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Major Freight Infrastructure Investments Set to Generate $10 Billion Economic Boost for St. Louis Region

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Major Freight Infrastructure Investments Set to Generate $10 Billion Economic Boost for St. Louis Region

Investment in infrastructure is critical to sustaining a prosperous region and ensuring efficient freight movement across the St. Louis area, the nation, and globally. Evidence shows that every dollar spent on transportation infrastructure yields a $4 return in economic development. This multiplier effect and the importance of unified regional advocacy for priority project funding were key themes at the annual Freight Summit hosted by the St. Louis Regional Freightway on May 15, part of FreightWeekSTL 2024.

Read also: St. Louis Region Poised to Thrive Amid Global Supply Chain Disruptions

Infrastructure as a Catalyst for Economic Growth

Shayne Gill, Program Director for Multimodal Transportation at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), emphasized St. Louis’s strategic importance in freight transportation. “St. Louis serves as a crucial hub for multimodal freight connections, enhancing its economic growth potential,” said Gill. He highlighted the collaborative efforts led by the St. Louis Regional Freightway that are advancing significant projects, such as the $2.8 billion new terminal at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, ongoing improvements on Interstate 270, and the replacement of key freight rail bridges over the Mississippi River.

Leveraging Federal Funding

Gill noted the region’s effective use of newly available federal funds, enabling faster advancement of critical infrastructure projects. He also discussed the transformative impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and advocated for maintaining these “historic” funding levels to counteract inflation and rising construction costs.

Economic Impact of Infrastructure Projects

With the St. Louis region’s Priority Projects List including nearly $2.3 billion in funded projects, the anticipated economic impact is close to $10 billion. Overall, the 27 projects on the list, totaling over $8 billion, are expected to generate $24 billion in economic benefits for the bi-state region. Gill stressed the importance of showcasing the broader economic benefits of these projects, including job creation and reduced commuting times, which enhance community well-being and attract businesses.

Future Infrastructure Funding and Workforce Development

Gill advocated for more predictable funding through formula programs and significant discretionary grants for large-scale projects like I-270. He also addressed the impact of recent trends, such as low river levels and pandemic-induced shifts in freight dynamics, underscoring the essential role of public transportation in maintaining supply chain stability.

Building Public Support

In the Q&A session, Gill highlighted the need to educate the public on the daily benefits of transportation infrastructure. He urged professionals to share personal stories illustrating how infrastructure improvements enhance quality of life, thereby fostering public support for continued investment.

Workforce Development Needs

Mary Lamie, Executive Vice President of Multimodal Enterprises for Bi-State Development, moderated the discussion and shared insights on workforce challenges, such as shift overlaps due to transportation delays. Gill emphasized the need to engage youth with the evolving transportation sector’s exciting opportunities to ensure a skilled workforce capable of leveraging infrastructure investments effectively.

By focusing on infrastructure investment as a driver of economic growth and advocating for sustained funding, the St. Louis region is poised to achieve significant economic benefits and enhanced quality of life for its residents.

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Improved Carrier Sentiment Signals Potential Rate Increase in Truckload Spot Market

A recent Bloomberg | Truckstop survey reveals that sentiment among North American carriers in the truckload spot market has improved over the past three months, although some concerns remain.

Read also: Truckstop.com and Bloomberg Intelligence Survey Shows Carriers Remain Optimistic About Demand Despite Obstacles

“The industry is emerging from a challenging quarter, and the improved sentiment coupled with Truckstop’s rising Market Demand Index suggest rates may move higher from here,” said Lee Klaskow, senior freight transportation and logistics analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “The direction of rates will be driven by supply-side factors as the industry remains flush with capacity.”

Key Findings from the 1Q24 Truckload Survey

1. Demand and Future Predictions

While 62% of carriers reported lower freight volumes in Q1, 33% anticipate an increase in freight demand over the next 3-6 months, a significant improvement from previous expectations. Only 19% foresee a decline in demand, marking a 12-point improvement from the last survey.

2. Market Improvements

The survey indicated that market conditions might be improving, with Truckstop’s Market Demand Index up 9% year-over-year, the first annual gain after seven consecutive declines. Additionally, only 26% expect rates to drop in the next 3-6 months, while 28% anticipate rising rates.

3. Carrier Uncertainty

Despite the positive outlook, 44% of respondents were unsure about their future in the industry, and 9% expressed a desire to leave trucking. High interest rates impacted 78% of businesses, with 19% citing increased equipment-financing costs as a barrier to upgrading or adding tractors. Demand challenges persisted, with an average load drop of 10%, slightly better than the 13% decline in Q4.

“We’re all eagerly anticipating a more positive shift in the tide,” said Kendra Tucker, CEO of Truckstop. “Truckstop continues to be a trusted partner, committed to delivering innovative solutions to help carriers navigate this ever-evolving business landscape.”

The Bloomberg | Truckstop survey, conducted among 225 owner-operators and small fleets, provides valuable insights into the health of the spot market. The sample included various types of carriers, with 45% operating just one tractor.

The full survey results are available to Bloomberg Terminal subscribers via BI.

global trade freight

A Broker’s Guide To Success: 2024 Freight Forecast

At the start of a new year, the freight industry remains in a soft market with a surplus of truck drivers and less demand for freight. The volume of trucks has greatly outweighed the amount of freight being moved, and everyone involved in the logistics chain of supply has been impacted.

Read also: Essential Guidelines for US Freight Forwarders

Despite this freight recession, a recent survey shows brokers are largely optimistic about 2024. In fact, 61% of participants in a Truckstop poll reported that they’re expecting demand growth over the first six months of the year. Spot rates appear to be bottoming out, which lends hope to brokers expecting to see a rise in rates during 2024.

While the future of freight isn’t guaranteed, several factors point to a positive outlook for freight brokers in 2024. As regulatory changes take place and fraud continues to evolve, brokers should adapt to a changing market, and safeguard their business against economic uncertainty.

UPCOMING REGULATORY CHANGES AND THEIR IMPACT

Regulatory changes were a hot topic in 2023 and continue to be a focal point in 2024. But with change comes the opportunity to improve safety standards and higher driver satisfaction–helping you create a reliable and trusted industry network.

Detention pay: Truck drivers have been campaigning for detention pay reform for years, and 2024 could be promising. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is currently investigating driver compensation and detention pay in two separate studies that are set to be completed in July 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Uncompensated detention time is a major pain point for a lot of drivers, and the FMCSA aims to gather more comprehensive data on this topic. Fair pay for this time will help attract and retain drivers.

EPA standards/CARB: As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to implement its Clean Truck Plan, all heavy-duty vehicles beginning in model year 2027 must follow strict standards to reduce smog emissions.

In California, all drayage trucks had to be registered with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Online System by this past Jan. 1, aiming toward the state’s goal of zero emissions.

While these changes will likely impact carriers significantly, they will also fit into the industry’s balance and recovery phase of a new cycle.

Freight broker bonds: Another change that began 2024 was the FMCSA freight broker bond and trust rulemaking. To bring more fairness to the freight broker industry, the FMCSA will enforce stricter rules around BMC-84 freight broker bonds and BMC-85 trusts. Now, lending parties must be FDIC-insured banks.

While most brokers are upstanding, the few that aren’t give the rest a bad name. This new regulation will immediately suspend brokers whose financial security falls below $75,000. If, after seven calendar days, the funds are not restored, the FMCSA will issue a notification of suspension of operating authority to the broker.

By eliminating bad actors, brokers should see a positive shift in their field—if their trust or bond is up to date with an insured bank. This will also instill confidence that carriers are better protected from non-payment or fraudulent broker activity.

As a broker, you should see these changes as potential opportunities for growth. Communication is key to setting clear expectations and making carriers feel they are getting a fair deal. Specify all accessorial charges, rate confirmations, and load confirmations, but leave room for adaptability when unexpected issues arise. This increases visibility, keeping business more efficient and secure.

COMBATTING FRAUD TRENDS

Along with regulatory changes, freight brokers should also be aware of fraud trends in 2024. As scammers continue to get shut down, they evolve and find new ways to defraud brokers and other players in the trucking industry.

Emerging cyber threats and identity theft: Online security threats continue to be a huge issue for the freight industry and are likely to continue (and become even more sophisticated) in 2024. Bad actors—either from the U.S. or abroad—impersonate carriers, shippers, and brokers so they can steal cargo and intercept payments.

Brokers should invest in cybersecurity measures to protect their business and follow basic best practices.

  • Use unique passwords and turn on multi-factor authentication.
  • Verify carrier credentials and load details before processing any payments. Confirm all contact information carefully, use carrier scoring tools for detailed information, and take simple precautions such as calling phone numbers to verify—and save yourself unnecessary hassle in the long run.
  • Educate yourself and watch out for phishing scams (through email) and smishing scams (through SMS text).
  • Use trusted technology integrations and load boards that are vetted on a regular basis and prioritize strict security measures.

BRACING FOR CHANGING ECONOMIC CONDITIONS

With a projected U.S. GDP growth of 1.5% and inflation and interest rates remaining elevated, 2024 may be another year full of unpredictable freight industry cycles.

Many economists predict a “soft landing” for the U.S. in 2024, but there is still a chance of recession—especially if the economy continues to slow down. Brokers should be vigilant and always prepared for any outcome.

Strategies for economic resilience:

1. Implement cost-cutting measures without compromising service

Freight brokers should look for solutions that reduce wasteful spending without compromising their level of service to both carriers and shippers. Implement systems into your work that automate small tasks, look for errors, offer pricing comparisons, track shipments, and facilitate easy communication with carriers.

You can also work on consolidating freight. Find opportunities to consolidate smaller shipments into large, shared truckloads, and optimize routes whenever possible.

2. Build a trusted network

Safeguard your business by building trusted relationships. Be upfront when discussing pricing, timelines, invoicing, and delivery confirmations. Offer fair, market prices. Communicate every step of the way. Commit to securing a trusted network focusing on trust and communication for business longevity.

3. Use industry-leading tech tools

Integrate technology tools designed to make your work easier without sacrificing your attention to quality or detail. Let technology do the day-to-day tasks so you can concentrate on productivity.

FORECASTING FOR SUCCESS

With a soft market, and uncertain projections for 2024, brokers are still optimistic about the coming year in freight. Changes to detention pay, EPA standards and freight broker bonds will all positively impact the market, and brokers should plan for and look forward to these adjustments.

You can protect your broker business from bad actors by avoiding freight fraud, bolstering security measures, and integrating helpful technology. Further safeguard your broker business with smart economic decisions and a focus on relationship building.

Boise, Idaho-based Truckstop is committed to empowering brokers with leading technology, vetted load boards, carrier onboarding and more. Learn more at truckstop.com or request a demo at truckstop.com/brokers.

 

brokering

Three Ways to Recognize Double Brokering

The looming danger of double-brokering is on the rise, and it carries the potential for financial losses and legal troubles that could devastate your business. This, along with other fraud risks in the freight market, can quickly jeopardize your business and your reputation if you’re not careful.

Double-brokering can be prevented, but it requires careful attention to detail when verifying contact information, credentials, and documentation. Rushing the process is always a bad idea, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. However, there are indicators that should alert you to dig deeper.

What is Double-Brokering?

The most common type of double-brokering happens when a broker or shipper hires a full truckload carrier and vets their MC number, but the load is hauled by a different MC number without the knowledge or consent of the original contact. This practice is both unethical and illegal. It also puts all parties at risk should something happen to the cargo along the way.

Three Warning Signs of Double-Brokering

Here are three warning signs of double-brokering.

  1. A carrier with less than three months of authority and zero inspections
  2. Names or phone numbers are not provided for the carrier.
  3. A carrier with just a single truck, and the VIN doesn’t match the one you have on record.

Ways to Avoid Double-Brokering

Avoiding double-brokering can be done, but it involves a proactive approach to spot suspicious behavior before it becomes a problem.

Here are ways to effectively avoid double-brokering and prevent it from happening to someone else.

  • Have the customer confirm the MC and DOT numbers for every carrier and confirm with the broker or shipper.
  • Verify contact information and communicate with your partners.
  • Call phone numbers to confirm it is the fight carrier. Virtual numbers without a physical address can also be a red flag for fraud.
  • Implement a strict carrier vetting process that’s reliable and accurate using tools like RMIS.
  • Check carrier scores confidently with software tools like Carrier Assure. If the carrier has a low score (D or F), take additional vetting measures.
  • Report carriers who double-broker right away to law enforcement and the FMCSA.

Being on the lookout for and reporting double-brokering is important to maintain trust and security in the freight market. Double-brokering can lead to financial losses, higher rates, and a lack of control over shipments. By reporting it, you help increase transparency and accountability for all parties.

NaVCIS section 321 freight-forwarders shippers carrier newtrul technology port ship4wd lane

Freight Companies are not Expecting a Robust Peak Shipping Season Come Fall 2023

For cargo carriers, the last quarter of the year is typically the strongest. Yet, the last quarter of 2022 was anything but with overstocked retailers canceling orders and carriers dialing back freight volume expectations. In early 2022 tight capacity and increasing shipping prices yielded significant profits to the larger logistics and transport sector. But consumer spending ended up shifting to services and retailers have been left with excess inventories. 

This year, Switzerland-based Kuehne + Nagel International is not expecting a rosier panorama. Freight operators are already preparing for a weak shipping season come fall. Fall is usually the season when companies begin pushing goods through supply chains in preparation for the end-of-year holidays. Kuehne + Nagel operates ocean container lines, airfreight companies, as well as middlemen. In a good year, the midsummer surge is a revenue driver with manufacturers and retailers prepping for back-to-school and the previously mentioned end-of-year. So far this year large merchants have continued to cut back excess inventories and this does not appear to be letting up. 

Compared with the second quarter of 2022, Kuehne + Nagel’s net turnover plummeted by 43% over the same period. A decline in airfreight and ocean demand cut profits by more than half and Kuehne + Nagel unit costs were slashed from the first to second quarter by 14%. A rival to Kuehne + Nagel, DSV A/S, is in a similar predicament with their air and sea division having posted significantly lower volumes compared to a year ago. They have reduced their full-time workforce by 1,900 during the first quarter of this year and logistics employment overall continues to be trimmed. 

The Logistics Managers’ Index, established in 2016, tracks logistics metrics (inventory, warehousing, and transportation) coupled with the responses of 100 + professionals on the direction and movement of key logistics metrics. They then release a corresponding monthly report and June 2023 marked the lowest point in the history (6.5 years) of the index.

While ocean shipping volumes remain suppressed for DVS and others, if consumer demand improves airfreight could pick up. The DVS earnings outlook had improved slightly as significant worsening is not expected. But all of this does not bode well for 2023. 

 

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Freight Brokers Fortify Carrier Relationships through Tai’s Integration with MyCarrierPackets

Tai’s partnership with MyCarrierPackets empowers freight brokers to add verifiable carrier solutions to their network

Tai TMS (Tai), a fully integrated, broker platform for freight management and transportation, today announced an integration partnership with MyCarrierPackets, a carrier onboarding service provider. Brokers can now turn to Tai’s integration with MyCarrierPackets as a way to strengthen carrier networks and relationships.

Once brokers identify key carriers, the integration begins syncing five years worth of carrier data from MyCarrierPackets. By leveraging this data, agents no longer need to directly contact carriers to obtain required documentation. With carrier syncs taking place every four minutes, documentation uploads, factoring/payment setup, preferred regions & shipment types, and contact information are all up-to-date and automatically translated from MyCarrierPackets into Tai.

Brokers looking to work with new carriers can send a carrier invitation within Tai. From there, the integration creates a new carrier profile. This new carrier profile will remain in a disabled status until the packet and insurance information is provided and vetted by MyCarrierPackets. Once the required information is confirmed, the system will activate the carrier for the broker and allow them to begin sharing job details.

While disruptions such as double-brokering scams and capacity fluctuations continue to hit supply chains across the country, Tai’s integrations with carrier security and onboarding platforms, like MyCarrierPackets, protects brokers from uncertainty.

 

TAI

Greenscreens.ai and Tai Software Partnership Enhancing Rate Accuracy for Freight Brokers 

Tai Software (Tai), a fully integrated, broker platform for freight management and transportation, today announced a customer update in their integration partnership with Greenscreens.ai, a dynamic pricing infrastructure that optimizes and enriches historical and real-time market data to predict buy and sell prices.

For GLS, a logistics and brokerage company out of California, partnering with Tai and Greenscreens.ai has ensured the seamless flow of transactional data and empowered their brokers to fully automate their rate accuracy experience within existing systems. Instead of having to manage loads across multiple pages, GLS leverages Tai and Greenscreens.ai to streamline all rate data into a single-page view allowing brokers to make informed and quick decisions.

Greenscreens.ai analyzes historical pricing information in relation to real-time market conditions to determine a spot rate that is two-to-three times more accurate than traditional pricing methods. Intelligently priced rates are accessible within Tai and become an instant component within load execution workflows. By fully automating the buy rate and sell price process, Greenscreens.ai and Tai save brokers time while mitigating risk. Brokers can leverage automated and accurate rates to improve operational efficiency while closing more deals, issuing more quotes and increasing their volume per rep.

As manual processes continue to dominate the industry, Tai has continued to facilitate relationships with industry leaders such as Greenscreens.ai. With direct integrations to carriers, load boards, automation and capacity tools Tai provides unmatched speed and scalability for brokers looking to drive their business forward.

NaVCIS section 321 freight-forwarders shippers carrier newtrul technology port ship4wd lane

Highway Joins Forces with Tai to Deliver Targeted Carrier and Capacity Solutions for Brokers

Tai TMS (Tai), a fully integrated, broker-friendly platform for freight management and transportation, today announced an integration partnership with Highway, the only provider of carrier identity management. .

With the integration, Tai now empowers brokers to leverage Highway’s carrier identity engine and carrier onboarding process. This combination of Highway’s sourcing, onboarding and monitoring with Tai’s single point-of-truth platform, provides brokers with the insights, identity alerts, double brokering protection and efficiencies that help them stand apart from their competitors.

Highway removes friction and inconsistency associated with brokers using multiple sites to vet a carrier by replacing the effort with a proprietary Identity Engine. The engine produces a unique digital thumbprint and single sign-on experience that can be used to connect carriers with brokers in a secured verified way right into the broker’s own digital experience. Tai correlates these customized carrier classification datasets into a single pageview for improved accessibility and more informed decision making.

With integrations to carrier verification tools such as Highway brokers are able to trust Tai to secure their networks and deliver capacity. As an end-to-end tool, Tai delivers unparalleled success to their brokers, positioning themselves as the leader in forward-thinking TMS solutions.

Brokers remain resilient despite continued freight market softening in the third quarter

Brokers Remain Resilient Despite Continued Freight Market Softening in the Third Quarter

A slight rebound of the broader economy in the third quarter failed to translate to strength for the freight market. Brokers nevertheless managed to grow their business quarter over quarter and year over year, a trend that continued from the second quarter and is expected to carry into the fourth quarter, according to the latest data from the Transportation Intermediaries Association’s 3PL Market Report, Third Quarter 2022.

“There’s no doubt the third quarter proved to be a weaker environment for freight,” said TIA President and CEO Anne Reinke. “But we’re seeing relative stability among our members, who outperformed the broader market for total shipment volume. Their expertise and efficiencies in a tough marketplace have carried them through and the data points to a lasting resilience among brokers post-pandemic.”

Third-quarter real gross domestic product rose 2.9 percent, but key contributors to that gain, including weaker goods imports and increased consumer spending, didn’t lift the portion of the economy linked to freight. Imports count as a negative in the calculation of GDP, but they are important to the freight economy. Meanwhile, the rise in consumption occurred in services while spending on goods eased slightly. Increased pricing power among shippers led to a decrease in invoice amount per load for the second consecutive quarter. Brokers’ services have been fueled by high consumer spending and a constrained supply chain environment over the last two years. We anticipate this strength in the marketplace continuing into the fourth quarter as capacity constraints continue to loosen.

TIA’s 3PL Market Report is released on a quarterly basis and uses data collected from 35 participating TIA members to analyze shifts in broker activity, which is largely dominated by the truckload sector. FTR Transportation Intelligence prepared this quarter’s report.

Additional Takeaways and Trends Include:

  • Consumer spending remained stronger than expected for the quarter given inflation-led price increases, but that spending has been mostly in services. The personal savings rate recently fell to a nearly record-breaking level — a strong indicator that consumer spending is about to drop off in the coming quarters, which will negatively impact the freight economy.
  • Intermodal, which makes up about 15 percent of all brokerage activity, experienced quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year declines in volume owing to a combination of subpar rail service and labor uncertainties at West Coast ports. Ocean shipments are instead going through East Coast and Gulf Coast ports where they’re more often transferred to trucks than rail. Long-term, the segment is proving less reliable for freight networks than other segments.
  • The glut of small carrier failures first noted in the second quarter of 2022 carried into this quarter. Yet, the number of new for-hire trucking companies remains strong, a trend that points in part to technology advancements enabling intermediaries to work more efficiently with small operators using digital freight platforms.
  • The automotive sector remains a bright spot for freight as real inventories of motor vehicles and parts are still about 21 percent below Q419. Unless vehicle sales weaken substantially, auto manufacturers likely would maintain production levels and that benefits the freight market.
big tech brokers

Nearly 60% of Freight Brokers still use Paper Checks but most think Digitalization would Improve Operations

Denim, the leading financial enablement platform for the freight and logistics industry, has released its inaugural Freight Broker Pulse Report in partnership with Ascend2. With insights from 168 freight brokers, the report highlights the importance of time efficiency in operations and how the industry benefits from digitalization.

According to the report, freight brokers spend too much time on broker operations, including invoicing, collections, and payments. Over half of respondents (52%) report that their organization spends 25% or more of their time working on broker operations, which totals 480 hours a year based on the average 40-hour work week. Considering this significant time investment — 78% agree that their business would be more successful if they spent less time on broker operations.

The report also highlights the need for digitalization in the freight industry. Nearly 60% of those surveyed still pay carriers and shippers with paper checks, despite over two-thirds (68%) saying eliminating paper checks would improve their business operations.

Additional findings from Denim’s report include:

  • 84% of freight brokers are optimistic for 2023

  • 74% of enterprise freight brokers (average $2 million in monthly revenue) are prioritizing improving overall efficiency in the year ahead.

  • Rising gas prices was the top challenge (63%) of freight brokers in 2022

  • Over half (58%) of freight brokers use invoice factoring to finance freight and receivables.

  • 97% of freight brokers agree that building trust with carriers and shippers improves business.

The Freight Broker Pulse Report follows the announcement of the company’s rebrand and $126 million Series B funding round, which will enable Denim to continue scaling its team and fueling product expansion efforts to meet the growing needs of freight brokers.

About Denim

Denim is a financial enablement platform for the logistics industry that offers an ecosystem of intelligent financial products, operations tools, and time-saving automation. Its proprietary technology enables freight brokers to simplify their financing operations and easily access the working capital they need to grow in the competitive, $2 trillion logistics market. Denim automates invoicing, collections, and payments — ultimately reducing daily payments and collections tasks by 75%. A remote-first company, Denim has been named a Best Place To Work by Built In and Best Workplace for Innovators by Fast Company.

About Ascend2

Organizations partner with Ascend2 to produce high-quality original research studies, supplement their marketing content, build thought leadership, create media coverage, generate leads, and engage prospects to drive demand. Ascend2 performs research for Oracle, Brightcove, Act-On, The Pedowitz Group, HubSpot, and more. Our clients’ research is regularly featured by MarketingProfs, Insider Intelligence, Forbes, Media Post, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, Convince & Convert, and more.