Challenges for the trucking industry remain difficult as truckers excel even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Key supplies and components are causing the deliveries of others to become strained. The added burden of this Holiday season has increased the logistical challenges for flatbed trucking companies. Keeping the shelves full of certain products during this unusual disruption is the challenge even for simple items like toilet paper, hams, and biscuits! Strategic supplies to hospitals and health care workers have taken priority as the pandemic continues.
Movement of goods as an essential operation needed to continue. Vehicle manufacturers shifted to produce personal protective supplies. Operational fleets now were delivering medical supplies, groceries and yes toilet paper! The industries, van and flatbed trucking companies stepped up and made the sacrifices needed to get the job accomplished. Once this new supply flow was accepted as the current new normal an unusual mix of balancing assets, personnel, responsibilities, processes, and on the fly changes was put into effect as a catalyst for meaningful long term changes.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin
Now that the vaccines are ready to be distributed, they will add to the disruption of the supply chain. Leading causes are the eighty thousand fewer drivers than last years numbers and the hoarding of certain supplies leaving unproportioned stock on the shelves for other consumers. Factories continue to reopen after pandemic related shutdowns even though holiday-related gatherings could reverse this trend as the pandemic rears its ugly head spiking once more.
Usually, flatbed shipping companies have enough additional equipment and drivers to handle the uptick during holiday times, however with the pandemic causing a concerning imbalance of these resources the industry has felt the negative results. Luckily, some of this disruption has been decreased due to the capital investments during the Trump bump tax cuts enabling companies to acquire new equipment and continue efforts to recruit and train new drivers.
All standard and over-dimensional freight rates have been driven to new heights, typically a win for the trucking industry; but seemingly untenable in the future. Drivers are working nonstop eliminating the flexibility and ability for flatbed shipping companies to react to change spontaneously. Driver capacity now has a greater effect on fleet capacity and utilization rates.
Adding to this driver shortage and the pandemic transportation conundrum is the closing of driver training schools and license testing sites, stricter drug testing, and unemployment benefits on steroids. These closures will drop the CDL supply chain of holders to a mere forty per cent. Forty thousand drivers alone were lost to the more aggressive drug and alcohol testing that prevents violators from seeking reemployment in the industry. As hair follicle testing is rolled out these numbers can become catastrophic to the industry eliminating over one hundred thousand drivers.
As hoarding ramps up again the freight industry will be further strained driving up rates and shortages of certain goods. Looking at the positive side increased rates will mean higher incomes for drivers attracting more people to the industry.