Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter sponsored by Legend Transportation Inc. In this issue, will Biden team up with Big Tech on vaccines?; winter weather has the South shivering; Gorilla Glue’s supply chain and more. — Dooner
Spot rates thaw
Up and to the right — As most of the U.S. contends with polar conditions, delivery times and capacity have both seen tremendous impacts. This week, the Truckstop.com seven-day dry van rate per mile climbed 10 cents to $2.85, inclusive of fuel. With 22.65% of contracted loads being rejected, we should see continued upward pressure on spot rates as shippers scramble to secure capacity. In short, the market is as volatile as dogecoin, and covering loads will continue to be a challenge for carriers until the thermometer ticks above freezing.
Vaccine gets Prime?
Amazon’s offer — Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s consumer business, wrote a letter to the Biden administration shortly after the president was sworn in in January. “We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” the letter read. In addition, Clark wrote that he believed Amazon’s 800,000 U.S. workers should receive the vax at the “earliest appropriate time.”
Will Biden bite? — “We are consulting with many companies, including Amazon, about specific ways they can help execute the President’s national strategy against COVID,” White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz told Politico.
“Companies with logistics and technical expertise could help Americans get vaccinated more efficiently and more equitably.” — White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz
Silicon Valley steps up — Despite the belief that Big Tech may have a tough time under Biden, many of its prominent leaders, beyond just Amazon, have also thrown their hats in the ring to assist. AirBnB’s CEO offered to use the real estate in its network as vaccine depots, Google is offering free ad space to public health officials, and Facebook has also been looking for an in. These moves could not only help to save lives, but may also aid these companies as they look to gain clout with lawmakers.
Long, cold winter
Bitter end — Historic winter storms slammed the South over President’s Day weekend, causing hundreds of crashes throughout the country. The cold snap in Texas saw Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s temperature drop to minus 2 degrees Tuesday morning, the lowest temperature on record in the area since 1899. With Wednesday calling for even more snow, an already battered area could be driven to the breaking point. That’s just Texas, as more than 150 million Americans are in areas impacted by winter weather advisories.
Energy crisis — FreightWaves’ John Kingston reported, “Diesel prices got another boost Monday as the deep freeze hitting Texas that drove up natural gas prices to astronomical levels late last week is now resulting in the closure of refining capacity.”
Refining capacity loss could be over 2 million barrels per day; CME price Monday up 4 cents a gallon — John Kingston
Poweroutage.us shows the states hit the worst, with 4.3 million outages in Texas, 223,000 in Oregon, 202,000 in Oklahoma, 155,000 in Louisiana, 149,000 in Kentucky and 100,000 in West Virginia.
What went wrong in Texas? — The Houston Chronicle reported, “Wholesale electricity sold are near the $9,000-per-megawatt hour maximum in power markets across the state Monday as the system struggled to meet demand, according to ERCOT.” Natural gas reserves aren’t the only area strained as the state’s No. 2 power source, wind turbines, froze, causing half of Texas wind generation to go offline. You may have seen the meme of the helicopter de-icing a turbine? Turns out it’s old and from Sweden.
What it means for freight — With much of the South lacking in proper winter infrastructure, unsalted roads and dangerous driving conditions have resulted in trucking capacity being pulled offline. We’ve heard rumblings from many brokers and shippers about the challenge and cost of securing timely moves. In addition, delivery delays as well as stressed drivers, brokers and shippers could lead to strained relationships. Be safe and be understanding during the defrost.
CDLLife has published a list of major truck stop chain closures and power outages here.
A brief look at Gorilla Glue’s hairy supply chain
A story that sticks with you — If you’re anything like me, when you read a news story about a product, you get curious about how its supply chain operates. So, when TikToker Tessica Brown went viral for using the super-sticky substance to style her hair, a rabbit hole worth going down appeared.
Stuck with poor visibility — According to a case study by Fascor, until 2015 Gorilla Glue logistics operations were “a largely manual data and logistics management process [that] featured spreadsheets, Excel and visual observation.” Inventory and distribution proved to be major blind spots for the adhesive company. “We were never certain of inventory we had on hand,” said Mark Kramer, senior director of logistics. “The information was buried in a stack of paper someplace. We were literally sending people out through the warehouse to see what we had and where it was.”
Ungluing the system — That all changed in 2015 when the company added WMS and ERP systems. With more than 30,000 shipments a day, it had to in order to scale.
“Since implementing the WMS in 2015, our % of Sales to labor cost to run our distribution center has gone down despite double digit growth each year since” — Gorilla Glue COO Rob Lackman
Results — While most companies don’t have to contend with TikToker hairstyling hijinks, nearly all that are stuck in manual processes have experienced the logistical challenges that Gorilla Glue has. For Gorilla Glue, those improvements have resulted in 85% faster fulfillment for large orders, 65% efficiency improvement and 99% order accuracy. At the company’s 600,000-square-foot warehouse, automating order fulfillment alone delivered immediate improvement as picking productivity increased by 50%.
Autism awareness truck personal for driver
Awareness and honor — John Tibbs, a trucker with Thomas E. Keller Trucking of Defiance, Ohio, recently won the honor of driving Keller’s “charity truck,” which the company calls a rolling tribute to autism awareness. “I have two children that are plagued by the disorder,” Tibbs told The Trucker. “One is 12; her name is Abigail. The other is getting ready to turn 19, and his name is Nicholas. He has it pretty severe.” The truck has been on the road since September and has since logged over 40,000 miles.
The biggest virtual event in freight Feb. 22-March 3
You get a prize, and you get a prize — Couldn’t get an XBOX Series X for Christmas? Ever see FreightWavesTV on an 80-inch HDTV? Want a robot to vacuum for you? What does WHAT THE TRUCK?!? sound like on Apple AirPods Pro? You’re in luck! Register now for Global Supply Chain Week and you’ll be entered to win one of the many fabulous prizes listed above. Registration is free and you can take care of that right here.
Eight days of global impact — Feb. 22-March 3 experience a full week of supply chain insights, where you’ll hear from different sectors of the supply chain universe: automotive; food and perishables; retail; manufacturing; consumer packaged goods; and much more.
Star-studded keynotes — At the event you’ll see all of your favorite FreightWaves personalities, learn from industry leaders, and have your mind blown by big-name keynotes. To name a few: Gary Vaynerchuk, Vaynerx; Bob Corker, former U.S. senator; Ken Washington, Ford Motor Co.; Tom Madrecki, Consumer Brand Association; and Ravi Dosanjh, Intel Corp.
Ben Goodwin, co-founder and CEO at Olipop — Olipop soda is made with plant fiber and prebiotics for a happy, healthy you. We’ll find out from Goodwin about the company’s journey to the market, how flavors are developed, building a beverage brand, and the supply chain that moves it.
Tyler Robertson, CEO at Diesel Laptops — Diesel Laptops democratizes truck diagnostics. Robertson will share his comeback story that led him to found the company and build it into a powerhouse platform.
Thom Albrecht, CFO and CRO at Reliance Partners — Albrecht shares insights on how long the freight bull market will last.
Friday — NASA lands on WTT?!? to talk about Perseverance’s historic touchdown in Jezero crater on Mars and the logistics behind this historic event!
Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Fridays and Wednesdays on FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn and Facebook or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.
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