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Chicago Freight Shipping – Offering Chicago’s Best Economy LTL Solutions

October 15, 2020

Coronavirus has had a dramatic effect on the logistics industry, but Chicago continues to be a major hub for businesses, people and products – that includes the Chicago freight shipping industry. Throughout the pandemic, Chicago continues its long history as America’s most important railroad hub, shuffling freight from the coasts and all points in between. With access to the Great Lakes and the Chicago River, which links up with the Mississippi River and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico, and with 10 interstate highways running through the Chicago area, the city has become a crossroads for the country – and for global supply chains. As such, Chicago also has one of the highest concentrations of freight forwarders in the country. With such an abundant number of freight forwarders we enjoy the friendly competition that exists in the economy LTL industry and are driven by the exciting partnership opportunities that exist in the region.

Initial COVID-19 Impact

A lot of shipments are loaded into cargo containers abroad, say in China, make their way across the Pacific and eventually to Chicago’s sprawling intermodal freight yards. In Chicago, they are transferred from rail to truck for local and national distribution. In the first month of the pandemic, container volume fell about 25 percent at the Port of Los Angeles, the country’s largest port, compared to February. That dip quickly rippled across the nation to be felt in Chicago. The decline in demand was at least 10 percent less for the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads, which account for 44 percent of volume and exert an outsize influence on Chicago traffic. Due to the staffing and production issues that arose as a result of changing work environments and regulation, a long backlog of imported shipping containers built up at ports and transit centers. This in turn led to the disruption of freight rail schedules, however, the shipments (predominantly from the pacific rim) which were comprised of mainly automotive and industrial supply have since been cleared, expediting service for our customers.

Silver Lining

In the first few months of the pandemic international shipments were down, but shipment of essential items spiked. In contrast with this decrease in Chinese imports, there was an increase in freight volumes for grocery-related shipments, for example. This includes packaged food products, dry food products, bottled water, and other household goods. Trucking volumes initially increased by about 30 percent in 2020 as a result of panic buying, then dropped markedly, and are now ticking back up again. Illinois manufacturers reported layoffs, supply chain disruptions, and closures from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, a new poll by The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago found most are rebounding. Seventy percent of respondents said their manufacturing facilities never shut down during the pandemic. Of those that did halt operations, 28 percent said the closure was temporary, and only two percent said they closed for good.

Type of Shipping

Since the beginning of 2020, the monthly intermodal freight volume in the United States declined due to the coronavirus outbreak. In July 2020, intermodal freight traffic bounced back up to almost 1.3 million shipments. Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation like rail, ship or truck. Truck Load volumes out of the top 10 fulfillment warehouse markets rose 25% in July as a surge of imports for home improvement and other stay-at-home goods moved through supply chains, especially at Midwest distribution hubsincluding Joliet, Ill., and Indianapolis. Final-mile deliveries have surged more than ten times over, but ocean shipping is down by 25 percent.  Supply chains depends on transportation and freight, and the central location of Chicago makes it easy for manufacturers and other businesses to get their products to destinations all over the country. Chicago also has two international airports; O’Hare International Airport, shipped over 1.4 million tons of cargo in a single year.

What Comes Next?

Looking to the future, there is no economic rule of thumb that freight growth will track economic growth after a crisis. Following the 2009 recession, freight indeed grew along with the economy. But the economy grew rapidly in the years after the dot-com crash and 9/11—while freight volumes stagnated. The pandemic has caused another collapse in global trade. Its ultimate return to previous levels is unclear and could be affected by a reconfiguration of global supply chains, already underway because of the latest trade tensions; and new, pandemic-driven ideas about offshoring.

How Does This Affect Clear Lane and Our Customers?

As a result of multiple and sudden market shifts, Clear Lane Freight has adapted to meet the needs of its customers over all else. One of the biggest hurdles was at the start of the pandemic when rail services were stuck in gridlock due to staffing shortages – now that the backlog has cleared we’ve been able to resume deliveries within our regular timeframes and in some cases ahead of schedule. As a whole, the market for freight shipping has seen immediate increases as a result of the high demand from customers. Thanks in no small part to our established contracts with rail freight industry leaders, we’ve been able to continue serving our clients with minimal contract increases The focus of Clear Lane Freight’s services are economy LTL freight shipping with an emphasis on communication and client satisfaction. Our services are predicated on the concept of affordable shipping rates at a slightly slower rate compared to common expedited shipping. With ample time to plan the logistics of your shipment, Clear Lane can synchronize your less than truckload freight with the logistics of other customer orders. To find out how we can help fulfill your LTL freight needs contact us HERE.
Chicago Freight Shipping - Offering Chicago's Best Economy LTL Solutions
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Chicago Freight Shipping - Offering Chicago's Best Economy LTL Solutions
Experiencing problems with your current shipper due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Find out how we've overcome hurdles in the freight industry.
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Clear Lane Freight Systems Inc.
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