More from: trucking

Factors Benefiting the Trucking Industry

It is commonly understood by economists that the state of the trucking industry in America reflects the state of the overall economy. Why? Because 70% to 80% of the freight we move completes at least part of its journey by truck. Trucking is the most cost-effective way to move freight. Therefore, a robust trucking industry is a sign that the economy is doing well. In light of that, economists sometimes look at new truck orders in an attempt to forecast what things will look like in the coming year.

Some economists were concerned because new truck orders were off in January (2016). According to Bloomberg, year-on-year sales were down some 48% as compared to the previous year. It did however raise the question whether or not falling new truck orders are a key indicator of the trucking industry. We don’t think so, as there are a variety of reasons that help the trucking industry.


Freight Volume Is More Important

The first thing to understand is that, freight volume is a much more reliable indicator than new truck sales. The more disposable income consumers have, the more money they spend on buying things. This results in higher inventory levels at distribution centers and warehouses and in turn increases the volume of freight being moved closer to the consumer.

Due to this fact, what we should consider is whether or not trucking companies are still moving the same volume year-on-year, combined with forecasts for economic growth. According to Bloomberg, economic expansion for 2016 should be slightly more than 2%. The trucking industry should be able to absorb such a modest amount of growth without substantial investments in new equipment.

As long as truckers are still moving the same volume of freight, the situation is fine. Falling new truck orders do not necessarily translate into lower volume any more than falling profits for diesel fuel makers.

Shifting Logistics

Another reason to be optimistic despite fewer new truck orders can be found in shifting logistics. We have noticed a trend beginning to emerge involving trucking companies and shippers relying more on regional distribution rather than coast-to-coast freight forwarding. Moving to a regional model reduces travel time between destinations, keeps truckers closer to home, and makes logistics more flexible in adapting to a quickly evolving on-demand marketplace.

What does all this mean to truck manufacturers? It means fewer orders. Trucking companies that rely more on a regional distribution model do not need to invest as much equipment on an annual basis. Equipment lasts longer under this model, and replacement schedules can be adjusted accordingly.

Constant Economic Cycles

The US economy is no different than any other major world economy undergoes similar economic cycles. Some economists concerned about falling new truck sales point to a 2014 surge that saw near record numbers of new trucks manufactured and sold. What they may have not accounted for are new equipment purchases made by companies emerging from the last recession. Those same companies might not be replacing equipment as aggressively.

The cyclical nature of any economy dictates that there are ebbs and flows in nearly every industry. Truck manufacturing is not unique in that sense. Economists who might be concerned need only look at the outlooks of each of the major manufacturers who supply the trucks both domestically and abroad. None of them are panicking, so there is no need to be concerned.

As an existing truck driver, the ordering of new trucks doesn’t mean more road time and translates to more higher wager. In fact, well planned logistics result in improved driving schedules and the ability to choose better route options, both, for the driver and the load being transported. That being said, if you are conscious of your trucking gear and truck tarps, a look through our complete inventory of flatbed truck tarps, truck tires, cargo control equipment, and other accessories you would need for the coming year and change in seasons.


  • Bloomberg –

On-Demand Economy Reshaping the Trucking Industry

An on-demand economy fueled by the sale of smartphones is changing literally every segment of our society. Traditional taxi and livery services are losing out to ride sharing companies while weary travelers can use their smartphones to do everything from ordering a meal to finding last-minute accommodations. Even doctors and nurses have embraced the on-demand economy by using mobile platforms to arrange house calls. So it should come as no surprise that, an on-demand economy is also reshaping the trucking industry. A great case in point being Amazon.

The Internet retailing giant recently began purchasing a fleet of branded trucks and trailers many believe will be just the starting point of a foray into logistics. For the time being, it appears as though the company is looking only to control its shipping rather than having to rely on companies like UPS and FedEx. But who knows? If Amazon is successfully able to handle their shipping and save money at the same time, they just might end up expanding into freight forwarding. But don’t worry, that would not be a bad thing.


As the Wall Street Journal points out, there is still more than enough freight to go around – even with the entrance of Amazon into logistics. Some of the biggest names in trucking are already working at maximum capacity with still more freight to be accounted for. And like it or not, the on-demand economy is playing an important role in what we are observing.

Speed and the Logistics Sector

Just a decade ago, a veteran truck driver might pick up a flatbed trailer in California and drive its load of steel coil down to Texas. From there he might pick up a dry goods van loaded with imported consumer goods headed for Chicago. That truck driver would spend months at a time on the road without ever seeing home.

While the scenario we just described is still fairly common among long-haul truckers, the model is gradually being replaced by a new model focused more on regional, rather than national, distribution. Shippers and receivers are more content to operate a larger number of smaller distribution facilities in and around major metropolitan hubs in order to get goods from the warehouse to the customer more quickly. This is what Amazon is attempting to accomplish with its trucks and trailers.

In order to meet the needs of the on-demand economy, companies have to have an ample supply of goods on hand. They also have to be close enough to their customers to get those goods delivered in a timely manner. The only way this is possible is by embracing more regional and local distribution.

Truckers Will Keep on Trucking

There are those in the logistics industry who do not see the on-demand economy’s influence as being a good thing. But it actually is. Despite the changes – and we know that change is difficult to embrace – America’s truckers will keep on trucking for decades to come. The big difference will be one of time and distance.

The Wall Street Journal also points out that logistics companies are already looking at charging by the day rather than the mile to account for the needs of the on-demand economy. They are looking at quicker deliveries and shorter routes that have truck drivers home more frequently. It is all about finding the model that works best at keeping wholesale distributors happy so that they, in turn, can keep their customers happy. In the end, there is no need to fear Amazon trucks. They are a positive addition to the logistics industry.


  • Wall Street Journal –

When To Use Smoke Tarps

It is fascinating to dig around in trucker forums to see what flatbed drivers say about smoke tarps. This is one area with lots of differing opinions, that’s for sure. Truckers generally agree that smoke tarps are easy to use and cheap to buy. What they do not tend to agree on is whether or not to use smoke tarps for particular kinds of loads. From our perspective, it comes down to this: use smoke tarps when your customers want and or need them.

A good case in point is a load of PCV pipe. Most receivers are incredibly picky about the condition of the pipe when it arrives in the freight yard. The last thing your customer wants is a load of pipe covered in soot from your exhaust stacks. If it gets inside the pipes, that’s even worse. This is why PVC pipe almost always requires the use of some kind of smoke tarp, be it a flat tarp or a fitted one.


‘Must Tarp’ Loads Not Always a Must

Nearly every flatbed trucker has been dispatched to pick up a load deemed a ‘must tarp’ load, only to see the receiver take the load and leave it out in the yard fully exposed. In such cases, it is not uncommon for drivers to blame receivers for unnecessarily requiring smoke tarps. Yet often, the problem lies with dispatchers or the trucking companies themselves.

It is easy for a trucking company sales associate to promise to tarp every load, whether it needs it or not, at no additional charge. This is a sales tactic to gain new customers. Experienced truckers know enough to check with the shipper and receiver prior to accepting a ‘must tarp’ load to see if it really does need to be tarped. If it does, the driver should tarp it without question. If not, it is up to the preferences of the driver.

Fitted and Flat Tarps

Smoke tarps come in two basic styles: fitted and flat. Fitted smoke tarps are often known as nose tarps because they fit over the front nose of the load to guarantee all of the necessary surface area is covered. Unfortunately, fitted smoke tarps do not always work well with loads that are not perfectly rectangular, square, or circular. Irregular loads tend to be better protected with flat tarps secured with bungee cords or straps.

A typical flat smoke tarp is a 10 x 12 or 12 x 12 piece of vinyl. Some truck drivers recommend going to your local big box store and purchasing one or two cheap blue tarps for use as smoke tarps; we do not recommend this practice at all. Why? Because blue tarps are not meant to withstand the punishment of the open road. They fall apart very quickly and, in the end, cost more money by having to be replaced so often.

Mytee Products carries a 10 x 12 heavy-duty smoke tarp made with 18-ounce vinyl. It is rugged enough to withstand a good deal of punishment and sufficiently durable to last for years. If you regularly transport loads requiring smoke tarps, we highly recommend this product.

In the end, drivers use smoke tarps because the load they are driving requires it and that’s what their customers want. If that’s what it takes to keep the customer happy, that is what you do. Happy customers mean repeat trips and additional business. It is just that simple.