Trucking Biz Buzz

DAT Solutions: Spot flatbed market keeps climbing

These days, the market for spot flatbed freight is anything but flat.

The national spot rate on MembersEdge averaged $1.96/mile for flatbed freight during the week ending Feb. 11. That’s the fourth straight week of increases and a 4-cent jump in the flatbed rate compared to the previous week.

The flatbed load-to-truck ratio gained as well, up 13 percent to 24.6 loads per truck nationally. The number of flatbed load posts rose 11 percent while truck posts declined 1 percent.

Flats have been a high point compared to spot van and reefer freight. But even that may be shifting:

Strong volumes: Overall, the number of spot van, reefer, and flatbed load posts increased 1.7 percent while truck posts gained 3.2 percent compared to the previous week. Those numbers are strong for this time of year.

Vans slip: Van volume was weaker, as the number of load posts declined 6 percent. A 3 percent increase in truck posts pushed the load-to-truck ratio lower from 2.6 to 2.4 loads per truck.

Rates bottoming out? Despite the declining van load-to-truck ratio, van freight volume rose 2.5 percent on the top 100 van lanes and is 2 percent higher than a month ago. Higher volume is a signal that rates may be bottoming out.

But not yet: The national average van rate fell 3 cents to $1.63/mile. Outbound rates gave ground in many major markets:

  • Los Angeles, $1.88/mile, down 2 cents
  • Chicago, $1.92/mile, down 2 cents
  • Atlanta, $1.84/mile, down 1 cent
  • Philadelphia, $1.53/mile, down 6 cents
  • Dallas, $1.48/mile, down 1 cent

Southwestern swings: Contract carriers have had a tough January and February, with volumes off in the Southwest. That puts a lot of trucks on the spot market and tamped down load-to-truck ratios in the region. While this may be the bottom for van rates, we won’t know for sure until ratios start to improve out there.

Reefers down, too: The reefer load-to-truck ratio slipped from 5.2 to 4.7 loads per truck nationally as the number of posted loads fell 7 percent and capacity decreased 5 percent. The average reefer rate edged down 2 cents to $1.89/mile last week.

Heating up: A burst of potato shipments helped propel reefer rates out of Miami last week:

  • Miami-Elizabeth, N.J., surged 35 cents to $1.84/mile
  • Miami-Boston was up 33 cents to $1.99/mile
  • Miami-Atlanta added 33 cents to $1.66/mile

Volume also spiked out of Lakeland. It’s too early for a seasonal surge of produce but more loads in Florida is a welcome change compared to recent weeks.

Northern chill: On the flip side, lanes from Idaho are softer. Twin Falls-Chicago dropped 27 cents to $1.63/mile last week.

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, visit OOIDA’s load board, tune in to Land Line Now, and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

DAT Freight Index reveals relatively strong month for January

Spot truckloads went down in January compared to the previous month but went significantly upward year-to-year, according to DAT’s North American Freight Index.

DAT’s Freight Index decreased by 2.5 percent last month when compared to December, which experienced a positive month during the holiday season. Compared to January 2016, the index increased 56 percent.

Year-to-year, spot van, reefer and flatbed rates increased in January. However, a capacity surge on high-traffic lanes from contract carriers brought the index down from December.

Average van rates for January were $1.68, 5 cents lower than December but a 2-cent increase from January 2016. Refrigerated rates clocked in at an average of $1.96, a 3-cent decrease from December but up 6 cents from a year ago. Flatbed average rates were $1.91, down 5 cents from the previous month and up 3 cents from January 2016.

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, visit OOIDA’s load board, tune in to Land Line Now, and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

Optimus Prime to be featured at Carlisle Truck Nationals Aug. 4-6

Those attending this year’s Carlisle Truck Nationals on Aug. 4-6 at the Carlisle, Pa., Fairgrounds are in for a surprise. Showrunners have announced that a Transformers Optimus Prime fan-built replica truck will be featured at the show.

The 2017 Western Star 5700 XE has been approved as an official replica by toymaker Hasbro, owner of the Transformers franchise. The replica looks like the truck featured in “Transformers 4” and closely resembles the one featured in the upcoming “Transformers 5,” according to a news release.

There are only three Optimus Prime replicas in the world, including the replica featured in Carlisle this August. In addition to seeing this rare truck, guests will have an opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat for a photo at an additional cost. Viewing the truck will be free.

In addition to Optimus Prime, guests will enjoy all the usual features at the Carlisle Truck Nationals, including lowered mini trucks, lifted 4x4s, chromed out big rigs, SUVs, custom vans and restored classics. More than 2,000 trucks are featured each year, the news release said.

For more information, visit

Wolfgang Bernhard steps down as head of Daimler Trucks and Buses

Wolfgang Bernhard has recently announced he will be stepping down as head of Daimler Trucks and Buses, according to a Daimler news release.

Bernhard informed Manfred Bischoff, chairman of the Supervisory Board, that he will not extend his current contract which expires in February 2018. According to Daimler, Bernhard is leaving the company “at his own request and for personal reasons.”

Effective immediately, Bernhard will be replaced temporarily by CEO Dieter Zetsche as Daimler seeks to appoint his successor. Zetsche is the Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and the head of Mercedes-Benz.

Bernhard became head of the Mercedes-Benz Vans division in 2009 and was appointed to the Board of Management of Daimler AG in February 2010. Until March 2013, he was a Board of Management member for Production and Procurement Mercedes-Benz Cars & Mercedes-Benz Vans. Since April 2013, he has been responsible for Daimler Trucks & Buses.

According to Reuters, Bernhard was seen as a likely candidate to take over the CEO position of Zetsche. However, Zetsche extended his contract in 2016 for another three years. That move theoretically took the 56-year-old Bernhard out of the running as Daimler is likely to promote a younger candidate to CEO when the time arrives since the company is looking for longevity within the position.

Some have speculated a possible CEO position could be available for Bernhard at Fiat Chrysler or Volkswagen, according to Reuters.

U.S. DOT: Trucking freight tonnage increased in 2016

The 2016 year-end numbers for freight movement from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics are in and are looking positive. The Transportation Services Index for freight climbed nearly 3 percent last year when compared with 2015.

Since the index reached a record low during the recession in April 2009, TSI has increased by 31.7 percent. In 2015, the index decreased by 2 percent for the year. With a 2.9 percent increase last year, the two-year change is an increase of 0.8 percent, according to the bureau.

August experienced the largest month-to-month decrease as a percentage with a 1.8 percent drop. That was preceded by the largest increase in July when the index surged 1.8 percent.

Freight dropped in February and March and steadily climbed through July. TSI went down in August and September before making a three-month rally at the end of the year. From September through December, the index rose 2.9 percent, the same increase for the year.

December also matched the record high with July 2016 at 124.7. The record high previous to July 2016 was set in December 2014 when TSI was 123.7.

Rail intermodal experienced the largest increase among all other modes at 6.9 percent. Truck tonnage increased by 1 percent last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation statistics. Truck and pipeline freight were the only transportation modes to experience an increase in 2015, with truck freight rising 2.5 percent.

Freight index for 2016 ends with all-time high

The official freight index, which measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles, reveals December freight was up for all modes except air freight and rail carloads, bringing the index up for the third consecutive month and matching the all-time high.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for December increased by 1 percent to 124.7. This matches July’s record-high TSI, which replaced the former all-time high of 123.6 set in December 2014 before the index started to decline in August.

The December index is 31.7 percent above the low set during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight went up to 138.5 from 137.9, an increase of less than 1 percent. Numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage decrease of more than 6 percent in December to 133.8 from 142.7 in November. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the DOT, TSI’s rise occurred as the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index rose by 0.8 percent in addition to growth in employment, personal income and both manufacturing and utilities. Mining production declined and housing starts were off by 0.2 percent.

Trucking industry begins 2017 with a net job loss

The year started off weak for transportation jobs as January marked the first net loss after three consecutive months of gains. The sector lost 4,000 jobs to the economy, including more than 1,000 fewer trucking jobs. Since 2007, transport jobs have experienced significant losses in January except in 2007, 2012 and 2014.

Kicking off the year, the trucking subsector starts 2017 at a net loss. The truck transportation subsector experienced a decrease of approximately 1,400 jobs in January after the industry gained 1,400 in December and 1,100 in November. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net loss of 2,500 jobs in 2016.

In 2016, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 19,000 jobs. In January, transportation lost more than 20,000 jobs, the largest decrease since January 2011 when 38,000 jobs were eliminated from the economy.

The couriers and messengers subsector experienced the largest decrease with 7,400 jobs eliminated from the economy, followed by “support activities for transportation” at 5,600. Warehousing and storage experienced the largest gain with 9,400 more jobs, trailed by air and pipeline transport with 1,000 jobs gained each.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $23.53 for January – a 5-cent increase from December. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees experienced an increase of 10 cents to $20.93. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $26.00, 3 cents higher from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.5 percent.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material moving occupations is down to 7.0 percent from 7.6 percent last January, but up from 6.1 percent in December. The overall unemployment rate for the country was up to 4.8 percent from 4.7 percent the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed was up slightly at 1.9 million, accounting for approximately one-quarter of the unemployed.

Tire prices to increase across the board in 2017

Truckers and drivers of all types of vehicles can expect to pay more for tires this year. Michelin and Yokohama were the latest tire companies to announce price increases, following other big names such as Bridgestone, Cooper and Goodyear.

Michelin and Yokohama announced prices increases recently of 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Goodyear, Cooper and Bridgestone all announced price increases of up to 8 percent earlier this year, according to Modern Tire Dealer.

Prices will increase for nearly all vehicle types across all brands in North America, including recreational vehicles and two-wheel vehicles.

The increase in tire prices is because of an expected rise in natural rubber prices. On Jan. 13, the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries released its Natural Rubber Trends & Statistics for December 2016. In the report, ANRPC noted a rebound in natural rubber prices as a result of increasing oil prices, supply concerns after flooding in South Thailand, renewed expectation of a US-led faster global economic recovery, and the resultant improved demand outlook.

Twelve provinces in South Thailand, the “latex bowl of the world” according to ANRPC, have experienced some of the worst flooding in the past 30 years. OPEC’s deal to cut production, which began on Jan. 1, is expected to prevent oil prices from dropping to record lows seen last year. ANRPC’s analysis expects “a substantial rise in rubber prices during 2017.”

DAT Solutions: Top 10 spot freight locations in 2016

Freight in 2016 ebbed and flowed, but those hauling loads in and out of Atlanta may have experienced a better year than most. According to DAT Solutions, Atlanta was the No. 1 location to find spot truckload freight last year.

Atlanta took the No. 1 spot in both van loads and refrigerated loads categories. Little Rock secured the top spot for flatbed loads.

Below are the rankings based on an analysis of more than 100 million annual freight matches and a database of $33 billion of market transactions on the DAT network load boards:

Van loads:

  1. Atlanta
  2. Houston
  3. Chicago
  4. Dallas
  5. Charlotte, N.C.
  6. Memphis, Tenn.
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Cleveland
  9. Elizabeth, N.J.
  10. Indianapolis

Refrigerated loads:

  1. Atlanta
  2. Chicago
  3. Elizabeth, N.J.
  4. Dallas
  5. Twin Falls, Idaho
  6. Charlotte
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  9. Joliet, Ill.
  10. Philadelphia

Flatbed loads:

  1. Little Rock, Ark.
  2. Shreveport, La.
  3. Mobile, Ala.
  4. Jackson, Miss.
  5. Cleveland
  6. Decatur, Ill.
  7. Houston
  8. Montgomery, Ala
  9. Birmingham, Ala.
  10. Spokane, Wash. 

For more information about DAT Solutions, visit and follow them on Twitter at @LoadBoards.

Ritchie Bros. Orlando auction planned for Feb. 20-24

More than 7,200 items are already listed to be sold in Ritchie Bros. annual five-day auction in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 20-24, 2017. Consignments are still being accepted for the event that serves as a kick-off for the auction season. 

The auction will have equipment for every industry, with particularly large selections of gear for the construction, transportation and lifting industry. According today’s release, more than 355 truck tractors, 200 trailers, 65 pickup trucks and 135 dump trucks have been consigned. 

The tentative auction schedule and inventory is online at Bids in the auction can be made in person, online, via the Ritchie Bros. mobile app and by proxy. Online registration is open now; on-site registration begins on Feb. 16.