Spring has sprung...flatbeds?

Spring is here. Many associate this time of year with produce loads. Not today. Today we’re reviewing the flatbed market.

When the temperature starts to rise, so does the load volume for flatbeds. Over the last couple of weeks, the number of flatbed loads moving increased by more than 7%, according to DAT. The load post volume on DAT’s load board have also increased by about 18%. The number of carrier equipment being posted through the DAT system has also increased.

What does that mean? The short answer is that capacity is tightening. Yes, there are more loads and more equipment being posted, but the load to truck ratio isn’t increasing at the same rate. In fact, the recent DAT load-to-truck ratio trends are seeing a significant drop. (You can see the load-to-truck ratio according to DAT in the graphic to the right.)

What is this doing to the flatbed rates?

As the month progresses, so does the spot rate. Last month, flatbed rates were increasing weekly by about one cent per mile. By the end of March, spot rates are expected to have increased by almost ten cents per mile throughout the month and almost 20 cents per mile more than February. How does that compare to this time last year? It’s almost 30 cents higher than March 2020. The last time there was this big of an increase in the flatbed market was 2018. The spot rates are almost 80 cents higher per mile in 2022 than they were in 2018. Wow.