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Monday, May 18, 2020
Logistics Intelligence Brief
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Trucking

Recognizing the truckers

New Jersey Herald May 18, 2020

Kenny Meyer works for YRC Freight. On April 18, he delivered 2 pallets of face shields to Home Depot in Matamoras Pa., then went to Nice Pak in Rockland County and picked up two loads of sanitary wipes to be delivered all over the country. Ken is also the co-owner of Kerry Professional Driving School in Middletown. He has been working for YRC for over 20 years, and Kerry Driving School for over 16 years. Ken drives a 2019 Volvo VNR tandem axle truck and 48 foot trailer.

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US spot truck rates rise slowly amid COVID-19 restart

The Journal of Commerce William B. Cassidy May 15, 2020

Truckload demand is inching up as the United States takes its first tentative steps toward an economic restart, with pricing on the top 100 dry-van spot market lanes increasing last week for the first time since mid-March, DAT Solutions said Thursday. Produce season is one reason spot truck capacity is tightening in Southern California, Texas, and central Florida. There were notable increases in outbound DAT spot rates from Memphis, Tennessee, to Indianapolis, which rose 17 cents to $1.84 per mile, and from Memphis to Columbus, Ohio, which rose 10 cents to $1.63 per mile. But long-haul rates remained depressed, with the average DAT spot rate from Chicago to Los Angeles falling 13 cents to $1.13 per mile.

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Are freight volumes here to stay? The great debate continues

Freight Waves Zach Strickland Saturday May 16, 2020

After experiencing one of the most volatile periods in history over the past two months, freight market volumes have recovered to February levels in the past week. February is not a great month for freight traditionally speaking but considering a month ago volumes were running 15-20% below average for this time of year, February looks fine. One of the most debated topics in the transportation industry and the overall economy is just how does the recovery manifest over the next several months? The fact of the matter is that no one really knows, but keeping track of multiple data points measuring different segments of the global supply chain will enable us to quickly react to all the expected or unexpected realities of the post COVID-19 outbreak world.

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Best week for load volumes since March, now up 5% year-over-year

Freight Waves Seth Holm May 16, 2020

On the positive side, thirteen of the 15 major freight markets FreightWaves tracks were positive on a week-over-week basis. This ratio continues to improve from recent weeks. The markets with the largest gains in OTVI.USA were Seattle (27.72%), Ontario, California (18.18%) and Los Angeles (16.67%). The markets with declines were Savannah, Georgia (-4.83%) and Atlanta (-3.77%).

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Dynamic route planning becomes the new norm

Transport Dive Amanda Loudin May 14, 2020

The first few weeks of adjusting to the new conditions posed challenges to route planning in a variety of ways. "We saw some abrupt customer closings due to the diagnosis of COVID-19 within the customers’ facilities," Amos Rogan, LTL operations leader at Averitt Express, told Transport Dive. "We also saw shipments that were tendered to us going to locations that were closed." "The difference between pre-[COVID-19] and current is that we are looking to utilize our tools to more dynamically route shipments and be more creative in how we plan versus some level of static routing," said Rogan. Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting Group and ShipMatrix, said this is where route planning software can step in to optimize routes and eliminate gaps in productivity that might emerge. The software "can tackle changes in volume, delivery windows, locations and pricing, all of which are an ongoing issue right now." he told Transport Dive.

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Shippers/3PLs

Curbside pickup, delivery poised to boost Walmart sales

MarketPlace Justin Ho May 18, 2020

One of the brightest spots of Walmart’s business has been curbside pickup, a service where customers order things online, drive to the store and wait while a worker loads everything into their trunks. “And that, during COVID, has just accelerated,” said Lei Duran, who follows Walmart for the research firm Kantar. She said curbside pickup has gotten huge because people are using the service to buy groceries. That’s an area where Walmart already dominates. “We show that half of all online grocery shoppers are using Walmart for their online grocery orders,” Duran said.

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US nonstore retail sales grow 20.5% in April as total retail sales tumble with pandemic

Digital Commerce 360 Jessica Young May 15, 2020

The performance of U.S. ecommerce and other nonstore sales was a rare bright spot in the dismal retail landscape reflected in the new U.S. Department of Commerce data showing the repercussions of the coronavirus’ stay-at-home orders. Consumer spending in nonstore channels jumped 20.5% year over year in April—the second-highest growth rate ever recorded for the month, according to a Digital Commerce 360 analysis of the Commerce Department’s advance monthly figures released Friday. Numbers exclude estimated fuel sales. April’s nonstore surge was also higher than the revised 18.8% year-over-year growth in March and marked only the second time in the last two decades that a month’s nonstore growth surpassed 20.0.%.

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Uber Freight teams up with Oracle as enterprise partnerships for digital brokers grow

Supply Chain Dive Emma Cosgrove May 15, 2020

In this way, Uber Freight's growing list of TMS integrations shows some recognition that brokerage is not a function where shippers have traditionally demonstrated much loyalty and new brokers need to meet them where they are, without expecting behavioral changes. (Though Uber Freight launched in 2017, it was not available on a desktop computer until 2019.)

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Industry

Slump at US Ports Continues in April

Transport Topics Dan Ronan May 15, 2020

The slump at the nation’s ports continued in April as 20-foot-equivalent container (TEU) volumes were down, in some cases by double digits when compared with 2019. The Port of Los Angeles reported a 6.4% year-over-year decrease as it processed 688,999 containers in April compared with 736,465 in the same month a year ago. The facility’s executive director, Eugene Seroka, told reporters during a May 13 conference call they’re muddling through. “We’re moving cargo at about 85% of normal volume at this time of year; we’re down about 15%,” he said. “There is plenty of space — plenty of capability — as we help our country re-emerge from the economic shutdown we have witnessed for the past seven or eight weeks.”

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Trailer orders and production drop to historic lows

Fleet Owner Josh Fisher May 15, 2020

Trailer purchases will likely remain on hold until fleets have a clearer view of how the freight economy will respond this year, according to FTR’s Ake. “The key element to the trailer market recovery is for fleet confidence to improve. Carriers saw freight softening at the beginning of the year and then it cratered due to the recession caused by COVID-19.”

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Technology/Innovation

Amazon Wants to Innovate Its Way Out of the Pandemic

Bloomberg Matt Day May 18, 2020

The retailer this month posted dozens of jobs for laboratory workers in the city of Hebron, across the river from Cincinnati, including a laboratory director, technicians and assistants who will test samples collected from some of Amazon’s more than 900,000 employees. In Sunnyvale, California, the headquarters of Amazon’s Lab126 hardware group, the company is seeking microbiologists and researchers, as well as a lawyer to oversee the legal aspects of the laboratory initiative. The testing project, on which Amazon expects to spend some $300 million in the three months ending in June, is the most visible element of a broad corporate effort that has Amazon executives reassigning teams across the company to deal with elements of the coronavirus. Last month, the company said that it planned to spend about $4 billion on Covid-19 related expenses during the second quarter of the year. Amazon is tight-lipped about its plans, but the array of initiatives launched so far hint at the scale of the company’s ambition to thrive in a world turned upside down.

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Government/Safety

Diesel Engine Makers Tackle Challenges Posed by Stricter Emission Standards

Transport Topics Gary Frantz May 2020

The lowest level of North American Class 8 truck orders in modern times is not stopping fleets and engine manufacturers from pushing ahead to prepare for more stringent emission regulations. Companies are finding ways to squeeze out better fuel mileage and uptime performance from the next wave of diesel engines. “We’re seeing a significant trend toward uptime. That’s the No. 1 characteristic customers are looking for — reliability and durability,” said Landon Sproull, vice president at truck and engine maker Paccar Inc.

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Economy

ISM semiannual report reflects effects of COVID-19 on manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors

Logistics Management Jeff Berman May 15, 2020

Manufacturing capital expenses (capex) are expected to fall 19.1% in 2020, down from the previous expectation of a 2.1% decline. And 10% of the report’s manufacturing respondents expect increased capex, with an average increase of 26.5% and 56% noting that their capex will be down by an average of 38.7%. ISM added that 34% indicated their capex spending will be flat annually, from 2019 to 2020. Manufacturing capacity utilization, or operating rate, which came in at 75.9, is 7.3% below the 83.2 December reading, and production capacity is pegged to decline 3.6% in 2020, down December’s anticipated growth rate of 3.3%. Raw materials prices are expected to be off 2.8% for the year, below the previous estimate of, down from December’s projection of a 1.1% increase. Employment is expected to be down 5.3% in 2020.

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US Economy Hits Record Lows in April Retail, Factory Data

Bloomberg/Transport Topics Reade Pickert May 15, 2020

U.S. retail sales and factory output registered the steepest declines on record in April, illustrating a recession so deep that it likely will take years to fully recover. Revenue at retailers and restaurants fell 16.4% from the prior month, almost double the 8.3% drop in March, which previously was the worst in data back to 1992, according to a Commerce Department report released May 15. That compared with the median projection for a 12% decline. A separate report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production decreased 11.2% last month, the steepest monthly drop in the 101-year history of the series. Manufacturing output plummeted by a record 13.7% amid declines in all major industries, the Fed said.

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Industrial Production in U.S. Fell 11.2% in April

The Wall Street Journal David Harrison May 15, 2020

U.S. industrial production posted the steepest one-month fall on record in April as efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic closed factories, sapped demand and froze global supply chains. Industrial production, a measure of factory, mining and utility output, decreased a seasonally adjusted 11.2% in April from the prior month, the Federal Reserve said Friday. It was the steepest drop in records dating back 101 years. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected an 11.1% drop. Manufacturing output, the biggest component of industrial production, decreased 13.7% in April from the prior month. Mining production decreased 6.1%. The oil-and-gas industry is suffering from declining demand as the global economy slows.

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