Even in the best and most stable of times, demand for North American flatbed trucking services can be a cyclical and extremely varied thing. It’s a challenging market, especially because of the unpredictability. This has only become truer in recent years, as demand for flatbed trucks has been skyrocketing, causing an imbalance between supply and demand in the industry. Learning to predict and understand trends is one of the most important parts of finding success in an industry, so here’s a little information you can use to help you understand what drives the demand for flatbed shipping companies in Canada and USA.
There are three main factors that affect demand for flatbed trucking services. The first factor is regulatory change, particularly the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate from the past several years. These changes affect all land-based shipping in North America, but they’re particularly relevant to the flatbed shipping industry for a few reasons, mainly having to do with efficiency. Flatbed truckers have to take a little more time securing their cargo, which slows down the process, as do the unique places where they have to stop. Driving out to a job site or a mill can take more time than pulling into a regular depot. Flatbed freight is often highly seasonal as well, which means that carriers have less time to plan out routes and set up networks.
Demand for flatbed trucking services is also heavily dependent on legislative changes, especially with regards to the energy sector. Energy companies typically require a lot of flatbed shipping, so the changing fortunes of offshore drilling and natural gas pipelines are extremely relevant to flatbed demand. Infrastructure bills are also worth paying attention to since construction on bridges and roads will certainly require flatbed equipment. Tariffs on materials that can be produced or found domestically, like steel and timber, will also have an effect, likely driving more demand to the center of the country and away from the ports. This is of particular relevance to flatbed trucking companies in Ohio and all nearby states.
The third major factor for demand is positive or negative influences from other industries. The healthy housing markets in both Canada and the US, for example, lead to higher demand for flatbed services in North America. The energy industry is again an important factor. With the price of oil expected to rise in 2021 and more offshore drilling allowed off the coasts of Canada, demand for flatbed trucking is sure to be high in the next year or more.
Because of these factors, it’s safe to predict that demand for flatbed trucking is going to continue to be high for the near future. Predicting when the demand starts to fall again, of course, is a completely different matter.