Supply chain opportunities & challenges for 2022

January is an excellent time for transportation managers to look at how supply chain trends and trucking regulations will continue to challenge transportation operations in 2022. Here are some of the trends we see ahead, along with and highlights from the recent Axele webinar, “Supply Chain Challenges and Opportunities for Carriers in 2022:”

  • Total truckload capacity is up 5.4% year-over-year, with capacity up among owner-operators a staggering 28%.
  • West Coast port congestion won’t ease until early to mid-2022. An average of 96 container vessels are sitting offshore, with an average docking and unloading wait time of 21 days at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California (roughly 5x the number of containerships in the waters off L.A./Long Beach than last year).
  • When it comes to the supply chain crunch, the driver shortage and port congestion are just a part of the ongoing problem. We have just enough trucks to move freight, but they aren’t moving through the network fast enough. Staffing shortages at freight terminals and warehouses also contribute to the problem. The lack of chassis for drayage transport and longer dwell times at terminals occur all over the country, not just at the ports.

“The port crisis is bringing carriers opportunities,” said Dean Croke, principal analyst at DAT Freight & Analytics, during a recent webinar hosted by Axele. Spot rates are up to thirteen percent.

Working together, President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators passed the most significant infrastructure spending bill in U.S. history last year. The bill will give $450 billion to DOTs, with $300 billion towards highways. There are many things that the infrastructure bill does not include, such as:

  • Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would have redefined what it means to be an employee, supervisor, and employer, was opposed by groups like the American Trucking Associations and business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • Likewise, the bill did not include an increase to the minimum insurance liability for heavy-duty vehicles hauling non-hazardous freight from $750,000 to $2 million.
  • Meanwhile, safety concerns like sleep apnea screening and commercial vehicle driver health are still on FMCSA’s radar. Rear-impact guards on trailers will be part of the annual U.S. Department of Transportation inspection checklist in 2022—following recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. (The actual rear-guard rule took effect on Dec. 9. Trucks without the proper rear trailer guards won’t be placed out of service but could face fines of nearly $16,000 for the carrier and almost $4,000 for drivers.)
  • Crash-preventing safety technologies are a big part of the federal pilot program that will allow older drivers to mentor younger truckers so they can then operate across state lines. (A total of 49 states will enable drivers <21 years of age to use heavy-duty trucks within their states—but not beyond their borders.) The new law requires new drivers to complete 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced professional driver. New drivers must maintain a 65-mph speed and operate a commercial vehicle with an automatic or manual transmission, an active braking collision mitigation system, and a forward-facing video camera.

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