COVID-19 Resource Center:

Odyssey is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 situation and is following guidance and all precautionary measures from health authorities and local governments. Our top priority is to protect our people, operations and customers from any adverse impacts.

We would like to assure you that business continuity plans and contingency measures are in place to minimize all possible business disruptions. Our global supply chain is designed to mitigate risks in order to meet customer commitments and obligations. We will continue to monitor the impacts and provide you with updates as they are available.

ODYSSEY DAILY UPDATE:

  • 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.

ODYSSEY BLOGS:

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 

INDUSTRY UPDATES: 

last updated 10:51am 04/02/2020

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.