Flatbed Demand Surges in Oregon and South Dakota

The Pacific Northwest continues to offer high load-to-truck ratios for flatbeds, as shown in this Hot States Map for the week of September 20-26. The heaviest demand was concentrated in Western Oregon and Northern California. South Dakota has also been a hot state for flatbeds lately, with lots of loads originating in the Rapid City market.

As a national average, flatbed load availability rose 1.3% last week, but the increased demand was offset by a 1.1% uptick in truck capacity. The national average load-to-truck ratio was unchanged (up 0.1%) at 10.3 loads per truck on DAT Load Boards.

Demand has declined for flatbeds in the East and South Central regions, partly due to reductions in the steel and energy industries, respectively. Daily maps, along with detailed information on demand, capacity and rates for individual markets and lanes, can be found in DAT Power Load Boards and in DAT RateView.

Spot market rates dipped 1¢ for flatbeds last week, to a national average of $2.03 per mile. Outbound rates edged up in Houston, and stabilized in Los Angeles, but dropped in Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, and are based on actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers. Reference rates include fuel surcharges but not accessorial or other fees. This map of flatbed rates in key regional markets can also be found on DAT Trendlines.

Houston to Oklahoma City and back is a pretty good run for flatbeds, as long as you can complete the roundtrip in two days, including load and unload times. You can make about $850 per day, or $1.93 per mile for all loaded miles.If you lose too many hours waiting at the dock, however, your roundtrip could spill over into a third day. In that case, you want to look at a TriHaul.

Find a load from Oklahoma City to San Antonio, which is a headhaul lane paying an average of $2.21 per mile. From there, take a re-positioning load on the 200-mile trip back to Houston. You’ll add more than $770 to your total roundtrip revenue, for an average of $2.24 per mile for all loaded miles, and you’ll get better utilization of your equipment and your time on that third day.

Here’s the math on the TriHaul from Houston to Oklahoma City, returning via San Antonio:

TriHaul route suggestions are offered in DAT Express and DAT Power load boards, and rates are derived from DAT RateView.