At the F3: Future of Freight Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week, FreightWaves Chief Data and Technology Officer Daniel Pickett announced the release of flatbed spot rates via API.
FreightWaves publishes daily flatbed spot rates from key market area to key market area based on transactional data provided by the largest transportation and logistics providers in the United States. Currently, 30% of the top 100 brokers and 3PLs are contributors to FreightWaves’ Trusted Rate Assessment Consortium (TRAC).
FreightWaves has been collecting flatbed data since 2019, gradually building the data density required to assess spot rates for a technically complex market segment. Flatbed loads are not as “fungible” as typical dry van freight, as they often come with specific equipment requirements like tarps, straps and dunnage, and can use specialized trailer types for overweight and over-dimensional shipments.
Moreover, the flatbed market is spot-heavy. Many flatbed shipments are related to one-time industrial deliveries like machinery or other equipment or are part of temporary projects supporting construction. As a percentage, less of the $20 billion flatbed market is moved on a contract basis, and many of the spot shipments are arranged over phone or email, making the assessment of flatbed spot rates both complex to calculate and high-impact to the industry.
Due to the irregular nature of most flatbed freight, flatbed carriers typically run a higher percentage of empty miles than dry van or reefer carriers: Empty mile percentages around 30% aren’t uncommon. That makes the accurate pricing of spot shipments all the more important for carriers and brokers; these loads can be expensive on a per-mile basis because they have to cover more nonloaded miles than other kinds of freight.
“You’ll be able to quote flatbeds to and from key market areas. … [Flatbed now pulls] the data density that we feel good about quoting and is accurate to the transaction level,” said Pickett. “This is a long time coming and we’re excited to get it out there, get feedback and ultimately hope that we have more companies who want to join the consortium, contribute their data and continue to make our data products superior.”
For now, flatbed spot rates are only available to API customers but will be integrated into the Market Dashboard+ app in the SONAR UI in the near future.