Quest for High quality 2021: Truckload

As group news editor Jeff Berman reported last month in our Annual Truckload Roundtable, the truckload market appears to have largely weathered the storm on solid footing at the halfway point of 2021.

“With more people receiving vaccinations,” says Berman, “coupled with stimulus funding leading to increased consumer spending activity, the truckload market continues to see a flurry of high levels of demand, elevated rates giving carriers the upper hand, and ongoing capacity issues due largely to the seemingly endless driver shortage.”

And while market conditions have improved when compared to a year ago, Berman reports that there’s still a long way to go before things get back to a point of market equilibrium.

“Truckload carriers are battling strong demand for capacity, with sharply higher costs for everything from raw materials for their trucks to rising driver pay,” adds Berman.

And even though it’s still a tough operating environment for TL carriers, the readers of Logistics Management report that the 30 carriers listed below have gone above and beyond to take home Quest for Quality gold in 2021.

In fact, the Quest for Quality winners in truckload posted some of the highest overall scores in the 2021 voting. For example, Melton Truck Lines’ impressive 59.40 weight score in our Industrial & Heavy Haul category is the single highest overall weighted score in our overall 2021 Quest for Quality results.

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thirty eighth Annual Quest for High quality Awards: World class service wins the day

The editorial staff of Logistics Management (LM) is proud to unveil the results of the “38th Annual Quest for Quality Awards.” This year, our survey results yielded 142 providers of transportation and logistics services that received the ultimate vote of confidence, posting the highest scores across our lists of critical service criteria.

For nearly 40 years, LM’s Quest for Quality has been regarded in the transportation and logistics industry as the most important measure of customer satisfaction and performance excellence. To determine the best of the best, qualified LM readers rate carriers, third-party logistics (3PL) service providers, and U.S. port operators strictly on the basis of service quality, making it the only survey of its kind in the market.

To determine who wins the vote, LM readers evaluate companies in all modes and service disciplines, choosing the top performers in categories including motor carriers, railroad and intermodal services, ocean carriers, airlines, freight forwarders, third-party/contract logistics services and ports. From January through May of this year, LM and Peerless Research Group (PRG), a division of Peerless Media, surveyed readers who are qualified buyers of logistics and transportation services.

This year our research group received more than 4,100 total responses. In order to be a “winner,” a company had to receive at least 5% of the category vote. The result of this overall effort offers the logistics market a crystal-clear look at not only the overall winner in any given category, but a broad list of companies that finished above the average.

Transportation service providers are rated on LM’s five key criteria: On-time Performance, Value, Information Technology, Customer Service and Equipment & Operations. Due to the nature of services offered by third-party players, a different set of criteria is used to judge this category. Third-party logistics providers are rated on the following attributes: Carrier Selection & Negotiation, Order Fulfillment, Transportation & Distribution, Inventory Management, and Logistics Information Systems.

Again this year, we split our 3PL providers into two categories on our ballot questionnaires with the help Armstrong & Associates Inc., the leading third-party logistics analyst firm in the market.

Six years ago, we re-established our Ports category, using Ease of Doing Business, Value, Ocean Carrier Network, Intermodal Network and Equipment & Operations as the five key criteria to measure service success. We’re pleased to be delivering the scores of the top North American Ports once again this year—and for many years to come.

Evaluating who reached the top

The evaluation itself is a weighted metric. The scores take into account the importance readers attach to each attribute. Each year, readers are first asked to rank the attributes in each category on a five-point scale, with 5 representing the highest value and 1 representing the lowest value.

The PRG research team then uses those attributes’ rankings to create weighted scores in each category. For example, readers have historically placed the single highest value on the On-time Performance attribute—and they’ve done so again in 2021. In fact, the attribute was rated between 4.78 and 4.64 across the various carrier categories. The second highest value this year was once again placed on Value.

After readers have ranked these key attributes in order of importance, they then grade each provider that they currently use on each of the five core Quest for Quality attributes, rating them on a scale of 1 to 3 (1=poor, 2=average, 3=outstanding).

To produce a weighted score, the research team then multiplies the provider’s average scores for each attribute by the attribute’s ranking. Next, the weighted scores are calculated for all five attributes for a given vendor and added together to create an aggregate number.

Companies score a quality win when their total scores exceed the average total weighted score in their category. But remember, providers must receive a minimum number of reader responses to qualify for a win—at least 5% of the total base for the category.

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