Industry analyst ACT Research says while the economy, freight, and trucking indicators are all at or near record highs, there are challenges percolating beneath the surface.
“Our heavy-duty forecast continues to reflect the current ‘perfect storm’ of upbeat economic, freight and trucking indicators, with most at, or on the verge of reaching, all-time record levels,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “And, it’s easy, if not particularly pleasant, to remember the business environment of 2020’s second quarter, with significant uncertainties in not knowing the extent of the virus and how deep the downside could be.”
But, Vieth added, “All that said, good times and good numbers at a macro level obscure an uncomfortable truth – life in the trenches is a jungle right now. For purchasing managers in the equipment manufacturing chain, the struggle is obtaining supplies in a capacity-strained world, while for financial managers, it’s a battle to protect margins against rapidly rising costs. Fleet managers always have the driver shortage headache, but are now stressed because the queue for heavy-duty vehicles stretches past year-end, even as many operators need new trucks today. The management skillset is really being tested to make the best of current good times, if this is really ‘as good as it gets’.”