Fleets Share Thoughts on COVID-19 Impact

Freight brokerages are facing "too much business" as a result of COVID-19.

Fleet Owner – “Food-related carriers have doubled their orders,” said Archerhub CEO Nick Darmanchev. “We have too much business because of this incident.”

The digital freight broker based out of Denver connects drivers with customers needing to fulfill extra capacity or recover freight, and going has been good. Like the experts at DAT Solutions who track spot rates, he likens the period to the high watermark of 2018.

“Tyson foods, Anheuser-Busch—they’re all of a sudden increasing the amount of freight, so it’s crazy out there,” Darmanchev said. “They’re starting to drive the prices up.”

The problem with only looking at one data set, like spot rates, gives a false impression. Because of the pandemic and people getting sick or having to stay home and watch their children as schools have closed, loading and unloading times have been impacted. And the situation changes by the week, if not by the day.

In an interview on March 17, Darmanchev who manages a fleet of about 50 trucks to further assist clients, observed trailers were taking 24 to 48 hours to get loaded. This week, conditions have changed due to corrections in the supply chain.

“While manufacturing and warehousing are experiencing understaffing, at the same time everyone is working together more efficiently and quicker than before,” Darmanchev said on Mar. 26.

Some changes speeding up the process are distribution centers are accepting trucks a day earlier than scheduled, the FMCSA waiving HOS rules for critical goods such as medical supplies, water, and food products, and the nationwide staycation has also led to empty highways and faster deliveries. 

“Currently, these factors are actually offsetting the shortage in manufacturing and warehouse labor,” Darmanchev said.

At some point, inventory will be depleted, though.

“I am worried about what’s going to happen if the virus isn’t contained immediately,” he said. “The supply side will be affected and that has a trickle-down effect. He predicted in the next two or three weeks, “we’ll see a drastic downturn.”

In our survey, 64% listed limited access to freight as a supply chain issue to look out for, with 23% marking access to vehicle service parts. BestDrive, Continental’s commercial tire dealer and retreader, affirmed it was staying open as an essential business to support the transportation industry, as did Goodyear. The latter suspended production due to decreased demand, though.

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