• ITVI.USA
    13,683.230
    2,931.500
    27.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.949
    -0.056
    -1.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    19.680
    -0.650
    -3.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,646.340
    2,945.470
    27.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.960
    0.380
    14.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.710
    0.160
    4.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.290
    -0.010
    -0.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.720
    0.010
    0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.240
    0.100
    4.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.160
    0.060
    1.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    132.000
    -5.000
    -3.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,683.230
    2,931.500
    27.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.949
    -0.056
    -1.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    19.680
    -0.650
    -3.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,646.340
    2,945.470
    27.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.960
    0.380
    14.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.710
    0.160
    4.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.290
    -0.010
    -0.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.720
    0.010
    0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.240
    0.100
    4.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.160
    0.060
    1.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    132.000
    -5.000
    -3.6%
Loaded and RollingNewsletters

Loaded and Rolling: Rounding up the F3 Virtual Experience trucking discussions, chaining up for winter weather and looking at a tight labor market that is hampering hiring.

F3 Virtual Experience trucking roundup

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Last week FreightWaves hosted the F3 Virtual Experience, which involved industry leaders discussing topics related to the future of freight, key factors impacting markets, industry trends and venture capital investments. Key topics included autonomous and electric vehicles, FreightTech and a demonstration of the new SONAR feature, the Trusted Rate Assessment Consortium (TRAC). Below are some links to presentations, videos and interviews related to the trucking industry in case anyone missed the virtual event. 

Links:

The trucking labor shortage and how the media covers it 

Autonomous trucking regulations and how humans will have important roles  

Technologies helping smaller companies compete with mega-carriers  

Analysis on Tesla’s performance, including lessons learned  

How Wall Street views freight and how long the current market will last  

The bottom line:
We’ll continue to see buzz and hype around autonomous trucking and electric vehicles. While practical applications and actual deployment dates vary, the media attention given to these two topics and investments indicate the market will reward companies that focus on technological innovation and disruption. I do not predict driver replacements anytime soon, but being aware of the direction and undercurrent for investments will help fleets make the decision to develop or adopt some of these new technologies as they mature. Another challenge will be the regulatory hurdles after a successful proof of concept, with the current focus on emerging technologies. There could be additional challenges, including dealing with other drivers on the road.

Winter travel safety: The chain, not just a Fleetwood Mac song

Image from BbyMacc on Pinterest

The holiday shopping season brings increased volumes, longer dwell times and winter weather conditions across much of the U.S. Fleets of all sizes must account for the additional challenges of cold weather driving, including the location and installation of tire chains. From my experience, an often underreported topic in most transportation media involves chain laws, how to attach tire chains and the routing considerations required based on fleet type and driver experience. Below are a few informative observations that I hope illustrate the additional complexities and challenges drivers of all fleet sizes face during the winter months. 

Challenges

— Most states have chain laws, but they are not all uniform, and some are especially stringent. To keep things simple, consider most of the Western states, including Colorado, Nevada, California, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington, as high-impact states that can require either carrying or applying chains when moving across their borders. 

— Chains really are a pain to install, with some drivers saying it can take upward of 45 minutes to an hour standing outside in freezing conditions. 

— Large fleets with a lower average driver tenure will see increased challenges — for example, to go from Fontana, California, to Denver can involve an elevation change of around 11,000 feet. The sunny pickup in California can quickly turn into rain, then snowy precipitation along the 971-mile route. 

— A huge challenge for smaller fleets and owner-operators is finding or buying tire chains. Large fleets will buy and establish chain banks at key terminals for drivers to pick up before entering a chain-required state. 

Possible solutions

— Large fleets routinely roll out safety campaigns, winter weather driving videos and fleetwide messages reminding drivers to secure and inspect chains prior to use. I’ve spent many hours Youtubing tire chain videos to help teams stuck along I-80 or I-70.

Out of route using via points: A load from Fontana to Columbus, Ohio, can route through Denver at 2,263 miles or route through Liberal and Wichita, Kansas, to Kansas City, Missouri, for 2,185 miles. When I ran teams, we would frequently reroute going east, but going west there are additional challenges since California has many designated lanes at a maximum of 55 mph. 

— Increased communication with the customer: Along I-80 in parts of southern Wyoming and northern Utah, winds can gust upward of over 70 mph. I’ve seen it firsthand where a driver will shift two lanes of travel, fully laden at 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. During these events, it’s important to note the driver’s shutdown location, communicate the delay and coordinate with receiving facilities the updated ETA once conditions have cleared. 

The bottom line

The winter months represent additional stressors on drivers and operations staff during an already chaotic retail holiday season. With continued delays and backlogs at major ports, expect to see additional focus on weather conditions along the I-80 and I-70 corridors, since lowered inventory levels will mean possible holiday disruptions if major weather events occur. I predict greater rate volatility for outbound lanes going into Western states with lanes going through the Rocky Mountains. Fleets with lower driver tenure or newer drivers will see challenges, as many of their drivers who upgraded from training will be out on their own in hazardous winter weather conditions. 

Market Update: Tight labor market challenges logistics hiring plans

Source: St. Louis FED using FRED Economic Data

Total job openings continue to remain at record levels, with strong demand for retail and logistics positions. A tight labor market and rising wages will put greater pressure on recruiting departments to fill and retain drivers and office staff, who have more negotiating power. Justin Reed, a manager at HireRight, summarized the challenges, saying, “It takes around nine driver postings to capture one hire. Meanwhile, a warehousing job, oftentimes recruiting the same talent, gains around two hires for every job posting.” Expect this persistent issue to remain post-pandemic: 57% of drivers today are 45 years or older; 10% of the driver base is past retirement age; and research found 25% of the entire current driver workforce will retire in the next 10 years. 

Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance, or if you want to play tennis, let the other person make more mistakes. (Farnam Street Blog) 

Big tech companies buying small tech startups: What does it mean for completion and the broader market? (Ben-Evans.com)

Walmart and Gatik achieve fully driverless delivery for a delivery route at a Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas. The box truck is operating daily without a driver behind the wheel. (BusinessWire)

Netflix Games begins rollout on Android, with IOS on the way. (The Verge)

Legendary computer programmer and game developer John Carmack talks about changes in computer tech at Facebook Connect. (YouTube)


McKinsey predicts major themes in global media for 2022. (McKinsey)

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Thomas Wasson

Based in Chattanooga TN, Thomas is an Enterprise Trucking Carrier Expert at FreightWaves with a focus on news commentary, analysis and trucking insights. Before that, he worked at a digital trucking startup aifleet, Arrive Logistics as an Account Executive, and 5 years at U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. with an emphasis on fleet management, load planning, freight analysis, and truckload network design. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga with a MBA in 2020 and a Bachelors of Political Science from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2013.

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