DAT Solutions: Spot flatbed freight rates make gains

Special to Land Line | 2/28/2018

While van and reefer rates on MembersEdge continued their gradual slide, the national average rate for spot flatbed loads increased for the third straight week and the flatbed load-to-truck ratio topped 70-to-1.

The number of available flatbed loads increased 10 percent compared to the previous week while truck posts dipped 1 percent. The load-to-truck ratio rose 10 percent from 64.2 to 70.8 loads per truck and the national average flatbed rate gained 5 cents to $2.35 per mile.

Volumes are 20 percent higher than a year ago and rates are 22 percent higher compared to this same period in 2017. Strong construction activity and mild weather in many areas are good news for flatbed haulers.

Load posts were down for vans and reefers, though, and load-to-truck ratios continued to drop seasonally in those segments.

  • Van LT ratio – 6.7, down 7 percent
  • Reefer LT ratio – 9.3, down 3 percent

The national average spot van rate fell 1 cent to $2.14 per mile and the reefer rate dropped 2 cents to $2.43 per mile.

Diesel falls
The price for diesel fell again, with the national average down 2 cents to $3 per gallon.

Van trends
Lower fuel prices have taken pressure off of spot van rates recently. Load volumes on the top 100 van lanes were up 2 percent last week, though, so prices could start to reverse course in the coming weeks.

Market movers
Demand for trucks is high out of Memphis, Tenn. Last Friday, the van ratio there topped 10 loads per truck, well above the national average and ahead of two other regional hubs, Atlanta (5.7) and Charlotte, N.C. (6). The Memphis-Columbus, Ohio, lane rose 20 cents to an average of $2.52 per mile and Memphis-Atlanta gained 15 cents to $2.87 per mile.

Flatbed trends
Load posts increased 6 percent last week. Houston is the No. 1 flatbed market by volume, and the average outbound rate there rose 10 cents to $2.67 per mile.

Tri-haul of the week
The average Memphis-Columbus van rate was up big last week at $2.52 per mile. Rates in each direction are typically pretty balanced but prices on the Columbus-Memphis direction have dropped lately, adjusting to the higher demand out of Memphis. Last week it averaged $1.99 per mile.

You could improve on that with a tri-haul.

From Columbus, add a leg to Bloomington, Ill. The van rate on that lane averaged $3.13 per mile last week, and the load-to-truck ratio in Bloomington was more favorable for truckers than Columbus. Loads to Memphis paid $2.81 per mile on average last week, boosting the average rate per loaded mile from $2.26 to $2.77. This tri-haul would add about 213 miles, not counting deadhead, and $1,200 in revenue if it makes sense for your schedule.

MembersEdge tri-haul of the week chart

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 the MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com per industry-trends per trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.



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