A New Normal for Freight

Life After a Global Pandemic

As our nation begins transitioning back to “normal,” we believe it’s important to offer safe, efficient solutions that work for carriers, brokers and shippers. Part of achieving this is with new technology like Transflo electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL) and electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD). We’ve been covering the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few months (as it pertains to freight). With many things opening back up the past few weeks, let’s take a look at what’s to come…

Recovering from a pandemic isn’t something any of us thought we’d be discussing (and doing) this year. Many of us are wondering, “What will the new normal look like?” 

COVID-19 is not one singular event, but a timeline of multiple events, each causing a different effect on transportation. Therefore, “normal” is relative to which aspect of the supply chain we discuss…

For instance, the initial panic-buying in February and March caused a surge in freight that looked like it would hold the industry above many others that were struggling. As more people lined the stores to stock up on supplies for the quarantine, freight could barely keep up – seeing volumes that neared or exceeded holiday level buying. This surge was short-lived however; as panic-buying began to taper off and purchasing restrictions took effect. Freight volumes started to decline as quickly as they rose, and subsequently began to even out to what is considered normal capacity for this time period – with sources reporting a 7 percent increase from last year. 

Freight volumes, while an integral measurement of the industry, do not tell the whole story. Another key factor is temporary changes allowed by local and federal government during this time. Seemingly, the industry appears on track to pre-pandemic normalcy – with waivers on Commercial Learners Permits and exemptions on Hours of Service set to return back to normal by late June, 2020. 

All these aspects indicate that by July, freight volume and activity should (in theory) be back to its pre-pandemic routine. Assuming no other issues arise, this is an indication that the recent challenges the industry faced may be behind us. 

But what about social distancing and other safety practices?

At the time of writing this (early June, 2020) we see a divided nation with many ready to start getting back to normal, and others encouraging quarantine extensions and reopening delays.

Regardless of where you stand on transitioning back to “normal,” it’s nice to know our industry has innovative solutions for brokers, shippers and carriers alike: Modern tech like electronic bill of lading (eBOL), mobile paperwork scanning with digital sign & send options, and real-time load visibility, offer all components and professionals within the supply chain more efficiency, and do so in ways that require far less direct interaction with people. This doesn’t just save time and money, but also lowers the chances of spreading viruses as it provides new practices that require less human contact.

Shippers
Over the last few months, shippers have experienced fluctuations in freight volumes and it’s effected moving products, however, as volumes begin to regulate and return to normal, shippers should expect more normalcy with added technology that offers real-time freight visibility and digital processes.


Brokers

Freight brokers in the industry should begin implementing digital solutions that can prevent congestion within the supply chain. COVID-19 has created gaps in continuity plans, but solutions like Velocity+ and eBOL/ePOD are available today and can elevate brokerages in during and after this complex time.

Carriers
Carriers should expect more solutions and options that offer no-touch practices with tech like digital signatures and paperwork. Also, expect more of the brokers you work with to accept eBOL and ePOD, along with other efficient and safe solutions.

Plainly speaking, it seems safe to say things won’t ever quite be the same. However, when all is said and done, perhaps the new normal is a blessing i disguise – offering greater mindfulness for social distancing and exposure risks along with lucrative and time-saving solution services. 

Remember to stay safe and healthy during and after the pandemic with these Best Practices for Freight Professionals.

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