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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Friday, December 3, 2021


ATA stats: 2020 volume lower but trucking still rules freight movement

Freight Waves Alan Adler December 2, 2021

The pandemic took a good-size bite out of trucking freight in 2020, but loaded and rolling trucks still dominated transport modes, the American Trucking Associations reported Thursday.
The trucking industry, overwhelmingly made up of small businesses operating six or fewer trucks, moved 10.23 billion tons of freight in 2020, a 13.6% drop from 11.84 billion tons in 2019. The industry generated $732.3 billion in revenue, or 80.4% of the nation’s freight bill, unchanged from the year earlier.
The ATA updated major trucking statistics in the latest edition of American Trucking Associations’ “American Trucking Trends 2021.”
“We knew that the pandemic had a significant impact on our industry, but this year’s Trends shows that despite those challenges, the trucking industry remained our nation’s lifeline — delivering the life-saving and life-sustaining essentials our country needed in a time of great need,” Bob Costello, the ATA chief economist, said in a press release.

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Trucking Cares Foundation Tackles Workforce Efforts and More

Transport Topics Roger Gilroy December 2, 2021

A philanthropic effort of American Trucking Associations that works to help those in need is now turning attention to a challenge confronting the industry itself — workforce development.
“This workforce development issue has been with us long before the pandemic,” ATA President Chris Spear told Transport Topics. “We came into COVID with a shortage of 61,500 drivers. A shortage of technicians, dockworkers, too. But drivers, particularly. And then exiting this pandemic, the driver shortage has been inflated to 80,000. Now you are seeing that across all sectors of the economy that are short on talent. We are no exception.”

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ATRI Study Explores Differences Between Independent, Company Drivers

Transport Topics Connor D. Wolf December 2, 2021

Truck drivers have distinct reasons for choosing between driving for a company or remaining independent, an indication that state-level efforts at employee reclassification could have a negative effect on independent drivers’ job satisfaction, a new report concluded.
“I think the results paint a very detailed picture of why those choices are made and what those individuals are looking for in the choices they have,” said Rebecca Brewster, president and COO of the American Transportation Research Institute, which on Dec. 1 released a report titled “Owner-Operators/Independent Contractors in the Supply Chain.”
The study, ATRI said, was conducted to better understand why drivers elect to become owner-operators and independent contractors, and how legislative attempts such as Assembly Bill 5 in California — which seeks to reclassify some independent workers as company employees — would impact them.

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Home Depot Is Investing to Keep Contractors Happy

Bloomberg/Transport Topics Jordyn Holman December 2, 2021

Inside an expansive and noisy distribution center just east of Atlanta, Home Depot Inc. is trying to solve a problem that’s plaguing its stores: large orders from pro shoppers.
Contractors’ needs are very different than the average customer’s, and while they make up only 5% of Home Depot’s shoppers, they account for 45% of its $132 billion in annual sales. They often buy bulky items in vast quantities and want — or rather demand — to receive the orders on a stringent timeline. That’s become an especially intense problem for Home Depot, as with other retailers, amid the supply chain crunch that’s upended stocking and transport around the country and the world.
The new facility in Stonecrest, Ga., which is called a flatbed distribution center, is designed with contractors in mind. During a recent visit, workers ferried goods around on red Raymond pacers and yellow Caterpillar forklifts. Stacks of plywood were piled up toward the ceiling and copper pipes sat atop high shelves. Large bags of mulch and potting mix were a prominent reminder that spring renovation season is on the horizon.

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Warehouse rents to climb through end of 2023, Cushman and Wakefield says

DC Velocity Ben Ames December 2, 2021

Warehouses and fulfillment centers across North America will continue to see “intense pressure” for space through the end of 2023, leading to record low vacancy rates and soaring rents, according to a forecast from the real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.
In the short term, the North American industrial market is expected to reach over 507 million square feet of net absorption by year-end 2021—the first time the market has surpassed 500 million square feet—despite an anticipated near-record level of new supply, at 376 million square feet, the firm said in its “North American Industrial Forecast for 2022/23.”
Those trends will combine to fill nearly all available warehouse space in the region, with vacancy rates sinking to a scarce 3.8% at year-end 2021—a decrease over 2020 year-end levels of 4.9%. And with space in high demand, rents will rise, expected to finish the year at 8.5% above 2020 levels, setting another record high asking rental rate for industrial space, the firm said.

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Trucking faces an ‘everything’ shortage

Fleet Owner December 2, 2021

In the release of its Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, ACT Research reported that the setup for the entire commercial vehicle industry remains unchanged, noting that industry capacity remains range-bound across a broad front of supply chain constraints.
The report, which combines ACT’s data analysis from a variety of industry sources, works to paint a comprehensive picture of trends impacting transportation and commercial vehicle markets.
“While the focus is on silicon and semiconductors, it is really an ‘everything’ shortage,” Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, noted regarding industry constraints. “Those constraints are not localized CV industry specific challenges, but continue as pandemic-driven failures in a globally reliant web of interrelated supply chains. Rebuilding complex global networks requires the system to spin at roughly the same speed, which it is decidedly not doing at present.”

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U.S. rail carload and intermodal volumes are mixed in November, reports AAR

Logistics Management Jeff Berman December 3, 2021

Intermodal containers and trailers—at 1,028,039—were off 9.6%, or 108,705 units, compared to November 2020.
AAR said that combined U.S. carload and intermodal volume originations—at 1,945,826—were down 4.5%, or 90,709 units, annually.
“Fifteen of the 20 carload categories we track have seen year-to-date carload increases on U.S. railroads through November,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “Coal leads the way, with carloads up more than 11%, or nearly 306,000 carloads, mainly because the price of natural gas to electricity generators has doubled since the beginning of the year. Chemicals, grain and commodities related to steelmaking have also all showed solid carload growth this year.”

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AI cameras provide added data, visibility into fleet while boosting safety

CCJ Matt Cole December 2, 2021, 2021

Trucking companies have been using dash cams for years to help prove innocence in the event of a crash, to make sure truck drivers are paying attention to the road and more.
A more recent technological development in dash cameras has brought artificial intelligence into the fold, which can give fleets using AI cameras even more visibility into what is going on in and around their trucks, and also help drivers avoid crashes by predicting traffic patterns using data.
As reported recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s numbers show the first half of 2021 saw the most traffic fatalities through six months in 15 years. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that fatal crashes involving large trucks increased from 2018 to 2019.
AI dash cams, such as those from Smarter AI, feature advanced driver assistance systems and driver monitoring systems to provide truck drivers with data in the cab to help them make better decisions on the road.

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5 Enforcement Metrics Fleets Should Monitor

Truckinginfo.com Brandon Wiseman December 2, 2021

There's no shortage of ways motor carriers can find themselves sideways with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates interstate highway transportation. Serious accidents, driver complaints, and violations from roadside inspections are just a few things that can trigger an FMCSA audit. Bad audits can have serious consequences, and poor safety performance is often the driving force in nuclear verdicts against motor carriers after a serious accident.
Inexplicably, many carriers do not track the key safety metrics used by:
• the FMCSA to prioritize carrier for an audit,
• the plaintiff's bar to paint carriers as bad actors, and
• some shippers and brokers to select their carrier partners.
Most of these metrics are publicly available for all to see and offer detailed insight into a carrier's compliance (or lack thereof) with federal and state safety regulations. What follows is a list of the top 5 metrics every motor carrier should be tracking on a routine basis.

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