Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (July 26, 2019)

Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before 

Those lyrics by The Smiths from their song (you guessed it) Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before, popped into my head when I read the following headline this week:

U.S. Truck Driver Shortage Is On Course to Double in a Decade 

According to the Bloomberg article, “the driver deficit swelled by more than 10,000 to 60,800 in 2018 from a year earlier, according to a study by the American Trucking Associations…The ATA estimates that 160,000 driver positions will go unfilled in a decade.”

Back in 2009, the ATA predicted the driver shortage could hit 111,000 by 2014. The actual driver shortage in 2014 was 35,000.

In 2014, the ATA predicted that by 2020 the shortage could hit 240,000. We’re a few months away from 2020 and it looks like that prediction will be very wrong too. The ATA expects the driver shortage in 2019 to be less than in 2018 “as U.S.-China trade friction slows freight demand and after trucking companies boosted pay to attract recruits.” So, the driver shortage in 2020 will probably be about 65,000.

Source: Adelante SCM, ATA data

So, yes, the driver shortage is getting worse: 20,000 in 2009; 35,000 in 2014; and 61,000 in 2018. But we didn’t cross the 100,000 mark in 2014, and we didn’t cross it in 2015-2019 either, and we are certainly not going to cross the 200,000 mark in 2020.

One thing is for sure: there will be another press release and another set of news stories next year about how bad the driver shortage is probably, maybe going to get in the future.

(For related commentaries, see “Truck Driver Shortage: Myth Or Reality?” and “Truck Driver Shortage: Getting Better, Worse, Or No Problem At All?” and “Driver Shortage In Trucking: Time For Plan B”)  

Moving on, here’s the rest of this week’s supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week:

MercuryGate Makes First Acquisition: TransSolutions

It was only last week that I reiterated how there’s always something new to talk about with transportation management systems (TMS). Well, there’s a lot to talk about this week, starting with MercuryGate’s acquisition of TranSolutions, a provider of transportation-centric claims management software. Here are some details from the press release:

TranSolutions is the leading provider of claim management software to Fortune 1000 companies, leading 3PLs, freight brokers and carriers. The company provides a complete suite of solutions for cargo claims, freight bill overcharge, vendor claims and carrier claims designed to solve back office challenges.

Last month in my takeaways from MercuryGate’s Velocity 2019 conference, I wrote about the company’s growth and how “unlike many other TMS vendors, MercuryGate has not acquired a single company in its history.” The 19 year streak ended this week.

TranSolutions’ freight claim software, myEZClaim, is an example of an “on the edge of TMS” solution — that is, solutions that either extend or enhance the capabilities of TMS applications. This acquisition also keeps with the strategy that MercuryGate CEO Joe Juliano outlined at the conference: MercuryGate will remain focused on TMS for the third-party logistics (3PL), carrier, broker, freight forwarding, and shipper markets. 

For the first time in its history, however, MercuryGate will have a second code base to manage (or determine how to integrate/merge with its platform in the future), and new employees to integrate within its culture (which is sometimes easy, sometimes painful). 

One thing is clear: there’s a new buyer in town in the transportation software market.

More TMS News from BluJay Solutions, Kuebix, and BlueGrace Logistics

There was plenty of other TMS-related news this week. Here are some highlights from the press releases:

BluJay Solutions: announced the release of BluJay Global Trade Network (GTN) portfolio version 19.2. Transportation Management in version 19.2 introduces document sharing between shippers and carriers. Both parties can now upload and share documents to the platform, eliminating the need to attach them to a load. By creating document threads, users can add and replace files and easily identify the most recent version of a document. [The new version] now also supports product classification details for Dangerous Goods and U.S. Export Filing – Partner Governing Agency (PGA) requirements. 

Kuebix: announced the addition of FleetMAX to its Community Load Match service. FleetMAX is a Kuebix integrated platform that exposes private and dedicated fleets’ open capacity to brokers and Kuebix TMS shippers. These private fleets are managed through Estes Truckload Management providing Kuebix users access to 10,000+ fleets through one of the most trusted names in the industry. Kuebix TMS users searching for truckload capacity can compare spot quotes in Community Load Match from a vast network including brokers, carriers and freight marketplaces. Now, with the addition of Estes Truckload Management to Community Load Match, Kuebix shippers gain access to FleetMAX’s network of private fleets and settlement management from a brand they know and trust.

BlueGrace Logistics: is making it easier to find the right truck for the right load with the rollout of its own Carrier File inside BlueShip TMS, providing the company with a new proprietary data mining platform that filters through data collected on hundreds of thousands of carrier records to find the best transportation options for every shipment. BlueGrace Logistics new carrier tool provides a platform that stores years’ worth of both internal and external data, which streamlines the carrier search process to help identify and select the best truck.

Simply put, as we’ve seen the past two weeks, TMS technology continues to evolve in response to market demands, and the winners will be those that are able to keep pace with those demands and continue to deliver value.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “99” by Barnes Courtney