Lead Times Lengthen under Trucking Pinch

Bulk Tanker TruckAs the nation struggles under the burdens of an existing driver shortage which has been compounded by new federal regulations, gone are the days when customers could send in a PO with a firm date and time and expect delivery.  And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the situation will ease up anytime soon.

The shortage of qualified truck drivers is not a new problem.  For 15 years the industry has struggled with a driver shortage as many older drivers retire, and the job attracts fewer and fewer new candidates’ due to the long hours and time away from home.  However, industry analysis indicates that the beginning of 2018 has the lowest ratio of available trucks to loads since 2005.  There is reportedly now just one truck available for every 12 loads that need to be shipped.

The problem has been intensified in recent weeks due to the new federal mandate going into effect of trucks being equipped with electronic logging devices.  The new devices, which automatically record driving hours with no forgiveness, doesn’t allow drivers the flexibility they once enjoyed.  Driving hours are still recorded during traffic delays and time spent waiting in line at tank washes, causing drivers to “run out of hours” faster than ever before.  The hassle of the new rules is pushing many experienced drivers into early retirement.

There is also an added operating expense to consider.  Industry estimates indicate electronic logging could cost $2 billion in added expenses.   For many smaller fleets, the burden of installing the e-logging devices into their trucks is already enough to put them out of business, and then there are monthly subscription fees to take into consideration.  The uptick in expense in a time of high demand and short supply of available drivers is causing a dramatic increase in the price of freight rates.

These factors are contributing to many adjustments by both freight carriers and their customers.  With severe winter weather affecting much of the country this season, many customers are willing to pay premiums to move essential commodities such as deicers, causing anyone not willing to pay extra to lose their trucks.  Fleets are also adapting to the market by cutting out any extra expenses, such as specialized equipment, like pumps on tanker trucks.

So, what can you and your company do to mitigate trucking problems?   Below are three ideas for ways you can help ensure your loads are delivered when you need them:

  1. Plan ahead.   Include plenty of lead time when placing POs for bulk tanker deliveries or full truckload dryvans.
  2. Be flexible about delivery.  Offer up a few acceptable dates for delivery, and include multiple delivery times or delivery windows.
  3. Reconsider equipment requests.  Does your plant have air available to offload tankers?  If not, you might want to consider adding it, as it will increase the pool of trucks available to cover your load.   Other requirements to consider might be the need to steam or heat material.  If the product is not in danger of freezing, the added time offloading might be a fair trade-off for the added costs and time delays incurred by a steaming facility.

Chemical Market Outlook into 2018

Market outlooks remain positive in the chemical sector as we head into 2018. The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), an economic indicator created by The American Chemistry Council (ACC), showed a small gain in December and rose 3.7 percent in a year’s time. The CAB factors production, pricing, inventory and other indicators present in the market. Chemical production showed an overall gain in Q3 2017 as part of the continued recovery effort from the hurricanes that hampered production in the U.S. The specialty chemical markets also showed gains over this same time period, including gains in paint and plastic additives, plasticizers, plastic compounding, and rubber processing chemicals. Overall, these positive indicators show slow but steady growth that is expected to continue into 2018.

Specialty Plasticizers: Tributyl Phosphate

Tributyl Phosphate (TBP) is a specialty plasticizer useful in a variety of applications such as coatings, lacquers, ink, as well as plastic and vinyl resins. One of the primary advantages of Tributyl phosphate and other similar Phosphate Ester plasticizers in comparison with Phthalates is that the Phosphate esters have improved fire retardancy properties. While PVC typically has good fire performance due to its high halogen content, addition of certain plasticizers may impair this property, and use of Phosphate Ester plasticizers may help to mitigate this problem.

Tributyl Phosphate is a regular stock item for ChemCeed. Please inquire for details.

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Product Focus: Tall Oil Fatty Acid (TOFA)

Tall Oil Fatty Acid (TOFA), is a viscous liquid that has a slightly yellow tint. A source of low boiling point fatty acid, it is widely used in the production of synthetic lubrication and will have different uses depending on the percentage of Rosin in the TOFA. Rosin is the solid form of resin obtained from plants and when heated can be used as an ingredient in printing inks, soaps and sealing waxes. TOFA can also be used in a multitude of other applications like in rubbers, inks and many times used as an emulsifier.

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Product Focus: Stearic Acid

Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid with an 18 carbon chain, and can be derived from both vegetable and tallow sources. Stearic acid and its derivatives are commonly used as components of cosmetic, food, and industrial products. Esters derived from stearic acid are found in many soaps and detergents, and stearic acid salts are often used as lubricating or softening agents in industrial applications.  Stearic Acid acts as an activator, accelerator,  lubricant, and mold release agent for rubber processing.  In other plastic applications it also mold release agent and lubricant.  In PVC processing, it is a viscosity depressant as well as and internal and external lubricant.

Stearic acid comes in a variety of different types and grade designations, including tech and USP kosher, in bead, flake, powder or liquid forms.

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Product Focus: Sodium Tolyltriazole

Sodium Tolyltriazole, a liquid known commonly as TT-50, is used as a corrosion inhibitor for metals such as silver, copper, zinc, lead, and nickel. TT-50 is also used in anti-rust oil (tallow) products, the gas phase corrosion inhibitor of copper and copper alloy, a lubricant additive, cooling tower systems, and auto antifreeze. One reason for the use of TT-50 over pure TTA is the solubility of TT-50 is greater and therefore easier to formulate. For availability, pricing and any other questions please contact a ChemCeed sales representative.

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Product Focus: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

ChemCeed is proud to offer Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). This product is an anionic surfactant which gives it properties needed in detergents. Its initial use was in high concentrations in products such as degreasers and industrial cleaners. Today it is also used at lower concentrations found in many common household pharmaceutical products such as shampoos, bubble bath formulas, toothpastes and body sprays. At these diluted levels its typical role is that of a foaming or dispersal agent. ChemCeed offers it in both needle and granule form.

Product Focus: High-Molecular Weight Polyethylene Glycols

Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs) are a versatile chemical for formulating in a wide variety of manufacturing industries, from cosmetics to plastics. The properties of PEGs make them useful for enhancing solvency, lubricity, and hygroscopicity. While useful in production processes as mold release agents, lubricants, and anti-static process aids, PEGs are also chemical intermediates in the production of anti-foaming agents, thickeners, and resins. In particular, high-molecular weight PEGs (such as PEG 8000), can be used in agriculture as part of insecticides and herbicides; as a plasticizer, binder, carrier, and lubricant in ceramics; drilling fluid intermediate and ingredient in mining; as a mold release agent for rubber and elastomers; and in formulations for soaps, detergents, and toilet bowl cleaners.

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Product Feature: Linear 911P

Linear 911P is a linear C9, C10 and C11 phthalate plasticizer produced through esterification of mixed C911 alcohol and Phthalic Anhydride. It is used as a primary plasticizer for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and copolymer resin applications where good low temperature flexibility is required, including outdoor applications such as vinyl coated fabric, vinyl roofing, or wire insulation. Linear 911P offers good weathering compared to branched phthalate esters making it a choice plasticizer for premium flexible PVC products. It shows superior permanence, good efficiency, good UV resistance, low volatility, and retention under heat aging in vinyl applications. It is recommended in automotive applications due to its low fogging performance. It is suited for sheeting, film extrusion, and vinyl dispersions. When compared to branched plasticizers, Linear 911P has a lower viscosity allowing for faster processing, faster dry-blending times, and lower plastisol and melt viscosities.

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Product Focus: Glycerin

Whether you call it glycerin, glycerine or glycerol, odds are you have ingested or used it at some point today. Glycerin is a simple sugar alcohol compound used in a vast number of products and applications. It can be synthesized or derived from plants and animals and finds uses as diverse as toothpastes to precursors in explosives manufacturing. Phosphorous and iodine on glycerin can create allyl iodide, a chemical building block for polymers, preservatives, organometallic catalysts and pharmaceuticals. Where glycerin most commonly touches our lives is in foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals and personal care products. In foods and beverages glycerin can act as a humectant, solvent, thickener and sweetener to replace sugar. It finds uses in pharmaceuticals to improve lubricity and hygroscopic qualities. Glycerin can be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, skin care products, shaving cream, hair care products and soaps.

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