COVID-19 Resource Center:

Odyssey continues to carefully monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on the global supply chain. Our top priority continues to be protecting our, operations and customers from any adverse impacts.

Our global supply chain is designed to mitigate risks in order to meet customer commitments and obligations. This resource center contains our ongoing communication and customer updates.

last updated 9:46am 07/28/2020

ODYSSEY UPDATES:

  • The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was higher than forecast for a second straight week, adding to signs that the recovery is cooling amid a pickup in coronavirus cases. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell to 1.48 million last week from an upwardly revised 1.54 million in the prior week, Labor Department data showed June 25. Continuing claims, a closely watched figure that tracks the overall pool of recipients, declined by more than forecast to 19.5 million in the week ended June 13. Even so, economists expect continued improvement in the hard-hit labor market; the government’s monthly jobs report next week is projected to show employers added 3 million workers to payrolls in June, following 2.5 million in May.
  • Department of Labor: News Release
  • TT News: US Initial Jobless Claims Worse Than Forecast for Second Week

 

  • At least 1 in 10 small businesses in the U.S. are expecting to lay off workers once their fiscal relief funds run out, according to a new survey. While the vast majority of companies aren’t currently planning cuts, the data from the National Federation of Independent Business suggest that more aid may be needed to keep businesses afloat and workers employed as the economy gradually reopens in the midst of a pandemic — with many states now facing spikes in COVID-19 cases. In the survey, 14% of companies that received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, the centerpiece of federal relief for small businesses, anticipate having to reduce their workforce after using the loan.
  • NFIB Research Center: Covid-19 Small Business Survey
  • TT News: Small Businesses Mull Job Cuts After Aid Runs Out

 

  • Oil hovered near $40 a barrel in New York as investors weighed a resurgence in the coronavirus against signs of rebounding demand. The easing of lockdowns across the world and OPEC+ buckling down with its output cuts have boosted prices in recent days. Demand is improving in countries including Spain and India. Still, with virus cases rising again in Germany and some U.S. states, as well as Beijing last week, there are doubts about the strength of the rebound in energy use.
  • TT News: Oil Hovers Near $40 With Investors Weighing Virus Against Demand

 

  • S. exports sank to the lowest in more than a decade while imports dropped as the coronavirus continued to curtail demand for goods and upset producers’ supply chains. Goods exports decreased by 5.8% in May from the prior month to $90.1 billion, the lowest since August 2009, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday. Imports decreased 1.2% to $164.4 billion. The data indicates the U.S. economy is still struggling to turn around after the business lockdowns and slowdown in consumer spending stemming from the coronavirus, even as more states begin to reopen and Americans head back to work.
  • S. Census Bureau: Monthly Advance Economic Indicators Report
  • TT News: US May Exports Sink to 11-Year Low as Imports Drop

 

  • S. rail traffic on a weekly basis is still lower than the same period in 2019, although that gap is narrowing, particularly for intermodal volumes. U.S. rail volumes for the week ending June 20 totaled 457,278 carloads and intermodal units, a 12.9% decline from the same period in 2019 and a 1.8% increase from the week ending June 13, according to the Association of American Railroads. Of that total, weekly intermodal traffic consisted of 255,455 intermodal containers, a 4.4% decrease from the same period in 2019 and a 1.8% increase from week ending June 13. Weekly carload volumes slipped 21.8% to 201,823 although they rose 1.7% from the week ending June 13
  • Association of American Railroads: Weekly Rail Traffic

 

  • Business logistics costs increased marginally in 2019 as conditions in the sector normalized, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty to the outlook for 2020, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals announced in a June 23 report. The 2020 CSCMP State of Logistics Report found that United States Business Logistics Costs increased 0.6% to $1.63 trillion last year, a figure that comprised 7.6% of the nation’s total $21.43 trillion gross domestic product. CSCMP warned the impact of the coronavirus has decimated supply chains, scrambled logistics capabilities and destroyed huge swaths of demand in 2020. The global measures taken to reduce its further spread compounded those issues. The report noted that there have been some optimistic signs. It points to the growth of e-commerce, which was amplified by the online shopping of those sheltering at home. The report also noted that some carriers maintained profits despite declining volumes in 2019. This might suggest a commitment to pricing discipline that may help them survive 2020.
  • TT News: Logistics Costs Increase to $1.63 Trillion in 2019
  • CSCMP

 

  • Experts are warning that signs of improvement in the U.S. economy could give way to another round of contractions, as a rising tide of coronavirus cases in certain states threatens to have a similarly chilling effect as to what occurred during the earlier months of the pandemic. “Things have changed, and thinking that by October, November, the economy will be back to the same level it was at before the pandemic — you have to be a super optimist,” said Rajeev Dhawan, the director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University, during an interview with Transport Topics Radio. “Until there is a vaccine or a medical treatment, you have to keep on waiting for a full recovery.” Dhawan said the U.S. economy was spared a deeper recession due to trillions of dollars in federal spending to extend unemployment benefits, as well as other government programs to keep credit markets liquid. But with many of those programs set to expire in late July, Dhawan worries that another infusion of spending may be necessary to stave off further economic damage. FTR Intel Vice President Avery Vise said too much uncertainty remains to make firm predictions on how the economy will perform this summer if COVID-19 cases increase. American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello told TT that while the economy is improving, he fears the increasing number of cases could derail it and create a W-shaped recovery, in which things begin improving but then deteriorate as more people become infected, causing governors and other officials to order businesses closed.
  • TT News: Economy Recovering, but Experts Fear Rise in Coronavirus Cases

 

  • The International Monetary Fund has sharply lowered its forecast for global growth this year because it envisions far more severe economic damage from the coronavirus than it did just two months ago. The IMF predicts that the global economy will shrink 4.9% this year, significantly worse than the 3% drop it had estimated in its previous report in April. It would be the worst annual contraction since immediately after World War II. For the United States, the IMF predicts that the nation’s gross domestic product will decline 8% this year, even more than its April estimate of a 5.9%. This, too, would be the worst such annual decline since the U.S. economy demobilized in the aftermath of World War II.
  • International Monetary Fund: World Economic Outlook
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary for 6/26:

Overall volumes and key metrics studied by Odyssey remain stable week-over-week. Moving into the week of 6/29 (quarter-end), Odyssey anticipates increased capacity pressure which may result in spot-rate increases in some markets. Odyssey recommends providing as much lead time as feasible across all modes, and especially on truckload shipments. In addition to lead time, controlling order changes and revisions is equally critical.

  • In recent weeks, freight demand sprang back to life and started to build momentum, shaking off the shockwaves of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. and state lockdown orders that smothered the economy. Load volume on the spot market has soared, and rates are expected to jump upward in June after falling to the floor in April. Whether that momentum can be sustained, however, remains the key question presently. Major holes in the economy remain, but pent-up consumer demand and a seasonal jolt of freight have stirred optimism. “All signs are cautiously optimistic,” said Stephen Bindbeutel, an analyst and director of products at Truckstop.com. “There’s still a lot more ground to cover, but it’s nice to see it’s normalizing a little bit here in the short term.” The company’s loadboard last week saw a 30.7% jump in load postings from the week prior, while the number of truck postings was flat. That surge pushed spot market rates up 2.2%, with rates expected to climb again this week. The upswing has been seen across dry van, reefer and flatbed segments. The last two full weeks, Truckstop.com’s Market Demand Index, a reading of load-to-truck ratios, trended above the five-year average for those two weeks of the year.
  • CCJ Digital: The freight awakening? Demand roars back to life, though potential ditches lie ahead
  • Overdrive: Freight volumes reach pre-COVID levels as 2020 roller coaster rides
  • About 1.5 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a historically high number, even as the economy increasingly reopens and employers bring some people back to work. The latest figure released June 18 marked the 11th straight weekly decline in applications since they peaked at nearly 7 million in March. The decline was much smaller than in recent weeks, falling just 58,000. The total number of people receiving unemployment aid also fell slightly, reflecting the return to work across multiple states. Analysts had expected a sharper decline in weekly applications, and some expressed disappointment that so many people are still seeking unemployment benefits even as restaurants, gyms and many categories of retail shops are reopening across the country.
  • Department of Labor: News Release
  • TT News: 1.5 Million More Laid-Off Workers Seek Unemployment Benefits
  • S. retail sales jumped in May by the most on record and double forecasts, regaining more ground than expected after unprecedented drops the prior two months as states allowed more merchants to reopen. Sales soared 17.7% from the prior month, the most in data going back to 1992, following a revised 14.7% slump in April, according to Commerce Department data issued June 16. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for an 8.4% gain in May.
  • United States Census: Monthly Retail Trade
  • TT News: Retail Sales Soared a Record 17.7% in May, Double Forecast

 

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy faces a deep downturn with “significant uncertainty” about the timing and strength of a recovery. He warned that the longer the recession lasts, the worse the damage that will be inflicted on the job market and businesses. Powell stressed in prepared testimony to Congress that the Fed is committed to using all its financial tools to cushion the economic damage from the coronavirus. But he said that until the public is confident the disease has been contained, “a full recovery is unlikely.”
  • Federal Reserve
  • TT News: Powell Warns That Long Downturn Would Mean Severe Damage

 

  • S. weekly rail traffic inched higher sequentially last week as nationwide retail figures and housing starts showed glimmers of increased economic activity. U.S. rail volumes for the week ending June 13 totaled 449,291 carloads and intermodal units, which is 14.9% lower than the same period in 2019 but 3.7% higher than the week ending June 6, according to the Association of American Railroads. Of that, U.S. railroad operations originated 198,437 carloads, a 22.8% decrease year-over-year but a 3.1% increase sequentially, and 250,854 intermodal containers and trailers, a 7.3% drop year-over-year but a 4.2% increase sequentially. Year-to-date U.S. rail volumes totaled 10.8 million carloads and intermodal units, which is 13.2% lower than the same period in 2019.
  • Association of American Railroad: Weekly Rail Traffic for the Week Ending June 13, 2020
  • FreightWaves: US rail volumes inch higher sequentially

 

  • Container volumes in May were down at most of the nation’s major seaports as the facilities struggled with the deepening U.S. recession and the slowdown of Asian and European economies at the start of the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year. Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest, reported a 29.8% year-over-year decline in twenty-foot-equivalent (TEU) containers, moving 581,664 shipping receptacles compared with 828,662 in the same period of 2019. At a news briefing on June 10, Eugene Seroka, the port’s executive director, cited the pandemic and a long-running trade dispute between the United States and China as the leading causes of the steep decline. “It’s the slowest May since the Great Recession of 2009. There’s less consumer purchasing and less U.S. manufacturing,” Seroka said. “We also see the continued negative impact between the U.S. and China and the policies that have been in place.”
  • TT News: Nation’s Ports Post Drop in May Cargo
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary for 6/19:

Odyssey has seen a steady increase in demand following the Memorial holiday. As freight volumes stabilize, key metrics continue to return to pre-COVID levels.

  • Odyssey recommends that shippers begin to look forward and plan accordingly for the Month-End, Quarter-End, and the Fourth of July holiday.
  • It will be imperative to provide appropriate lead-time by mode to ensure successful route guide coverage and control freight costs. In addition to Lead-Time, controlling order changes and revisions is equally critical to ensuring a successful Quarter-end.
  • Businesses in the United States are bringing all the supply chain skill they can muster to reopening as a patchwork, state by state — in some cases, region by region — revival of the US economy picks up pace. They are finding reopening often requires significant supply chain repairs, collaboration with logistics partners, and no small amount of reinvention to adapt to the health and safety needs and changing customer demands of the COVID-19 world. For US retail importers, there is a growing urgency to the reopening timeline. If they need to order goods for the US holiday shopping season, they need to do so soon to ensure containers are loaded on vessels and arrive at US ports in time for goods to make it to store shelves. That window of time is closing in June, and capacity is tightening as ocean carriers continue to cut vessel sailings. US manufacturers, especially automakers and parts suppliers, need demand to come back, but they also need to straighten snarled supply lines as they attempt to reopen shuttered factories and resume production. What shippers of all types need most is a clearer view of future customer demand, whether those customers are consumers or businesses, to help them determine how much inventory they need, and where it is most needed.
  • Spot truckload freight markets continued to gather momentum in the week ending June 5 as load-to-truck ratios increased for dry van, refrigerated, and flatbed freight. Truckload rates followed suit, rising on most lanes just in time for June, typically a peak month for the spot market. The number of posted loads on the DAT network jumped nearly 10% during the week ending May 31, which had one fewer workday because of Memorial Day. Compared to April, load-posting activity on the spot market increased 79.6% in May, while truck posts declined 15.7%.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. shouldn’t shut down the economy again even if there is another surge in coronavirus cases. “We’ve learned that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage — medical problems that get put on hold,” Mnuchin said June 11. “We can’t shut down the economy again.” Mnuchin added that he believes President Donald Trump made the right decision to urge states to ease social distancing rules that have crippled the U.S. economy. He said that in the event of a resurgence, it will not be necessary to impose restrictions again because COVID-19 testing and contact tracing are improving, and officials understand more about how to contain outbreaks.
  • Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits gradually eased last week despite a stream of business reopenings, underscoring the longer-term labor-market challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 1.54 million in the week ended June 6, down from 1.9 million in the prior week, Labor Department figures showed June 11. Applications for unemployment insurance have fallen consistently each week since peaking at the end of March, but the volume of weekly filings is still more than double the worst week during the Great Recession.
  • U.S. nonfinancial business debt soared in the first quarter by the most in records back to 1952, as bank loans and corporate bond issuance jumped in companies’ all-out effort to stay liquid during the coronavirus pandemic. Firms boosted debt by $754.8 billion, or at an 18.8% annualized rate, in the first quarter to a total outstanding $16.8 trillion that surpassed the level of household borrowing, according to a Federal Reserve report out June 11. At the same time, household net worth fell the most on record — to $110.8 trillion from $117.3 trillion — as stock prices collapsed in February and March amid fears of the coronavirus. Federal government debt surged an annualized 14.3%.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended and modified its emergency declaration for motor carriers that are providing direct assistance in support of coronavirus-related relief efforts. The agency announced June 8 that the modified declaration will take effect June 15 and remain in place through July 14. This modification scales back some of the trucking operations that were covered under the earlier exemption, which previously was extended through June 14. Direct assistance refers to transportation and relief services provided by a carrier or its drivers associated with the immediate restoration of essential services, such as medical care, or essential supplies related to COVID-19. According to FMCSA’s notice, direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads “with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”
  • Oil fell after Saudi Arabia said it wouldn’t continue its additional, deeper output curbs after June. Futures in New York slipped 1.2% after rising as much as 2.3% earlier. Saudi Arabia — which had curtailed production by more than its agreed quota — said June 8 that those extra reductions will last just one month as planned, as the measures have served their purpose. The wider OPEC+ group agreed to extend its record output curbs. The extension of the existing limits is a victory for Saudi Arabia and Russia, which were deadlocked in a brutal price war just two months ago. OPEC+’s de facto leaders showed their commitment to shore up oil markets globally, and even cajoled Iraq, Nigeria and other laggards to fulfill their promises to reduce production.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary:

Observing overall increase in shipping activity and overall shipping volume as business orders increase with reopening. Odyssey anticipates continued volume increases with reopening in automotive and oil/gas industries. While there are some parts of the market with increasing overall cost of freight transportation, contract rates are holding steady. As the economy ramps up – dependent on the rate of increase in activity – we are anticipating a related increase in capacity demand with resultant price pressures, which will be reflected in the spot market first.

  • As business reopening picked up nationwide, Americans filed nearly 2 million applications for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting a slowing — though far from a halt — in job losses. Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 1.88 million in the week ended May 30, Labor Department figures showed on June 4. This is down from 2.13 million the prior week. It was the first reading below 2 million since the coronavirus-related layoffs began in mid-March. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 1.83 million claims in the latest week. Continuing claims — the total number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits — increased to 21.5 million in state programs the week ended May 23, compared with analyst estimates for a decline. Most states reported declines from the prior week. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 22.4 million from 22.7 million, the first decline of the pandemic.
  • Predictions of a “catastrophic” wave of US trucking bankruptcies and business failures have yet to come true, and they may not, despite the severity of the COVID-19 recession, Donald Broughton, principal and manager of Broughton Capital, told JOC. “It’s bad, but it’s not as catastrophic as most have been predicting,” Broughton said. “The number of companies that ceased operations and the number of trucks pulled from the road in the first quarter and the month of April this year have continued to increase steadily, both year over year and sequentially,” Broughton said. “However, the reduction of trucking capacity from failures has not yet been as significant as the collapse in demand.” That’s good news for shippers concerned about potential spikes in truck pricing this fall. Shippers moving essential goods have seen demand stabilize, but they’re still shipping more than in previous years, while other shippers are just beginning to restore supply chains that were interrupted by business shutdowns and consumer lockdowns in March and April. Fewer trucking failures than expected — and the fact that much of the capacity belonging to bankrupt operators will remain in service — means more capacity could be available as demand rises this fall, with less pressure on truck pricing.
  • Sport utility vehicles and trucks are dominating U.S. auto sales like never before as carmakers start to recover from the biggest shock to their industry in decades. Recovering pickup and SUV demand helped the annualized rate of sales rebound to 12.2 million in May from 8.6 million in April, according to researcher Wards Intelligence. The earlier reading was the lowest seasonally adjusted figure in data going back to 1976. The light-truck share of U.S. sales, which include SUVs, rose to a record 77.2% as passenger cars fell even further out of favor. With Hertz Global Holdings Inc. having filed for bankruptcy and its peers also canceling vehicle orders, automakers are unable to support their struggling sedan models with deliveries to rental fleets.
  • OPEC and its allies edged closer to a consensus on extending production cuts to prop up the oil market, even as negotiations continued for a third day about whether to bring forward their next meeting. Russia and several other OPEC+ nations favor extending the group’s current production cuts by one month, according to people familiar with the situation. It’s unclear if that’s enough for leading OPEC member Saudi Arabia, though the proposal is within the range of the kingdom’s own call for a one- to three-month elongation.
  • The number of trucks crossing the U.S.-Canada border reached its highest level since late March, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) data shows. Nearly 86,000 truckers entered Canada from the U.S. during the week ending May 31. That represents a decline of almost 22% compared to a year ago, the CBSA said late on Wednesday, June 3. The latest data point offers yet another positive signal for cross-border freight as it slowly recovers from the COVID-19 slowdown. It also aligns with the rebound in freight volumes in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Despite double-digit percentage drops in May, U.S. rail volumes on a weekly basis have been narrowing their declines over the same periods in 2019 as North America slowly opens following COVID-19 pandemic closures. Weekly U.S. rail traffic totaled 395,714 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending May 30, a 17.3% decline from the same period in 2019, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). While still a double-digit drop, the decline is less than the four-week average decline of 20.1%. North American weekly traffic was 557,771 carloads and intermodal units, a 16.5% drop compared with the same period last year. “Overall traffic levels last week were down from the prior week as would be expected for a week which includes a national holiday,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “However, it is somewhat heartening to note that 11 of the 20 carload categories, including several major commodity areas, improved their showing versus 2019 when comparing their current loading rates to those we have seen the last four weeks.
  • One of Canada’s railways is seeing signs the economy is slowly bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic. Volumes rose 4% at Canadian National Railway Co. in the last week of May as manufacturing and construction sectors reopened, said Chief Financial Officer Ghislain Houle. While the recovery is expected to be slow, it’s a positive sign after shipments hit bottom last month, he said. “I think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Houle said June 2 at the UBS Global Industrials & Transportation virtual conference. Things started to pivot during the last week of May when lumber shipments rose 20% and automotive volumes climbed 60% from the previous week. The railway is bullish on grain and coal shipments through the West Coast while crude and frack-sand shipments will probably remain under pressure amid low oil prices, he said.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary as of 6/5:

Overall volumes increased 13% for the week of 6/1, with automotive increase totaling 45% (contributing 18% to overall volume shift), adjusted for the short holiday week of Memorial Day. With overall increase in shipped volumes there is additional pressure on capacity as a result of seasonal shipping (pool treatment chemicals, produce, sporting goods).

  • Outbound tender volumes are benefiting greatly from the reopening of the economy and a release of pent-up consumer demand. Supply dynamics are taking longer to adjust and capacity remains loose. While rates are coming off a depressed base, spot rates have surged to $1.47 per mile and have increased in the vast majority of lanes. Consumer spending data is improving, now only running down 10% year-over-year compared to the -40% trough. On a weekly basis, volumes fell 8%, ending the multiweek streak of strong sequential growth off the bottom for FreightWaves’ OTVI in mid-April. However, that is a small blemish as volumes are now running up 10% year-over-year compared to an admittedly easy comparison from last year but still the highest rate of growth since the trucking market peaked in March. Volumes should continue to be supported by most of the states reopening, continued plugging of the income gap by generous unemployment benefits and stimulus, auto plants reopening, and produce seasons kicking into gear.
  • American factories contracted for the third straight month in May as they continued to sustain economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said June 1 that its manufacturing index came in at 43.1 last month after registering 41.5 in April. Anything below 50 signals that U.S. manufacturers are in retreat. New orders, production, hiring and new export orders all fell in May but at a slower pace than they did in April. The results were about what economists expected. Eleven of 18 manufacturing industries contracted last month, led by printing, primary metals and transportation equipment makers. Six reported growth, led by mineral companies and furniture makers.
  • OPEC+ and its allies will decide as soon as this week whether to extend their historic output curbs. How long and to what extent global production curtailments remain in place will be crucial to sustaining crude’s rally after a record rebound last month. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies may bring their next meeting forward to June 4 to discuss prolonging production curbs by one to three months, according to a delegate. The existing agreement calls for easing cuts from July, a plan Russia would prefer to stick to. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the oil-drilling fleet shrank for the 11th week to a level not seen since before the shale revolution.
  • U.S. ports have revised their initial outlook in March forecasting a quick “V-shaped” recovery in freight volumes and instead do not anticipate a turnaround this year. That was the message relayed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill via the first-ever public teleconference hearing held by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on Friday. “At this stage in the pandemic, the hope for a quick recovery has been replaced by the realization of a longer battle ahead,” testified Association of American Port Authorities (AAPA) CEO Chris Connor. “Over time the reality and complexities of this pandemic have had a reality check for all of us, and we now project that this [volume downturn] is going to be with us at least through the end of 2020.” Containerized cargo at U.S. ports declined 18% year-on-year for March, “with significant blank sailings resulting in revenue losses for port authorities,” he said. While not yet tallied, initial indications point to declines of 20%-25% year-on-year for April and May. Connor also reported major declines in roll-on roll-off (ro/ro) cargos due to auto plant shutdowns.
  • An early look at Saudi Arabia’s crude exports for May showed that historic production cuts have done little to squelch the kingdom’s flood of oil to China, which is just getting back on its feet from the coronavirus. Saudi flows to the Asian nation were about 2.1 million barrels a day through May 28 — a figure that may rise in the coming days — tanker-tracking and fixture data show. That compares with 2.3 million in April, which was the highest since the start of 2017. It’s also just the third time during that period when average daily exports to China breached the 2 million mark. By contrast, overall Saudi crude shipments dropped to about 6.6 million barrels a day in May, after reaching 9.3 million in April, also the highest in at least three years. April’s volumes were an anomaly, the result of a price war, and May’s exports are much closer to the average in recent years.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary as of 6/2:

Moving into week of 6/1, Odyssey is observing overall stable cost-per-mile figures. However, overall volumes are down year-over-year in May due to widespread industrial shutdowns. Moving into June, Odyssey will pay close attention to industrial activity and overall GDP performance.

  • The often-discussed driver shortage is over — at least for the time being — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the deepening U.S. recession, and a falloff in the amount of freight being hauled by many sectors of trucking. Before the novel coronavirus began to dominate the headlines, American Trucking Association maintained that the industry was short an estimated 60,000 drivers as a result of retirements and the sometimes-slow pace of getting new men and women into the industry. While those factors remain true, what has changed in short order is the economic environment the industry currently confronts. “The fundamentals of why we had a driver shortage did not go away,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello told Transport Topics. “Demographic issues, age, gender, lifestyle issues. But, for the moment, what has changed is the demand side of the equation has fallen significantly.”
  • Just how deep and swift the U.S. economy’s plunge into a recession has been since the coronavirus pandemic hit the nation was evidenced by several reports, including that millions continued to apply for unemployment benefits. But a slow economic recovery could be coming this summer and into the fall as people begin to go back to work, economists said. The U.S. Department of Labor said on May 28 that 2.1 million still sought assistance, bringing the running total of those out of work since the coronavirus shutdowns in mid-March to some 41 million. By April, the nation’s unemployment rate was 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression. Further, the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, was revised to show that it fell at an annual rate of 5% in the first quarter, greater than the 4.8% drop estimated in April. The U.S. Department of Commerce said purchases of durable goods — items intended to last three years or longer ranging from washers and dryers to cars and airplanes — plummeted 17.2% in April as shoppers spent only on things they urgently needed. That followed a 16.6% decline in March. Excluding orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders fell 7.4%.
  • The slow, staggered reopening of the US economy is rebalancing trucking demand and supply, as capacity shifts from spot load boards to newly available contract freight. That is gradually pushing truckload spot rates higher, according to load board operator DAT Solutions, as the number of trucks available to pick up spot loads drops as volumes rise. Higher shipment volumes in the busiest US spot truckload lanes helped push spot market pricing higher in the days leading up to Memorial Day, DAT Solutions said Wednesday. “With contract carriers taking capacity out of the spot market, rates were higher on 73 of DAT’s top 100 van lanes by volume compared to the previous week, and volumes were up 5.7 percent on those 100 lanes,” DAT said. In addition, spot rates were higher on 49 of the top 72 refrigerated truckload spot lanes.
  • The nationwide average price of diesel fuel increased by about half a penny, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported May 26, ending a string of 19 consecutive weekly price decreases in 2020. The price of diesel rose 0.4 cent to $2.390 a gallon from $ 2.386 the previous week. Trucking’s main fuel costs 76.1 cents a gallon less than it did a year ago. Diesel began the year at $3.079 and had dropped each successive week until now.
  • More than 15 million cloth facemasks will be distributed to transportation workers, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Thursday, May 28. More than 2 million of the facial coverings are designated for highway and motor carrier workers.
  • Although U.S. rail traffic is still sharply lower compared with the same period in 2019, rail volumes for intermodal and commodities such as motor vehicles and grain are higher sequentially on a weekly basis, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). U.S. grain volumes totaled 21,977 carloads for the week ended May 23, which is a 2.3% decrease compared with the same period in 2019 but 5.7% higher than 20,790 carloads for the week ending May 16. Meanwhile, weekly carloads for motor vehicles and parts were up 70.1% on a sequential basis to 4,874 carloads (but down 71.4% year-over-year), while weekly intermodal volumes rose 2.8% to 238,076 intermodal units (down 11.2% year-over-year).
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary as of 5/29:

Moving into week of 5/25 (end-of-month) Odyssey is observing overall stable cost-per-mile figures. There is an anticipated increase in the number of shipments that will put some pressure on capacity. However, capacity remains balanced with demand. Shippers that rely on refrigerated van capacity may experience slight spotmarket increases in freight rates, largely due to seasonal demand. However, overall van and flatbed capacity remains stable.

  • National outbound tender volumes continued to climb this week by 5% week-over-week and 7% year-over-year. The surge in imports at the end of April is playing a part in the volume surge. This time of the year there is an expected increase due to ramp up in shipping of produce. That said, traditional produce markets in the Southwest have exhibited the largest monthly changes in volumes (Tucson, Phoenix). The rapidly improving consumer spending data is also playing a role in this surge. The reopening of most states is unleashing pent-up demand. How long the surge can last remains to be seen.
  • Oil’s recovery from its historic crash last month is barreling ahead, with some OPEC producers displaying signs of confidence that the market is stabilizing. Nigeria and Algeria — both members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries — have lifted the official selling prices for their supply, a sign that they believe customers are willing to pay more for their barrels. That would offer some respite after demand was crushed by the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Rail employment dipped to record low levels in April, walloped by the COVID-19 pandemic and declining coal volumes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that rail employment among U.S. freight and passenger rail companies was around 157,200 workers in April, down from under 180,000 in April 2019. The declines come as the railroads face the double whammy of the coronavirus pandemic and a sharp decline in coal carloads. The pandemic’s social-distancing and shelter-in-place mandates have squashed demand for goods, with April carloads for motor vehicles and parts tumbling 86.3% and carloads for chemicals falling 11.9%, according to the Association of American Railroads.
  • A coalition that includes owner-operators, large trucking companies and the freight railroads is looking to head off renewed efforts to permanently raise national truck size standards in the wake of COVID-19. The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) asserts that it is not opposed to the raising of weight limits by individual states aimed at making it easier for shippers and carriers to move essential freight during the pandemic. “However, we do believe these provisions must be temporary and no efforts be made at the federal level to make these permanent,” the group told FreightWaves. The coalition also noted that supporters of longer and heavier trucks recently sent letters to Capitol Hill asking Congress to remove federal truck size and weight limits until the emergency declaration is lifted – efforts that Congress should reject, according to CABT.
  • As the coronavirus pandemic continues and the July 1 start date for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) nears, logistics experts are weighing in on how to strategize for the future. Jessie Essman, chief operating officer for Chicago-based Forager, said Mexico’s location next door to the U.S. makes it attractive as a growing trade partner. “For some time now supply chains have been reevaluating the concept of nearshoring versus offshoring. Wages are rising in China, and we’ve seen that offshoring can really lead to supply chain inflexibility,” Essman said. “Unlike China, there are also no current tariffs hampering U.S.-Mexico trade.”
  • As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across global economies, U.S. retailers with a global footprint have felt the pinch, with demand for products continuing to fluctuate. Logistics services have also been affected, with freight forwarders like the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) stopping delivery services across more than 100 international markets. Thousands of businesses that depended on USPS for its international deliveries were left stranded, as they rushed to find alternatives for pushing shipments into their desired markets. In this context of trying to make sense of the logistics chaos, two conflicting perspectives have cropped up. One faction believes that it is time for American businesses to concentrate on domestic demand, rather than arranging alternate freight-forwarding options to international markets. The other faction points out that the current situation is suitable to expand a company’s global presence, as most of the businesses are on the backfoot.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary as of 5/27:

Moving into week of 5/25 (end-of-month) Odyssey is observing overall stable cost-per-mile figures. There is an anticipated increase in the number of shipments that will put some pressure on capacity. However, capacity remains balanced with demand.

  • The economic downturn wrought by the global spread of COVID-19 and corresponding state shutdown orders potentially has hit its lowest point, said analysts over the past week, as freight demand has entered recovery and is forecast to continue through the end of next year. “From here forward, we think things are going to improve,” said FTR economist Bill Witte. After the “historically awful second quarter” ends, the economy should expand next quarter and continue to grow. He predicts a 22% drawback in GDP in the second quarter, followed by a 16.2% jump in the third quarter. He predicts growth in the 5% range for every quarter next year. The American Trucking Associations this week said freight tonnage plunged in April by 12.2% from the month prior — the largest month-to-month dip since a labor strike in 1994. “As the nation starts taking small steps toward reopening, we should see some modest improvements in the freight market,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.
  • Spot truckload van and refrigerated freight volumes climbed again in the most recent week, as the number of truck postings dropped 17.5% during the week ending May 17, said DAT Solutions. Rates were higher or neutral on 78 of DAT’s top 100 van lanes by volume compared to the previous week. Overall, the number of van loads moved on those 100 lanes increased 5% week over week and was higher or neutral on 77 of those lanes.
  • The Class I railroads are closely watching the restart of North American automotive production, hoping that the slow ramp up will not only grow auto volumes but also improve demand for supplies such as steel and plastics, according to executives at recent investor conferences. The standstill in North American automotive production contributed greatly to the decline in rail volumes, with North American traffic for motor vehicles and parts falling 36.4% year-to-date to 335,839 carloads, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). The data is for the week ending May 16.
  • The number of Americans filing for unemployed since the beginning of COVID-19 crisis climbed to nearly 39 million, the government said May 21. More than 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs, the Labor Department reported. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the unemployment rate could peak in May or June at 20% to 25% — a level unseen since the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
  • U.S. and Canadian officials reached an agreement to keep the border closed to nonessential traffic until June 21, even as parts of both countries begin to reopen. Essential cross-border workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers still are permitted to cross. Truck drivers are critical as they move food and medical goods in both directions.
  • Canadian and Alaskan crude oil that normally travels to the U.S. West Coast is finding a market in China, where demand is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. China’s demand dropped by close to 20% as the country went into lockdown in February. Since then, consumption of gasoline and diesel has rebounded as factories reopen and commuters drive rather than use public transport.
  • It’s going to take months for oil demand in the world’s third-biggest market to get back to pre-virus levels as India faces its deepest recession ever in the wake of its near two-month lockdown. The country’s fuel consumption decreased by as much as 70% at one stage last month as it embarked on one of the world’s most stringent nationwide quarantines. As the lockdown eases, it’s now running at about 40% below last year’s levels and could take until the end of 2020 to get close to full recovery, according to executives at the country’s state-owned fuel retailers.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.
  • On May 18, more than 130,000 autoworkers returned to factories across the U.S. for the first time in nearly two months. Detroit’s Big Three — Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Ford — as well as Honda and Toyota all had screening procedures in place at dozens of factories that reopened from the Great Lakes states south to Tennessee and Texas and out west at Tesla’s factory near the San Francisco Bay. However, vehicles are not yet being produced as it will take some time for the plants to restart.
  • Truckload demand is inching up as the United States takes its first tentative steps toward an economic restart, with pricing on the top 100 dry-van spot market lanes increasing in the first half of May for the first time since mid-March. Produce season is one reason spot truck capacity is tightening in Southern California, Texas, and central Florida. The dry van index, which rose to almost 140 in March as demand for essential products soared, bottomed at 42.6 on April 24 and climbed to 59.2 by May 13.
  • Trucking companies are realigning hiring practices to focus on experienced drivers as the supply of student drivers falls dramatically because of COVID-19. The shift is a direct result of driving schools that have closed and state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) that have either cut back hours or shut down entirely during the pandemic. This is constricting the pipeline of entry-level drivers that many carriers rely on for more than half of their driver positions.
  • U.S. retail sales and factory output registered the steepest declines on record in April, illustrating a recession so deep that it likely will take years to fully recover. Revenue at retailers and restaurants fell 16.4% from the prior month, almost double the 8.3% drop in March, which previously was the worst in data back to 1992, according to a Commerce Department report released May 15. That compared with the median projection of a 12% decline. A separate report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production decreased 11.2% last month, the steepest monthly drop in the 101-year history of the series. Manufacturing output plummeted by a record 13.7% amid declines in all major industries, the Fed said.
  • Freight truck transport across United States-Mexico border ports of entry dropped 8.3% during the first four months of 2020, according to Mexico’s National Chamber of Cargo Transportation. Truck crossings declined from 2.83 million during 2019 to 2.6 million during the first four months of this year.
  • Chinese oil demand is all but back to levels last seen before Beijing imposed a national lockdown to fight the coronavirus outbreak, according to people with inside knowledge of the country’s energy industry. China is the world’s second largest oil consumer, behind only the U.S., and the country’s quick turnaround has helped tighten the petroleum market sooner-than-expected. West Texas Intermediate crude, which a month ago plunged into negative prices, surged on May 18 above $30 a barrel.
  • While its predecessor report issued a positive 2020 growth outlook for the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, the new edition of the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Semiannual Economic Forecast, which was issued in May, tells a much different story, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Data for this report is based on feedback from U.S.-based purchasing and supply chain executives in manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. For manufacturing, ISM is estimating a 10.3% annual increase in 2020 revenue. And 58% of the report’s respondents expect 2020 revenues to decrease, on average 21.2%, with the remaining 24% indicating no change, and only two of the 17 manufacturing industries ISM tracks—apparel, leather & allied products, and food, beverage, and tobacco products—expecting 2020 revenue growth.
  • In a recent interview with Logistics Management, Larry Gross – one of the most respected authorities in the intermodal space and transportation in general – discussed the impact of COVID-19 on domestic and global networks. According to Gross, COVID-19 is going to become a seminal event and will reverberate for many years to come. A major theme that is going to come out of all this is one that Gross called “The Great Dispersal,” where population, freight, and sourcing will become more dispersed than ever. In some ways this is underway in terms of international sourcing, where companies are trying to decouple from China. Gross anticipates that companies will increasing move into other nations throughout Southeast Asia and into India for supply of key inputs. “This type of thing takes years for it to occur, but it will only become evident, in retrospect, that this was a turning point,” he said.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary as of 5/19:

Based on close tracking of week-over-week and daily volume levels, Odyssey is observing overall stable shipping activity across most client networks. Odyssey will closely watch the automotive market shipping activity as major manufacturers resume operations. Odyssey is anticipating some tightening in freight capacity over the next four to six weeks as a result of the coming produce season and increase in demand for water treatment chemicals. As a result, Odyssey advises clients to provide ample lead time – where possible – to ensure that freight is picked up and delivered on time. Odyssey also encourages all clients to work with respective operations teams to ensure freight is scheduled to be picked up around any upcoming Memorial Day closures.

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published its long-awaited final rule on changes to hours-of-service regulations in a move intended to increase flexibility for truck drivers. The final rule, announced by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen on May 14, includes four rule revisions that pertain to issues raised by truckers, such as the 30-minute rest break and splitting up time in the sleeper berth. The final rule is effective 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. Specifically, the final rule will allow more flexibility for the 30-minute rest break rule by requiring a break after eight hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using “on-duty, not driving” status, rather than “off-duty” status. The update comes at a time when drivers already expressed need for revisions to hours-of-service (HOS) during COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The FMCSA made another extension (through June 14th) to its COVID-19 emergency declaration which grants HOS exemptions. This extension also adds a new declaration adding “liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems” to the list of items of qualifiable HOS exemptions when transported in an operation directly related to COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • The Cass Freight Index showed the expected big dip in activity last month, after all the March consumer panic buying subsided. For April, the overall index for both shipments and expenditures fell sharply year-over-year to recessionary levels. Shipment volumes declined 22.7% versus April 2019 levels. The authors believe this will mark the bottom. May is projected to improve, as the U.S. economy slowly begins to re-open and some manufacturing plants come back online.
  • Oil surged to the highest level since early April on an improving outlook for crude demand, alongside a rally in broader markets. Futures in New York rose as much as 8.3% on May 14. The International Energy Agency said the outlook for global markets is improving with demand a little stronger than expected, and oil major BP Plc said consumption has surged back this week as cars return to the roads. This comes after Saudi Aramco cut sales to the U.S. and Europe by about half as OPEC and its allies embark on record output curbs.
  • Nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as the viral outbreak led more companies to slash jobs even though most states have begun to let some businesses reopen under certain restrictions. The wave of layoffs may not subside until Congress can agree on providing rescue aid for financially desperate state and local governments as well as further help for households.
  • U.S. rail volumes totaled 412,549 carloads and intermodal units, falling 22.1% from the same week in 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit consumer demand and manufacturing output. Of that total, U.S. carloads tumbled 28.4% to 185,144 carloads, while intermodal volumes slipped 16% to 227,405 intermodal containers and trailers.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary as of 5/15:

Based on close tracking of week-over-week and daily volume levels, Odyssey is observing overall stable shipping activity across most client networks. Odyssey will closely watch the automotive market shipping activity as major manufacturers resume operations.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines tailored to help long-haul truck drivers and their employers deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the guidelines repeat the disease prevention recommendations that have been in place for the general public for months: social distancing, handwashing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). But specific details aimed at truck drivers on the road and away from home for days underscore the potential for the virus to spread through the supply chain.
  • AutoNation Inc., the biggest car dealership chain in the U.S., said consumers’ desire to travel again, in their own personal space, is driving the industry’s rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate in April rose to 14.7% as 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs last month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Labor Department, which released its monthly unemployment report May 8. The trucking industry was not immune to the deep labor cuts, and the Labor Department said 88,300 trucking and warehouse positions were lost, even as many trucking firms were busy delivering critically needed medical supplies to hospitals and clinics and groceries to stores. Similar trends were published in Canada’s transportation and warehousing sector, which shed 102,800 jobs in April, or about 10.4% of the workforce. Canada shed about 2 million jobs, or 11% of its sector-wide workforce during the month, bringing the total to 3 million since February.
  • Saudi Arabia announced a surprise move to slash oil output to the lowest point in 18 years as it tries to spur the recovery from an energy crisis that has devastated the kingdom’s finances. Just hours after unveiling a slew of dramatic austerity measures, Saudi Arabia said it would cut oil output by another 1 million barrels a day on top of what it already agreed with OPEC allies. Oil futures rose, and Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates followed up with extra cuts of their own.
  • In 2020, North American rail volumes could fall roughly 15% or more compared to a year ago. This projection, amidst others for deep declines in coal traffic and a shaky environment for intermodal volumes, was outlined in a report from Moody’s Investor Service, a credit ratings firm. “Continuing declines in coal shipments will weigh heavily on the sector, while relatively stable carloads of agricultural products and more modest declines in chemicals mitigate the overall decline in freight in the sector,” said a May 7 sector comment by Moody’s. Meanwhile, increasing unemployment could dampen consumer demand, putting intermodal volumes at risk.
  • Customers were notified early May 8 that Union Pacific is ceasing operations of its multimodal service Cold Connect, which offers end-to-end transportation service for refrigerated loads. UP cited sluggish market conditions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for closure.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary:

  • Based on close tracking of week-over-week and daily volume levels, Odyssey is observing overall stable shipping activity across most client networks. Odyssey will closely watch the automotive market shipping activity as major manufacturers resume operations.
  •  A depressed rates environment, particularly on the spot market, has become a prominent theme for trucking in recent weeks, with many carriers crying foul on brokers, arguing that freight intermediaries are using current market conditions to squeeze them down on freight bills while boosting their own margins — reverse price gouging. Often, rates being offered don’t cover carriers’ costs, forcing them to choose between running at a loss or parking their trucks. Carriers responding to weekly Commercial Carrier Journal surveys in recent weeks have reported a sense of being taken advantage of by brokers, especially during a time when appreciation for the trucking industry is being poured out on social media and in the news, and as the President took to the White House lawn to express gratitude to trucking.
  • U.S. tank truck carriers have been among the trucking industry’s hardest-hit segments during the COVID-19 pandemic, as demand for transport fuel and food commodities such as milk have fallen steeply amid the nation’s broad-based lockdown. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, fuel demand has plummeted since mid-March, with gasoline consumption dropping 44% from 9.46 million barrels per day to 5.32 million. Diesel consumption fell 15% in April from 3.78 million barrels per day to 3.21 million. On the food commodities side, trade association Dairy Farmers of America said milk demand is down by as much as 15%. Children that are normally in day care or school as well as college students who would otherwise be on campus are all at home. The millions of daily cafeteria breakfasts and lunches that might include a carton of milk are not being served.
  • The US trucking business is becoming more short-haul-oriented than ever, with capacity and freight demand shifting away from longer-haul, one-way truck lanes as the COVID-19 pandemic and recession reshape the transportation landscape. The length of trips taken by US trucks has diminished considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of local trips under 100 miles more than doubled in March and early April, rising from 7.8 percent of total trips before the pandemic to 18.2 percent during the pandemic. At the same time, the number of long-haul trips of more than 1,000 miles dropped by 10 percentage points to 22.7 percent once the COVID-19 shuttered businesses nationwide.
  • A large chunk of the nation’s small fleets continues to be closed or operating well below normal as the coronavirus continues its gridlock on much of the economy, according to Overdrive’s weekly survey. Business status was listed as “totally shut down” by 29% of respondents and “running far less than usual” by 54%. The hardest hit regions were South Atlantic (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia), where respondents choosing either of those categories totaled 96%, and East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee), at 95%.
  • Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series. The number of unemployed persons rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million. Unemployment rates rose sharply among all major worker groups. The number of unemployed persons who reported being on temporary layoff increased about ten-fold to 18.1 million. The number of permanent job losses increased by 544,000 to 2.0 million.
  • U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he expects U.S. meatpacking plants to fully resume operations within a week to 10 days, during a meeting with President Donald Trump and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Trump said the U.S. has “plenty of supply” of meat and that “we’ll be in great shape” in a week and a half. Iowa is home to some of the nation’s largest meat plants. Trump last week signed an executive order that directs slaughterhouses and processing facilities to remain open, deeming them essential to the country’s meat supply. But the move set off a controversy with labor unions who say their workers face unsafe conditions in the plants.
  • Before COVID-19, many motor carriers were re-evaluating their mobile strategies thoroughly to ensure compliance with new rules such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Another driving force was the need to convert older hardware from 3G cellular technology to devices that connect to later-generation 4G and 5G networks. More recently, economic disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic and, as a result, worker safety have given carriers new reasons to help revisit their mobile technologies to reduce costs and streamline workflow for drivers and fleet administrators.
  • Of the many structural changes that have happened within the logistics industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, strict adherence to social distancing has become one of crucial significance. Social distancing is easier said than done within supply chains, however, as logistics workers tend to work in crowded spaces. But with isolated working conditions becoming necessary, businesses are looking to introduce a variety of measures, including staggered work schedules and greater automation. Over the past decade, warehouses have inched toward automating operations, which is in line with the idea of social distancing in the workplace. By increasing the number of robots working in a warehouse, stakeholders can reduce human workers and effectively distance them during their shifts. The post-COVID world would be sensitized to not put hundreds of workers together into a distribution center.
  • Oil surged after Saudi Arabia raised prices for its crude globally. Futures in London added as much as 7.1%, moving beyond $31 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 11%. State-run Saudi Aramco, which earlier this year initiated a war by offering massive discounts on its crude, raised prices on almost all grades for June. The move comes as the kingdom and its OPEC+ partners embark on record production cuts in a bid to balance a glutted market.
  • U.S. rail traffic tumbled about 21% in April as falling volumes for coal, motor vehicles and parts, and chemicals contributed to a “historic” monthly decline, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). U.S. rail volumes totaled nearly 2.1 million carloads and intermodal units in April, a 21.2% decline from April 2019. Of that, carloads fell 25.2% to 980,535, while intermodal units slipped 17.2% to nearly 1.1 million containers and trailers. The biggest carload declines in April included coal, which fell 38% amid falling natural gas prices and warming spring weather; motor vehicles and parts, which declined 86.3% as the COVID-19 pandemic dampened consumer spending; and chemicals, which slipped 11.9% amid declining manufacturing production. All the Class I railroads have reported their first-quarter earnings, and the industry expects the second quarter will be a tough one as the COVID-19 pandemic guts North American rail traffic.
  • Canada’s trucks are moving more freight as volumes recover from a pandemic low, but bargain-basement rates and cash flow issues continue to weigh on carriers. The outlook for Canadian freight depends a lot on what happens in the United States. Cross-border trade dominates Canadian trucking. While U.S.-to-Canada truck traffic continues to be down more than 30% year-over-year, recent weekly statistics from the Canada Border Services Agency point to a stabilization. But beneath the recovery in freight volumes, Canada’s trucking industry remains in peril. Lane imbalances continue to lead to trucks running empty while spot rates fetch below C$1 per mile. Meanwhile, carriers are reporting a troubling rise in unpaid invoices.
  • U.S. firms in China say business is gradually returning to normal, but lower revenues and delayed payments are leading to changes in both short-term and long-term strategies. The impact on business operations continues to be widespread. Of companies surveyed 77% say they are experiencing global travel disruptions (up from 45% last month), while 44% cite business challenges stemming from policies preventing foreign staff from returning to China. The percentage of companies encountering cash flow challenges and delayed payments has doubled from last month’s survey. On the positive side, 42% of respondents say they have resumed normal operations, but the longer-term outlook for others remains gloomy.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary as of 5/8:

  • Odyssey observed an increase in demand for transportation immediately following the widespread operational closures. However, we anticipate that this was a result of buildup in safety inventory. As state and local economies slowly resume operations, we do not anticipate a similar increase in demand for transportation.
  • GDP, Chemical Activity Barometer (published by American Chemistry Council) and U.S. Manufacturing all exhibit declines in activity. American Trucking Association tonnage remained up through March based on pre-shipping of essential commodities but declined throughout April.
  • Overall, while Odyssey observed decreases in volumes across modes and across our client networks, there has not been a steep decline in activity. All metrics tracked by Odyssey on a daily basis remain stable.
  • U.S. manufacturing retreated again in April, a victim of economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported May 1 that its manufacturing index dropped to 41.5 last month from 49.1 in March. Anything below 50 signals contraction. The news was bad across the board: Production, new orders, hiring and export orders all fell faster in April than they did in March.
  • The national average price of diesel fuel continued its steady downward slide, falling 3.8 cents to $2.399 a gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration’s weekly report on fuel prices released May 4. Trucking’s primary fuel is now 77.2 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago. Meanwhile, the national average of a price of gasoline rose for the first time since Feb. 24, increasing 1.6 cents to $1.789, still $1.108 cheaper than a year ago at this time.
  • The Association for the Work Truck Industry has joined the National Auto Dealers Association, American Trucking Associations and more than 100 other state and local organizations urging Congress to suspend the 12% federal excise tax (FET) on heavy trucks and trailers through 2021 as they consider additional legislation to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and assist with U.S. economic recovery.
  • Volumes have risen just over 4% since last week, according to the FreightWaves outbound tender volume index. Half of U.S. states are moving forward with relaxing some restrictions. Unfortunately for freight volumes, most of the businesses reopening are service-based and do not move much freight. However, there was encouraging news for freight volumes out of Detroit this week when the major auto manufacturers set a soft reopening date for May 18th.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is assisting in the distribution of one million protective masks to the nation’s commercial truck drivers. FMCSA has been working with states, industry stakeholders, and motor carriers to distribute one million protective face masks for truckers. The masks were provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Leaders representing seven Northeastern states have partnered to develop a regional supply chain for personal protective equipment, medical gear and testing kits amid the coronavirus pandemic. The governors of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts announced their multistate agreement May 3. Together, state leaders will identify the region’s needs and assess demand for goods such as PPE and medical supplies in order to reduce costs and stabilize the supply chain.
  • Smithfield Foods, on May 4, reopened some of its meat processing plants. The plants were shut down for more than two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak that infected more than 800 employees. In the wake of an executive order from President Donald Trump ordering meat plants to remain open, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods was also resuming “limited production” May 4 at its pork processing plant in Logansport, Ind., where nearly 900 employees had tested positive.
  • In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently debuted an online repository that gives users quick access to all active emergency declarations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The Alliance’s goal in creating this website was to support commercial motor vehicle safety enforcement personnel, the greater law enforcement community, the motor carrier industry and professional drivers during emergencies – ranging from a seasonal weather event to something as unique as the current unprecedented pandemic.
  • The Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association is taking aim at unscrupulous brokers by working with Congress and FMCSA to close loopholes in regulations and by urging drivers to file complaints. “We are aware that freight rates are at historic lows,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh. “Trucking has often suffered from chronic overcapacity¬ – ¬too many trucks and trailers and not enough freight. The resulting market conditions are magnified right now. While there is no quick or easy solution, hauling cheap freight is not a viable or sustainable approach, and we strongly advise against it ¬-¬ just as we always have.”
  • In letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Federal Maritime Commissioners urged Congressional leaders to consider a means to help alleviate and bridge the financial gaps that could jeopardize continued healthy operation of the nation’s domestic marine terminal industry and maritime transportation system. The system of leasing marine terminals at U.S. ports is predicated on projected cargo volumes, and projections indicate that sustained demand reductions will make it financially difficult for terminals to sustain lease payments.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary:

  • Odyssey observed an increase in demand for transportation immediately following the widespread operational closures. However, we anticipate that this was a result of buildup in safety inventory. As state and local economies slowly resume operations, we do not anticipate a similar increase in demand for transportation.
  • GDP, Chemical Activity Barometer (published by American Chemistry Council) and U.S. Manufacturing all exhibit declines in activity. American Trucking Association tonnage remained up through March based on pre-shipping of essential commodities but declined throughout April.
  • Overall, while Odyssey observed decreases in volumes across modes and across our client networks, there has not been a steep decline in activity. All metrics tracked by Odyssey on a daily basis remain stable.
  • The safety measures that Ford Motor Co. has spent weeks preparing to resume North American production but may fall short of assuaging the United Auto Workers union, which could stand in the way of much of the industry’s plans to reopen. Ford briefed reporters April 30 on how it will require face masks, check temperatures and close cafeterias at factories across the continent when it restarts operations at an untold date. UAW President Rory Gamble said the union is still talking with the company about its protocols. “The UAW is asking for as much testing as is possible to prevent exposure to the virus,” Gamble said in a statement. While the availability and accuracy of tests are “fluid,” he said, the union wants as much of it deployed as possible.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is distributing 1 million protective masks to commercial truck drivers to enhance safety during the coronavirus pandemic. The agency announced the distribution effort, led by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, on April 29. The effort reflects a partnership with state representatives, industry groups and motor carriers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided the masks.
  • More than 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the U.S. economy slid further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s. Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the six weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors and slash their workforces. It adds up to more than one in six American workers. With more employers cutting payrolls to save money, economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%. That would be the highest rate since it reached 25% during the Great Depression.
  • Following three straight months of declines, freight transportation consultancy FTR reported this week that the most recent edition of its Shippers Conditions Index saw some improvement. FTR describes the SCI as an indicator that sums up all market influences that affect the transport environment for shippers, with a reading above zero being favorable and a reading below being unfavorable. For February, the SCI came in at 7.93 ahead of January’s 3.73 reading. January’s SCI reading is the lowest one going back to October 2018. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, FTR said that the SCI is expected to see what it called a dramatic increase in the coming months, in response to weak volumes and rates. But the firm said that comes with a caveat—and not necessarily a sign that shippers are doing well as much as it highlights COVID-19’s impact on transportation.
  • Weekly U.S. rail traffic continued to tumble as sheltering-in-place mandates and structural declines for U.S. coal consumption dragged volumes lower. U.S. rail volumes slipped 22.4% to 414,123 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending April 25, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Of that, U.S. carloads tumbled 28.2% to 192,210 carloads, while U.S. intermodal units slipped 16.5% to 22,013 intermodal containers and trailers. The percentage changes compare last week’s figures to the same weekly period in 2019.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary:

  • Given the recent decrease in the price of oil, Odyssey anticipates that overall fuel surcharges will decrease year-over-year for the same period in 2019
    • The overall forecasted reduction from 2019 currently stands at 70 cents per gallon less, for the remainder of 2020
    • Odyssey fuel schedules will adjust accordingly, by mode:
      • Truckload fuel surcharge is calculated based on the weekly average price of diesel as reported by the Energy Information Administration, on a per-mile basis
      • Less-Than-Truckload and Bulk surcharges are calculated as a percent of linehaul cost
      • Rail fuel surcharge is calculated based on the monthly average price of diesel (HDF) as reported by the Energy Information Administration. It is applied based on the previous 2nd month (ex: April fuel surcharge factor determined by Feb HDF average). It is applied on a per-mile basis or a % of linehaul. Odyssey client contracts utilize per-mile basis.
      • Ocean/Marine surcharge is calculated based on ocean carriers’ individual formulas depending on whether ships are using very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO 0.5%) or conventional, high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO 3.5%)
  • Trucking’s annual bidding and contracting season began in the first quarter, but appears to have run out of gas amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many shippers put bids and contract talks on hold as COVID-19 spread throughout the US in March, throwing supply chains into disarray and shutting down an untold number of businesses. Shippers with good consistent volume that can be forecast are advised to negotiate and lock in pricing. However, the challenge is volumes are up and down, and for majority of shippers right now, volume is down.
  • The U.S. economy contracted by 4.8% on an annualized rate in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, which released the gross domestic product figures April 29. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, “The decline in the first-quarter GDP was, in part, due to the response to the spread of COVID-19 as governments issued stay-at-home orders in March. This led to rapid changes in demand, as businesses and schools switched to remote work or canceled operations and consumers canceled, restricted or redirected their spending.”
  • Spot load-posting volume increased 6.2% last week ahead of Texas, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, and other states easing lockdown orders on their economies, said DAT Solutions, which operates the industry’s largest network of load boards. Truckload volumes remain well below seasonal levels both in terms of loads offered and loads moved and did little to prevent spot rates from sliding further into dangerously low territory for owner-operators and small carriers. The number of truck posts dipped 1% during the week ending April 26, marking two straight weeks of declining capacity. There’s still ample equipment available for brokers looking for carriers who will bite on low-priced loads.
  • While the hope is that the economy bounces back once stay-at-home orders are lifted and broader fears driven by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fade, the reality is that US freight volumes may not return for years, and in that time, there will be a larger reduction in drivers and carriers counts. When the economy begins to recover, shippers will face higher prices, fewer options, and shortages of capacity.
  • Oil rallied on optimism that consumption could gradually return as major producers continue to cut output to counter a global glut. West Texas Intermediate futures surged 22% April 29. U.S. gasoline stocks fell by 3.67 million barrels compared to an estimated build of 2.49 million, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Weekly gasoline supplied, an indicator of demand, rose by 549,000 barrels a day, the most since May.
  • On Wednesday, April 29, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an updated list of distribution locations where truckers can receive free protective masks. FMCSA said the distribution list will continue to be updated. In all, the agency said it plans to give out about 1 million masks. “FMCSA has been working with states, industry stakeholders and motor carriers to distribute 1 million protective face masks for truckers, which were provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” the agency wrote.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary:

  • Given the recent decrease in the price of oil, Odyssey anticipates that overall fuel surcharges will decrease year-over-year for the same period in 2019
    • The overall forecasted reduction from 2019 currently stands at 70 cents per gallon less, for the remainder of 2020
    • Odyssey fuel schedules will adjust accordingly, by mode:
      • Truckload fuel surcharge is calculated based on the weekly average price of diesel as reported by the Energy Information Administration, on a per-mile basis
      • Less-Than-Truckload and Bulk surcharges are calculated as a percent of linehaul costRail fuel surcharge is calculated based on the monthly average price of diesel (HDF) as reported by the Energy Information Administration. It is applied based on the previous 2nd month (ex: April fuel surcharge factor determined by Feb HDF average). It is applied on a per-mile basis or a % of linehaul. Odyssey client contracts utilize per-mile basis.
      • Ocean/Marine surcharge is calculated based on ocean carriers’ individual formulas depending on whether ships are using very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO 0.5%) or conventional, high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO 3.5%)
  • Federal policymakers considering additional ways to restore economic stability amid the COVID-19 pandemic should consider halting a World War I-era federal excise tax on the sale of new trucks and trailers, American Trucking Associations’ top executive said. “Like our customers across the economy, the trucking industry is suffering during this coronavirus crisis and shutdown,” Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO, told Transport Topics on April 28.
  • President Donald Trump will sign an executive order April 28 meant to stave off a shortage of chicken, pork and other meat on American supermarket shelves because of the coronavirus. The order will use the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure to keep production plants open. The order comes after industry leaders warned that consumers could see meat shortages in a matter of days after workers at major facilities tested positive for the virus. A senior White House official said the administration was working to prevent a situation in which most processing plants shut down for a period, which could lead to an 80% drop in the availability of meat in supermarkets. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the order before its release.
  • Executives for at least three major fleets that operate heavily in the for-hire truckload segment have agreed to take temporary salary reductions to cut costs during the economic stall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Overdrive magazine’s fifth weekly survey of small fleets and independent and leased operators showed declining sentiment and activity due to coronavirus cutbacks. Rating their status, a third of respondents chose “totally shut down,” and 55% picked “running far less than usual.” Many survey respondents, citing rates too low to operate at a profit, have continued to point to brokers exploiting the market to their advantage. As a result, while carriers are not going out of business, several are putting a stop to operations as offered rates remain low.
  • The FMCSA is working on a plan to administer COVID-19 testing to truck drivers, the agency’s acting administrator said at its Medical Review Board meeting on Tuesday, April 28. The agency is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security on a plan to test truck drivers at high-volume rest areas across the nation.
  • The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) said it has finalized new guidance on how it will assess whether ocean carriers’ and marine terminal operators’ demurrage and detention practices are reasonable. “Under the new interpretive rule, the commission will consider the extent to which detention and demurrage charges and policies serve their primary purpose of incentivizing the movement of cargo and promoting freight fluidity,” the FMC said in a statement on April 28.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary:

  • Given the recent decrease in the price of oil, Odyssey anticipates that overall fuel surcharges will decrease year-over-year for the same period in 2019
    • The overall forecasted reduction from 2019 currently stands at 70 cents per gallon less, for the remainder of 2020
    • Odyssey fuel schedules will adjust accordingly, by mode:
      • Truckload fuel surcharge is calculated based on the weekly average price of diesel as reported by the Energy Information Administration, on a per-mile basis
      • Less-Than-Truckload and Bulk surcharges are calculated as a percent of linehaul cost
      • Rail fuel surcharge is calculated based on the monthly average price of diesel (HDF) as reported by the Energy Information Administration. It is applied based on the previous 2nd month (ex: April fuel surcharge factor determined by Feb HDF average). It is applied on a per-mile basis or a % of linehaul. Odyssey client contracts utilize per-mile basis.
      • Ocean/Marine surcharge is calculated based on ocean carriers’ individual formulas depending on whether ships are using very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO 0.5%) or conventional, high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO 3.5%)
  • President Donald Trump and retailers are expected to announce wider availability of coronavirus tests as his administration seeks to address concerns from states and business leaders that U.S. testing must be more robust for Americans to feel comfortable returning to work. The president is scheduled to make the announcement April 27 in a meeting with retail executives, according to sources familiar with the matter.
  • Oil slumped below $12 a barrel as the biggest oil ETF said it will sell out of its June WTI futures position, adding to the downward pressure from a huge glut. Futures in New York slid as much as 30%, snapping a four-day recovery and deepening losses after the U.S. Oil Fund’s announcement.
  • According to new data published by Workhound, more drivers are talking about pay concerns and overall morale as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The results, published on Friday, found that 26% of truck driver comments to the anonymous communication platform focused on pay, which was up 6% from the previous survey in the series. Morale also saw a boost, up 9% from the previous survey to 21% of comments. Overall, 29% of all comments submitted related to COVID-19. Other topics frequently discussed by drivers included sanitation, risk, planning, work environment, availability of necessities and benefits.
  • Twenty port authorities in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America signed a declaration committing to stay open amid the coronavirus pandemic. Initiated by Singapore, the declaration calls for ports to boost collaboration so that operations are undisturbed, according to an April 24 statement. Members of the Port Authorities Roundtable that signed the declaration include Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Rotterdam, Tokyo and Los Angeles.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Commentary:

  • Given the recent decrease in the price of oil, Odyssey anticipates that overall fuel surcharges will decrease year-over-year for the same period in 2019
    • The overall forecasted reduction from 2019 currently stands at 70 cents per gallon less, for the remainder of 2020
    • Odyssey fuel schedules will adjust accordingly, by mode:
      • Truckload fuel surcharge is calculated based on the weekly average price of diesel as reported by the Energy Information Administration, on a per-mile basis
      • Less-Than-Truckload and Bulk surcharges are calculated as a percent of linehaul cost
      • Rail fuel surcharge is calculated based on the monthly average price of diesel (HDF) as reported by the Energy Information Administration. It is applied based on the previous 2nd month (ex: April fuel surcharge factor determined by Feb HDF average). It is applied on a per-mile basis or a % of linehaul. Odyssey client contracts utilize per-mile basis.
      • Ocean/Marine surcharge is calculated based on ocean carriers’ individual formulas depending on whether ships are using very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO 0.5%) or conventional, high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO 3.5%
  • The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $484 billion relief package that will replenish funding for programs aimed at helping small businesses. As part of the measure, $321 billion will provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program with $60 billion reserved for credit unions and other community banks in order to better reach smaller businesses. The bill also includes $50 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans and another $10 billion for EIDL advances. These moves are essential for the continued financial health of smaller owner-operators as the US continues its efforts to buoy the economy.
  • Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, extended the state’s stay-home order another two weeks to May 15 and kept the state’s carmakers and suppliers in limbo over how soon they’ll be able to reopen. The amended order Whitmer announced April 24 doesn’t specifically address whether vehicle or parts-making factories are critical infrastructure. She declined to say during a press conference whether such facilities will be able to open before the middle of next month.
  • Like recent developments in the US food supply chain, Brazil is seeing its first plant shutdown, meaning the coronavirus is now snarling supplies from arguably the world’s most critical producer. Labor inspectors ordered a halt at a poultry plant owned by the world’s top meat company. Brazil is the largest global exporter of beef and chicken.
  • This year’s North American Inspectors Championship has been canceled due to coronavirus-related safety concerns, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced on April 23. The decision was made in conjunction with the recent cancellation of American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships. The two competitions have been held concurrently for the past 27 years.
  • In response to the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials have collaborated to ease restrictions on freight haulers. Specifically, the MAASTO member states are working together to permit overweight truckloads, making it easier for haulers to carry crucial supplies. Many states are also relaxing requirements for license and registration renewals in order to reduce the number of people making trips to departments of motor vehicles.
  • U.S. orders for durable goods declined more in March than they have in any month since 2014. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years dropped 14.4%, led by slumping demand for commercial aircraft, after a revised 1.1% gain in February. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 12% decrease. Closely watched core capital goods orders, which exclude aircraft and military hardware, rose 0.1%, compared with estimates for a steep decline.
  • Despite the chilling effect the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had on myriad aspects of the United States economy and supply chain- and logistics-related components, one area still with some momentum is industrial construction. In a new research report, entitled “Industrial Development Slows Due to COVID-19-Related Delays,” CBRE found that 80% – or 16 out of 20 – of the top U.S. markets for under-construction space, which represent 70% of total under-construction national inventory, have workers active and on site for essential projects.
  • United States rail carload and intermodal volumes again saw steep annual declines, for the week ending April 18, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Total U.S. rail carload and intermodal volume – at 403,283 – saw a 23.3% annual decline.

Driver Well Being

As we have seen throughout the media, truck drivers are being heralded as heroes and stalwarts in the effort to keep supply chains operating. We must be cautious in our approach to the aggressive action taken by both asset owners and brokers working in spot market. Recently approximately 75 owner operators shut down a section of the 610 loop in Houston protesting low rates resulting in a significant reduction in driver compensation. While each of our customers should seek to reduce cost in these market conditions, we recommend a practical approach to reduce costs without creating a scenario where drivers themselves turn down freight today or in the future when the market returns to some normalcy.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Odyssey continues to recommend that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirement for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will have to be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
  • Odyssey also continues to recommend that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  • The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • More than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as job cuts escalated across an economy that remains all but shut down, the government said April 23. Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors. About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the worst string of layoffs on record. Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%.
  • The U.S. economy likely will shrink when first-quarter gross domestic product figures are released by the federal government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis on April 29. That’s the assessment of Bob Costello, chief economist of American Trucking Associations. It marks the first time he’s forecast the possibility of negative growth in the first quarter as economic conditions have deteriorated rapidly across the country. “I think now you get a negative number in the first quarter, maybe 2% down,” he said. “This just did not start out as an economic crisis; it has morphed into one. It started as a health crisis. And until you solve the health crisis, you really cannot truly go forward with solving the economic crisis.” Most economists, including Costello, are forecasting the nation already is in a recession, and he believes the second-quarter GDP will show a contraction of 20% to 25% on an annualized basis.
  • Few earnings presentations will demonstrate how much the demand for food, paper products and medicines shot up through the Q1 pandemic spread, while shipments of industrial products and other non-essential items stalled by the end of March. But Knight-Swift acknowledged some customers had significant changes in business volume. Declines balanced out with shipments of essential goods, for which share of Knight-Swift business went up 11 percentage points. Non-essential goods — the company did not specify what types of goods these were — were 39% of Knight-Swift’s mix before the pandemic. By early April, the company said non-essential goods had shrunk to 28% of Knight-Swift’s shipments. Given the scale of the Knight-Swift operation, the company’s latest report is reflective of the overall market.
  • Freight volumes have been horizontal for more than 10 days. Some sectors of the economy are beginning to reopen, but these businesses do not move much freight. Capacity is still extremely loose and carriers are accepting almost all contract freight. Spot rates have plummeted in reaction to falling volumes and there is no indication that they will rebound anytime soon. Outbound tender rejections have fallen from the previous series low last week to a paltry 3.13%.
  • Many owner-operators report rates of $1 a mile, or less, advertised on load boards and by brokers directly. At these prices, depending on fixed costs, some carriers are choosing to decline loads or have stopped hauling altogether. “I can’t work. I can’t afford to with the rates right now,” said Toma Tomov, an owner-operator out of Lincoln, Missouri. “If I go to work at the rates posted for loads right now, I’ll be paying out of my own pocket.” He doesn’t have a truck payment, “which is why I’m able to afford to stay home like this.”
  • As more than a dozen meat processing plants and packaged food companies shutter operations because of infected workers, truck drivers, pork producers and egg farmers say they are running out of options amid the coronavirus pandemic. As meat processing facilities continue to close because of COVID-19 outbreaks, plant capacity has been reduced by around 24%. Similar trends have been reflected in the pork and poultry markets.
  • In a recent interview, FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen hinted that lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to changes in how the trucking industry is regulated. “Sometimes at crisis times, you can learn a lot of lessons,” Mullen said. “We’re working on some hours-of-service modifications already … There are absolutely lessons to be learned from this crisis, this time period.” Changes to hours-of-service regulation may be among those on the table.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Driver Well Being

As we have seen throughout the media, truck drivers are being heralded as heroes and stalwarts in the effort to keep supply chains operating. We must be cautious in our approach to the aggressive action taken by both asset owners and brokers working in spot market. Recently approximately 75 owner operators shut down a section of the 610 loop in Houston protesting low rates resulting in a significant reduction in driver compensation. While each of our customers should seek to reduce cost in these market conditions, we recommend a practical approach to reduce costs without creating a scenario where drivers themselves turn down freight today or in the future when the market returns to some normalcy.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Odyssey continues to recommend that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirement for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will have to be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
  • Odyssey also continues to recommend that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  • The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • More than one-third of fleets based in the Eastern U.S., responding to a weekly Commercial Carrier Journal survey, ranked last week’s business conditions as their worst week ever. The overall number of carriers ranking last week as their worst ever jumped 8%, and the week ending April 18 hit smaller carriers twice as hard as it did fleets with more than 100 trucks. The fleet outlook for this week has flatlined somewhat, dropping less than .07 points. Despite bad news that seems to compound weekly, the 30-day outlook has begun to inch upward as many states cobble together plans for a grand re-opening of their economies. The number of carriers expecting to see load volumes increase in the next 30 days (16%) inched upward 1% while the number expecting a decrease (51%) slid 9% versus the week before.
  • About 800,000 masks will be distributed at rest areas to truck drivers for free, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s (OOIDA) director of safety and security confirmed on April 22. The effort, which will be coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Transportation, follows OOIDA’s recent efforts with the Trump administration to secure personal protective equipment for drivers and establish a distribution network. The masks are planned to be distributed on high-truck-volume lanes at various locations.
  • Tyson Foods suspended operations at its Iowa plant, on April 22. The facility is critical to the nation’s pork supply but had been blamed for fueling a massive coronavirus outbreak in the community. The company said the indefinite closure of the Waterloo plant would deny a vital market to hog farmers and further disrupt the nation’s meat supply. The plant can process 19,500 hogs per day, accounting for nearly 4% of U.S. pork processing capacity, according to the National Pork Board. Tyson operates a private fleet of 3,233 tractors and 8,759 trailers.
  • Despite the coronavirus pandemic, many state transportation construction programs are progressing on schedule and, in some cases, have exceeded timeline expectations. State departments of transportation have taken advantage of reduced traffic volumes, brought on by dozens of statewide stay-at-home orders, to work on construction projects.
  • Automakers are headed for a less drastic U.S. sales collapse than feared, according to market researchers. Retail sales to consumers are down about 50%, a drop-off that wouldn’t be as steep as China or Western European countries saw in the first full month following their coronavirus outbreaks, according to Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting with LMC Automotive, a partner of J.D. Power.
  • The nation’s major ports suffered the full economic impact of the coronavirus in March as global trade practically came to a halt. The nation’s busiest port, the Port of Los Angeles, saw twenty-foot-equivalent unit (TEU) containers plummet 30.9% to 449,568 from 650,977 the previous March. Nearby Port of Long Beach, the No. 2 facility, also experienced a lesser TEU drop of 6.4%, processing 517,663 containers compared with 552,821 the previous March. Cargo volume for the first quarter was down 18.5% year-over-year.
  • U.S. weekly rail traffic sank nearly 23% last week as COVID-19 pandemic woes put pressure on rail volumes for the second quarter. For the week ending April 18, U.S. rail volumes slipped 23.3% compared with the same period in 2019, to 403,283 carloads and intermodal units, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey

Driver Well Being

As we have seen throughout the media, truck drivers are being heralded as heroes and stalwarts in the effort to keep supply chains operating. We must be cautious in our approach to the aggressive action taken by both asset owners and brokers working in spot market. Recently approximately 75 owner operators shut down a section of the 610 loop in Houston protesting low rates resulting in a significant reduction in driver compensation. While each of our customers should seek to reduce cost in these market conditions, we recommend a practical approach to reduce costs without creating a scenario where drivers themselves turn down freight today or in the future when the market returns to some normalcy.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Odyssey has received multiple notices from clients that customers are requiring drivers arrive with gloves and masks for pickups and deliveries. While we understand the added safety measures, it is important to keep in mind that protective equipment is in short supply. Further, mask manufacturers are currently prioritizing medical facilities for distribution of this vital PPE. As of this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that “orders of face masks, test kits and other urgently needed medical equipment made by 3M, Owens & Minor and PerkinElmer are sitting in warehouses across China, unable to receive necessary official clearances” for export.
    • Odyssey recommends that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirement for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will have to be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
    • Odyssey also recommends that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  • The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • The average diesel fuel price for the U.S. continues to drop, according to a weekly report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, hitting a national average of $2.48 per gallon. The average price for a gallon of diesel across the U.S. dropped 2.7 cents per gallon in Monday’s report from the one a week before. Last week’s report was 4 cents cheaper than the week before. The benchmark U.S. crude oil futures price traded at a negative price for the first time ever on Monday. The slide in diesel fuel prices began 16 weeks ago, with the Jan. 6 report, when the average per gallon price for the U.S. was $3.079. A year ago, the average U.S. price was 66.7 cents higher.
  • Truck tonnage rose 4.3% year-over-year in March on gains in selected business sectors, according to American Trucking Association. Still, the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the broader economy is raising questions about what the months ahead will hold for the trucking industry. The index reached 120.4 (100 represents 2015), and on a month-to-month basis, the index rose 1.2% in March, following a 1.8% increase in February.
  • The volume of loads moved, load-to-truck ratios, and the national rolling average rates for April fell again across all three equipment types during the week ending April 19 as truckers contemplate whether their next load will cover their running costs. Spot truckload rates have declined rapidly and across the board on high-volume lanes since the third week of March and now rival levels from 2016 when the country was in a manufacturing recession.
  • The Senate approved a new $484 billion pandemic relief plan with funds for a tapped-out small business aid program, and aid for coronavirus testing and overwhelmed hospitals. A House vote is expected as soon as April 23. The new package would provide $320 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, which was part of the $2 trillion stimulus approved late last month and ran out of money last week.
  • Several owner operators in the Houston area protested what they see as reverse price gouging. The small cohort of owners sees the extreme activity in rates — with some brokers and shippers asking for “pre-1990s levels” rates, the group stated in a joint letter. The group stated that “at best, the actions are unsustainable in the short- and long-term for a wide array of trucking businesses, with a crucial produce season fast around the corner.”
  • Fleet operations have had to be nimble to navigate amid disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus, particularly in hard-hit cities such as New York, San Francisco, New Orleans and Detroit.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Driver Well Being:

As we see throughout the media, truck drivers are being heralded as heroes and stalwarts in the effort to keep supply chains operating. We must be cautious in our approach to the aggressive action taken by both asset owners and brokers working in spot market. Recently, approximately 75 owner operators shut down a section of the 610 loop in Houston protesting low rates resulting in a significant reduction in driver compensation. While each of our customers should seek to reduce cost in these market conditions, we recommend a practical approach to reduce costs without creating a scenario where drivers themselves turn down freight today or in the future when the market returns to some normalcy.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Odyssey has received multiple notices from clients that customers are requiring drivers arrive with gloves and masks for pickups and deliveries. While we understand the added safety measures, it is important to keep in mind that protective equipment is in short supply. Further, mask manufacturers are currently prioritizing medical facilities for distribution of this vital PPE. As of this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that “orders of face masks, test kits and other urgently needed medical equipment made by 3M, Owens & Minor and PerkinElmer are sitting in warehouses across China, unable to receive necessary official clearances” for export.
    • Odyssey recommends that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirement for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will have to be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
    • Odyssey also recommends that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  • The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • Global commercial vehicle production will plunge 20% this year compared with 2019, with the North American market slumping more than 30%, according to an analysis from IHS Markit. IHS expects a production drop amounting to 198,000 Classes 4-8 trucks from its previous North American forecasts “as the economic slump combines with rapidly ebbing replacement pressure to undermine new orders.”
  • The price of oil dropped to its lowest level in history, on April 20, sinking into negative pricing as oil supplies are beginning to overwhelm the globe’s storage capacity. Diesel fuel prices continued their steady slide, according to the Energy Information Administration.
  • While overall volumes are down across multiple indices, Odyssey year-over-year volumes across all modes are still operating at normal levels. For example, FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index showed sharp declines in freight volumes, utilization, and rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to the worst overall trucking conditions on record during the second quarter of this year. FTR forecasts that the TCI will hit its lowest points in April and May, but the current outlook is for the index to remain negative well into 2021. Similar trends have also been reported by FreightWaves Sonar team.
  • Expectations that US domestic freight activity will pick up in the next few weeks remain low, as commercial vehicle research firms and freight investment advisors signal that freight volumes and truck rates continue to drop, with the COVID-19 lockdown likely to last several more weeks. “Contractual truckload volume is stabilizing sequentially after declining precipitously from March’s restocking-driven peak,” Susquehanna Financial Group (SFG) said Monday. “But today’s level is down nearly 10 percent year over year overall.” Rates are falling as well, with pricing in some truckload spot lanes tracked by the Journal of Commerce showing year-over-year declines as high as 25 to 40 percent.
  • The Port of Virginia said that as a result of a coronavirus-driven reduction of import volumes, it will cease container operations at Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) beginning May 4. Virginia Port Authority spokesman Joe Harris said employees, vessel services and containers moving across PMT will be integrated into the operations at Virginia International Gateway (VIG) and Norfolk International Terminals (NIT).
  • Under authority of the White House, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will allow U.S. importers of certain goods to defer their payments of duties, taxes and fees for the next 90 days, starting April 20. The nation’s customs brokers are expected to work with their importer clients in the coming days to determine which imports qualify for duty deferment.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Odyssey has received multiple notices from clients that customers are requiring drivers arrive with gloves and masks for pickups and deliveries. While we understand the added safety measures, it is important to keep in mind that protective equipment is in short supply. Further, mask manufacturers are currently prioritizing medical facilities for distribution of this vital PPE. As of this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that “orders of face masks, test kits and other urgently needed medical equipment made by 3M, Owens & Minor and PerkinElmer are sitting in warehouses across China, unable to receive necessary official clearances” for export.
    • Odyssey recommends that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirement for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will have to be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
    • Odyssey also recommends that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  • The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • A group of lawmakers wants the next COVID-19 relief package to include the creation of a “supply chain czar” to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) gets to truck drivers and other essential workers. In a letter sent to congressional leadership last week from the U.S. House of Representatives warned that centralized responsibility is needed to oversee and direct production, acquisition and distribution of critical equipment to help streamline and expedite delivery of supplies needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
  • National outbound freight volumes continued tumbling for the third straight week. Since the peak on March 23, the FreightWaves outbound tender volume index (OTVI) shaved off 35%. After seeing the pace of decline slow earlier the week of 4/13, some began to forecast a volume trough. On a weekly basis volumes are down 10.66%. OTVI was elevated for 44 days when it surged and retreated roughly 25%. In the eight days since reversing all the freight frenzy, OTVI fell an additional 13%. Volumes could continue to fall for some time as economic fundamentals increasingly deteriorate.
  • Tender lead times have increased almost 17% year-over-year with 40% of the increase occurring since the start of April. While most of the increasing lead times occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold in the U.S., the rate of increase over the past two weeks has been much higher. There are several possibilities as to why this is occurring – one of them related to Amazon. Amazon’s Prime service has made the two-day shipping guarantee the standard expectation for many consumers which puts subsequent pressure on businesses. In late March, Amazon announced it would no longer guarantee two-day deliveries on what was deemed to be non-essential goods, to better service the demand for medical equipment and supplies. This occurred as the demand for consumer products was peaking in the U.S. A week later, lead times on freight orders began to rise.
  • Griff Lynch, the Georgia Ports Authority executive director, doesn’t expect an uptick in cargo volume anytime soon as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global supply chains. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) operates the deepwater ports of Savannah and Brunswick as well as inland terminals in Chatsworth, Bainbridge and Columbus. Like seaports throughout the United States, the ports of Savannah and Brunswick are being negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. “April will probably be a little bit better than March as far as year-over-year, and then I think May and June will be in that March range,” Lynch said. “March was driven by the loss of imports as a result of China’s shutdown. Things started to pick up in March in China little by little and we’re benefiting from that in April, so I think April’s numbers are a little bit stronger.”
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Overview:

  • While overall volumes are down across multiple indices, inclusive of FreightWaves Sonar, Odyssey year-over-year volumes across all modes are still operating at normal levels.
  • Odyssey has received multiple notices from clients that customers are requiring drivers arrive with gloves and masks for pickups and deliveries. While we understand the added safety measures, it is important to keep in mind that protective equipment is in short supply. Further, mask manufacturers are currently prioritizing medical facilities for distribution of this vital PPE. As of this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that “orders of face masks, test kits and other urgently needed medical equipment made by 3M, Owens & Minor and PerkinElmer are sitting in warehouses across China, unable to receive necessary official clearances” for export.
    • Odyssey recommends that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirement for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will have to be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
    • Odyssey also recommends that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  • The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • Week-over-week, overall volume activity normalized and KPIs tracked by Odyssey across all clients and regions are improving, particularly on measures of Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Cost per Mile
  • A coalition of trucking industry groups recently distributed 4,000 free face masks to small trucking firms whose drivers are delivering goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The masks are part of a larger shipment of 50,000 units procured by the ATA. The remaining 46,000 masks are being sold to trucking companies in packages of 100 at cost, which is $3.50 per unit, plus shipping. Due to extraordinarily high demand, another 50,000 masks were ordered April 15.
  • Effective 4/19, the state of Pennsylvania will require businesses to provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement to wear masks while on the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with Department of Health guidance. The state will also require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of such goods.
  • Five American governors are asking the Trump administration to waive U.S. biofuel-blending requirements, arguing the cost of complying with the mandates on top of coronavirus-spurred lockdowns pose a “severe economic harm” to the country. The governors cite a spike in the cost of tradable credits refiners use to prove compliance with annual biofuel-blending targets, as well as the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged fuel demand and already spurred a closure for at least one oil refinery. The credit costs have more than doubled this year.
  • Five American governors are asking the Trump administration to waive U.S. biofuel-blending requirements, arguing the cost of complying with the mandates on top of coronavirus-spurred lockdowns pose a “severe economic harm” to the country. The governors cite a spike in the cost of tradable credits refiners use to prove compliance with annual biofuel-blending targets, as well as the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged fuel demand and already spurred a closure for at least one oil refinery. The credit costs have more than doubled this year.
  • Trucking companies are diligently working with the federal government in effort to defeat COVID-19. The White House Coronavirus Task Force includes motor carriers UPS Inc. and FedEx Corp., which have played a pivotal role in delivering medical supplies and setting up testing sites. Trucking companies have had ongoing discussions with the administration and federal agencies throughout the crisis even as they distribute goods in the supply chain, including personal protective equipment (PPE). The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been at the forefront of those talks as part of its supply chain task force.
  • National contract freight volumes are now at Labor Day 2019 levels, while spot market volumes are even lower – near Christmas Day levels. Due to the lack of freight moving, tender rejections rates have plummeted towards a rare 4% mark. Spot rates are down in 97 of the 100 Truckstop.com lanes. National outbound freight volumes have continued tumbling for the third straight week. Since the peak on March 23rd, the outbound tender volume index (OTVI) has shaved off 35%. After seeing the pace of decline slow earlier this week, some began to call for a volume trough. The decline accelerated again yesterday, and now on a weekly basis volumes are down 10.66%.
  • The wave of layoffs that has engulfed the U.S. economy since the COVID-19 struck forced 5.2 million more people to seek unemployment benefits last week, the government reported April 16. Roughly 22 million have now sought jobless benefits in the past month – easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record. It means that roughly one in seven workers have lost their jobs in that time.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the U.S. economy but caused a surge in trucking demand in the first three weeks of March. J.B. Hunt saw revenue increase by 9% in Q1 year over year, as operating income dropped by 8%. Because J.B. Hunt is one of the first carriers to report, this could be a sign that, while profits might get nicked, revenues for the first three months of 2020 may go up, if only because of panic-buying that spread in the first three weeks of March.
  • President Donald Trump took the White House lawn to state his appreciation for the nation’s truck drivers in an event organized by the American Trucking Associations. Trump also awarded special keys to several drivers and ATA President Chris Spear. “In the war against the virus, America’s drivers are the foot-soldiers carrying us to victory,” he said.
  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has provided the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) additional guidance on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) directive that CBSA implement a policy, effective immediately, requiring all essential workers crossing the border to wear a non-medical mask or face covering. All travelers arriving in Canada will be required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering to proceed to their destination where they will isolate or quarantine. They will be provided with a mask if they do not have one.
  • COVID-19 is set to further impact trade in the coming months, threatening supply chains and causing oil inventories to swell, according to the head of Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam. Europe’s largest ports – essential to the delivery of food, medicine and other vital materials – are being tested to the limit as the outbreak consumes the continent. The challenges are myriad: preventing delays, ensuring that goods aren’t contaminated, managing congestion amid ship quarantines, and keeping their own workforce healthy.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Odyssey has received multiple notices from clients that customers are requiring drivers arrive with gloves and masks for pickups and deliveries. While we understand the added safety measures, it is important to keep in mind that protective equipment is in short supply. Further, mask manufacturers are currently prioritizing medical facilities for distribution of this vital PPE. As of this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that “orders of face masks, test kits and other urgently needed medical equipment made by 3M, Owens & Minor and PerkinElmer are sitting in warehouses across China, unable to receive necessary official clearances” for export.
    • Odyssey recommends that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirement for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will have to be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
    • Odyssey also recommends that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  •  The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • Week-over-week, overall volume activity normalized and KPIs tracked by Odyssey across all clients and regions are improving, particularly on measures of Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Cost per Mile
  • American Trucking Associations’ chief economist forecasts the U.S. gross domestic product will decline by more than 20% on an annualized basis in the second quarter as a result of the coronavirus and the economic shutdown. He is cautiously optimistic that if medical and government officials can slow the spread of the coronavirus and reopen the economy without vast numbers of people becoming ill, the fourth quarter could show the signs of a recovery.
  • The novel coronavirus’ advance in March froze U.S. commercial vehicle production. Schedules vary, but efforts to restart most truck plants are stirring again as the second half of April begins. Paccar Inc. intends to restart production April 20, as does Daimler Trucks North America. Navistar Inc. restarted its truck plant in Mexico and engine plant in Alabama on April 13. Volvo Trucks North America and Mack Trucks remained on hold as of April 15.
  • Insurance providers have instituted measures to work with owner-operators and small-fleet owners who can’t afford to pay their premiums due to lost business due to the economic stall caused by COVID-19. Most providers have placed a temporary halt on cancelling policies for non-payment, and most are allowing truckers to temporarily suspend their policies and their premium payments if they pledge to not work during that time.
  • The rate of decline in contracted truckload volumes is slowing, while brokers slash spot rates to carriers, widening their margins on fewer loads. The good news is that the parts of the economy that need to be shut down have, for the most part, already been shut down. Any significant further downside risk will likely come from credit and business risk as many shippers, perhaps especially retailers, undergo financial stress-tests.
  • The Trucking Freight Futures markets slid across the board with the spot National contract falling 0.4% to $1.404 per mile as macroeconomic factors are being reflected in rates. The East regional contract fell 0.6% to $1.529; the West regional contract dropped 0.35% to $1.430; and the South regional contract ended down 0.4% to $1.253.
  • The American Trucking Association joined a coalition of industry groups calling on federal agencies to increase access to testing for frontline workers providing essential services during the national emergency. In a letter sent to Vice President Pence, the group stated that employees engaged in critical infrastructure and essential business are required to be at a physical worksite in some proximity to other employees and/or customers. As a result, they highlighted their responsibility to ensure that employees can perform their work in a safe environment, and access to testing would help to do so.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Odyssey has received multiple notices from clients that customers are requiring drivers arrive with gloves and masks for pickups and deliveries. While we understand the added safety measures, it is important to keep in mind that protective equipment is in short supply. Further, mask manufacturers are currently prioritizing medical facilities for distribution of this vital PPE. As of this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that “orders of face masks, test kits and other urgently needed medical equipment made by 3M, Owens & Minor and PerkinElmer are sitting in warehouses across China, unable to receive necessary official clearances” for export.
    • Odyssey recommends that – where possible – our clients request that customers continue to supply gloves and masks, if available. Where this measure is impossible, it is critical that our clients’ customers remain flexible by switching to requirements for face covering rather than masks specifically. This will decrease the likelihood that carriers will be turned away at time of pickup or delivery.
    • Odyssey also recommends that any new PPE requirements pertaining to COVID-19 measures are added to notes in respective ERP systems, which will translate to shipping instructions transmitted to Odyssey. This will aid in a more effective communication between Odyssey, clients, and carriers.
  • The Odyssey carrier base remains financially robust. However, it is more critical now than ever before that our clients fund invoices in the most expedient manner. As it pertains to financial position of specific carriers, Odyssey – like majority of market stakeholders – does not have access to financial statements as most are privately-held enterprises. However, Odyssey continues to monitor volume trends across the carrier base and reaching out to carrier representatives to understand their overall operating health.
    • Furthermore, freight carriers are managing cashflows more closely, and reaching out to Odyssey regularly for invoices outstanding beyond 30 days. Where possible, Odyssey recommends that payment terms are updated in AP ERP modules to fund invoices promptly.
  • Week-over-week, overall volume activity normalized and KPIs tracked by Odyssey across all clients and regions are improving, particularly on measures of Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Cost per Mile
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has granted a temporary exemption for the expiration of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials through July 31 for cards that expired after March 1. The temporary exemption, announced April 14, is intended to minimize the spread of COVID-19 during the nationwide emergency. The exemption became effective April 10. TSA regulations require truck drivers and other transportation workers who seek unescorted access to secured areas of maritime facilities and vessels to undergo a security threat assessment conducted by the agency to receive a TWIC. During the extension period, the agency said it will continue to recurrently vet exempted TWIC holders against federal terrorism and national security-related watch lists, and a Department of Homeland Security system for security threats, criminal history and immigration status checks.
  • A weekly survey conducted by Commercial Carrier Journal to measure the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on motor carriers shows that the number of fleets laying off personnel has increased in each of the last two weeks. At the end of March, only 15% of respondents said they had been forced to reduce their non-driver workforce, and 13% forced to eliminate drivers. As of the week ending April 11, that jumped to 19% and 24%, respectively. An increasing number of drivers concerned about contracting the virus are pulling themselves off the highway. Almost half (48%) of the fleets with 100 trucks or more said some of their drivers had asked to come off the road, compared to 34% of smaller carriers.
  • ACT Research indicates in its newest North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook that the continued spread of COVID-19 coronavirus over the past month has resulted in falling GDP assumptions, and, by extension, freight volumes, carrier profits and expectations for commercial equipment demand. With shutdown orders in key supplier states, as well as across Mexico, the supply chain is so fragmented at this juncture that it would be difficult for the OEMs to assemble vehicles beyond the parts that were in the pipeline when the industry stopped production.
  • Cross-border freight volumes across Mexico are suffering due to a significant drop in demand, according to transportation officials. The decline is linked to the closure of truck-making and auto parts plants across Mexico to contain the coronavirus, as well as the March 30 executive order by Mexican President Manuel Obrador to close all nonessential businesses. “The flow is slow, due to the unemployment of the automakers; cargo has dropped 20%,” said Armando Martinez, president of the Tampico chapter of the National Chamber of Cargo Transportation (CANACAR). According to the Mexican Association of the Automotive Industry (AMIA), 80% of the cars manufactured in Mexico are shipped to the United States.
  • Shutdowns of several high-profile food producers has eliminated important sources of volume for many freight carriers. One example is the recent closing of Smithfield Foods Inc. that affects hog producers in three states and threatens the availability of 18 million servings of pork per day. When the plant is operating at capacity, it takes in 100 semi-trucks daily of hogs weighing about 280 pounds each.
  • President Donald Trump said he’s tapping the country’s most prominent business executives, including several from the trucking industry, to help revive the economy as the coronavirus pandemic shows signs of easing in some parts of the country. “They’re going to give us some ideas,” Trump said April 14 at a briefing in the Rose Garden, where he unveiled a sprawling list of dozens of CEOs from industries ranging from agriculture to defense.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said April 14 that it expects the global economy to shrink 3% this year – far worse than its 0.1% dip in the Great Recession year of 2009 – before rebounding in 2021 with 5.8% growth. It acknowledges, though, that prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty. In its latest outlook, the IMF expects economic contractions this year of 5.9% in the United States, 7.5% in the 19 European countries that share the euro currency, 5.2% in Japan and 6.5% in the United Kingdom. China, where the pandemic originated, is expected to eke out 1.2% growth this year. The world’s second-biggest economy, which had gone into lockdown, has begun to open well before other countries.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Week-over-week, overall volume activity normalized and KPIs tracked by Odyssey across all clients and regions are improving, particularly on measures of Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Cost per Mile
  • For the week of 4/13, volumes are up to previous week’s levels
  • Odyssey will continue to monitor overall volumes as the week progresses, paying particular attention to regional trends as they pertain to Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Declinations
  • Year-over-year declines in the Cass Freight Index accelerated in March, with the shipments index declining 9.2% and the expenditures index dropping 8.2% for the month. Although COVID-19-related lockdowns led to approximately a month of truckload volume improvement on a year-over-year basis as evidenced by FreightWaves’ Outbound Tender Volume Index, the strength was largely concentrated in e-commerce and home deliveries of groceries and household supplies. The index has reversed course, with 2020 volumes retreating well below 2019 levels. Shipment volumes are expected to trough in April with a rebound in weekly volumes later in Q2, which would signal a climb back to more normal economic activity.
  • FreightWaves’ Research recently surveyed 130 motor carriers of all sizes about how truck drivers are being treated on the road as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in the U.S. While the federal government deemed truck drivers “essential” to delivering critical medical and food supplies amid the global coronavirus pandemic, some truckers say it is a mixed bag when it comes to treatment at shippers and receivers. Most truck stops and rest areas are providing some access to parking and amenities, a huge concern for truck drivers delivering crucial medical and essential goods right now.
  • A month into the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., fleets are still adjusting to the shockwaves — and the new normal — of a sudden freight slowdown combined with new social distancing practices. In some cases, shippers and consignees are skipping signing or issuing necessary documents like proofs of delivery and bills of lading. Some shippers and receivers have instituted new requirements for drivers entering their facilities, including, at some places, checking drivers’ temperatures before allowing them to enter. Detention time at busy distribution centers has ballooned past the usual two to three hours to half days. Fleets have also reported having to quarantine drivers on the road, while others have already had to lay off drivers because business has stalled.
  • On Friday April 10, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued notice to clarify the flexibilities provided in the Hazardous Materials Regulations, regarding shipper’s certification signatures on shipping papers. These flexibilities allow compliance with the regulations while still maintaining appropriate social distancing during the Covid-19 public health emergency.
  • Unlike typical economic recessions where the downturn is followed by a trough and then the recovery, the coronavirus is being driven by the initial forced shutdown of the economy, followed by the containment and eventually a restart. According to economist Bill Witte of FTR Transportation Intelligence, “We are now, I think, in the containment phase, probably about three weeks into it, or so. It varies a little bit depending on the part of the economy you’re in and your geographic location. The key question is how long this containment is going to last. And that’s key because it determines, we think, how the restart is going to look.” His forecast shows the job market rebounding in the third quarter, followed by larger gains at the end of 2020 and start of 2021. If the shutdown and containment end by late June, it is reasonable to expect a healthy 20% increase in GDP during the third quarter.
The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Week-over-week, overall volume activity normalized and KPIs tracked by Odyssey across all clients and regions are improving, particularly on measures of Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Cost per Mile.
  • For the week of 4/13, volumes are up to previous week’s level.
  • Odyssey will continue to monitor overall volumes as the week progresses, paying particular attention to regional trends as they pertain to Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Declinations.
  • The Indiana Department of Transportation launched a temporary permit program to allow licensed food trucks to operate at highway rest areas in order to serve commercial motor vehicle drivers who are hauling supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. The program, which INDOT announced April 8, is meant to expand truckers’ reliable food and beverage options along Indiana interstates. With restaurants closing due to the pandemic, truck drivers in many cases are finding limited availability of food options.
  • On April 9, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued an order requiring a travel declaration for all vehicles entering the state. On Friday, Herbert clarified that order, issuing a series of exemptions, including for truck drivers. During a media briefing on Friday, April 10, Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson said commercial airline employees, truck drivers, public safety officials, active military, healthcare providers and those who live across state lines but travel into Utah for work are exempt from the order. Those exempt from the order will still receive a notification on their phone, but they can ignore it unless they show signs of COVID-19.
  • Based on the latest financial filings by freight operators, cash reserves are being drawn down and additional operating lines of credit are being requested. Part of the cash drawdown reflects declining revenues in the latter half of Q1 and into opening of Q2, but companies are also preparing for some uncertainty into the remainder of fiscal 2020. Particularly, weakness in the automotive sector created severe downturns for freight carriers with particularly disproportionate exposure to this sector.
  • As the coronavirus continues to ravage the United States, many manufacturers in the trucking industry are pivoting their operations to provide life-saving medical gear to the healthcare community. Cummins announced earlier this week a partnership with DuPont to address the country’s shortage of respirators, while Dana recently offered up its collection of 3D printers its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Maumee, Ohio, to print components for face shields being used in hospitals nationwide. In both instances, the quick shifts in manufacturing and product development were made by the companies for the common good and without government intervention — a common theme in an essential industry that continues to raise the bar during the current crisis.
  • Effective April 10, the Province of British Columbia is putting in place additional measures pertaining to the COVID-19 epidemic. Essential service workers including drivers, who must travel across the border for work must create and file a self-isolation plan and self-monitor. Drivers are only expected to implement their plan if they develop symptoms. This is a new legal requirement, supported by the provincial health officer’s travel orders and reinforce the federal emergency order under the Quarantine Act requiring people entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • In a recent report, the World Trade Organization (WTO) shows that global merchandise trade declined in every region of the world and across most sectors of the economy in 2020. Projecting the next few quarters, in the best case, global trade may decline by 13% year over year (YoY); worst case may see a decline of 32% or more. The wide margin between scenarios is due to “the unprecedented nature” of the coronavirus pandemic, the WTO said. But the organization predicts trade levels will likely be worse than they were during the Great Recession. Value chain disruption was already an issue when COVID 19 was mostly confined to China. It remains a salient factor now that the disease has become more widespread. Trade is likely to fall more steeply in sectors characterized by complex value chain linkages, particularly in electronics and automotive products.

The articles listed in this email are taken from several online news sources. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Odyssey.

  • Odyssey Overview:
    Week-over-week, overall volume activity normalized and KPIs tracked by Odyssey across all clients and regions are improving, particularly on measures of Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Cost per Mile.
  • For the week of 4/13, initial volumes are down compared to the last four weeks.
  • Odyssey will continue to monitor overall volumes as the week progresses and pay particular attention to regional trends as they pertain to Routed Carrier Acceptance, Overflow, and Declinations.
  • Beginning at 8:00 a.m., 4/10, any adult entering Utah is asked to complete an electronic travel declaration within three hours of entering the state. Motorists can expect a text message when entering the state from one of nine designated highway entry points. State officials say the information will be used to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The order will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 1. The state has geofenced nine different entry points on Utah highways, including I-15 and I-80. Travelers, be they residents, workers or visitors, will receive a text message with a link to the survey. There does not appear to be a travel declaration exemption for commercial vehicle drivers. However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is evaluating the order and reaching out to the governor’s office.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended and expanded its emergency declaration providing regulatory relief to truck drivers who are transporting emergency supplies during the coronavirus outbreak. FMCSA issued a notice April 8 stating the emergency declaration, which applies to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, will remain in effect through May 15. The initial emergency declaration, issued March 13, was scheduled to remain in effect until April 12.
  • The sudden, sharp economic fallout is one felt by many owner-operators and small fleets, no matter their type of freight. While some continue to haul fewer loads, others are hoping for bridge loans available from the Small Business Administration to keep their business going. Some, however, have found temporary work until they can resume trucking.
  • Truckload freight volumes dropped abruptly during the week ending April 5, as the number of available loads on the spot market fell 39%, according to DAT Solutions. At the same time, owner-operators’ and other carriers’ search volume on the boards skyrocketed, looking for freight to move. The number of truck posts increased 13% compared to the previous week, the largest rise this year.
  • March volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) continued to decline, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic, according to data respectively issued by the ports this week. Total March POLA volume – at 449,568 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) – saw a 30.9% annual decline. Imports – at 220,255 TEU – fell 25.9%, and exports – at 121,146 TEU – dipped 23.8%. Empty containers saw a 44.5% decrease to 108,168 TEU.
  • US imports from Asia in March fell to the lowest level in seven years as retailers and manufacturers pulled back on orders of non-essential merchandise and inputs amid plunging consumer demand and factory closures caused by COVID-19. Global Port Tracker projected that total US imports in the first half of 2020 will decline 15.1 percent from the same period last year. Year-over-year monthly declines will likely continue into the second half of 2020, it projected.
  • The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is making progress towards expanded use of email and fax, in lieu of paper submissions of commercial documentation. The first wave of ports to offer email service will be Vancouver, Toronto, Windsor, Montreal and Halifax. Additional offices will come online shortly. Commercial clients are encouraged to communicate with their local CBSA office to determine their state of readiness and the best method currently available.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Based on planned shipment volumes, Odyssey is observing continuing stable conditions for the last three months, throughout our network
  • Major indicators that Odyssey Operations will be watching are overall shipment volumes, best carrier acceptance percentages and waffle ratios, as these are all signals of capacity availability.
  • New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 122 on April 8th, ceasing all non-essential construction projects and imposing additional mitigation requirements on essential retail businesses and essential industries to limit the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Of particular note is a requirement of wearing face coverings: Require workers, visitors, and customers to wear cloth face coverings while on the premises, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age, and require workers to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings and gloves for their employees. If a customer refuses to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons and if such covering cannot be provided to the individual by the business at the point of entry, then the business must decline entry to the individual, unless if the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business policy should provide alternate methods of pickup and/or delivery of such goods. This order goes into effect Friday April 10, 2020 at 8:00pm.
  • Extended dwell time for trucks jumped significantly in March, according to analysis by FourKites. Compared to February, March witnessed a 24% increase in late loads due to extended dwell times. Re-entry delays jumped more. Drivers can be delayed when they show up on time to their destinations. When a facility is operating beyond receiving capacity with simultaneous deliveries, drivers are turned away and sent to a designated wait area. Drivers return to the facility to be unloaded. In March, drivers were turned away 36% more frequently than in February.
  • Trucking companies are doing a lot to keep their drivers safe and healthy even as the coronavirus pandemic has caused notable disruptions throughout the economy as the number of infected continues to climb. Freight carriers have handed out hand sanitizers, gloves, disinfectant sprays, paper towels to drivers and some have hired third-party cleaning services for their fleets and facilities.
  • As the U.S. economy goes up or down, the routes that fleets use often remain the same, as does the price structure of spot rates. Yet today, COVID-19 has changed how fleets and independent truckers choose delivery routes, in only a matter of weeks. Trips out of big port cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, are now competing in spot price with trips into those cities, a sign of the market disruption COVID-19 has caused. It isn’t just because the ports are closed, though. Demand for freight services has shot up during March, a time of panic buying and another e-commerce boom.
  • On April 8, the Canadian Trucking Alliance and CBSA released clarifications pertaining to drive isolation protocols, personal meals, cross-border shipments, DTOPS program, and other guidelines.
  • Activity at ports tracked by the Global Port Tracker fell in February to the lowest level in five years with continued decreases in activity expected for the coming months. “Even as factories in China have begun to get back to work, we are seeing far fewer imports coming into the United States than previously expected,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. “Many stores are closed, and consumer demand has been impacted with millions of Americans out of work.”
  • The global food system’s greatest challenge is not supply, but behavior up and downstream, according to a United Nations report. That behavior includes all manner of coronavirus mitigation efforts constricting the normal pace of global transportation and trade, which affects global ocean shipping capacity, trucking restrictions and trade practices. Truck driver shortages, port personnel health checks and other transportation snarls related to COVID-19 containment and mitigation efforts are keeping grain and other commodity supply chains from flowing normally, even as grain is in abundant supply worldwide.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Based on planned shipment volumes, Odyssey is observing continuing stable conditions for the last three months, throughout our network
  • With Good Friday quickly approaching, and some carriers potentially operating with limited services, Odyssey advises clients to send orders with ample lead time, and to continue to confirm shippers and receivers are operating under standard hours. Further, shipping sites are advised to contact local LTL terminals for operating status.
  • Major indicators that Odyssey Operations will be watching are overall shipment volumes, best carrier acceptance percentages and waffle ratios, as these are all signals of capacity availability.
  • To avert a potential truck driver shortage during the coronavirus emergency, a coalition of large businesses and trade groups have urged Congress and the nation’s governors to implement procedures that would allow new drivers to more quickly obtain commercial learner permits and commercial driver licenses. With as many as 27 state driver licensing agencies closed, two April 7 letters signed by dozens of businesses, major associations and trade groups urged all governors to “take immediate executive action to address a critical threat to our nation’s ability to move medical supplies, food and other freight.”
  • Truckload rates fell last week, following a sharp decline in load-to-truck ratios. Consumers stayed home, making it less urgent to re-stock grocery store shelves. At the same time, businesses deemed “non-essential” slowed or stopped freight shipments, reducing demand.
  • Some predict that as a result of COVID-19, retirement amongst truck drivers will be accelerated, a profession in which the average age is 55. However, with the outpouring of support for the nation’s truck drivers and overall media and policy attention on the supply chain, many hope that younger talent will reconsider a profession in this industry.
  • A large share of retail spending that is taking place has shifted online, resulting in businesses such as Amazon, Walmart and CVS hiring in large numbers. E-commerce will continue to drive demand and continued purchases of medical supplies, food and beverages will bolster the refrigerated market. However, weakening demand for goods hauled via flatbed will start hurting that segment. Imbalances in certain markets will continue, which will impact freight carriers’ profitability and available capacity in these parts of the country.
  • Though the U.S. economy had its worst month in over decade in terms employment in March, posting the first month-to-month loss in total jobs since the Great Recession (2007-2009), trucking was mostly unscathed in terms of job losses. Truck transportation dropped by just 200 jobs, according to the Department of Labor’s monthly employment report.
  • FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith is taking a salary cut, effective April 1, from $115,402 per month to $10,728 per month through Sept. 30, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. With Smith’s payroll withholding and other deductions, his salary will be $1 per pay period, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the Memphis, Tenn.-based package company. Also, FedEx announced it is tapping a $1.5 billion line of credit to keep its cash flowing during the crisis.
  • Canadian Trucking Alliance updated its list of known COVID checkpoint locations and activities taking place. Because truck drivers could encounter one of these checkpoints, the Alliance noted that it is important to raise awareness in the trucking industry for both drivers and carriers to know and be able to communicate their intended purpose as transporting essential materials.
  • The national lockdown in India has brought transportation of goods in India to a near halt, even though the federal government has exempted the sector from restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus. Daily movement of trucks has collapsed to less than 10% of normal levels. Road transport accounts for about 60% of freight traffic in India. This, in large part, resulted from the frequent clarifications the government is making, causing confusion throughout multiple parts of the Indian freight market.
  • Several nations have halted marine crew transfers, while global lockdowns have complicated travel. At risk is the flow of goods such as food, medicine and energy via commercial shipping, which accounts for about 80% of global trade. While unseen by most consumers, restrictions on crews are among the unprecedented challenges that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Most ports have stopped crew changes as part of a concerted effort to prevent the spread of the virus,” Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc. CEO Gerardo Borromeo said. “Our problem is trying to solve a complex logistics issue of getting crew onto limited flights to countries that will allow such changes at their ports.”

Odyssey Overview:

  • With Good Friday quickly approaching, and some carriers potentially operating with limited services, Odyssey advises clients to send orders with ample lead time, and to continue to confirm shippers and receivers are operating under standard hours. Further, shipping sites are advised to contact local LTL terminals for operating status.
  • Major indicators that Odyssey Operations is monitoring are overall shipment volumes, best carrier acceptance percentages and waffle ratios, as these are all signals of capacity availability.
  • Experts indicate the coronavirus pandemic will have a significant negative effect on state revenue, including funding that supports transportation projects. Due to dozens of statewide stay-at-home orders, fewer people are out on the road, meaning fewer people are purchasing fuel and bolstering state fuel tax revenue. Data indicates nationwide personal travel dropped to 44% from 38% during the week that ended March 27. Truck travel decreased as well. Long-haul truck travel was down 20% during the week that ended March 27, while local commercial travel was down 16% during the same period.
  • The Port of Savannah, the second busiest on the East Coast, is closing operations on Saturdays to truck drivers, effective immediately, as business slows due to the coronavirus pandemic. Port Executive Director Griff Lynch said that the decision to cut the port’s schedule from six days to five and eliminating truck hours would have minimal impact. “Like all ports, we’re trying to figure out what’s happening here and how we can react to that. We’re seeing a March that will be down somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% to 20%.” Lynch says April’s numbers probably will be down in that range as well.
  • Economists at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management have concluded the U.S. economy is already in a recession and will remain in one until at least October. The first-quarter Gross Domestic Product is projected to drop by 0.4%, in the second quarter by 6.5% and 1.9% in the third quarter. Amid the decreased activity, transportation markets are seeing stabilizing spot rates as the initial rush to ship may be settling.
  • The reaction to COVID-19 pandemic has tipped the US economy into a recession with unprecedented speed, with unemployment claims spiking to a record 3.3 million in late March as businesses shut down in an effort to slow the outbreak’s spread. The widespread closure of stores, restaurants, and factories froze freight-generating economic activity at the end of the first quarter, a time when trucking firms typically prepare for the busy spring retail season. That season has largely shifted online this year, with most “non-essential” retail stores, large and small, closed and home-bound consumers turning to digital consumption channels. Whether the 2020 recession will push down the annual revenue generated by the top 50 US trucking providers depends on the length and depth of the contraction in economic growth and the strength of the recovery, which isn’t expected to begin until August.
  • American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships have been canceled due to coronavirus-related concerns. ATA President Chris Spear in an April 6 letter informed professional truck drivers, ATA members and state trucking association executives of the decision to cancel the event, which was scheduled to take place August 19-22 in Indianapolis and is often called the “Super Bowl of Safety.”

Odyssey Overview:

  • Moving into April, Odyssey is observing some stabilization in overall transportation markets across the major regions (Northeast, West, Midwest).
  • Major indicators that Odyssey Operations will be watching are overall shipment volumes, best carrier acceptance percentages and waffle ratios, as these are all signals of capacity availability.
  • Lead times from clients continue to be important even as overall capacity begins to normalize.
  • National outbound freight volumes are beginning to decline. Since their peak just over a week ago, the FreightWaves outbound tender volume index (OTVI) decreased 12.5%. In the same period preceding the peak, outbound tendered volumes rose nearly 11%. Much like OTVI, the outbound tender reject index (OTRI) has also peaked and is rapidly slipping to the downside. OTRI is only four days off its peak, but it is exhibiting the same trend as OTVI – rejections fell 16.3% off the peak, and in the four days prior to the peak OTRI rose only 5%.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told Transport Topics that her agency stands ready to build on the actions it already has taken to help trucking support the country through the coronavirus crisis. She pointed to the specific steps her agency has taken to help the industry do that work — notably, temporary relief from certain hour-of-service requirements, declarations that provided temporary enforcement discretion for drivers transporting hazardous materials. In addition, Hazmat drivers were given a 90-day reprieve from taking Hazmat refresher courses that come due every three years. She also noted that FMCSA granted exceptions through June 30 for certain expired commercial driver licenses and learner’s permit medical certifications, and issued guidance regarding compliance with drug and alcohol testing requirements during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Pressures on drivers have taken a toll, but for the most part, the supply chain is flowing, just with small pockets of slowdowns. With fewer passenger cars on the roads, trucks are making faster transit times, which is helping mitigate the delays for loading and unloading. Canadian carriers are driving empty trucks to the U.S. to pick up food items to transport back into Canada. Normally, they’d be full of manufactured goods from Canada to deliver to the U.S., but that need has dwindled. The issue with one-way hauls has also popped up in parts of the U.S. and it’s raising freight costs for food. With manufacturing slowing, it’s unclear how long before this gets resolved. Demand for trucks in the U.S. has increased while efficiency has gone down due to longer distances traveled and the empty one-way hauls.
  • On April 3, the Federal Highway Administration issued a notice allowing for states to permit the use of food trucks in rest areas to serve commercial truck drivers. “America’s commercial truck drivers are working day and night during this pandemic to ensure critical relief supplies are being delivered to our communities,” said FHWA Administrator Nicole R. Nason. “I am grateful to our state transportation partners for bringing this idea to the Department and for their leadership in thinking outside the box. It is critical to make sure truck drivers continue to have access to food services while they’re on the job serving our nation during these challenging times.”
  • Following advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario has updated the list of essential businesses that can remain open. The trucking industry is deemed essential as are many of its supporting businesses.

Odyssey Overview:

  • Moving into April, Odyssey is observing some stabilization in overall transportation markets across the major regions (Northeast, West, Midwest).
  • Major indicators that Odyssey Operations will be watching are overall shipment volumes, best carrier acceptance percentages and waffle ratios, as these are all signals of capacity availability.
  • Lead times from clients continue to be important even as overall capacity begins to normalize.
  • A federal appeals court has denied an effort to temporarily lift a lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking California from enforcing a state law that restricts how motor carriers classify independent operators. The earlier ruling blocked the state from enforcing California Assembly Bill 5, which was set to take effect January 1. The ruling ties back to a lawsuit filed by the California Trucking Association that challenges AB5, and now paves the way for the appeals court to hear oral arguments as soon as early July.
  • While trucking has numerous apps and other digital platforms at its disposal, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for trucks and is introducing new ways for the industry to move freight more efficiently. Several app providers have launched tools to assist carriers with traffic updates, electronic logs and document uploads.
  • In a statement on April 2, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health of Canada, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation of Canada championed the trucking industry and its drivers and also took proactive stance of installing portable washrooms at 32 truck inspection stations so truck drivers have a place to stop and rest safely.
  • Commercial activity for semi-trucks, service vehicles and other equipment has fallen precipitously as a result of the actions taken by federal and state governments to slow the spread of COVID-19. The hardest-hit regions in the United States have been New York and New Jersey. Commercial vehicle trips in these states have fallen 40% from baseline. Most areas of the country are trending at above 80% of normal business activity but continue to slide as more states enact shelter-in-place rules.
  • Odyssey saw impacts in March – that are continuing into April – to expected pick-up and delivery dates for loads coming out of the port of Long Beach. Port terminals are operating on reduced schedules and are not open on all days or shifts. This is impacting drayage providers’ ability to schedule appointments as well as the date freight will be ready for pick-up after the vessel arrives. We expect to see this continue into the remainder of April as terminals await import volume to ramp back up. Once this occurs, port congestion will likely become a factor in timely pickups, which will create downstream impact to the network.
  • After building for several weeks, national averages for van and reefer rates crested and then settled down at levels that are more in line with seasonal expectations, said DAT Solutions, operator of the DAT load board network. Given how unsettled business conditions are right now, it’s unclear whether the trend will turn into a sharp downward rate correction, a holding pattern, or a return to the upward trajectory of recent weeks.

ODYSSEY COMMENTARY:

  • Odyssey has not observed disruptions to railroad operations around the country. All major rail carriers have taken steps to bring their business continuity plans in line with CDC and WHO best practices. Majority of embargoes observed around the country are customer-driven and pertain to industry shutdowns to comply with state and local restrictions. Further, all railroad operators have requested that customers advise of any expected reduction to business.
  • Odyssey is closely tracking an additional metric beginning week of 3/30 – Decline Percentage (Declinations)
  • Additionally, Odyssey made available regional views in the Project Insight COVID-19 Impact Dashboard, which allows clients and the Odyssey team to quickly see how various parts of the country are affected by the epidemic.
  • Peak domestic freight volumes are likely behind us. For two straight days, the outbound tender volume index has declined a total of 3%. However, the truckload volume is still well above any other time in the index’s history and has risen 3% on a week-over-week basis.
  • The legal landscape is shifting rapidly with emergency declarations, regulatory suspensions and shelter-in-place orders. With these changes comes an additional level of uncertainty that pertains to rules that govern worker classification (employees versus independent contractors). As employers, carriers have a legal duty to maintain a safe and hazard-free workplace. To keep appropriate separation between employee-specific policies and general directives for business interactions, some carriers are issuing policies either as universal standards or separately with employees and with other contractors and vendor parties. For contractors, this sometimes comes as a contract addendum. It could also come in the form of standards for keeping and maintaining equipment and personal hygiene.
  • With demand in US consumer markets declining due to COVID-19, a potentially major backup of loaded containers throughout the US port system may be starting to take shape. The early signs are manifested by some of the largest ports along the US East Coast now scouring available land to boost temporary storage capacity on or off terminal grounds. The scarcity of space at terminals is leading to concern about diversions in the event that certain ports are temporarily closed, as Houston briefly was on March 18 due to one of its workers testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Three more refrigerated containers carrying COVID-19 test kits left the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) on Saturday as the Port of Virginia’s critical cargo initiative quickly ramps up. The port moved its first container of test kits last week. The critical cargo initiative identifies import cargo needed in the effort to fight the coronavirus and allocates equipment and personnel required to get the container moving to its destination as fast as possible. The cargo includes personal protective equipment (PPE) for the medical industry, coronavirus test kits, hand sanitizer and raw materials going into PPE production.
  • Social distancing and quarantines are causing cargo buyers to cancel bookings in Europe and the U.S., which is in turn prompting container lines to “blank” (cancel) scheduled sailings, starting with those from Asia to Europe. According to Alan Murphy, CEO and founder of Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence, “Within the past week, the number of blank sailings announced following the pandemic spread increased from two to 45 on main deep-sea trades.” He believes the effect of the pandemic on buyers in Europe and the U.S. will have even greater consequences for container-shipping schedules than the lockdown of Wuhan, China, in February.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a waiver intended to avert a potential fuel shortage this summer. It provides additional flexibility to the marketplace to transition from winter-grade to summer-grade blends. “Due to the steep fall-off in gasoline demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, gasoline storage capacity is limited and more time is needed to transition the distribution system in order to come into compliance for the summer driving season,” said a March 27 EPA announcement.

ODYSSEY COMMENTARY:

  • As industry participants take steps to protect employees during this uncertain time, Odyssey is seeing some consignors/consignees are refusing to sign delivery receipts or bills of lading to maintain social distancing guidelines and minimize their risk of exposure to the virus. As a response to this development, some carriers are creating alternative process guidelines and, in some cases, issuing No Contact pickup and delivery agreements to be signed by the shippers/receivers.
  • Overall, demand for transportation is unevenly impacted by various industries. While demand for automotive has declined, the upward pressure in others – water treatment chemicals, food services – creating regional imbalances with resultant impact to key metrics tracked by Odyssey.
  • Odyssey is closely tracking an additional metric beginning week of 3/30 – Decline Percentage (Declinations).
  • Additionally, Odyssey made available regional views in the Project Insight COVID-19 Impact Dashboard, which allows clients and the Odyssey team to quickly see how various parts of the country are affected by the epidemic.

ODYSSEY COMMENTARY:

  • Odyssey continues to monitor planning productivity by focusing on the number of date changes to shipments. We continue to monitor the below network KPIs, with particular attention to the percentage of declinations and cost per mile for truckload.
  • Odyssey is in ongoing communication with carriers to ensure we are in possession of the latest business continuity plans.
  • We are proactively researching updates on embargoes and service advisories and including these in the Project Insight COVID-19 Impact Dashboard.
  • Finally, we would like to remind our clients that it is critical to update our planning teams on any changes to shipping hours and requirements as we continue to ensure shipments are covered and delivered.

ODYSSEY COMMENTARY:

  • Odyssey is seeing varying levels of capacity availability. While some areas are experiencing tightening in capacity, pockets of stability remain.
  • Increasingly, carriers are remaining in contact with drivers throughout the day to ensure that they are healthy.

ODYSSEY COMMENTARY:

  • Odyssey is beginning to see reduced capacity in the market for loads shipping between the United States and Canada. Carriers are requesting more lead time and, in some cases, longer transits in order to complete these cross-border moves.
  • Due to the everchanging business closures associated with COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place notices, effective Wednesday, March 25, FedEx is waiving return authorization requirements. FedEx will return to freight that cannot be delivered due to closures. Return charges will also be assessed for such instances. Odyssey anticipates that other LTL carriers will follow suit, and we continue to encourage our clients to ensure that the consignees are open for receiving.
  • Finally, Odyssey would like to thank all our clients and carrier partners for ongoing work and support during this uncertain time. At a time when state and local authorities are putting in place measures for increased social distancing, logistics and supply chain employees – plant and warehouse personnel, drivers, forklift operators, among many more – are bravely marching to work daily to ensure that goods are moving throughout the US and the world. For that, all of us at Odyssey thank you!

• On March 24, the FMCSA extended to June 30 validity of commercial driver licenses (CDLs) and commercial learner permits (CLPs) that were due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020. Further, the FMCSA will recognize CDLs and CLPs – or their equivalents – from Canada and Mexico where similar declarations are issued.
FMCSA: CDL Waiver

• In a letter to the President, the Fraternal Order of Police reiterated the importance of commercial freight carriers to the US supply chain and urged that truck stops and rest areas remain open and operating.
Trucking Org: Fraternal Order of Police

• Truck tonnage in February rose 2.6% when compared with year-ago levels, according to American Trucking Associations.
TT News: Tonnage Up 2.6% in February

• Every coronavirus supply chain disruption is different. A food-processing company in Iowa that makes canned black and pinto beans grapples with an unprecedented surge in demand, forcing it to double production. Meanwhile, in Michigan, a tier 2 auto parts supplier prepares to shut down for six weeks because its major customers — and the Big 3 auto assembly plants — are experiencing an unprecedented drop in demand.
FreightWaves: Every coronavirus supply chain disruption is different

• Urgent orders of retail goods continue to drive spot rates up for van and reefer equipment. Anxious shoppers buy as much as they can on each trip. Retailers, including e-commerce outlets, rely increasingly on spot market providers to re-stock shelves at a moment’s notice, while truckers report long wait times at pickup and delivery points.
DAT: Van and reefer rates rise sharply due to urgent re-stocking

• Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) focused on keeping commerce moving during pandemic. Terminals at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, were operating normally Monday, had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus and, for the time being, had enough disinfecting supplies, according to NWSA Chief Executive Officer, John Wolfe.
American Shipper: NWSA focused on keeping commerce moving during pandemic

ODYSSEY COMMENTARY:

• Based on guidance from Department of Homeland Security and the FMCSA, commercial freight carriers continue to be deemed essential to the movement of essential goods around the US supply chain.
• Odyssey continues to recommend that our clients – where deemed essential – proactively create a document that exhibits the essential nature of their business and issue the document to drivers at pickup.
• Finally, Odyssey continues to recommend that clients call customers ahead of sending a transportation request, to determine that customers are open for receiving. This will aid in overall planning efficiency and reduce the probability of incurring additional charges if customers are closed. However, due to uncertainty and ever-changing local mandates, carriers will continue to call consignees and consignors to ensure that pickups and deliveries may be made. While we understand that this level of communication creates additional administrative pressures, the carriers’ goal is to ensure continuity of services to your business.

INDUSTRY UPDATES: 

Based on our past experiences through significant events we can relay the following:

  • Carriers will likely embargo services to certain areas of the country based on the significance and risk of exposure to COVID-19, thereby limiting their service coverage.
    • As Odyssey is informed regarding any service embargos, we will advise our clients immediately.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
  • FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:
    • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
    • Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
    • Food for emergency restocking of stores.
    • Equipment supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
    • Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
    • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services. 
    • Carriers could experience a personnel shortage, which will disrupt carrier networks, create coverage challenges, and delay deliveries.
    • Carriers will likely experience an imbalanced network as a result of trucks not unloading as scheduled, shortage or equipment, etc. which will lead to both pick-up coverage challenges and delayed deliveries.

What steps Odyssey is taking:

  • We are actively monitoring the market in real time to include transportation and logistics news publications.
    • Generally, and at this time, we are seeing stability, but there is uncertainty to how the market will continue to respond as the situation worsens.
  • We are monitoring the data for carrier load acceptance and delivery performance, particularly in markets hit hard by the virus.
  • As each shipment transaction and overall situation is fluid, we are committed to continue to execute shipment coverage via a recovery or alternate option as the situation dictates.

What our clients can do:

  • Please keep Odyssey informed of any changes with your shipping sites and customer delivery locations, i.e. reduced hours of operations or closures.
  • Communicate any issues that arise to Odyssey Management, so they can be reviewed and addressed in real time.
  • Encourage customers to over-order and keep higher levels of safety stock.
  • Longer lead-times will be beneficial for securing coverage and booking the lowest cost option.
    • Short lead-times will likely lead to higher cost rates.
    • Odyssey is starting to see spot market inflation.

Odyssey Logistics & Technology will provide updates as they are available to keep you informed during this event. If you have any questions or need immediate assistance, please contact your Client Services Manager.

This update is bring provided in order to help prepare in advance of potential business closure mandates due to Covid-19.

As you may be aware, on March 16, 2020 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urged, “non-essential businesses across the commonwealth to do their part by temporarily closing as we work to flatten the curve and protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.” The statement continued to describe essential business sectors as (not limited to): food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, warehousing, storage, and distribution. (Click to read full statement)

Covid-19 is rapidly evolving and having an increasing impact on global supply chains. Clearly there is no absolute directive in place for manufacturing businesses to close operations for an extended period. That said, it is important shippers consider the possibility of this scenario and its potential impact on your supply chain operations. Some points to consider:
• What are your plans should the geographies around your shipping locations mandate closure of your facilities?
• Do you have communication vehicles in place should your customer locations be impacted by a closure mandate?
• Are you prepared to update your ERP systems in “real-time” as these events unfold?

Directives issued by local governments are difficult to track in real time. As such, if Odyssey receives an order from a customer, we will proceed with planning the activity as normal operating procedures dictate. As always, if events occur locally to your business that may impact shipping, Odyssey requests you inform your Odyssey point of contact to keep information flowing effectively and ensuring an optimal approach to your supply chains continuity

Follow Odyssey’s Covid-19 information center for the most up-to-date details available, and reach out to your point of contact if you have any specific questions or concerns.

ODYSSEY BLOGS:

Here are top trends shippers should be keep an eye on this summer

A year filled with uncertainty and anticipation about what “could happen,” 2020 has so far proven to be pretty unpredictable. With some organizations emerging from the impacts of COVID and others entering new lockdowns due to a renewed threat, Odyssey Logistics & Technology found some of the top trends shippers should be thinking about this summer.

Here’s what we learned:

1. The economy could remain in flux until next year

The US economy might not return to pre-COVID pandemic levels until mid-2021, signaling the slow recovery ahead for US surface freight volume, according to JOC, highlighting a recent American Trucking Associations (ATA) report. “The worst is likely behind us,” according to ATA, “but even stronger numbers in the last six months will be unable to make up for what the Congressional Budget Office, Federal Reserve, and several investment banks project to be at least a 30 percent annualized decline in economic output in the second quarter.

Read the full article here

Five tips to stay afloat now while preparing for the future.

With companies across all industries dealing with unprecedented challenges and disruptions, more of them are asking themselves how they can effectively navigate this time of crisis and come out the other side resilient, healthy, and ready to ramp their operations back up.

A global crisis that has spared very few, COVID-19 has pushed many firms into panic mode. The good news is that—like any other disruption—this one also has its limits. While the world waits for COVID-19 to become less of a threat to human life, and for business to return to some level of normalcy, companies can use these tips to stay afloat now while preparing for the future.

Read the full article here

Over the last few weeks, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has forced nearly every industry to look for new solutions to minimize critical business disruptions. Global supply chains have not been immune to this challenge.

In order to help customers manage the volatility of this global crisis, Odyssey Logistics & Technology has developed and released an interactive technology for its North America Managed Logistics (MLS) customers. The new technology provides visibility into shipments that overlay with geography profiles that present risk; including: COVID-19 hotspots and transportation embargoes. Launched on March 19, 2020 Odyssey customers get actionable data to assess their supply chain risks created by embargoed transportation hotspots—allowing them to act quickly and minimize the operational, economic and safety impacts of these service disruptions.

“Understanding the fluidity of this event, our leadership team strategized the development of a data-driven tool for each of our clients that will provide real-time information specific to their business, quickly identifying changes and trends as a result of the pandemic,” said Kevin M. Land, Vice President of Global Solutions. “This business application gives our clients the power to make critical service and cost decisions more effectively, in real-time and based on their actual transactional data.”

Read the full article here

As shippers worldwide rush to contain the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak, they should also be keeping an eye on the future and preparing for it now.

As supply chains worldwide brace for the impacts of Covid-19, companies are dealing with both the immediate and future implications of this global coronavirus outbreak. Where temporary business shutdowns, truncated store hours, and homebound employees are some of the most obvious concerns in the U.S. right now, there are also long-term, global implications to consider when planning for the future.

“U.S. shippers need to prepare for a trucking price shock at some point this year as the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ripples from Chinese factories to US distribution centers and manufacturing plants,” JOC points out in Coronavirus blurs trucking’s 2020 vision.

“Many shippers, carriers, and brokers expect the truckload market to shift in 2020, with capacity tightening and rates rebounding after plummeting last year from 2018’s unprecedented peaks,” JOC continues. “The questions have been how swiftly will this shift take place, when will it begin, and how high will prices rebound? The impact of the coronavirus on international and domestic supply chains brings a sharp focus to those questions.”

Read the full article here

A roundup of the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on the world’s supply chains and transportation networks.

Hardly a day goes by that some new piece of information or fact comes out about the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). The virus continues to emerge in new settings and countries, with more than 79,000 cases now reported worldwide, with the majority of infections and deaths occurring in China, MarketWatch reports.

Here at Odyssey, we continue to monitor the situation in China closely and are in daily contact with our partners for updates. Currently, the majority of factories are at 50% capacity with optimistic projections of returning to full capacity by mid-March. Even once all factories are in full production, we expect continued impacts on equipment, trucking, capacity, port space, and infrastructure.

Read the full article here 

Here’s an overview of what we now know about the new coronavirus and its potential impacts on the world’s supply chains.

Now officially known as “COVID-19” the new coronavirus is making daily headlines as countries around the world rush to address and/or contain the outbreak. Sitting at the epicenter is China, a country that became mired in the worldwide issue just as its citizens were preparing for the Lunar New Year.

Read the full article here

Here’s the latest on the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, tips on how to protect yourself, and a look at how the virus could impact the world’s supply chains.

As more companies shut down their operations in China; airlines halt flights in and out of the country; and individuals protect themselves from the novel coronavirus outbreak, the ripple effects are already being felt across global supply chains. As the U.S.’ third-largest trading partner (after Mexico and Canada)—with $516 billion in goods traded annually between the two countries—China and its citizens represent an important link in the world’s supply chains.

Read the full article here