The World Economic Forum (WEF) took place in Davos last week. For logistics, leaders across the industry have assembled to address the prevention and management of future disruption, plans for accelerating tech adoption, and sustainability.
According to WEF, a main focus for this discussion with supply chain and transport leaders is a need to work communally and develop “pre-competitive collective action.” So, through sharing data and more open lines of communication, the effects of further industry disruption can be minimized.
Last month, FreightCaviar reported on efforts between Convoy, J.B. Hunt, and Uber Freight to standardize processes by forming the Scheduling Standards Consortium. It seems they aligned with the goals of WEF for collaboration across the industry.
Jett McCandless, CEO of project44, posted to LinkedIn about his experience at WEF. He pointed out that “without government direction, standards, accounting & booking, etc., it is difficult for the private sector to make capital investments.”
Kühne Logistics University writes, “Shared intelligence is increasingly viewed as an enabler of resilience and trusted trade…Breaking down many of the information silos that exist across supply chains will also require a change in corporate culture, however.”
Logistics and Digitization
The next major focus continues to be technological advancement in the logistics sector. As a result, there were panels on many tech-related topics. Key focuses were the use of data and the digitization of physical products.
Augmented Reality devices
Battery- and hydrogen-fuel-cell trucks
Robots in item-level picking
Paul Augustine, the Head of Sustainability at Lyft, predicted, “2023 will be a year of massive growth in vehicle electrification as the groundwork laid in 2022 — historic public policies and ambitious private sector investments — take hold and bear fruit.”
Logistics and Sustainability
Connected to the topic of technology is the idea of sustainability and the decarbonization of the supply chain. Further advancements and acceleration of tech will support emissions reduction goals.
Also a big push comes from a change in consumer mindset. Volvo Group tweeted, “Our clients are asking for this. We need to give off the right market signals to create demand.”
Barbara Humpton, President and CEO of Siemens Corp., said “We’re at a moment where we have the technology we need to decarbonize industry and infrastructure. The question is, how can we deploy it faster and at scale? From the building of a national EV charging infrastructure network to the transformation of rail, to the reinvention of American manufacturing, I think we’re going to see the answer to this question really take shape in 2023.”
At FreightCaviar, we believe it’s always important to look ahead and plan for the future. That’s why we’ve gathered exclusive freight market forecasts from top logistics executives for the year 2023. These experts will examine truckload demand and capacity trends from the past in order to make informed forecasts about the future of freight. They’ll also discuss the impact of these trends on businesses in the logistics industry. Get ready to dive deep and find out what the future holds for freight rates in 2023!
Meet Our Experts
Tim Higham is the President and CEO of AscendTMS, the largest TMS with 51,619 active customers. Higham’s software gives him live and real-time access to key information needed to give accurate forecasts.
Jake McLeod is the COO at EXO Freight, the world’s first open deck transportation marketplace driven by technology. McLeod has been in the industry for about 15 years and has seen the worst market (2008/09), an insanely high market (2021), and everything in between.
William Kerris the President of Edge Logistics, a company that’s been recognized for its record-setting growth. Kerr was named one of Crain Chicago’s 40 under 40, which honors company leaders who have successfully improved the world through their endeavors.
We’ve also got input from the CEO of a Leading 3PL, who wishes to remain anonymous.
The Good Times Can’t Last Forever
We’ve got to take a moment to look back. The buzzword of 2020-2021 was unprecedented, and it’s the perfect way to describe the freight market at the time. Such high rates weren’t normal – and this attracted a lot of newcomers and hurried decision-making.
CEO of Leading 3PL: I will say that a lot of our industry is historically not great at thinking long-term. We see companies make decisions that help them most today, here and now, without concern for long-term success and stability. I think some companies overcommitted themselves with hiring, unsustainably lucrative compensation packages…and other short-sighted decisions. As things have turned the other direction in the market, these same companies were forced to make unfortunate hard decisions. Starts with layoffs. When that’s not enough, things get bleaker. We saw a lot of that in the second half of 2022.
McLeod: Unfortunately, thousands (hundreds of thousands) of new carriers and owner-operators entered the market during this time and have no idea what normal rates look like, have never run a business properly before, overpaid for equipment, and could generally run a company that was profitable despite not being particularly well operated. Now that the tide has gone out, we are seeing who is swimming naked, and it is a lot of the industry – these carriers are going to be in desperate times to try and make their business work, or they will exit (voluntarily or by going out of business).
Higham: Amazingly, most people under the age of 35 haven’t experienced a real recession since they’ve been employed. But they’re about to, and it won’t be pleasant.
Predictions on the Market
As for 2023, here’s what the experts had to say.
Higham: I can literally see, in real-time (because of the 51,593 companies that use AscendTMS every day to run their logistics & trucking operations), the rapid downturn in rates on every load, the fewer viable freight companies out there, the lower total staff being employed at each entity, the lower number of trucks running, the lower TL and LTL volumes being moved, and the incessant squeeze on gross margins. These aren’t guesses, these are the real actual experiences of freight brokers, asset carriers, and shippers every single day.
Kerr: We will see a slower January and early February than last year, and then in late February/early March when most of the drop/drop shipper-national carrier rates reset to the 2023 rates, we will see the live/live spot market creep back up to a positive spot market through the summer and into peak season. By positive, I mean I expect that spot rates will be incrementally higher than contract rates on aggregate of live and drop pricing. That is not to say that we will have an inflated or accelerated spot market, I do not think that will occur in 2023 except in short bursts, regionally.
McLeod: What we are seeing is honestly a return to “normal” – the truckload market rates we saw in late 2020, 2021, and early 2022 were not normal or sustainable and truly a bubble (much like everything mentioned previously). While carriers scramble for business, they will take freight for cheaper and cheaper rates, as there are fewer and fewer load opportunities available as production slows, spending slows, etc. At some point, (I keep hearing from people Q1 or Q2 2023, I think it will be closer to 2024,) rates will hit a bottom and then likely bounce up a bit before settling into a normal market rate again (which I think is still lower than we are seeing truthfully). This will be due to capacity crunching again, consumer confidence and spending increases, and an overall increase in economic activity.
Forecast Data from Arrive Logistics
To summarize the report from Arrive Logistics, freight rates in 2023 are expected to be more stable compared to the previous year, with long-term contract rates returning to more typical levels. There may be less demand for shipping services, leading to more available capacity and making it easier for companies to stick to their preferred shipping routes.
However, there may be fewer shipping options available in the first half of the year due to a decrease in capacity, which could leave the market vulnerable to disruptions. There is likely to be less capacity available in the market due to high contract rates forcing some owner-operators and small companies out of business. However, this decrease in capacity may be offset by the influx of capacity that entered the market in the past and strong routing guide compliance.
Demand for shipping services may be impacted by a cooling economy and lower consumer spending, but demand may be supported by the need to fulfill backlogged orders in manufacturing and other industries.
How will these trends impact companies?
These market forecasts are important because they shape how businesses will move in the environment until a new pattern arrives. Of course, nothing can be said for certain, but smarter leaders will adjust their behavior accordingly. The experts give their thoughts on how the trends will impact logistics companies.
Higham: Massive cost cutting will be needed by a massive number of companies in 2023 (and, if you have a big salary that was negotiated during the excesses of late 2020, 2021, or early 2022, watch out). But, every recession can also be an opportunity. Those companies that prepared for the inevitable “rainy day” will manage to stay solvent, and they’ll pick up the customers of those that don’t.
CEO of Leading 3PL: If the trend continues with volumes and rates declining, things will get much worse for that same set of companies[who made short-sighted decisions]. I think right now, there’s a lot of “holding on”, trying to make it through the downturn. If this lasts long enough, those short-sighted companies won’t have the resources to sustain themselves. Hopefully, things turn around soon and business booms again. But if not, things will get uglier before they get better.
McLeod: I am not a doomsayer or getting political by any means either just being real with what I see happening, what I have seen happen, and where I think we are heading and where we are at. 3PLs/Brokers are not immune to this either, as we have seen thousands laid off in the last few months from many of the major players, and I am sure plenty we have not heard about from the medium and small players, not to mention the most recent news from CHR)
There’s a consensus that in 2023, companies will be more risk-averse, in addition to looking for any way to cut costs. This could be a good opportunity for those looking to gain new business. Long-standing partnerships may not be holding as strong when it comes to keeping a company afloat.
Higham: Freight executives are looking to save money right now, and they’ll give their business to those that can show instant ROI. In 2023, people will be more interested in securing cost savings than ever before, and so they’ll finally be willing to go through the pain of switching providers to realize those savings.
So, there could be room for growth and innovation, particularly regarding freight sales technology. Any tool or service that can streamline processes or lower operating costs might have a good year. Our experts discuss why businesses like theirs are in a prime position to take advantage of the coming market conditions.
Higham: Freight sales technology will be at the forefront this year, like ShipperCRM, to secure more (and better) shippers, high-value TMS, like AscendTMS, to eliminate TMS costs, and more automation, with freight AI, to reduce headcount. Everything a broker, carrier, or shipper uses in 2023 will be about VALUE!
McLeod: I am fortunate that EXO is at a point where we have nowhere to go but up, and we continue to capture new business opportunities from new and existing customers. We have built a better mousetrap for carriers and shippers to do business. While traditional brokerage models are not going anywhere, they will have a harder time defining their value prop as time marches onward.
Things don’t seem catastrophic, but companies will feel the pressure this year. It depends on the mindset and decisions a company made in the past that will impact its longevity.
McLeod: So while this all may sound pessimistic, I think it’s more just understanding that there was always going to be a correction coming, and if you thought that 2021 was going to be here forever and not a black swan event then you’ll be in for a really rude awakening, this is not a get rich quick industry. There are ups and downs, but there is a happy normal, and we are not far from that, but there will still be some pain to endure before we get there. Those that have built good businesses will come through better than before.
General Thoughts From Instagram Followers
FreightCaviar’s Instagram poll brought in 1000 responses from followers, who are mostly made up of people working actively in the industry. We asked followers, “Will the market bounce back in 2023?”
48% said yes, the market will bounce back fine in 2023.
52% disagreed. They think we won’t see things improve in 2023.
Take a look at some of the written responses below.
So, of course, many external factors can make the market unpredictable. And here, experts have provided a range of predictions, from more stable rates and healthy demand to the potential for disruptions and lower capacity. It is clear that the market will continue to evolve and that businesses in the logistics industry will need to stay informed and adapt to changing conditions to remain competitive. It is important to stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments and to be proactive in planning for the future (like following FreightCaviar, for example). By staying informed and taking a long-term view, companies can be better prepared to navigate the ups and downs of the freight market in the coming year and beyond.
Drone delivery is becoming more popular, with the global market for drone delivery projected to top $53 billion by 2025. In a study from ResearchandMarkets.com, the global drone logistics market was valued at $8.20 billion in 2021 and is forecast to reach $53.32 billion by 2031 at a CAGR of 20.8% from 2022 to 2031, STAT Times reports.
What makes drone delivery so appealing?
Time: Consumers want things fast–there’s a rising expectation for same-day delivery or faster. Drones can bring companies closer to these goals.
Money: “Operational costs are at least 70% lower than a van delivery service,” said Gartner analysts.
Environment: Researchers found that adopting quadcopter drones for small package deliveries could have up to 94% lower energy consumption per package than other vehicles.
In the latest US drone market news…
Amazon has a new drone for 30-minute urban deliveries and is preparing to make its debut. Meanwhile, Walmart is expanding its DroneUp delivery to 34 sites across six states.
Medicine delivery has been a hot spot for the market. Zipline and Wing make deliveries between hospitals, pharmacies, and clients’ homes.
Though the market is expanding, the use of drones for delivery purposes is still in the early stages. There are many technical, regulatory, and other challenges to overcome before it becomes a widespread practice.
To recap: The adoption of drone delivery is appealing for several reasons, including faster delivery times, lower operational costs and reduced energy consumption. Major companies such as Amazon and Walmart are investing in drone delivery technology, further supporting its potential as a mainstay in the logistics industry. As the technology advances, it will be interesting to see how the drone delivery market continues to evolve.
Convoy, J.B. Hunt, and Uber Freight want API standards in freight tech. The three have formed the Scheduling Standards Consortium (SSC) to call for standardization in transportation appointment scheduling via a report from FreightWaves.
What’s the problem In Freight Tech?
Despite being a common task, appointment scheduling is still one of the freight industry’s most analog and disjointed processes. Freight tech companies have tried to tackle this issue but haven’t had insight into one another’s data. Going in without that open exchange doesn’t help fix fragmented supply chains.
The SSC wants to combine the work of logistics providers, warehouse management solutions, and transportation management systems to push toward industry standards in scheduling practices.
Standards Consortium started with an organic conversation…
…between three representatives from each company during a FreightWaves Future of Supply Chain conference back in May. It was there that Dan Lewis, CEO of Convoy, spoke with Stuart Scott, executive vice president and chief information officer at J.B. Hunt, and the co-founder and head of operations at Uber Freight, Bill Driegert. The three felt that as early technology adopters, they could lead the way to more efficient scheduling practices.
They say that the goal of SSC is not to create another commercial product but to pull multiple parts of the industry together “to design a common application programming interface for sharing scheduling data,” Lewis and Scott explained to FreightWaves.
Lewis adds, “By setting these API standards, it allows for more innovation in the future.”
What’s the response?
There’s already a website up and running. Scott says current contributors showed an overwhelmingly positive response to the goal of industry-wide API standards. But they still need to get more key players on board with sharing information. The goal is that seeing leaders like J.B. Hunt involved will convince others to join the consortium.
The SSC plans to roll out standards for full-truckload freight by Q1 2023.
Check out our latest roundup of the top news headlines from around the freight and logistics world. We gather news related to brokers, carriers, shippers, logistics startups, freight tech, and more. Here’s what we’ve got for November 28, 2022.
Broker Market: The global freight brokerage market is estimated to reach $90.7 billion by 2031, a CAGR of 6.3% from 2022-2031.
Unionize the Skies: Workers at Amazon’s largest air hub in the world are pushing to organize a union. This comes as strikes are cropping up at Amazon centers across the globe.
From Outside the Cab: A viral video showed a truck driver steering an 18-wheeler into a parking spot without even stepping inside the cabin. Some gave praise while others ripped him a new one.
Askin’ All Them Questions:The planned mega-merger between Kroger and Albertsons is facing questioning from congress this week. If successful, the top grocers would bring nearly 5,000 stores under one umbrella.
Class 8 Update: October Class 8 orders continue at robust levels due to pent-up demand, broader orderboards for 2023, and elevated fleet age.