Fleet Survey Shows Tight Truck Capacity Slowing Freight

January 13, 2015

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The latest industry survey by the consultancy group Transport Capital Partners sees a shortage of capacity and lack of qualified drivers changing the dynamics of freight, with trends in capacity and rates also contributing to a decline in broker freight.

According to the group, the trucking trade press is filled with news stories about a capacity crunch. This got it to wondering is the size of the crunch being overstated and are we hearing about the same freight marketed to many carriers?

“In the latest TCP survey, we decided to approach the issue from a slightly different angle,” said TCP Partner and Survey Leader Richard Mikes. “If stories of a capacity crunch are true, is freight being left on the shipper’s dock?”

Graphic: TCP
Graphic: TCP

It found nearly three-fourths of carriers responded that they “think” freight is sitting on the shipper’s dock. According to TCP this lack of capacity comes as the industry faces growing volumes but a shortage of qualified drivers.

Additionally, it found rising costs and lowered driver and truck efficiency due to hours of service are also contributing to the problem. The survey was conducted in November, before Congress approved changes to the 34-hour restart rule in truckers hours of service regulations that went into effect in mid-December.

The TCP survey also found that, in every category, carriers are expecting to renegotiate accessorial charges. More than any other accessorial, 68% of carriers expect to renegotiate detention times. This is almost double the number from a year ago.

“Recent changes in hours of service have made detention times a hot button on driver efficiency and equipment efficiency,” said Lana Batts, TCP partner. “Unfortunately, it looks like larger carriers are expecting to re-negotiate more than their smaller competitors”.

Larger carriers, those doing more than $25 million a year in business, seemed more confident that smaller carriers when it came to feeling as if they could renegotiate detention times. In contrast, smaller fleets indicated they had a better chance of renegotiating fuel surcharges.

Meanwhile, the trend of carriers using less broker freight services continues with 76%percent of carriers indicated they intend to use less broker freight. “This is a logical fall out from tighter capacity and rising rates, and a consistent trend since the end of the great recession,” said Mikes.

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