DAT Solutions: Calm, and then the storm

Special to Land Line | 8/30/2017

Hurricane Harvey hit on Friday, Aug. 25, so its effect on supply chains and spot truckload rates won’t be fully reflected until next week’s report.

That said, rates will be higher for loads heading into Houston and relief-freight staging areas like San Antonio, Dallas and Lafayette, La., as truckers account for unloading delays, road obstructions, and traffic, as well as difficulty finding outbound loads from those markets.

The days leading up to the storm continued the recent trend of high demand for truckload capacity. The number of posted loads on DAT MembersEdge during the week ending Aug. 26 increased 1 percent compared to the previous week while available capacity fell 1.8 percent —usually strong.

Rates unchanged: National average spot truckload rates were unchanged compared to the previous week:

  • Van: $1.78/mile
  • Flatbed: $2.18/mile
  • Reefer: $2.08/mile

Diesel rises: Those spot rates include a fuel surcharge. The national average on-highway diesel price picked up a penny to $2.61/gallon. Fuel prices are likely to rise more in the coming weeks with so many refineries offline in Houston.

Load-to-truck ratios: Load-to-truck ratios rose for vans and reefers compared to the previous week but declined for flatbeds:

  • Van: 5.2 loads per truck, up 7 percent
  • Flatbed: 26.5, down 4 percent
  • Reefer: 10, also up 7 percent

Van posts gain: Nationally, van load posts increased 6 percent and truck posts declined 1 percent.

Flats down again: After a 7 percent decline the previous week, flatbed load posts fell another 7 percent while truck posts slipped 3 percent. This situation is changing now with so much FEMA freight and other relief loads available to flatbed haulers.

Reefer trends: Refrigerated load posts increased 5 percent last week while truck posts decreased 2 percent. Demand for reefers is accelerating in the Midwest, a normal trend for this time of year. Freight volume out of Southern California and border markets continues to drop, also in line with expectations.

Let’s talk about Harvey
Even if you don’t plan to go near Texas or Louisiana, you may be affected by the devastation left by Harvey. Trucks can’t get in or out of Houston, which is the country’s largest source of loads for flatbeds and the fifth or sixth for vans and reefers.

Supply chains are shifting by the day. Distribution centers in Houston serve at least six states and for now those markets will have to be supplied from elsewhere. For example, there may be more westbound loads out of Atlanta, Savannah, and Charleston in the next week or two, heading for Arkansas and Louisiana. There will be other effects, too, and you may want to take that into account when you negotiate rates this week and next.

Remember, DAT can give you information about rates that were paid in the past two weeks but it’s not our place to tell you what you should charge.

Stay safe, and please check DAT.com/blog for updates.

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 MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at DAT.com/industry-trends/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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