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DAT Solutions says spot freight volumes continue to build

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Average spot van rates are 3.6 percent lower compared to January and down 10.6 percent from February 2018. (Courtesy: DAT SOLUTIONS)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spot truckload rates continued their mid-winter slide last week but freight volumes suggest that pricing should rebound soon, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

While the overall number of loads posted on the DAT network fell 6 percent and truck posts were up 3 percent during the week ending February 23, February van volumes to date are almost 10 percent higher year over year. Van rates weakened nationally but remained constant in core lanes from top markets, another signal that pricing is starting to firm up. And diesel prices, which are a component of spot rates, are holding in the $2.97 to $3 per gallon range recently after a four-month, 40-cent slide.

Van trends

The number of van load posts was down 6 percent compared to the previous week and truck posts were up 4 percent.

  • Load-to-truck ratio (national average): 4.3 van loads per truck
  • Newsal average spot van rate: $1.89/mile, down 1 cent

Average spot van rates are 3.6 percent lower compared to January and down 10.6 percent from February 2018. Of the top 100 van lanes by volume, pricing fell on 64 lanes.

While the national average rates suggest an “off” market for van freight, volume jumped 13.3 percent from January to February, the biggest increase between the two months in the past four years. Ocean freight should start to hit U.S. shores in advance of the Spring retail season, and with the next round of tariffs postponed we may see at least the normal seasonal uplift.

Strong volumes and stable rates on key individual lanes continue to suggest that spot van rates are bottoming out.

Flatbed trends

The number of flatbed load posts fell 5 percent and truck posts were up 2 percent.

  • Load-to-truck ratio: 25.1 flatbed loads per truck, down from 27
  • Newsal average spot flatbed rate: $2.34/mile, up 1 cent

Despite lower demand for flatbed capacity, the national average spot flatbed rate made its first upswing in six weeks.

Reefer trends

The number of reefer load posts was down 5 percent and truck posts were up 1 percent.

  • Reefer load-to-truck ratio: 5.5 reefer loads per truck
  • Newsal average spot flatbed rate: $2.22/mile, down 1 cent

Among the top 72 reefer lanes last week, rates on 26 lanes were up, 44 lanes were lower, and two were neutral. Los Angeles and McAllen, Texas, both saw a rebound in reefer freight volumes but losses elsewhere help push spot rates lower for the fifth straight week. Volumes in this segment have fallen 3.1 percent in the last month.

DAT Trendlines are generated using DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments.

DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

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FTR Trucking Conditions Index improves slightly in April, still in negative territory

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An FTR executive said it seemed good times in trucking might never end, "but here we are back down to earth." (The Trucker file photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index rebounded marginally in April to a -0.64 reading.

Conditions improved slightly from the previous month, but TCI remains in negative territory as the rate environment continues to soften.

Economic indicators linked to freight are generally weaker, and FTR expects that the index will remain in a narrow band of negative readings through 2019 and into the 2020 calendar year, FTR said.

Details of the April TCI are found in the June issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published May 31. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue includes an updated analysis of the current trade situation and the impact it is having on freight. Along with the TCI and “Notes by the Dashboard Light,” the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation.

“Not that long ago, it seemed inconceivable that the good times in trucking would end, but here we are back down to earth,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking. “Growth in manufacturing — the most significant driver of trucking activity — has subsided, and residential construction remains stagnant. However, there are some near-term positives, such as lower diesel prices. Also, carriers are responding to flagging demand by ending their hiring spree, which could set the stage for firmer capacity utilization down the road.”

The Trucking Conditions Index tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence fleet behavior. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem, while readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

FTR has served as the industry source for freight transportation forecasting in North America for the shipping, trucking, rail, intermodal, equipment and financial communities for over 30 years.

Our team of experts have over 250 years of combined experience in the transportation industry and leverage that knowledge to provide quantitative analysis with historical and modal-specific insights. The reports, data, commentary, and insights that FTR provides help our clients evaluate market risks, identify new opportunities, and make informed decisions.

For more information about the work of FTR, visit , follow on Twitter @ftrintel, or call (888) 988-1699, ext. 1.

 

 

Survey shows wellness trends within transportation industry

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In the Atlas survey, 33% of the participants had at least three out of five conditions, among which is hypertension. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — In the third white paper in a series of research examining demographic and wellness trends within the transportation industry, Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions reveals the correlation between certain physical and behavioral elements and the risks to employee health and wellness.

The newly released white paper titled Relationship between Demographics and Wellness in the Transportation Industry details the results of a five-year study of 15,165 drivers and non-drivers employed in terminals, warehouses, shops and offices..

Factors measured include body mass index (BMI), tobacco use, age and gender and how these factors impact driver and non-driver health.

The paper, an expansion of two previous papers in the series, outlines potential risk factors that contribute to health concerns facing drivers.

Findings in the paper include:

  • Increased risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Of the 15,165 participants who completed biometric screening, 33% had at least three out of five conditions involved with metabolic syndrome (MetS), which includes hypertension, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Individuals who have a combination of three or more of these factors have an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Increased percentage of MetS in younger drivers. Drivers between ages 40 and 59 years shared the same risks as their 60-plus year-old counterparts.
  • Tobacco use and drivers. Drivers are 130% more likely to smoke than their non-driver counterparts.
  • The need for targeted training/wellness programs. Addressing BMI as a medical condition, understanding health risks associated with aging, adopting smoking cessation programs, and targeting drivers for training/wellness programs can decrease development of MetS conditions and slow the rate at which MetS risks increase with age.

“Our goal with this paper is to inform health and safety professionals in the transportation industry on how to identify and prioritize higher-risk drivers,” said James Landsman, president of Atlas IPS. “In the white paper, we use the results of our analysis to identify and justify recommendations to help companies reduce risk exposure and ensure better employee health and wellness.”

To view the full Atlas white paper, titled Relationship between Demographics and Wellness in the Transportation Industry, visit .

 

Spot market truckload volumes disappoint in May; June called pivotal month

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The chart compares DAT spot market van volume and rates. (Courtesy: DAT SOLUTIONS)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spot truckload freight volumes failed to meet expectations in May, said DAT Solutions, which operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America.

The number of full-truckload van loads moved on the spot market declined 12% in May compared to April, according to the DAT Truckload Volume Index. Van load counts were down 10% compared to May 2018. Van trailers haul approximately 70% of all truckload freight.

“Simply put, May was a disappointment in terms of load counts,” said DAT Senior Industry Analyst Mark Montague. “We’re accustomed to seeing higher volumes of retail goods, fresh produce, construction materials, and other seasonal spot truckload freight moving through supply chains at this time of year.”

Uncertainty over trade agreements and slumping imports from China seemed to dampen truckload demand. Record rainfalls, flooding, and tornadoes also hampered freight movements in many parts of the country.

Agriculture producers saw their supply chains disrupted by the weather, with many harvests ruined or delayed. As a result, refrigerated volumes declined 8.3% month over month and fell 12% year over year.

Flatbed load volume, which includes heavy machinery and construction material, dropped 9.3% month over month and 3.1% year over year.

Spot truckload rates continued to track well below last year’s record levels.

Compared to April, the national average spot van rate was virtually unchanged at $1.80 per mile, including a fuel surcharge. That’s 35 cents below the average for May 2018. The average reefer rate was $2.15 per mile, 1 cent higher than April and 38 cents lower than May 2018. The flatbed rate averaged $2.27 per mile, down 5 cents compared to April and 45 cents lower year over year.

“After a lackluster May, June is shaping up to be a pivotal month for trucking,” Montague said. “We will know soon whether the volumes we expected in May were simply delayed. If so, the pent-up demand could boost seasonal volumes at the close of Q2.”

The DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index is based on load counts and per-mile rates recorded in DAT RateView, with an average of 3 million freight moves per month. Spot market information is based on transactions arranged by third-party logistics (3PL) companies, while contract volumes and rates are arranged between shippers and carriers, with no intermediary.

DAT market trends and data insights are derived from 256 million annual freight matches and a database of $60 billion in annual market transactions. Related services include a comprehensive directory of companies with business history, credit, safety, insurance, and company reviews; broker transportation management software; authority, fuel tax, mileage, vehicle licensing, and registration services; and carrier onboarding.

 

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