y innovating – exploring new data sets, posting new articles, and building new products and services for our audience. 

We wanted to find a way to do even more for our highly engaged community members, so we created FreightWaves Passport, a platform that delivers continuing education, proprietary research, discounted event tickets, and access to our market experts. 

FreightWaves SONAR already houses a rapidly growing research library of mostly long-form white papers covering industry topics like freight broker compensation, digital freight brokerage valuation, pricing power indexes, the performance of publicly traded transportation companies, and the cause of trucking carrier bankruptcies. All of that of research will be made available to Passport members.

“Empirical research has always been the missing link in transportation and logistics,” said Kevin Hill, director of research at FreightWaves. “Industry knowledge has traditionally been gained through experience and passed on by word-of-mouth. While this isn’t necessarily bad, information passed on in that way is rarely tested against new market dynamics. That’s where our research becomes extremely valuable; we collect market information daily and test it against industry tradition to see what still works and what does not.”

In addition, we’ve built a new team to launch even more research products – weekly reports on trucking, intermodal and ocean freight markets, as well as special topics of timely interest. These reports are generated by the Passport team, who treat these modes as true marketplaces and cover rates, volume (demand), and capacity (supply) on a weekly basis.

SONAR data, supplemented with industry and government releases, provides the quantitative backbone of Passport research, but we also weave in qualitative commentary based on industry channel checks and headline analysis.

FreightWaves research teams leverage the full capabilities of SONAR 5.0 to help our clients understand the near-time complexities of freight markets. The mapping functions in the latest version of the SONAR platform are especially robust, and we’ve already used them to visualize trucking market volatility and regions impacted by the U.S. industrial recession.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR)

The map above displays trucking freight market data in two dimensions: color and height. Darker blue shades represent higher tender rejection rates or tighter trucking capacity, while the height of the market is determined by its outbound tender market share, or the relative size of the freight market. Displaying the data in this way allows SONAR and Passport members to quickly find important freight markets that may present opportunities for transportation companies.

In addition to the new mapping functions, the Passport research team uses SONAR’s new trucking rate predictor to calculate near-time spot rates for the most important trucking lanes in the United States. 

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR)

The map above is from our first Special Topics report, “Mapping the Industrial Recession,” and displays timber mills (red) and paper mills (purple) on Norfolk Southern’s railroad network. According to U.S. government industrial production data for October, paper as a nondurable material (instead of a consumer product) was down 4.9% year-over-year. 

According to railroad industry data, forest products volumes are down 5.3% year-to-date, and when FreightWaves released the report on November 22, Norfolk Southern’s forest products were down more than 11% over the previous four weeks, the most of any Class I railroad.

The FreightWaves Passport research team created maps displaying the regional impact of the industrial recession, including Norfolk Southern’s exposure to forest products as well as, for example, the chemical plants on Union Pacific’s network. The goal was to help our clients understand exactly which industries and geographies are leading the contraction in industrial production and which transportation companies are most likely to be affected.

As we continue to build out our new research products, the team will publish insights on freightwaves.com, and discuss our findings on podcasts, webinars and at FreightWaves events.

If you’re interested in learning more about Passport Research or Passport generally, visit this site and fill out the form to get in touch.