This Week in Logistics News (October 31 – November 4, 2016)

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for winning the World Series after going 108 years without a championship. The Curse of the Billy Goat has been lifted! Who could have predicted that a team that had lost 101 games just four years ago would turn it around so quickly and win it all this year? Probably the same guy who predicted it 23 years ago, Michael Lee, who wrote in his 1993 high school yearbook, “Chicago Cubs 2016 World Champions. You heard it here first.”

Or @RaysFanGio on Twitter, who sent out this tweet 2 years ago:

Now we just need these two prophets to predict who will win the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday. It wouldn’t surprise me if millions of Americans, dissatisfied with the two leading candidates, follow Mike Golic’s lead and write in Theo Epstein for president. As Golic said, “Listen, we need somebody to fix things, Theo can fix things! He took two of the greatest curses of all time [the Red Sox’s Curse of the Bambino and the Cubs’ The Curse of the Billy Goat] and fixed them! He made my [vote] next Tuesday very easy.”

Whatever happens on Tuesday, this too shall pass.

And with that, let’s move on to this week’s supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention:

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association lost its case in federal court to put the brakes on the Electronic Logging Device mandate. As reported in CCJ, “OOIDA was unable to convince the court of its arguments that the rule violates truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. OOIDA also claimed the rule didn’t meet standards set by Congress for an ELD mandate — an argument the court also rejected.” Therefore, unless other legal challenges arise, the December 18, 2017 compliance date remains in effect. For related commentary, and to learn what the next hot topic in trucking will be, see What’s Next After Electronic Logging Devices?

In other trucking news, the Wall Street Journal reported (based on data from ACT Research) that “orders for heavy-duty commercial trucks in North America plummeted 46% in October from the same month last year, providing a grim outlook for truck manufacturers in the coming year.”  Here are some excerpts from the article:

October orders reflect “lingering overcapacity from too many Class 8 tractors being purchased relative to freight creation in 2015 and into early 2016,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president.

“We’re hearing from lots and lots of fleets they’re delaying purchases,” Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger told analysts on a conference call with analysts. Truck fleets “don’t have quite the miles needed to make a trade in. And the engines are really good out there, so you can stretch a little more out of it. And the lead time is really low. If I need [a truck] I can get it quickly.”

Based on what I’ve been hearing, supply is still greater than demand, but the gap is shrinking week by week, so absent some jolt in economic growth or a sharp decline, 2017 promises to be a more balanced market, meaning we’ll see rates tick up a bit. Then again, maybe we should just ask Michael Lee and @RaysFanGio what they predict will happen with the trucking market next year.

Transportation management system (TMS) vendors have Europe on the brain, as evidenced by the announcements made this week by 3Gtms and Cloud Logistics. 3Gtms announced that it has opened an office in Utrecht, The Netherlands that will serve as the base for its European operations. This is the company’s first overseas expansion “as a result of its rapid and consistent domestic growth.”

Meanwhile, Cloud Logistics announced a partnership with Inolog to begin servicing the United Kingdom, Ireland and other regions in Europe. “While we continue to grow and expand in the United States, there remains tremendous demand in England and elsewhere in Europe for an intuitive TMS that can be implemented in days or weeks,” said Mark Nix, Chief Executive Officer of Cloud Logistics.

It’s interesting to note the common threads between the two announcements: Both vendors have reached a critical mass of success in the US and are now looking for growth in Europe; both vendors see growing demand in the region for more flexible, easier to use and deploy TMS solutions. The main difference is that 3Gtms has opened its own office, while Cloud Logistics has taken the partnership route. There are pros and cons to each approach, but either way, I imagine a modern day (and European) Paul Revere riding through the streets of London or Amsterdam shouting, “The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming!”

And with that, have a great weekend!

Song of the Week: “Pleasure Little Treasure” by Depeche Mode