The numbers pretty well tell the story. Tank truck carriers struggled to find enough loads in 2016.
A sluggish economy battered tank truck revenues in 2016. Data collected for the 2016 Bulk Transporter Gross Revenue Report shows that a broad drop in liquid and dry bulk shipments contributed to lower gross revenues for well over 70% of the fleets participating in the report.
Tank truck activity was down 0.1% in 2016, and truckload freight in general was down. One analysis showed that overall demand for truckload capacity grew by 23% in the second half of 2016, but that gain was more than offset by a 29% drop in the first half of the year.
Factors impacting tank truck carriers included gross domestic product growth in 2016 of just 1.6%, compared with 2.6% GDP growth in 2015. Average GDP growth from 2010 to 2014 was 2.1%.
Lower GDP growth in 2016 was reflected by a slump in factory output. Cement, paint, and chemical production was flat to slightly up. The oilfield and the petroleum industry overall remained a drag on the economy throughout the year.
Just 22% of the respondents in this report found opportunities to grow revenues in 2016. However, nearly 59% of the fleets reported operating ratios that improved or stayed the same as the previous year.
Three Top 10 tank truck carriers showed revenue growth in 2016—Foodliner/Quest Liner Inc, Eagle Transport Corp, and Tankstar USA. That was better than the previous year, when only one Top 10 carrier posted higher revenues.
Kenan Advantage Group remained in the top spot and is still the only tank truck carrier to break through the $1 billion barrier. The rest of the Top 10 included Trimac Transportation Inc, A&R Logistics Inc, Superior Bulk Logistics Inc, Groendyke Transport Inc, and Ruan Transportation Management Systems Inc.
Combined Top 10 revenues were $5.2 billion, up from $4.7 billion reported in 2015. Top 10 revenues accounted for 66.7% of the total in this report, a slight reduction from the previous year.
Average revenue for 2016 was $127,532,000, down $38.7 million from the average of $166,233,816 in 2015.
The median carrier on the list, the one with an equal number of tank truck carriers above and below it, had revenues of $63.6 million. In 2015, median carrier revenue was $71.9 million.
Operating ratios for 2016 and 2015 were supplied by 12 carriers in this year’s report. Just 42% showed improvement over the previous year. The operating ratio represents operating expenses as a percentage of revenue.
While the sample is relatively small, it shows that roughly 67% of the 2016 operating ratios were above 95%. This was slightly worse than the 2015 Gross Revenue Report.
Seven of the carriers reporting for 2016 had ratios between 95.0% and 99.9%, and one was above 100%. Four carriers reported operating ratios below 94.9%.
Once again, many of the participants in the 2016 report provided data used to calculate tractor revenues. These numbers give an indication of productivity, and the show that tank truck carriers had a difficult time squeezing maximum efficiency from their operations in 2016.
The average tractor revenue for 2016 was $237,651, down from the $245,819 reported in 2015. It was another indication that there were too many trucks for the available freight.
Seven of the Top 10 reported average tractor revenue of $282,052. This was a decrease from the $308,582 average reported in 2015.
A tank truck carrier with diverse operations claimed the top spot with tractor revenues of $501,863. The lowest revenue per tractor ($151,845) came from a chemical hauler. Average tractor revenue for chemical fleets in 2016 was $233,892, down from $255,869 in 2015.
Food haulers averaged $220,820 for 2016 tractor revenues, up from 216,038 for 2015 tractor revenues. The high for food hauler in 2016 was $244,152.
Average tractor revenue for petroleum fleets in 2016 was $318,589, a healthy increase from $$284,107 in 2015. The high for petroleum haulers was $464,335.
Dry bulk fleets posted average tractor revenues of $188,589, down from 2015 average tractor revenues of $223,028. The high for dry bulk fleets was $193,814.
Many figures used here are from pre-audited reports and may include nonbulk revenues or revenues from subsidiary tank truck carriers. In all cases, the numbers were supplied directly to Bulk Transporter. The staff greatly appreciates the cooperation of all who helped in the preparation of this report. ♦