Today's Pickup: Increasing truck tonnage index indicates a robust freight environment

 (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

The April Truck Tonnage Index rebounded from a dip in March, indicating a robust freight environment, according to the American Trucking Associations. The ATA’s truck tonnage index represents the trucking industry’s share of domestic freight transportation and is used as a barometer for the U.S. economy as a whole.

The index increased 2.2% from the previous month, equaling a reading of 112.5 and continuing a steady upward trajectory in 2018. The index has increased 9.5% compared to April 2017, and is averaging an 8% annual gain so far in 2018, easily outpacing the 3.8% average from last year. Without seasonal adjustment, the April Truck Tonnage Index equaled 109.2, which is actually 4.8% below the previous month’s 114.7.

Did you know?

Loads on the spot market, in general, are up 100 percent from the same period a year ago. The flatbed load-to-truck comparison, which tracks the number of vendors looking for flatbeds is up 142 percent. 

Quotable:

“You can see with the use of cobalt, which is mined in conflict areas of Africa and is heavily used in electronic goods, that there is a real need for tracing purchase history and the manufacturing visibility that blockchain can offer supply chains.”

- Brian Reed, Managing Director of BiSCA 

In other news:

IATA Automates Dangerous Goods Compliance Checks

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched an innovative new solution that will enhance safety and improve efficiency in the transport of dangerous goods by air and support the industry's goal of a fully digitized supply chain. (Inbound Logistics)

FMCSA Chief Ray Martinez Says ELD Guidance for Ag Haulers Forthcoming

New electronic logging device guidance that would address flexibility concerns raised by aspects of the agriculture sector will be unveiled shortly by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency’s chief told House lawmakers May 22. (Transport Topics)

Shippers will foot more than half the bill to recover cargo after Maersk fire

Owners of the cargo aboard a Maersk container ship will have to pay 54% of the cargo value to have it released. (Supply Chain Dive)

Plus One Robotics launches piece-picking robot for package sortation

Startup lands $2.35 million investment led by Schematic Ventures, plans to hire 20 employees within a year. (DC Velocity)

Cass Truckload Linehaul Index Up Strongly

April’s Cass Truckload Linehaul Index continued the acceleration that began in 2017 by posting an 8.2% YoY increase to 134.8, the largest YoY percentage increase in this index to date. (Fleet News Daily)

Final Thoughts:

Ever since the advent of e-commerce, the efficiency of supply chains has been under the radar, with logistics companies training its personnel, bringing automation technology into its warehouses, and trying out last-mile delivery e-vehicles in densely populated cities. As supply chains become tauter, it is obvious that time is of the essence here.  

In that regard, picking time in warehouses is notorious for slowing down logistics, consuming 70% of the personnel’s time on the floor. The need for reducing picking time is driving in a lot of investment from businesses. For example, voice-directed picking solutions can help pickers be hands and eyes-free, thus reducing the time taken for scanning products in inventories. Data analytics is being used to increase pick density by intelligently assigning batching and by defining the most optimal path to navigate across huge warehouses, shaving off time wasted walking around. 

Though these factors look elementary, a lot of algorithms and models go into achieving a perfect system where every second can be utilized and well-accounted for. It is estimated that batch and path optimization through intelligent routing can reduce time spent on the floor by over 50%. 

Hammer down everyone!

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