Marketing and information specialist DAT defines its load-to-truck ratio as a measure the volume of load posts on the company's load boards compared to the volume of truck posts.
Although this metric does exclude multiple postings regarding the same loads, year-to-year comparisons yield relevant information. For example, DAT calculated these average load-to-truck ratios for April 2017:
By comparison, the highest flatbed load-to-truck ratio for any month last year was 21.6, less than half the April figure. DAT also notes that the demand for flatbed transportation has consistently risen since August 2016. It says the 43.7 load-to-truck ratio is the highest in years.
When the ratio is high, demand is high. When demand is stronger than supply, rates often rise. In this instance, average flatbed rates nationwide are up $0.17 compared to last year at this time.
There are many reasons for this strong demand for flatbed transportation. First, the automotive industry sold a record 17.5 million light trucks and cars last year. Flatbeds are essential in the transportation of raw materials and the finished product. Second, the oil and gas industry is driving demand, particularly insofar as fracking operations expand. Third, flatbeds are essential in transporting large wind turbine parts like blades and tower sections. Fourth, continued low interest rates continue to fuel a surge in commercial and residential construction. Many building materials require flatbed transportation.
Overall, the data bodes well for flatbed transportation requirements in 2017 as demand does not typically peak until the late spring or early summer.
Robertson Truck Sales offers an extensive selection of pre-owned semis, medium and heavy-duty trucks and related equipment at its dealership in Mount Vernon, Ohio, northwest of Columbus.