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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Trucking

Acquisition expands Schneider’s dedicated truck capacity

The Journal of Commerce William B. Cassidy January 4, 2022

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Schneider National’s $263 million acquisition of Midwest Logistics Systems (MLS) underscores shipper demand for some guarantee of truck capacity, and the difficulty trucking companies are having providing that capacity. The deal, announced Tuesday, expands Schneider’s growing dedicated business, which the company calls a “strategic growth driver.” Schneider had $4.6 billion in revenue in 2020.
MLS, based in Celina, Ohio, has 1,087 drivers, 945 tractors, and 3,484 trailers, according to the most recent information filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

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Fleet Financial Trends Imply Solid Start to 2022

Truckinginfo.com Jeff Kauffman January 4, 2022

As we neared the end of 2021 and took a look at third-quarter fleet earnings reports, the news looked good — good enough that the stock prices of the group were up 15.6% during the earnings reporting season, compared to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index that was up 7.6%.
The big story for the third quarter was the overall rate of improvement in yields (pricing + fuel surcharge + mix.) Nearly every freight sector has been experiencing double-digit yield improvement. Because yield improvement carries no associated variable cost, much of this offsets inflation and drops straight to the income line.

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Workforce

Commentary: Thinking About the Next Dominant Business Issue

Industry Week Geert De Lombaerde January 5, 2022

In trucking, meanwhile, the White House unveiled a 90-day plan to create more paid truck driver apprenticeship programs and team up the U.S. Department of Transportation with the U.S. Department of Labor to help fill empty driver’s seats. Industry executives—many of whom have built national networks of driver schools—lauded the plan’s approach to cut red tape.
“These initiatives could not come at a better time,” Yellow Corp. CEO Darren Hawkins said in a statement that especially praised the plan to smooth the transitions for veterans who held commercial driver’s licenses while in the military. “With a nationwide and industry-wide driver shortage, companies need the federal government’s help to reduce barriers to entry for new drivers.”

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LA-LB terminals brace for COVID-related labor shortage

The Journal Of Commerce Bill Mongelluzzo January 4, 2022

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COVID-19 positivity rates are climbing rapidly among longshore workers and office workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and while labor availability has not yet been affected, the head of the employers’ association said the worst is yet to come.
“The next two weeks are going to be horrible,” Jim McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), told JOC.com Tuesday. The PMA administers the coastwide contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
A half-dozen LA-LB terminal operators said they have yet to feel the full impact of workers testing positive or being forced to quarantine after coming in contact with someone who has, but they anticipate it will soon affect the ability of terminals to fill work gangs. If that happens, ships will take longer to work at berth, which will cause existing vessel congestion to worsen as ships back up at anchor and beyond the anchorage area.

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Lawrence Freight ups driver pay as much as 40%

Freight Waves Todd Maiden January 4, 2022

Employee-owned carrier Lawrence Freight announced a 2022 pay increase of as much as 40% for company drivers. The new pay scale, which tops out at 70 cents per mile, started Saturday and includes over-the-road and flatbed drivers.
The Roanoke, Virginia-based truckload carrier will also pay drivers another 2.5 cents per mile, up to $3,000 annually, in the form of quarterly safety bonuses. The total comp plan now allows TL drivers to earn up to $88,000 annually, with flatbed operators seeing as much as $92,000 per year.

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Shippers/3PLs

Manufacturing ends 2021 with sequential decline but still on a growth track

Logistics Management Jeff Berman January 4, 2022

While falling sequentially, from November to December, manufacturing output remained on a growth path to finish 2021, according to data issued today by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).
In its monthly Manufacturing Report on Business, ISM said that the report’s key metric, the PMI, was 58.7 (a reading of 50 or higher indicates growth), down 2.4% compared to November. This marks the 19th consecutive month of growth, at a slower rate, coupled with December also representing the 19th consecutive month of growth for the overall economy.
The 58.7 December PMI marks the lowest reading over the last 12 months, matching January, with March’s 64.7 representing the highest reading.

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Asia’s Factory Engines Power Through Omicron Headwinds

Bloomberg Enda Curran January 4, 2022

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The world’s biggest manufacturing region appears to be shaking off the surge in omicron infections, at least for now.
That’s the early take from key gauges of manufacturing activity for the Asia region that showed output continued to hold up through December, even as the latest virus variant multiplies at a dizzying speed from France to Australia.

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10 retail trends to watch in 2022

Retail Dive Daphne Howland et al. January 4, 2022

Retailers (if they’re smart) invest heavily in their supply chains
The world’s supply chain underwent massive stress in 2021, unlike anything in modern commerce in its breadth, depth and pervasiveness. COVID-19 outbreaks, demand surges, capacity shortfalls, labor shortages and other confounding factors scrambled the ability of many to fully stock their shelves. Freight congestion could ease in 2022, but various pressures and high costs could persist beyond the year.
After a year of emergency measures like air shipping and ship chartering (for those that could afford it), 2022 could be a year for evaluating, rethinking and investing in supply chains in the long term. But will that happen?

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Industry

Stoughton expanding chassis production to Texas

The Journal Of Commerce Ari Ashe January 4, 2022

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Strong demand for 53-foot chassis
There is plenty of appetite for 53-foot chassis to occupy the production lines of Stoughton and CIE.
Intermodal equipment provider DCLI told JOC.com last month it has “tens of thousands” of new chassis on order, but declined to narrow that figure down and did not break down how many were 20-foot, 40-foot, or 53-foot. DCLI supplies APL Logistics, COFC Logistics, Swift Intermodal, retailers Amazon and Walmart, and other smaller BNSF Railway customers.
Norfolk Southern Railway has ordered 7,000 domestic chassis for delivery over the next two years, while Union Pacific ordered 5,600 domestic chassis to be delivered in 2022.

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Logistics economy continues expansion streak in December

DC Velocity Victoria Kickham January 4, 2022

December’s activity reflects the continued effects of consumer pressure on retailers and the supply chain’s ability to respond with inventory and transportation capacity to meet that demand. A resulting rush to load up on inventory ahead of peak season may exacerbate the strain on the supply chain that characterized most of 2021, the LMI researchers said.
“Essentially, downstream retailers struggled to find enough capacity to handle consumer demand during the holiday rush, while their upstream vendors labored to store and manage the deluge of inventory that flowed into supply chains throughout 2021,” according to the LMI report. “Considerable stress was put onto supply chains to avoid missed sales during the holiday rush.
Related: CSCMP December 2021 Logistics Managers' Index
Link: Freight Waves Warehouse, transportation capacity tight with retailers potentially ‘over-ordering’

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The Electrification Journey

Transport Topics Jerry Hirsch January 4, 2022

While many of the benefits are proving out, there are several significant barriers to widespread adoption, including high acquisition costs, complex infrastructure requirements and basic financial questions such as the resale value of a first-generation electric tractor.
The number of electric trucks in operation in the United States stands at about 1,000, with another 1,000 on order, according to Calstart, a nonprofit industry consortium pushing zero-emission commercial vehicle adoption.
Related: The Washington Post Opinion: Imagine Virginia’s icy traffic catastrophe — but with only electric vehicles

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Supply Chain and Ports Bend but Don’t Break During Holidays

Transport Topics Dan Ronan January 4, 2022

“There were some very positive things they, the ports, tried to do. There are also things that obviously they said they were going to do that they haven’t really played out,” IHS Markit Transportation Economist Paul Bingham told Transport Topics. “So, it was somewhat of mixed performance in terms of what was achievable, but probably within the realm of what was possible for the ports.”
During the past 90 days, tens of thousands of empty containers have been moved out of the Port of Los Angeles. Now, port officials say they plan to begin charging shippers a progressively increasing container dwell fee beginning Jan. 30 to encourage them to remove the remaining containers that have sat at the port for nine days or longer.

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