contacts were most worried by ongoing labor shortages and supply chain disruptions,” the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said.
While the shortages have constrained economic growth, the report found the economy was still expanding at a steady pace, with most businesses “cautiously optimistic” that conditions will improve in the months ahead.
Link: Federal Reserve Board Of Governors The Beige Book (30+ References To “Supply Chain”)

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Shippers/3PLs

Walmart Extends Delivery Hours for Orders Coming From Stores

USA Today/Transport Topics Kelly Tyko October 21, 2021

The world’s largest retailer announced Oct. 21 that it is “delivering added convenience” with extended store delivery hours, more delivery windows and increased selection for same-day and next-day orders coming from local stores.
“We are extending our delivery hours by two hours meaning drivers will be making deliveries from stores to doors until 10 p.m. local time,” Tom Ward, Walmart U.S. senior vice president of last mile, said in a blog post Thursday. “This allows customers to place orders up to 6 p.m. for same-day or next-day deliveries.”
Ward said customers will also have additional time to “amend their order after it’s placed, so if you forget to add a can of pumpkin pie filling for your Thanksgiving meal or you’re in need of a last-minute hostess gift — you’ll have more time to add it to your cart.”

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Technology/Innovation

What’s it like from the pilot seat of a driverless truck?

CCJ Jason Cannon October 21, 2021

Cardenas wears many hats inside the truck. He's both active driver and emergency fail-safe for the system when the truck is operating in autonomous mode. Generally, he will drive the truck manually to the location where the testing is to take place before turning driving duties over to the system. "I will weave in and out of manual driving and semi-autonomous driving," he said, adding that he’s probably driving manually less than 10% of the time.
"It's not really going to take any jobs, No. 1, anytime soon. We're talking a driver-in, driver-out product and right now we have a driver-in product here. It is a driver assist feature. I think it's very far out to start worrying about driver-out," he said. "This is going to fulfill the driver shortage that we currently have. It's going to keep uptime on the truck through collision mitigation, it's going to save fuel – some of those things for fleet drivers will come back in rewards. I think that there's nothing to be scared of at this point."

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