Welcome to Check Call, our corner of the internet for all things 3PL, freight broker and supply chain. Check Call the podcast comes out every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Catch up on previous episodes here. If this was forwarded to you, sign up for Check Call the newsletter here.
Inside this edition: CVSA Brake Safety Week; Canada is No. 1; and robots and hot dogs come together.
Trucks can’t stop on a dime. This week is a reminder for that. We are smack dab in the middle of Brake Safety Week, everyone’s favorite week during which at some point there is an unannounced one-day brake safety enforcement. This is to help identify any malfunctioning brakes and keep the roads safer. This enforcement isn’t limited to tractor-trailers; other large trucks and buses are subject to being stopped for inspection. And these inspections are happening throughout North America, not just in the U.S.
Will history repeat itself? After the last brake check event in April, there were 9,132 vehicles placed out of service due to brake-related critical violations. The inspections performed for August’s brake check week are level 1 and level 4 inspections. These inspections cover the entire truck and take a fair amount of time, so make sure to communicate to shippers that capacity might be tighter this week as some drivers might not be driving to avoid inspections or that shipments could get delayed as drivers get pulled over for an inspection. This is the time to pad arrival times by a couple of hours to make sure everything is fine should a driver get detained. Here’s hoping no load gets taken out of service that’s critical.
O Canada! Canada wins again — the largest U.S. trading partner for the fifth month in a row but also currently sitting at No. 1 for the year. Mexico is second, but it turns out the country is team maple syrup over tacos — shocking, I know. Canada’s total trade with the U.S. rose 24% year over year (y/y) to $73.3 billion in June, with imports to America increasing 26% to $40.6 billion. Oil, passenger vehicles and gasoline were the top three imports. The top U.S. exports to Canada were gasoline, passenger vehicles and oil. Trade between the U.S. and Canada for the first five months of the year totaled $399.2 billion.
The usurper. The title of No. 1 might soon be usurped by Mexico as more and more companies look at nearshoring operations to the south. Imports from Mexico totaled $39.4 billion in June, a 19% y/y increase from 2021. Computers, passenger vehicles and auto parts were the top three imports. More and more logistics service providers are seeing higher volume levels coming northbound from Mexico into the U.S. The Port of Laredo in Texas looks to be coming for the ports of LA and Long Beach as the top import port in the U.S.
TRAC Thursday. This week’s TRAC lane is in the land where everything is bigger: Texas, specifically Dallas to Houston. Earlier this week Dallas got hit with an unusually large amount of rain, causing flooding to cancel and delay freight. This flooding sent all the carriers 240 miles south to Houston as outbound tender volumes in Houston have declined by 3.5% in the past week, one of the largest weekly declines we’ve seen from Houston this year. While Dallas might have been out of commission at the beginning of the week, everything is back on track as outbound tender rejections have fallen to 4.93% and outbound tender volumes have stabilized. An all-in rate of $694, before margin, should get this load covered without much issue.
Who’s with Whom. Everyone’s favorite truck stop, Pilot Co., has invested in Kodiak Robotics, which is developing a highway-adjacent autonomous trucking hub. With this undisclosed amount of investment capital, Pilot Co. now has a seat on the board of directors. It turns out for the last two years Pilot has been working with Kodiak on autonomous technology. They are starting in Atlanta to see what current infrastructure is usable for autonomous trucking. Does this mean Kodiak gets unlimited cheeseburger hot dogs at Pilot locations?
Quotable moment from Alan Adler’s article: “We want to make sure we have a clear path to deploying this technology broadly across the United States. We’re not going to do it by building our own infrastructure throughout the entire country. We have to partner with folks who are already embedded in that industry.” — Don Burnette, CEO of Kodiak Robotics