In light of the coronavirus pandemic, FreightWaves has taken its spring 2020 conference completely virtual. FreightWaves LIVE @HOME, held May 5-7, still featured the high-energy content and network opportunities FreightWaves events are known for, but this time participants were invited to stream the conference from home and chat with each other in a dedicated Slack channel throughout the event.
The second day of FreightWaves LIVE @HOME was packed with thought-provoking speakers, innovative company demos and special recognition for the Shipper of Choice Award winners. It was capped off with a virtual cocktail hour hosted via Slack.
The day also featured special FreightWaves LIVE @HOME presentations of popular FreightWaves shows and podcasts like WHAT THE TRUCK?!?, FreightWaves NOW, On The Spot, #WithSONAR, Fuller Speed Ahead and Put That Coffee Down.
The third and final day of the conference will feature more company demos, spirited presentations and opportunities to engage with others in the logistics industry.
Shipper of Choice Awards
The winners of the annual Shipper of Choice Awards were named Wednesday morning.
The awards, sponsored by Transflo, are designed to recognize shippers committed to eliminating supply chain inefficiencies and to being excellent partners with their carriers.
“This is an important award because it reflects on the positive nature of the shipper to carrier relationship,” FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller said. “It really focuses on things shippers are doing right.”
Almost 400 companies were nominated for the Shipper of Choice Awards by FreightWaves readers this year. Those nominees completed surveys about their operational data and tangible commitment to improving the carrier experience.
This year’s awards were broken into three main categories: Availability, Efficiency and Facilities. FreightWaves also awarded Best of the Best recognition to 12 companies that outperformed their peers across all categories and Above and Beyond Awards to 13 companies nominated by drivers for providing a top-notch driver experience.
Winners of the Best of the Best Awards include:
- Costa Foods
- HNI Corp.
- Home Depot
- Nestle Purina PetCare Co.
- Nestle Waters
- Schreiber Foods
- Tyson Foods
- Weston Foods
- Whirlpool Corp.
Leathers talks post-coronavirus recovery
FreightWaves President George Abernathy sat down with Werner Enterprises CEO Derek Leathers to chat about the current state of freight and Leathers’ hopes for a post-coronavirus economic economy.
As the pandemic closed down nonessential businesses en masse and shelter-in-place mandates forced Americans to stay home across the country, essential goods providers saw demand for their products spike while demand for pretty much everything else took a significant hit. Responding to this rapid volume volatility has made for a hectic environment, according to Leathers.
Leathers said the company’s multimodal — truckload, brokerage, freight management, intermodal, international and final mile — mode-agnostic approach has allowed it to be nimble amid the current chaos, FreightWaves’ Todd Maiden reported. Werner’s Truckload Transportation Services Segment (TTS) provides a full suite of TL services: one-way, dedicated, long-haul, regional, Mexico cross-border, expedited dry van and temperature-controlled.
Talking about a post-COVID-19 recovery, Leathers said, “[We] still have some tough times ahead of us,” pointing to data that is still moving in the wrong direction. He watches consumption of diesel fuel as a proxy for how much truck freight is actually moving. “If diesel’s not flowing, if diesel’s not being consumed, then you know that U.S. freight volumes are slowing,” he commented, referring to consumption declines in April.
Leathers expects to see some economic acceleration in July as the country slowly opens back up, though he acknowledged that a second wave of the virus and growing unemployment could act as headwinds.
Pandemic shines light on logistics
The coronavirus pandemic has turned all eyes to the global supply chain, as consumers become acutely aware of just how their toilet paper and Tylenol are manufactured, moved and ultimately delivered to store shelves.
That spotlight has propelled unexpecting workers — including truck drivers, warehouse employees and grocery store clerks — to hero status. It has also emphasized the inefficiencies in the industry and highlighted the need for companies to accelerate their own technological revolutions.
FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller chatted with Will O’Donnell, managing partner of Prologis Ventures, about what the pandemic could mean for the future of the logistics industry. Prologis Ventures is the venture-capital (VC) arm of Prologis, the world’s largest owner of logistics real estate.
“One of the things COVID-19 has done is necessitate the rethinking of the global supply chains and highlight the need for them to be adaptable to meet today’s challenges,” O’Donnell said. “A lot of the changes that had to occur on the fly will help companies be more efficient coming out of this. A crisis is a good learning opportunity — and this will help companies really think about how to create resilient supply chains.”
O’Donnell expects the coronavirus pandemic to encourage companies to accelerate their rates of technological innovation and infrastructure improvement. He also appeared confident that funding would be available for logistics companies to fund this evolution despite the pandemic.
More coverage from both days one and two of the conference can be found across the FreightWaves website. Viewers can visit live.freightwaves.com to check out Thursday’s schedule and tune in to future segments for free.