Current state of freight?

By Jordan Pottorff, CTB

It’s no secret the transportation industry is going through an immense amount of change right now. The ELD mandate, the driver shortage crisis, the increased demand for autonomous trucks, and a capacity crunch across the country sending rates through the roof have come together to create a nearly unprecedented point in our industry’s history.

Let’s take a look at the ELD mandate which is now in full effect. The entire industry is currently in a feel-it-out process. Rates are spiking and hours of service are interrupting normal transit times, while brokers, carriers, and shippers are working through an adoption and familiarity phase. Responsibility to conceive a fluid system will spread out to carriers, brokers, and shippers, but the major onus to counteract the requirements that come with the ELD mandate is on the shipper.

In a recent American Trucker article, a notable carrier said, “ELDs were installed in all my trucks before the ELD Mandate. There have been many changes in dispatching. So far, all delivery times have been rescheduled due to long hold times at the shipper. Problems at shippers now heavily reflect on drivers’ hours. This must be addressed to operate efficiently for both drivers and company owners. Brokers need to be aware of HOS (hours of service) and understand the law to build freight accordingly.”

Collaboration between all parties is key and will be paramount to a smooth operation. Shippers must streamline their processes to ensure the product is ready when the appointment is scheduled to avoid late deliveries and hours of service issues. If not, shippers will face the harsh reality of consistently higher rates.

While the ELD mandate will require innovative solutions from shippers, the driver shortage crisis is forcing carriers to think outside the box. Some carriers are getting creative by offering incentives never before seen. To attract new talent, Celadon is offering drivers paid vacation, but that’s not all. They are also offering an $8,000 sign-on bonus for team drivers and an $8,000 sign-on incentive for lease purchase operators–both earned as mileage is accrued. Covenant is joining the fight against driver shortage and changing transit times by offering a $40,000 performance-based bonus for team drivers that will be paid out as mileage is accrued with each driver able to earn up to $20,000 in bonuses.

Creativity, commitment, and innovation are necessary to navigate the current upheaval and volatility. At AM Transport, we operate primarily as a 3PL but also act as a part-time consulting firm to plot the course through these uncharted waters with our robust carrier network and solid customer base. We predicted the hurdles we are now jumping through and have planned accordingly, but at the end of the day it comes down to education and keeping our customers and core carriers in the loop.

Tough conversations with carriers and shippers will continue to be necessary as no one can accurately predict when the market will stabilize, but relationships and value-added services will be king at the end of the day. Technological advancements, tracking updates & visibility tools, 24/7 communication and accessibility, and on-time pickup and delivery percentages will matter more than ever. Whether you are a carrier, dealer or shipper, we are here to help guide you through what is becoming the new norm in our industry.

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