Truckload capacity tightens in response to hurricanes

Truckload capacity tightens in response to hurricanes

The number of loads on the spot truckload freight market fell 3% during the week ending September 9, 2017, which included the Labor Day holiday and supply chain disruptions caused by two hurricanes, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Truckload capacity tightened further, with truck posts down 15% compared with the previous week (a 20% reduction is typical for a holiday week). Van and flatbed load-to-truck ratios increased as a result:

•Reefer L/T ratio—11.3 (down 2%)

•Van L/T ratio—6.6 (up 17%)

•Flatbed L/T ratio—34.4 (up 29%)

Diesel prices continued to climb, rising 4 cents to $2.80/gallon as a national average. Higher fuel prices put pressure on spot rates compared with the previous week:

•Reefer—$2.18/mile, up 8 cents

•Van—$1.93/mile, up 3 cents

•Flatbed—$2.24/mile, up 4 cents

Reefer load posts declined 10% and truck posts dropped 8% from the previous week. Outbound reefer rates in Atlanta rose 6 cents to an average of $2.46/mile as freight hubs in the Southeast helped to restock markets in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma that are usually served out of Houston. In Dallas, demand for reefer trucks led to a 19-cent increase to an average of $2.26/mile outbound.

Nationally, van load posts dipped 3% and truck posts lost 17%. Houston freight levels bounced back to 88% of where they were before Hurricane Harvey—a remarkable achievement considering that the rebound happened during a four-day holiday week.

Flatbed load posts climbed 4% nationally due in part to the need to move relief supplies and heavy equipment in Houston and Louisiana. Available capacity plunged 20%—in line with expectations given the holiday week and the unusual pressures on the supply chain.

Hurricane Harvey and Irma forced supply chain managers to make quick decisions about how to route their freight.

After Harvey, some shippers began to supply markets ordinarily served by Houston from regional hubs in the Southeast, including Atlanta, Charlotte, and Memphis. With Irma headed toward Florida, those same distribution centers refocused and moved freight south instead of west. Meanwhile, the Midwest had to supply the Northeast to compensate for freight that would otherwise arrive from Atlanta. Midwestern warehouses were called on to supply Colorado, which is often served by Houston.

For details, read Emergency Freight: What Harvey Tells Us About Irma at www.dat.com/blog/post/emergency-freight-what-harvey-tells-us-about-irma.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, see www.dat.com/industry-trends/trendlines.

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