Posts Tagged ‘J.B. Hunt’

Trucking Firm Seeing Intermodal Improvements

October 22, 2022

Trucking company J.B. Hunt said this week it has seen improvements in railroad intermodal service during the third quarter.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, Hunt’s CEO, John Roberts, said during a third-quarter earnings call that rail service has improved in terms of velocity and reliability.

The report noted that as recently as August J.B. Hunt executives were saying that rail service had deteriorated to the point where trains were regularly arriving a day or two behind schedule.

But this week Hunt said BNSF and Norfolk Southern in particular are showing improvements.

“While we are not back to where we need to be, I am pleased to say that we saw a meaningful improvement in velocity and performance from BNSF as the quarter progressed, but in particular in mid-August and throughout the remainder of the quarter,” said J.B. Field, president of intermodal for Hunt.

J.B. Hunt Can’t Meet Customer Demand for Intermodal Service Due to Congestion

July 21, 2021

Intermodal shipper J.B. Hunt said this week that it cannot meet the demand for its service because of reduced velocity in the North American railroad network.

During a quarterly earnings call on Monday, Hunt managers said the demand for its services exceeds its capacity.

Managers said another factor behind that was slow customer turn times.

In recent weeks some Class 1 railroads have begun limiting acceptance of intermodal shipments because of congested terminals.

BNSF, for example, is limiting the flow of international containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to its Logistics Park Chicago intermodal terminal for two weeks to work off a backlog of containers in Chicago.

Union Pacific has temporarily suspended inbound moves of international containers from West Coast ports to its Global IV terminal in Chicago.

Chicago is the largest single destination for cargo arriving at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two busiest ports in North America.

Los Angeles handled record container volume in June, while Long Beach saw record volumes in May.

CSX has been restricting the flow of containers from the Port of New York and New Jersey to terminals in Chicago, Cleveland and Indianapolis.

In Canada, backlogs have been reported at the Port of Vancouver due to fire-related line closures and operational restrictions affecting Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.

Darren Field, president of Hunt’s intermodal division, said labor shortages at intermodal terminals and at customer warehouses is the major reason behind slow turnaround times for Hunt’s containers.

Hunt has imposed accessorial charges and in some cases is restricting capacity to some customer locations in an effort to encourage shippers to increase their turnaround times.

 “We are working very closely with our rail providers and customers to improve our capacity across the network by focusing on reducing the detention of equipment and helping our rail providers reduce congestion across their terminal infrastructure,” Field said.

J.B. Hunt primarily uses Norfolk Southern also routes some containers via CSX.

Field said he does not expect railroads to melt down despite reduced velocity and capacity limits at some intermodal terminals.

He said at some locations employment levels are 5 percent below where they need to be to handle current volume.

“All of the railroads are very focused on these challenges and they are out addressing them,” Field said.

J.B. Hunt Expects Intermodal Traffic to Grow

January 21, 2021

A cut of JB Hunt containers bring up the rear of NS train 27R in North East, Pennsylvania.

A trucking company that makes extensive use of intermodal transportation believe is optimistic that intermodal volume will grow faster than truck transportation.

Officials at J.B. Hunt Transport Services acknowledged this week that capacity constraints in Southern California are hindering intermodal traffic.

But in the long term Hunt expects its intermodal volume to grow to 10 million loads annually, up from about 2 million currently.

Hunt has a fleet of 98,700 domestic intermodal containers with orders pending for 6,000 new boxes to be delivered this year.

During a quarterly earnings call Hunt said its intermodal volume in the fourth quarter grew by 1 percent with much of it coming from traffic originating on BNSF.

However, fourth quarter volume in the East was flat. Norfolk Southern is Hunt’s largest intermodal partner in that region.

Congestion at western terminals in the fourth quarter kept Hunt from growing intermodal volume further.

That congestion was triggered by a sharp increase in imports and labor issues.

J.B. Hunt May Move More Loads From Highway to Rail

October 19, 2019

Trucker J. B. Hunt Transport Services has indicated it may seek to move more highway freight to trains.

In a recent third quarter earnings call, Hunt officials noted they have come to accept that most Class 1 railroads have adopted the precision scheduled railroading operating model and they are learning to work with it.

Hunt said transcontinental loads, most of which moved on BNSF, increased by 7 percent during the third quarter, but loads in the East were off by 11 percent.

The trucking company has made substantial investment in information technology and sees that as an avenue for converting more truckload freight to intermodal.

It said fuel costs, truck rates, truck capacity, effective rail service, and the economy and prompting Hunt to move more loads to the rails.
Hunt officials have noted that CSX and Norfolk Southern have said they’d like to grow 10 percent in the East Coast.

Other potential growth areas include transloading and refrigeration containers, of which Hunt has a thousand units.

Hunt CEO John Roberts described PSR as “a little bit of a cleansing activity” and sees it as an indication of railroads meshing with Hunt’s goals of having more transloading activity, reefer traffic, and truckload conversions to intermodal.

A year ago Robert was a critic of PSR and railroad unreliability which required his company to turn away business yet also saw PSR as a an eventual positive for intermodal.

“Service has picked up from where it was last year,” Roberts said. “It’s not where the railroads have targeted to be, but they have definitely improved and it’s helped our velocity and their on-time service through the customer.”
Roberts said the implementation of PSR cost Hunt as many as 70,000 loads.

PSR as Seen From a Large Intermodal Shipper’s View

September 10, 2019

J.B. Hunt is a major trucking company that also ships a lot of trailers and containers by rail.

So its management takes a special interest in developments involving railroad operating practices because Hunt’s financial well being is tied to that.

During a recent transportation conference, officials with the trucking company said its experience with railroads implementing the precision scheduled railroading operating model have been a “mixed bag.”

Darren Field, the company’s executive vice president for intermodal, described himself as a supporter of PSR so long as Hunt can continue to communicate well with the railroads implementing that plan.

“One of the biggest challenges for our customers over the past many years has been the inconsistent service, so if the implementation of PSR will mean a higher quality service, we’re certainly in support of it,” Field said.

He said Hunt, like the railroads implementing PSR, is always seeking to better manage its assets.

What Field hasn’t liked has been “a kind of brute force of PSR” that does not communicate well with customers.

He was referencing the implementation of PSR by CSX in 2017, something Field called a disaster.

Many railroad industry analysts have concluded that CSX tried to implement PSR too quickly and the upheaval in operating practices caused severe service quality deterioration.

“We were receiving phone calls [from customers] that said: ‘We’re cancelling a service tomorrow,’” Field said.

Since then service quality at CSX has improved. Field said that carrier and Norfolk Southern are now providing higher quality service than they did a year ago, but he is unsure if it is due to improved operations or because of lower traffic volumes.

“So far they’ve had better service, but I think they have to sustain better service during a market of tightening truckload capacity and we really haven’t experienced that so far,” Field said.

It also takes time for customers to adjust to changes in railroad operating practices brought about by PSR.

“PSR’s tricky. “It’s come on very fast and it does require all of us to plan and communicate better,” Field said.

In some cases, he said, the changes in how railroads are operating has meant that Hunt and its customers have had to change the way they operate.

“We’re all working to clear the terminals faster, we don’t want to have destination terminal dwell,” Field said. “We want to work within the railroads’ physical plant so that we can actually execute more business inside their same asset base.”