The electronic logging device (ELD) rule has had a wider impact in its first eight months, but the effect on truckload capacity is seen more in emerging time constraints on shipping lanes rather than a loss of truck drivers, the head of the largest US (3PL) tells the Journal of Commerce.
A faster-growing economy and higher freight demand are expected to keep tightening those time constraints throughout 2018, especially for certain types of freight and in certain lanes. Shippers will need to continue “re-optimizing” distribution networks, re-evaluating their carrier partners and selection process, and rethinking bids and pricing well into 2019, explains JOC.
“John Wiehoff, CEO of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, said past projections of 3-5 percent truck capacity exiting the marketplace really hasn’t materialized. “We continue to have very healthy signup of new capacity and we really anecdotally don’t know of much meaningful capacity leaving the marketplace.”
Instead, he said, most truck capacity that has been lost can be measured in hours, rather than assets.
The “meaningful” impact of the ELD mandate, Wiehoff said, is in “the pricing and uncertainty” around “tweener” lanes — those 400- to 600-mile lanes that were same-day lanes before the ELD mandate and now are often two-day lanes. That shift to longer transit times caused shippers, carriers, and 3PLs to adjust networks, carrier selection, and even distribution strategies.
JOC.com reports in the months since the ELD mandate took effect last December and hard enforcement of the rule began April 1, shippers have seen longer transit times as drivers stick more closely to hours-of-service (HOS) limits. Meanwhile, HOS violations are declining in the ELD era, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says, and a feared wave of out-of-service orders for truckers without ELDs hasn’t materialized. In May, a month after out-of-service enforcement of the mandate began, fewer than 1 percent of all roadside truck inspections resulted in a driver being cited for not having an ELD.
The percentage of driver inspections with at least one HOS violation dropped from 1.19 to 0.64 percent from December through May, with the percentage sticking about 0.84 percent from January through March and falling in April as ELD enforcement took effect, Larry Minor, FMCSA associate administrator for policy, said at the SMC3 Connections Conference in June. Truck drivers and motor carriers, Wiehoff said, “changed their behavior around what freight is preferable and how they are pricing.” In a driver’s market, truckers can pick and choose the most profitable freight and increasingly refuse freight that isn’t “driver friendly”.
The company believes the current freight market fundamentals will remain in place for the remainder of the year.
“On the supply side, we see high orders for new equipment, driver shortages, and significant logging device impacts on certain lanes and a lot of capacity owners realigning their networks and freight preferences to adjust to the market,” Wiehoff said.