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Today’s pickup: Sorting through an annual report on the state of the logistics business

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Good day,

The annual report sponsored by Infosys on the state of the 3PL industry makes fascinating reading. After having read it before its embargo was lifted for the media earlier today, here are a few brief takeaways: everybody is pretty happy with the way the 3PL-shipper relationship is going, and it is growing; there are still plenty of companies keeping the logistics planning in-house; there are honest answers coming from both sides of the shortfalls of the industry, particularly in the move to “omni-channel” retailing, which basically means selling your goods any way the customer wants them; and the 3PL industry is worried about attracting talent, but doesn’t seem as concerned as the OTR sector. You can read FreightWaves’ summary of the report here.

Did you know?

The widening U.S. goods trade deficit in August got there in part because of a drop in exports. They were down -1.5% from July’s levels. Year-over-year growth in exports has tumbled during over the past few months, falling by 7.7% after hitting multi-year highs in May of this year.


“To help improve service and reduce costs, respondents said they are willing to try new approaches to the supply chain, with more than half of shippers—51%—saying nothing is off of the table and they are willing to evaluate all pieces of the supply chain.”

–Annual Infosys 3PL study on the state of the logistics industry today.

In other news:

A big rush of money for a startup

Project44 gets about that many millions in new VC funding (WSJ)

Getting back to normal after a big storm

Japanese ports reopen after typhoon. (Platts)

Intermodal takes a significant step in Kenya

Kenya gets double-stacked intermodal service. (The Standard)

Maersk implements new guidelines on dangerous goods stowage

Following the Honam fire, Maersk has changed its policies surrounding the transport of dangerous goods, according to a press release from the company (Maersk).

Local initiative aims to get more women in the trucking industry

Virginia Western and CDS Tractor Trailer have partnered to try to get more women involved in trucking. The two have created a billboard on an 18-wheeler that has been driving around the Roanoke, Virginia area, and, according to the group, many “women have seen the billboard and pictured themselves behind the wheel of a truck for the first time.”  (WDBJ7).

Final Thoughts

The second of two opinion pieces about the state of intermodal service ran today in FreightWaves, in response to a piece earlier this week. The first one was from intermodal veteran and current consultant Brian Bowers, fresh off the IANA Expo in Long Beach, and it is critical of the state of the industry. The second one is from Adriene B. Bailey of Brooks Davis Consulting, but more importantly, the current chairman of IANA. Having attended IANA two weeks ago in Long Beach, the view from the many presentations—and from the FTR conference a week earlier in Indianapolis—is that Bowers’ comments are pretty much closer to the mark. There is a general feeling that given driver squeezes and higher freight rates, intermodal should be growing leaps and bounds. But it has capacity issues too, some of them self-inflicted by poor service which results in slow speeds. And has been pointed out numerous times, a 2% increase in speeds is effectively a 2% increase in capacity, which is not insignificant in an intermodal market that is generally seen as running at 100% of capacity.

Hammer down everyone!



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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.