ATS Transportation Blog

The Trucking Industry in August 2021: What you should know

Semi truck with fully loaded step deck trailer

August. A seemingly simple six-letter word that has a serious impact on the trucking industry, national supply chains and your shipping dollars. But what makes August so special? 

Here at ATS, we enjoy the challenge that August brings to the industry that we’ve called home for over 65 years. And, we’re here to tell you that when it comes to making the most of your budget this month, you don’t have to worry. 

As long as you take into account the trucking industry influencers outlined below, meeting your goals shouldn’t be difficult in the slightest. In this blog, we’ll answer all of your most burning August-related trucking questions including:

So, take one last gulp of humid air and let’s dive into everything you should know about the trucking industry in August. 

What Impacts Dry Van Capacity in August? 53 foot dry van freight shipment

The standard 53-foot dry van trailer is certainly a versatile equipment type and, in August, there isn’t much the trucking industry’s most popular transportation solution doesn’t move. What can I say: they have a lot to offer. 

The final month of summer, a reliable indicator that the first day of school is quickly approaching, sees household goods season nationwide come to a close. And, as families get situated for another nine-month stint of normalcy, the dry vans they used to re-locate throughout June and July are available for service once more. . . but not for long. 

You see, August’s calm weather and long days serve as the perfect time for shippers across our nation — and particularly in northern states — to get things moving. The holiday season and beginning of Q4 are coming and getting freight into position for their arrival takes planning. . . planning that starts in August. 

As such, from hospitality goods to boxed consumer freight —and everything in between — expect to feel a pinch when sourcing for dry van capacity as August settles in. 

Additionally, and without fail, August sees dry van truckers around the country serve more specific and fixed lanes than they do in other months. 

Their behavior change is tied to the fact that as demand surges and their trailer space becomes more desirable, truckers like to make the most of the time they have.  

As a result, truckers begin selecting the lanes they run far less sporadically than in previous months — when knowing where their next load would come from was more difficult.

Truck drivers like to plan their loads out days in advance and settling into specific lanes — lanes that are ripe with capacity demand in August— helps them do just that. 

For shippers, this means that lead time is more important than ever when moving dry van freight. As dry vans are booked out days in advance, the more warning you can give your transportation provider the better.

That said, a lead time of 24 to 72 hours should be enough time for your partner to slip your freight onto the busy August business calendars of area truckers. 

What Impacts Reefer Capacity in August?

Reefer trailer on highway

Reefer freight is always moving.

Demand to move products like pharmaceuticals and chemical materials isn’t really influenced as the months of the year change. This leaves reefer drivers with a steady stream of business year-round. 

That said, transporting perishable, time-sensitive commodities like produce from the fields to grocery shelves in August. . .now there’s something to write home about.  

The 8th month of the year sees a holdover — from previous months — in the harvest of some kinds of produce, an increase in others and a drop off of many. 

On the whole, though, the demand for reefers in the south-southeastern portions of our nation will hold steady as the crops of July are swapped for those of August. 

Here are some examples of the fresh produce soaking up reefer capacity in southern states throughout August: 

Georgia Tennessee Florida Texas
  • Apples (first month)
  • Blueberries (final month)
  • Figs (final month)
  • Cantaloupes (first month)
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Carrots
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Oranges (final month)
  • Lychees (final month
  • Okra (first month)
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Cucumbers

 

All of these perishable goods, and goods like these, increase demand for reefer trailers in these regions during August as they did in months prior.

In turn, the steady stranglehold of reefer demand in these regions will continue to draw the attention of drivers nationwide. The heightened earning potential in these areas during the summer months is simply too good to pass up. 

As a result, you should expect to pay a bit more money for any outbound reefer freight you need to move away from these produce harvest hot-beds in August. 

Conversely, finding a reefer to carry freight into these areas will be a bit easier than other months and — if you’re lucky — may cost a bit less.  

What Impacts Open-Deck Capacity in August?

Open deck trailer hauling equipment

Because August brings such nice weather to our shores, seasonal load restrictions — particularly in the northern portion of our nation — are a non-factor. And, when the forecast is clear, there isn’t a single type of freight that can’t be moved.

As a result, open-deck freight transported on anything from flatbeds to expandable RGNs and everything in between will have plenty of opportunities to hit the open road this August. 

Infrastructure freight like steel, construction equipment, concrete and lumber in particular will need trailer space in August. Open-deck freight like these are far easier to move before the temperature drops and Fall sets in. 

As such, open-deck capacity may be tight this month as many of the U.S.'s 19,495 incorporated cities look to improve their infrastructure and need to move the equipment, tools and commodities to do so. 

In the northern United States, August is another prime month for over-dimensional freight — like tractors and other farm equipment — to make the rounds. Planting has finished and harvest season is coming which makes August the month to get everything ready for its arrival. 

For shippers like you, allowing flexibility in your open-deck equipment types this August will help you save on freight costs. Since the current trucking market is so tight, the more you can do to expand your pool of trucking options will help you maximize your budget. 

Use a step-deck for your traditional flatbed freight, consider a hot shot instead of a step-deck, maybe a lowboy instead of a flatbed? The options are out there and they’ll help you save some money this year.  

What Else Should You Be Thinking About In August?

Truck moving freight in August

Aside from the factors impacting dry van, reefer and open deck capacities this August, there are two additional things you’ll want to make note of when planning your supply chain logistics this month. 

  1. The price of spot quotes
  2. Labor Day in September

1. Spot Quotes in August

As a shipper in the transportation industry, you’ve likely received spot quotes for your freight in the past. In a nutshell, spot quotes are on-the-spot transportation rates calculated based on current transportation market pricing conditions. 

These quotes are designed to ensure that the price shippers, like you, pay to get their freight moved accurately represents the going rate for getting products moved. 

With everything that’s happening this August, you should expect to pay a bit more for your spot quotes than you have in years past. 

Sure, working with a competent provider with a well-rounded knowledge of the market will help you get the most from your spot rates. That said, the capacity crunch of everything moving, coupled with an ongoing driver shortage, certainly won’t decrease your rates. 

As such, don’t be surprised if your August spot quotes are a bit more spendy than you’ve seen them before. 

And, should you have consistent freight needs, consider locking yourself into a contracted rate on the lanes you run. Doing so will help you plan and budget for any upcoming freight costs. 

The ebbs and flows of a tight market may impact your bottom line this month. Make sure to plan accordingly.

2. Labor Day in September

Labor Day. The first Monday of September, dedicated to celebrating this nation's working class, is a national holiday and worth noting. 

Anytime a national holiday falls on a weekday, the transportation market experiences a lull. Truckers, just like you and I, like to spend time at home with their families now and then. Days like Labor Day are the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

As truck drivers flip their reversible window signs to “closed”, finding a truck to meet your delivery and/or pick-up times during this period will be more difficult. 

To combat the price increases that may accompany shipping over the Labor Day holiday this year, make sure to plan around it. Schedule shipments for the week prior (the final week of August) or the week after, to avoid the ever-predictable national holiday capacity crunch. 

How Should You Prepare For The Trucking Industry in August?

While birds chirp outside your kitchen window and your dog keeps all the local squirrels at bay. There are several things you can do to defend your supply chain this month. 

Firstly, make sure that you work with a seasoned transportation provider. August can become an expensive month for the inexperienced few who don’t know how to navigate it. 

As such, make sure that your provider has all of the skills you need to serve you well this year. 

But how will you know?

Be sure to ask questions like: 

  • “How will my freight feel the impact of the produce harvest in the south?”
  • “Should I be thinking about sourcing for a different equipment type?”
  • “How are current market conditions impacting my spot quotes?” 
  • “How can I get more from my shipping dollars?”

Second, make sure to provide your transportation provider enough lead time to secure your solution at a competitive price point. Lead time is truly the key to finding a reliable and cost-effective carrier for your load. 

And finally, make sure to arm yourselves with the tools you need to succeed. And, increasing your knowledge on key topics is the first step toward doing exactly that. 

Check out the ATS Learning Hub for more great content to help you make the most of your budget this year. 

Also; should you have any questions about how ATS helps customers thrive in August, reach out. We’re always happy to assist you in any way we can. 

Tags: Insider, heavy haul, Flatbed Shipping, Dry Van Shipping, Monthly Updates

Charles Kuykendall

Written by Charles Kuykendall

For four years —from October 2014 to March 2018 — Charles' made his mark on the ATS Logistics family as a national sales representative, set on helping his customers thrive. Since his transition to Sales Team Manager in 2018, however, Charles's impact has only grown. Today, Charles proudly leads a team of budding young sales representatives in our Greensville, SC office. Finding success isn't always easy in the fast-past transportation world but Charles is masterful in helping his sales reps, and his customers, do just that.

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