While over-the-road capacity availability remains tight, the outlook is not quite as dire as it was earlier this year. That was a major theme in the most recent edition of the Shippers Condition Index (SCI) released this week by freight transportation consultancy FTR.
Keeping an eye on over-the-road capacity at its current levels and speculating on what its future levels may be has become more than a passing interest for freight transportation and supply chain stakeholders.
Econintersect: Week 43 of 2013 ending 26 October shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Railcar count was up, and intermodal count is up. Weekly overall data is up, and up even more ignoring coal and grain.
Econintersect: Week 41 of 2013 ending 12 October shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Railcar count was up, and intermodal count is up. Weekly overall data is up, and up even more ignoring coal and grain.
Econintersect: Week 39 of 2013 ending 28 September shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Railcar count is up, and intermodal count is up. Weekly overall data is up, and up even more ignoring coal and grain.
Econintersect: Week 37 of 2013 ending 14 September shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Railcar count is up, and intermodal count is up. Weekly overall data is up, and up even more ignoring coal and grain.
Conditions for shippers right now, the consensus goes, are pretty lousy, but for those of you who will grasp at any straw, it’s perhaps the first wee sign of hope that things haven’t gotten significantly lousier over the past month. At least, not according to the monthly Shippers Conditions Index, monitored by FTR Associates.
U.S. intermodal rates rose 1.2 percent or $24 during the week of April 8, according to data on all-inclusive 53-foot door-to-door spot pricing quoted by railroads and provided by the 3PL IDS.
FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for February, published in its April 2013 Trucking Update, had a favorable reading of 12.9, increasing 2 points month-over-month, reflecting an increasingly improving outlook and serving as a strong sign of positive momentum in the truck industry.
The Cass Freight Index accurately measures trends in North American shipping activity based on $22 billion in paid freight expenses for more than 350 of America’s largest shippers.
The nation's truckload sector will find itself short of hundreds of thousands of drivers by 2022 unless current trends change, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said in a report released on Monday.
The Intermodal Association of North America today reported that overall intermodal volume in the third quarter was 3.77 million units, up 3.2 percent from last year’s third-quarter total of 3.65 million.
Larger U.S. railroads reported intermodal volume up 3.9 percent versus the same week last year, at 253,186 trailers and containers, during the week ending October 27, according to figures released by the Association of American Railroads. They originated 287,104 carloads for the week, down 7 percent compared with the same week in 2011, and down 0.6 percent from the week before.
The giant sucking sound H. Ross Perot once warned us about is back. Only this time it's not Mexico siphoning off U.S. jobs in a post-NAFTA market. In fact, it has nothing to do with jobs or Mexico. Rather, it's the sound of end users—businesses and consumers—sucking away control from the producers and retailers that, for generations, called the shots on order fulfillment and shipping.
The U.S. logistics industry will have nearly 1.1 million job openings between 2013 and 2016 just to keep pace with projected industry growth during that period, according to a soon-to-be-released study by a state advocacy group.
Business inventories in August were up 0.6 percent from July to a seasonally adjusted $1.602 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.
A jump in energy prices helped push the Consumer Price Index up 0.6 percent in September on a seasonally adjusted basis following the same increase in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Year-over-year, the index rose 2 percent in September following a 1.7 percent increase in August.
Containerized imports in Los Angeles increased 3.38 percent in September year-over-year, reaching the highest total of 2012. Imports in neighboring Long Beach edged up 0.7 percent over last September.
Freight shipping may have slowed to a crawl, but shippers are not benefiting from additional truck capacity or lower truck pricing, according to FTR Associates.The firm’s Shippers Conditions Index dropped to a negative 6.8 in September, and FTR doesn't expect it to head back toward positive territory anytime soon.
Reporting U.S. railroads originated 283,440 carloads in the week ending Oct. 6, down 6.3% compared with the same week last year, according to figures released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Intermodal volume was up 3.8% versus the same week last year, at 251,113 trailers and containers.
The container industry shows no real signs of recovery, according to an industry report, due to ongoing to supply side pressure.Container lines will remain in "transition mode" until at least 2014 and probably 2015, according to Drewry's "Container Market Review and Forecast 2012/13."
The concept of “following the money” may apply to the supply chain and freight transportation sectors more than most. It comes from a school of thought, which states where the freight is, the money is.
The Wall Street Journal proudly revealed “The Myth of the Black Friday Deal” in this morning’s edition. In working with Decide Inc., a consumer price research firm, WSJ revealed that Black Friday isn’t the only time consumers can get great holiday deals, and that the rise of online shopping “has presented a wealth of data for researchers looking to uncover retailers’ strategies and pinpoint when prices are lowest.” This helps Decide guide its member consumers on when to buy certain items.
It's not like the heady days of the early 21st century, but after a historically subpar performance for the last four years, the U.S. industrial property market is showing signs of tightening.
The United States is on track to meet a Dec. 3 deadline to screen and inspect all cargo moving in the lower decks of passenger planes that originate in foreign countries, a top official of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said.
Intermodal may be set to become the longest running hit on wheels, the transportation industry's version of "A Chorus Line," according to rail industry data.
The Material Handling Industry’s (MHI) latest material handling equipment manufacturing forecast calls for new orders to grow 6% next year. It’s encouraging to hear positive numbers in an era of uncertainty, but is that projection realistic?
The explosive growth of domestic and international e-commerce will drive retailers to create more regionalized distribution networks in order to stock products closer to the end customer and simplify the process of product returns.
Earlier this year, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Global Supply Chain Institute hosted a group of senior supply chain executives from its advisory board to talk about “what supply chain professionals really need to know.” These advisory board members range from VPs of supply chain to CEOs from 40 companies, such as Amazon, Disney, Dell, P&G, Kimberly Clark, Colgate, Johnson and Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Boeing, Caterpillar, Nissan, Lowe’s, and Walgreens. This industry input is used to help UT design its executive-level MBA and non-degree educational programs, such as its new Global Supply Chain Executive MBA.
The push and pull nature of freight transportation volumes in today’s economy remains largely intact based on the results of today’s August trucking volumes released by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).The ATA reported that seasonally-adjusted (SA) truck tonnage in August—at 118.3 (2000=100)—fell 0.9 percent, following a flat July and June, which was up 1.2 percent compared to May, representing the largest month-to-month increase in 2012 year-to-date. SA tonnage was down 1.0 percent in May.
The push and pull nature of freight transportation volumes in today’s economy remains largely intact based on the results of today’s August trucking volumes released by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
The world economy is sliding into a “twilight zone,” trapped between mixed valuations, feeble growth and recession on the horizon but with coordinated central bank intervention promising expansion and escape from contraction. In truth, fiscal authorities and central banks have steered us from recession, but we seem incapable of generating self sustaining growth and central banks on their own can not close the gap and bring about a lasting and durable recovery. Most equities have fallen into an eerie calm.
Online applications for mobile devices are emerging in ways that can finally close or reduce many of the information gaps in the supply chain between transportation planning, the shipping/receiving dock, customers, and even accounts payable. These mobile applications are enabling shippers to interface directly and more effectively with logistic partners; access logistics information in non-traditional business settings; and enhance communications where access to a computer is not readily available.
Independent research groups report that a transportation management system (TMS) can save a company anywhere from 3-20% of transportation spend as compared to manual management. It is easy to see why many companies that currently do not have a TMS are now searching for one for their business.
The growth of U.S. exports, especially to countries such as China, has put a spotlight on the need for strategic inland ports across the United States, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate. In a new white paper, the firm explores how inland ports are expanding their focus from moving and handling imports to facilitating the movement of goods outside the U.S.
Gen Y is keeping the Baby Boomer generation on its toes; both at home and at work. But it’s in the supply chain where those generations are acting as generators of commerce. Only by synchronizing their respective powers of consumer technology adoption and logistics system integration can the promise of the 2020 Value Chain come true.
While diesel prices increased for the tenth consecutive week, the pace of growth was subdued, rising 0.5 cents to $4.132 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Gone are the days of single-channel apparel retailing—and supply chains servicing that model. Today, apparel retailers must optimize their supply chains to deliver products from any point where consumers want to buy them.
GE Transportation revealed the prototype for its Evolution Series Locomotive, which the company claims will be the first freight locomotive to meet the EPA's Tier 4 emission standards, effective 2015.
When vendors fail to comply with shippers' routing guide instructions, all parties involved experience frustration. To improve compliance, shippers must provide clear and concise instructions about how they want their freight to move. Here is advice on ensuring routing guide compliance from Harold B. Friedman, senior vice president of global corporate development at freight payment and auditing service provider Data2Logistics.
While fuel prices again have turned to an upward trajectory, more attention continues to be paid to natural gas and how it can potentially be an asset for freight transportation sector stakeholders. And while natural gas is making inroads as a possible way for shippers and carriers to counter increasing and uncertain energy costs, a recent survey published by Transport Capital Partners and ACT Research shows that there are cautious reasons to be optimistic when gauging future natural gas prospects.
Retail sales and housing sector growth ticks up; manufacturing expansion slows Shippers of retail goods and cargo related to the housing industry, along with transportation providers, got a dose of goods news from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Group of Seven finance ministers urged oil-producing countries on Tuesday to raise output to ensure the market is well supplied, while warning that Western nations were ready to tap strategic oil reserves to offset rising prices that could hurt global growth.
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced various changes to its much maligned government-mandated CSA program, which stands for “Compliance, Safety, Accountability.”
Year-over-year June U.S. retail sales rose 2.7 percent while inventories advanced 7 percent. Sequentially, June U.S. retail sales declined 4.7 percent while inventories inched ahead 0.2 percent. Retail inventories at the end of June were estimated to total $487.9 billion, with sales estimated at $360.4 billion for a total inventory-to-sales
As is the case with the overall economy, truck tonnage patterns remain largely uneven. That appears to be the main takeaway from data released by the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The ATA reported that seasonally-adjusted (SA) truck tonnage in July—at 118.8 (2000=100)—was flat compared to June, which was up 1.2 percent compared to May, representing the largest month-to-month increase in 2012 year-to-date. SA tonnage was down 1.0 percent in May.
Diesel prices saw gains for the seventh straight week, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).The price per gallon hit $4.026, driven by a 6.1 cent weekly gain, with prices rising a cumulative 31.7 cents over the last seven weeks. This marks the first time diesel prices have cracked $4 per gallon since the week of May 14, when it checked in at $4.004 per gallon.
FTR Associates’ Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for June was basically unchanged from the previous month and remains in near neutral territory at a reading of -1.8. The SCI sums up all market influences that affect shippers; a reading above zero suggests a favorable shipping environment, while a reading below zero is unfavorable.
The 50 largest U.S. and Canadian truckload carriers ranked by revenue grew 13.4 percent in 2011, with combined sales for the year rising to $32.6 billion. That compares with combined revenue of $28.8 billion in 2010, according to estimates prepared for The Journal of Commerce by SJ Consulting Group.
"TMS applications are very good at optimizing within the order-delivery planning horizon," says Gartner analyst Dwight Klappich. "But they are not good at forward planning—weeks, months, quarters in advance."
Although companies have tried using other demand forecasting and procurement applications to determine how many and what type of carriers they'll need, Klappich says they haven't had much success. In his view, so-called "product-centric planning tools" are not suited to transportation planning because they can't get down to the required level of detail. In other words, they can't look at future capacity needs by lane, carrier, or piece of equipment.
With growth not yet on the horizon, shippers are shifting their modal strategies to keep their costs as low as possible.The economic recovery will continue to sputter along weakly for the next three years. If you secure trucking services on a transactional basis you can be assured that sometime soon you will not be able to get a truck. In the face of tightening trucking capacity, rail intermodal is seeing a massive resurgence. Shippers are turning more to warehouse-based third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to provide intermodal and other logistics management expertise previously associated with non-asset-based 3PLs.
Far be it for me to enter the culture wars here concerning family (how it's defined, what it should aspire to), save for one observation: It's easier to apply various values if one is around the family enough to actually do it—and intermodalism can contribute.
Could it be that rail is warning of an economic pivot point? Reflecting on the July 2012 rail data which we report on weekly – the trends within the data have changed. Is it just one month of data? A quote buried in the Association of American Railroads July report caught my eye.
Q: What advice do you have for companies attempting to optimize their inbound freight?A: It's worth the effort. Traditionally, companies have focused on low-hanging fruit, such as improving efficiencies and reducing outbound transportation costs. Overlooked is the more difficult task of managing inbound transportation, which can often be multi-modal, multi-leg, and international.
A “synchronized deceleration in the global economy will have larger implications for the supply chain, said IHS Global Insight. In today’s “world flash” update, analysts said that all the key economies of the world have slowed down, almost simultaneously
The first round of earnings reports from publicly owned truckload carriers reflects two important trends. First, the economy, while still expanding, is slowing. Second, trucking companies are doing a better job managing their bottom lines.
A milestone power utilities achieved this spring should jolt transportation operators and shippers. In April, the amount of electricity generated by natural gas-fired power plants for the first time equaled that produced by coal-fired plants, with each accounting for 32 percent of total U.S. power generation that month.
Rail intermodal base rates hit seven-year highs in June, propelled by demand from shippers looking for alternatives to get their freight moved in a tightening market for truckload capacity and from motor carriers seeking a more efficient way to get their customers' goods to market, according to an index released today by one of the nation's leading freight bill audit and payment firms.
While freight costs and capacity dominate water cooler conversations, sustainability embers smolder deep within the supply chain. The fire is still perceptible. So are the justifications.
For the third year in a row, global growth has started out strong, only to falter by midyear, said IHS Global Insight Economists.The incoming economic data “point to softness” in most parts of the world, IHS adds.
One of the most unstable elements in a marriage is control. Too much of it kills spontaneity but too little leads to financial and emotional chaos. The same can be said of a business marriage—as in your relationships with logistics service providers.
Logistics costs in 2011 rose 6.6 percent from the previous year to $1.282 trillion, or 8.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, as railroads gained market share and the ocean shipping sector continued to struggle, according to an industry report.
The U.S. rail shippers don’t appear to heeding the warnings of a national economic slowdown.Intermodal volume in May on the major U.S. railroads hit the highest level in history for that month, according to the Association of American Railroads. Intermodal traffic last month was 3.5 percent higher than the same month a year ago. Although carload volume was down 2.8 percent year-over-year in the same period, the big losses were because of slumps in the major commodities of coal and grain.
Based on the most recent reading of FTR Associates’ Trucking Conditions Index (TCI), it appears that the trucking sector is showing some signs of solid growth.
U.S. intermodal shipments on major railroads in the week ending June 2 rose 4.1 percent year-over-year but fell 12.6 percent from the week before, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Rail traffic once again was mixed on reporting U.S. railroads in the week ending June 2, 2012, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said, as the lines originated 265,207 carloads, down 3.1% compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 213,911 trailers and containers, up 4.1% compared with the same week last year.
The Cass Freight Index increased in May, despite signs of a slowing economy. The freight shipment index rose 1.8 percent from April and 2.2 percent year-over-year, according to Cass Information Systems
Stories about re-shoring manufacturing to the U.S. are typically anecdotal and unsustainable in segments where there is cost competition. Besides, the statistics do not support the stories.
Carload traffic grew along with intermodal volumes on reporting U.S. railroads in the week ending May 26, 2012, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said, breaking a pattern of mixed results seen frequently this year. The lines originated 291,381 carloads, up 1.3% compared with the same week last year, and intermodal traffic for the week totaled 244,726 trailers and containers, up 4.3% compared with the same week last year.
Users of transportation services need to get accustomed to U.S. freight rates rising "indefinitely," or at least through the balance of the decade, a leading industry consultant said Tuesday. Noël Perry, principal of consultancy Transport Fundamentals Inc., predicted that rates for truckload, barge, and rail intermodal services will each rise between 50 and 60 percent by the end of the decade. Truckload rates could escalate by between 8 and 9 percent a year by decade's end, he told attendees at the Warehousing Education and Research Council's (WERC) annual meeting in Atlanta.
Domestic intermodal container volume in the first quarter surged 14.9 percent year-over-year, outpacing international intermodal traffic gains by a wide margin and reconfirming strong U.S. manufacturing growth.
Monthly year-over-year percent change in intermodal shipments of 20-foot, 40-foot and 53-foot units in the United States.March 53-foot traffic advanced 12.1 percent sequentially, 20-footers were up 10.9 percent and 40-footers, 10.2 percent. March 53-foot traffic was 11.7 percent ahead year-over-year, 40-footers up 4.4 percent and 20-footers up 3.8 percent. Year-to-date, 53-foot traffic advanced 15.9 percent, 40-footers were up 3.1 percent and 20-footers, 2.8 percent year-over-year.
After watching in recent years as the number of intact containers moving to and from the Port of Tacoma by rail declined as a percentage of the port’s overall international volumes, officials spotted an interesting opportunity.
In the 1980s and 1990s, they ruled the interstate highway system as they crisscrossed the country. You knew their names: Roadway Express, Consolidated Freightways and Yellow Freight. They were the big three of the transportation industry. Only YRC remains, the result of the 2003 merger between Roadway and Yellow and CF’s bankruptcy a year earlier. The long-haul less-than-truckload industry has gone the way of vinyl records and film cameras. What led to the downfall of this once-mighty industry?
Transportation brokers have an underused opportunity to move freight via intermodal shipping, but those rail shipments can require special attention, several industry experts said.
Speaking on March 22 at the Transportation Intermediaries Association meeting here, Shelli Austin, a vice president at broker IDS Services, said, “I don’t want you to think [intermodal] will fix all your problems. [Brokers] have to educate shippers and learn about it as well.”
Today’s supply chain organizations need more aggressive spend management to reduce costs and mitigate risk in shipping. Traditional tactics like invoice auditing and refund recovery are great ways to cut shipping costs in a stable market, but the complexity of today’s shipping environment requires a deeper understanding of how to lessen the impact of industrial, political and economic forces on corporate spending.
What makes a good shipper? That may be the most important question facing the trucking industry today. How shippers answer it—and carrier perceptions of that response—could determine if and how freight gets moved, the cost of moving the goods, and how effectively this large and important business is able to function at a critical point in its history.
While both rail and trucking have mechanisms designed to pass fuel costs on to shippers, rail’s fuel efficiency advantage over trucks should lead to a modal shift from truck to rail in an environment of increasing fuel prices, the roundtable concluded. Any increase in fuel costs should result in meaningful gains in market share for domestic rail intermodal for hauls 500-750+ miles. Unsurprisingly, the impact of $5.00 gas prices is expected to have a negative overall impact on the macroeconomies of the U.S. and Canada. While the economic recovery is strong enough at this point such that $5.00 gas prices are unlikely to cause a recession, it would likely result in a surge in the unemployment rate back above 9.0%.
When it came time to impose the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement’s recommended March 15 rate increase, the 15 member carriers took different approaches. Some told their shipping customers they would follow the TSA’s recommendation and raise prices on eastbound containers by $300 per 40-foot equivalent unit. Others told their customers they would hold at the rate prevailing since the last TSA increase on Jan. 1.
The value of surface transportation trade between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico increased by 14.3 percent to a record $904 billion in 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.
The percentage increase was the third largest year-to-year increase since NAFTA went into effect in 1994.
According to Anne Landstrom, principal adviser for the commercial group at engineering and construction consultant Moffatt & Nichol, escalating wages and total landed costs are causing logistics managers to look south. More evidence that shippers may be “near shoring” in the future surfaced at a maritime conference in Southern California earlier this month.
The LTL trucking industry as a whole achieved more than $30 billion in revenue last year for the first time since the recession, increasing LTL sales 11.6 percent to $30.6 billion, compared with a 9.1 percent increase in revenue to $27.5 billion in 2010. (In its study, SJ Consulting ranks carriers by LTL revenue alone, excluding revenue from non-LTL sources such as truckload carriage and third-party logistics.)
Still, the recovery is incomplete. Despite steady improvement, LTL trucking has yet to regain its 2006 revenue peak of $33.7 billion, let alone the $33.3 billion in revenue reported for the industry before the economic collapse in 2008.
Research firm FTR Associates sees tightening truck capacity and rising truck pricing ahead this year for North American shippers as freight demand outstrips GDP. “This will continue to keep transport capacity tight throughout the forecast period, resulting in ongoing upward rate pressure,” said senior consultant Larry Gross.
Trucking in 2012 is an increasingly divided industry, not along lines such as truckload or less-than-truckload or dry van or flatbed, but by size and scale.
Large and small trucking operators face the same rising costs and must comply with the same federal regulations, but smaller carriers and owner-operators are finding it more difficult to cope with rising costs and to secure rate increases.
While the economic recovery remains far from complete, truck tonnage could be serving as a positive barometer of things to come, based on the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) December and 2011 year-end truck tonnage data, which was released today.
Following November’s 0.3 percent gain for seasonally-adjusted truck tonnage to 116.6 (2000=100), the ATA reported that December checked in at 124.5 for a 6.8 percent increase. December 2011 was up 10.5 percent than December 2010, according to the ATA, and is the single biggest annual monthly gain since July 1998. It also outpaced November’s annual gain of 6.1 percent.
Intermodal volume hauled by major U.S. railroads surged 7.4 percent year-over-year in the week ending Jan. 14 and skyrocketed 18.2 percent from the week prior, suggesting American companies see strong demand this year.
A growing number of carriers, 65 percent, said driver pay must rise above $60,000 a year. That’s up from 49 percent of the carriers surveyed the previous quarter. About 45 percent said pay would have to rise to the $60,000 to $70,000 annual range. That would be a significant bump in compensation. Tractor-trailer drivers are paid about $39,500 annually on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Connected, “always-on” consumers who expect instant information, a multitude of choices and flexible, real-time purchase and delivery options are driving change in the retail supply chain. Leading retailers have adopted technologies and practices to help them with demand forecasting, promotion, pricing, inventory management, and transportation. Rising transportation costs and potential efficiencies are driving advances in transportation management, according to Fabrizio Brasca, vice president, global logistics, JDA Software. Transportation trends have been a popular topic at the National Retail Federation’s 101st Annual Convention and Expo in New York City this week.
Shippers accustomed to seeing transportation costs drop year by year over decades are in for a sharp shock thanks to structural constraints on truck capacity that won’t be removed anytime soon — even if truckers would like to remove some of them.
As 2012 begins, there are three positive economic indicators to grow on, according to the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics:
• Housing Market - In November, housing starts increased 9.3% to an annual rate of 685,000 units. Building permits (an indicator of future housing starts) increased 5.7% to an annual rate of 681,000.
• Transportation Employment - Increased more than 1.5% year-over-year in December, with rail employment up 3.9% and trucking up 3.2%. Transportation Industries added about 50,200 employees in December, accounting for 25.1% of the overall net employment gains added last month.
• Consumer Confidence - Increased to 64.5 in December 2011 from 55.2 in November 2011. Consumer confidence has risen 23.6 points in the past two months, and was at its highest level in eight months.
Truckload rates rose less than some carriers expected but more than shippers wanted in 2011, with spot market rates on average rising 7.4 percent and contract rates climbing an average 6.5 percent, a freight pricing specialist says.
International container business has been a key element in the development of the North American rail intermodal transportation market for decades. Today, however, the opposite is true. Market share has reversed, with domestic business now representing the majority of North American intermodal loadings and growing much more quickly.
The Cass Freight Index for U.S. domestic shipments inched up 0.7 percent in December over the previous year, signaling new stability in shipping demand after the market slipped downward during the fall.
Major U.S. railroads handled a record number of intermodal containers in 2011, with a strong push late in the year that gave the industry a 6 percent gain in volume over 2010, according to the Association of American Railroads.
A closely watched gauge of U.S. manufacturing activity rose in December, indicating the 29th consecutive month of expansion, and similar indexes showed improvement in China, India, the U.K., Switzerland and Australia.
Intermodal volume for major U.S. railroads soared 22.9 percent year-over-year in the week ending Dec. 24, a likely signal that businesses were moving to replenish their lean inventories heading into the New Year.
Intermodal volume was 5.1 percent ahead of last year’s total through the first 50 weeks of 2011, according to the AAR figures. Container business has led the expansion, growing 5.6 percent, while truck trailer volume is up only 2 percent from a year ago and has been slipping backward toward the end of the year.
Groups representing shippers say new rules on work hours for truck drivers will reduce efficiency across their supply chains, complicating delivery schedules, raising costs and even undermining safety on highways.
Despite disputes over funding levels and where to find the money, Democrats and Republicans agreed on a broad swath of the safety agenda in several bills the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved on Dec. 14.
Local and state governments seeking a piece of the $500 million in TIGER grants available next year would be wise to pitch projects relating to intermodal rail because the majority of the freight projects that got a slice of the Department of Transportation’s most recent round of TIGER grants will improve intermodal connections, help shippers export or both. Forty-six projects, ranging from bridge replacement to passenger rail work, received $511 million in funding this month through the third round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery program.
Paced by market leader Old Dominion Freight Line, LTL carriers are reporting year-over-year tonnage increases for 2011 and those gains are expected to repeat again in 2012. Ross is predicting a “slow, potentially choppy” economic recovery with price increases in the 2-3 percent range, although that could vary widely by geography, lane, customer and carrier.
Most major LTL carriers announced general rate increases (GRI) between 5.9 and 6.9 percent, effective in the fourth quarter. Privately, carrier executives say they would be happy to actually get half that amount from its customer base. But event that amount would continue a trend of increasing LTL yields (excluding fuel surcharges) that began in 2010.
Intermodal volume for U.S. railroads grew 3 percent year-over-year in the first full week of December, helped by container shipments that maintained most of their momentum heading toward the end of the 2011.
Despite a few bumps along the way, the domestic intermodal segment has enjoyed a respectable to solid 2011. And if the railroads' 2012 and 2013 battle plans are any indication, the industry expects more of the same from the domestic front.
A large majority of truckload carriers expect freight volumes and truck rates to rise next year, according to new survey.
The driver turnover rate increased from 79 percent in the second quarter, hitting its highest point since early 2008, the American Trucking Associations said Monday. The turnover rate at small truckload carriers jumped 10 points to 57 percent, the highest level for those companies since the third quarter of 2008, the ATA said.
The Cass Freight Index for U.S. shipments fell for the first time in nearly two years in November, slipping 2.9 percent in a sign that the fall’s peak shipping season was easing into a lower gear.
SaaS TMS is a single-instance, multi-tenant environment where customers and their partners access a shared solution via the Internet. Transportation feature functionality is comparable to other hosted or on-premise solutions. What makes SaaS unique, however, are the intangible benefits that exist by being part of a community as opposed to simply working siloed within the four walls of an organization.
Capacity and driver shortages plague the over-the-road (OTR) trucking sector, prompting shippers to consider the merits of other transportation modes.
Not only railroads and intermodal marketing companies, but also trucking companies expect to put more truckloads on the rails as the economically feasible length of an intermodal haul drops from 1,000 miles or more closer to 500 miles. Increasingly, the economic dividing line between a truckload haul and an intermodal move isn’t measured in miles but as what a single driver can do in one day, plus a day.
Shippers need to do more to help trucking companies reduce rising driver turnover rates and help keep transportation costs in line, a transportation consultant says.
Analysts say second quarter change was highest in eight years of shipper poll
Shippers shifted freight from all-truck modes to intermodal at the fastest pace in years during the second quarter, according to a closely watched survey by the Wolfe Trahan research group.