Transportation Industry Update: Capacity, Pricing and Sustainability

We know that, in today’s world, there is uncertainty for Logistics professionals when it comes to forecasting the cost of moving freight and how to best optimize your network. During the November 3rd UWEBC Logistics and Distribution Peer Group meeting, business professionals gathered to learn from UWEBC member company Schneider what industry analysts are seeing in the transportation industry as we head into 2023 and share insights and trends with other UWEBC members.

Led by UWEBC’s Supply Chain Practice Director Jenny Patzlaff, member participants discussed what the balance of the year might look like when it comes to pricing and capacity (including results from a member benchmarking survey), along with where the transportation industry may be heading in terms of sustainability and visibility. The meeting was held at UWEBC member company Schneider’s headquarters in Green Bay, where they spearheaded the critical topic of the current state of trucking in the US, including what industry analysts are saying about capacity and pricing across truckload, LTL, and other transportation topics that may impact businesses.

The meeting opened with a presentation by Jarred Winkel, VP of Port Drayage, and Bridgette Gerl, Director of Purchasing, where they discussed the state of transportation and distribution. They highlighted the Rumsfeld Matrix, which is used to estimate uncertainty in project. They then elaborated on how they believe environmental, social, and governance (ESG) will become increasingly important. Jarred and Bridgette also touched on some trends they have seen, referencing tools such as the Logistics Manager Index and EIA fuel trends. Transportation capacity has been improving, yet fuel prices have continued to be highly variable. They concluded with key takeaways about what business professionals should keep an eye out for, including fuel prices, railroad and port negotiations, and the financial stability of carriers, suppliers, and vendors.

Following Jarred and Bridgette’s presentation, Lee Whipp, Sr. Director of Purchasing, and Sarah Wilder, VP of Supply Chain Solutions, gave insight into emerging technologies and sustainability. Sarah first explained how a shipper can report on Scope 3 emissions by accessing clean TMS shipment level data, retrieving SmartWay carrier data, and cleaning and matching the data between the two sources. She then highlighted ways shippers can reduce their Scope 3 emotions through: tactical, operational, and strategic approaches. Sarah emphasized that it is essential to start doing this now; even though it may not be perfect, the journey will continually evolve and will help you get – and stay – ahead of your competitors. Lee then discussed battery-electric vehicles and how they will be one of many types of electric vehicles, including how hydrogen technology may be a better solution as it helps increase range, is lighter weight, and thrives in northern climates.

After Lee and Sarah’s presentation, Sam Bass, Director of IT Advanced Analytics, talked about continuous improvement through visualizing and optimizing your network. He stated that the environment is constantly changing and that it is vital to watch your supply chain closely; otherwise, it may get out of hand. Sam discussed different business drivers that may require you to update your network planning, such as new products, M&A, global strategies, and demand fluctuations. He concluded his presentation by discussing ways to determine how well your business strategies align with the current environment. He suggested that one of the best ways to do this is by conducting a supply chain assessment. This includes visualizing your business’s supply chain, looking for improvement/opportunity areas, and challenging the status quo.

The meeting concluded with a presentation by Natalie Hall, Operations Project Manager, who talked about Process Automation. Natalie highlighted the importance of shifting your customer response goals from “you exceeded my expectations” to “you make it easy.” She then connected what she was saying to her work at Schneider. The principles Schneider focuses on have been helping to foster and create an effortless experience.

Following Natalie’s presentation, the attendees participated in small group discussion where they had the chance to discuss ideas they had just heard about and incorporate those into their organizations. They shared their key takeaways with the broader audience so everyone could benefit from these peer learning sessions.

Each speaker from Schneider brought a different perspective to the meeting. As the world is an ever-changing and evolving place, it is important to track market insights and strategies to mitigate cost pressures. Staying on top of continual supply chain disruptions is key to optimizing your network.

Published December 7, 2022
Dylan Kopf and Jenny Zhang, Marketing Student Assistants