Category: load

Healthy Eating Tips for Truckers

health-eating-tips-for-truckers

When you drive a truck for a living, making healthy choices can be difficult.  Some days the only vegetables you may get are the tomatoes on your burger and the only exercise, climbing in and out of the cab of your truck.

Making bad decisions is easy.  Eating right and making time to exercise while on the road is hard.  Driving a truck is like sitting behind a desk all day. It is a sedentary job, obesity is a common problem for long haul drivers. 

A 2014 study by the CDC  revealed that 69% of all long-haul truck drivers were considered medically obese.  The study also found that 61% of the drivers surveyed had two or more additional risk factors for chronic disease including hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, and inadequate sleep. 

Finding healthy food choices while on the road can be a challenge but it can be done.  Here are a few strategies to help you succeed.

  • Plan ahead. You’ll be more apt to grab a quick and easy fast-food meal if you don’t make some kind of a plan.  Start your day by researching and planning your stops so they include healthier options than the typical fast-food burger and fries.
  • Look at the nutritional information.  Even fast-food restaurants put their caloric information on their menus or make it available to patrons.  To maintain weight, the average woman should take in 2,000 calories per day and the average man 2,500. A medium McDonald’s Big Mac meal comes in at a whopping 1,100 calories, nearly half of your daily caloric recommendation.
  • Eat smaller meals more often. Having smaller-portioned meals more frequently rather than a few larger ones is better for your metabolism. Large meals cue your body to store it as fat. 
  • Drink water. A 20-oz. bottle of soda contains around 240 calories and is extremely bad for you. Water, on the other hand, helps with digestion, flushes body waste, helps maintain blood pressure, delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout the body via the blood, and helps skin look younger. 
  • Pack snacks. If you don’t have a mini-fridge for your truck, it’s a good investment for healthy eating. A fridge allows you to purchase healthy food when its available and save it for later when you may face limited choices. Pack fruits and veggies and hummus or other low-cal dips to snack on. 
  • Make better fast-food choices. If you must get fast-food, choose whole-grain breads or buns, lean meats like chicken or turkey, skip the cheese and creamy dressings, choose sweet potato fries instead of regular ones. 

Being a truck driver doesn’t have to destroy your health but it takes some planning and willpower to prevent it. If you make better dietary choices, squeeze in time for regular exercise, and don’t smoke, you’ll feel better, look better, and have a healthier life.

Direct Freight Services is a full-service load board dedicated to helping truckers find loads and companies to post their loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as a mobile app, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.

To see how Direct Freight can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Pic:  https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/unhealthy-vs-healthy-white-two-street-1650828448

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814#benefits

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-many-calories-per-day

https://www.livestrong.com/article/312522-how-many-calories-are-in-a-big-mac-meal/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4511102/

 

Appliances You Need For Your Truck

appliances-you-need-for-your-truck

For long haul drivers, life on the road can be an adventure but it can also leave them missing home and all of its creature comforts.  For many, the end of the workday means making a nice meal and enjoying some leisure time with family as a way to wind down and push away the stressors from the day.  Truck drivers are no different. The best way to achieve this on the road is to take some comforts from home.

Kitchen

Truckstop food is notoriously unhealthy and eating out frequnetly doesn’t just take its toll on your health. It can be tough on the wallet as well.  That’s why many drivers turn to cooking meals in their truck. With the right tools, you can be a trucker master chef!     

  • Microwave:  Up to 800 watts, allows you to eat cheaply with TV dinners, leftovers.
  • Mini-fridge:  Essential. Not only allows you to keep cold drinks but you can store fresh food which is important for a healthy diet.  
  • Crockpot:  If you like food cooked in a slow cooker, there’s no reason you can’t cook a slow-cooked meal in your truck.  They come in models that are 1.5 quarts and are powered by a 12-volt adapter. The best part? Your truck will smell like a home-cooked meal all day.
  • Electric Skillet or hot plate:  Cook yourself a full breakfast or a healthy veggie stir fry.
  • Blender:  If you’re trying to eat healthier, what could be better than a fresh fruit smoothie?
  • 12-volt “lunch box” cookers.  They plug into the lighter and they’re great for warming up TV dinners or leftovers and can do some light cooking.
  • Hot Pot:  Great for soups and keeping beverages hot.
  • Coffee Maker:  With a coffee maker in your cab, you’re ready whenever you might need a caffeine pick-me-up.
  • Charcoal Grill:  Obviously, this isn’t for cooking inside your truck but grilling yourself a nice steak now and then is a nice treat.  It can also give you an alternative to greasy fast-food burgers by grilling yourself healthier options like turkey or veggie burgers.  

Of course, you probably don’t have the room for all these appliances so try to determine which would be best for the types of foods you usually have.  Space in the cab of a truck is a precious commodity so you should try to determine which appliances you really need. You don’t have to keep them all in your truck all the time.  You can mix it up to keep things interesting. Keep your crockpot at home until the weather gets colder and you might find comfort in a warm, homey meal.

Entertainment and Relaxation

After a long day of work and a nice meal, it’s time to chill out and relax.  Fortunately, there are a lot of options.

  • Laptop:  Skype with family or keep in touch with them through social media or email. Whether you use it to get the day’s news, watch shows and movies, or play games, a laptop is the best way to stay connected with home.
  • TV:  A smart TV with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu can keep you caught up on your favorite shows while on the road.   
  • Game console:  If you’re a gamer, with a wifi connection and a laptop or your favorite game console, you can connect with others and play with friends and family back home.  
  • Wifi:  While many truckstops offer free wifi, you’ll be lucky if it reaches your truck.  You can get this using your cell phone as a hotspot but you should check your data plan to make sure it’s sufficient for your viewing habits.  Your mobile provider will have other options for connection using hotspots for your truck. Satellite services are also available.
  • Air conditioner and heater:  Small air conditioning units or heaters are available for truck sleepers that will keep you comfortable without keeping your truck idling.

Keep in mind the number of outlets you have in your truck.  A large power inverter will allow you to power almost anything but if you work for a trucking company, check first to see what their policies are for using inverters and appliances before you buy.  Some inverters require rewiring the battery which may not be allowed.

At Direct Freight Services, trucking is our business.  We help drivers find loads to keep their trucks on the road.  Direct Freight is a full-service load board that allows truckers to find loads and companies to post their available loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as a mobile app, credit reports and scores, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.  To see everything Direct Freight has to offer, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Sources

https://www.bigrighq.com/how-do-truck-drivers-watch-tv-while-out-on-the-road/

https://www.howtohome.com/portable-cookers-for-trucks-and-cars/

The Pros and Cons of LTL Shipping

the-pros-and-cons-of-ltl-shipping

When a truck is referred to as LTL, it is carrying Less Than Load as opposed to FTL which is a Full Truck Load.  LTL shipping is a way for shippers to ship goods without waiting for a full truckload of freight that needs to be sent or paying for a small amount of freight on a big, empty truck.  An LTL load has multiple loads from several shippers going to different places.  

The Pros

LTL shipping has its advantages and can be a cost-effective way to ship freight.

It’s usually cheaper.  Because the shipper is only paying for a portion of the trip, he only pays a portion of the shipping costs.  The costs are shared with the other shippers who are sharing the space.

It’s better for the environment. Sharing space means there are fewer emissions than if you’d sent a less-than-full truck.  

It’s more secure than parcel.  Shippers who can’t fill a whole trailer often turn to parcel services like UPS or FedEx to ship their freight. With LTL, shippers are encouraged to put their goods on a shrink-wrapped pallet which will keep the items together, making them more secure.

It can have more options.  Some LTL carriers do pickup and delivery, liftgates, and non-commercial delivery to residential neighborhoods which is something FTL shippers do not.

Distribution can be easier.  If you’re a retailer shipping to several storefronts, LTL is convenient and faster than shipping large quantities to a warehouse.  

Cons

LTL shipping has its drawbacks as well.

It can take longer.  Because you’re dependent on the pickup and delivery times for those who are sharing the load, it can take a lot longer for your freight to reach its destination.  This is especially true of cross-country shipments that have to make stops along the 3,000-mile journey.  

It can be less predictable.  You’re relying on delivery going off without a hitch with many different stops depending on how many other customers are sharing the trailer, making it less predictable than FTL which is usually a straight shot from shipper to its destination.

It’s less secure.  While it’s more secure than parcel, it’s less secure than FTL.  With FTL, your freight is loaded on the trailer, secured, and the trailer can be sealed and not opened until it reaches its destination.  LTL must make many stops which means that others have access to your freight. It also increases the odds of losing your entire shipment along the route where this wouldn’t happen with FTL (unless the entire truck went missing!).

Your freight can be damaged.  Of course, freight can be damaged no matter how you ship it but with LTL, your freight may be removed from the truck several times to retrieve other freight, increasing the odds of it getting damaged.

Which is Better―LTL or FTL?

LTL is not better than FTL, nor is the reverse true.  The decision to use one over the other depends on the type of freight and your flexibility in scheduling.  LTL is better for items that have some flexibility in their deadline, fit easily on a pallet, there are less than 12 pallets, and the products are durable.  FTL works better for more than 12 pallets of freight, products that have an unusual shape or are oversized, are of high value and/or are fragile, or are under a strict delivery deadline.  While LTL is generally a more cost-effective solution, shipment methods should be looked at on a case-by-case basis to see if LTL or FTL is the right way to go.    

Direct Freight Services is a load board that allows users to use their mobile device or computer to search for loads and post trucks.  With helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, when to expect payments, and broker authority information, Direct Freight is an essential tool for owner-operators looking to move freight. Visit DirectFreight.com to find out more.

Best Cities for Truck Drivers

best-cities-for-truck-drivers

Maneuvering your car around during rush hour traffic can be a real test of patience and self-control. Now imagine what it’s like for a truck driver towing a trailer through city streets. Challenging at best, driving a truck through a city full of vehicles driving every which-way is like walking through a maze of anthills without stepping on any ants.
In some cities, drivers can get much better pay for having the driving skills to deliver goods safely, on-schedule, with traffic, limited parking, and loading docks that are seemingly impossible to back into. It’s really no wonder drivers can demand higher pay.

Best Cities for Trucking Jobs

Advisorsmith looked at small (<150,000), medium (150,000-500,000), and large (500,000+) cities to determine the best cities for truck drivers who are looking for jobs.
Joplin, MO came it at the #1 mid-sized city (although its population is roughly 50,000 people, Advisorsmith included Joplin’s surrounding counties that give it a metropolitan area of 210,000). It’s located right on Route 66 and the proximity to railways and major trucking routes, number of trucking lines headquartered there, and a 21% below-average cost of living rate makes Joplin an ideal home for truck drivers. The average salary for drivers in Joplin is $42,060.

Danville, IL was #1 for small cities. Danville sits between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis and is at the center of 4 railways and several major trucking routes. With its low cost-of-living (27% below average) and high average driver salary ($54,770), Danville is perfect for drivers looking for jobs.

Fayetteville, AR, the 3rd largest city in Arkansas, is #1 on the list for big cities. It’s within 30 minutes of Walmart’s HQ, close to busy trucking routes, and offers 3x the number of trucking jobs than the U.S. average. The cost of living is low (13% below average) and salaries for truck drivers average $48,790.

While some major cities may have a higher average income such as New York City with the average driver earning $56,346, the expense of living there uses up a lot of that higher salary.

Best Cities for Traffic

Traffic congestion is not just a huge headache for truck drivers, it’s costly, adding $74.5 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry annually. Every minute that a truck sits in traffic is lost productivity. Some cities are better than others when it comes to traffic congestion. According to the Fiscal Times, the three cities with the least traffic are Dayton, OH with 10 extra minutes of travel time per day due to traffic, Knoxville, TN with 11 extra minutes, and Omaha, NE with 13 minutes of extra driving time.

Best Cities for Driving

As most truck drivers know, older cities like Boston, MA, New York City, and Philadelphia have narrow streets that were built for horses and carriages. Although they have charm, they’re notoriously difficult for drivers to maneuver. Cities that saw later growth generally have wider streets that are easier to traverse.

Wallethub ranked the 100 biggest U.S. cities to drive in by looking at traffic, infrastructure, and safety and other factors. Their list ranks cities for drivability for all vehicles, and Raleigh, NC, Orlando, FL, and Lincoln, NE topped the list.

Direct Freight Services is a full-service load board that allows truckers to find loads and companies to post their loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as a mobile app, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.

To see how Direct Freight can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Sources:
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Media/Slideshow/2016/04/11/10-US-Cities-Least-Traffic?page=9

Best Cities for Truck Drivers


https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/truck-driver-tractor-trailer-salary/ny
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-to-drive-in/13964/

Trucking Industry Congestion Costs Now Top $74 Billion Annually

Winter Blend Fuel, What You Need To Know

winter-blend-fuel-what-you-need-to-know

As the colder temperatures set in, most chain truck stops begin adjusting their fuel mix to protect engines from seizing when it gets so cold that fuel begins to gel.  The cold causes the paraffin wax in diesel to form crystals that won’t go through the fuel system―the tanks, fuel lines, or the fuel filter. The truck won’t run, nor will it be able to heat your cab which could be dangerous if you’re in the middle of nowhere when things begin to freeze.

Summer and Winter Blends

Diesel comes in winter blend and summer blend.  Summer blend is straight diesel or 2-D which is what most trucks use under normal conditions.  Winter blend or 1-D should be used in the winter. Its ingredients keep it from becoming gel during colder temps but it has a lower butane content which causes it to not perform as well as 2-D.  This, and the fact that it’s more expensive than summer blend (as much as 50¢ per gallon more) is why it’s only used when necessary.   

In very cold weather, drivers use as high as 80% 1-D but usually a 75/25 mix is used in colder temps and a 50/50 blend for near-freezing areas but usually, you won’t know what you’re buying at the truck stops as they mix it for the area where they’re located.

Additives

There are fuel additives that can be used instead of 1-D that help reduce freezing in the fuel line in and in the fuel filter and they’re also cheaper than winter blend, costing 1.5¢-3¢ per gallon.  Some additives can be used year-round and can also improve the truck’s fuel efficiency which can save money but generally, the colder the weather, the more additive is used.  

Additives can thaw your diesel after it has begun to gel but by the time you start to feel like your truck’s fuel might be gelling as it begins to cough and sputter, the gelling has already begun in the fuel line and fuel filter too.  Putting in additives at this time means you need to remove the fuel filter to do it, sometimes changing it more than once, which can be difficult to do in freezing temperatures(especially if you’re broken down on the side of the highway).  Many of the bigger chain truck stops in colder regions winterize their own fuel as the season gets colder, and in some places fleet owners supply their drivers with an anti-gel agent to use on the road. If you’re going to travel in colder regions, carry additives with you before going into colder regions in case of an emergency.   

Additives can have their problems as well.  If additives are overused, the fuel lines can become clogged.  This is why truck engine manufacturers put out recommendations on additives and trucking companies may have their own policies on fuel additives so be sure you know what they are in advance.  A winter blend of diesel is the most effective and safest treatment against gelling.   

Other Options

Truck manufacturers have been looking for ways to protect their trucks against gelling such as systems that prevent gelling like recirculating the fuel, fuel filters with an electric heat option, and in-tank fuel heaters.  These options can keep you from breaking down in dangerous, freezing temperatures and keep your load on schedule.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows shippers and brokers to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing, and the latest weather conditions so you can be prepared for cold weather conditions. 

To see how Direct Freight  can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.acuity.com/acuity-focus/2015/trucker-focus/changing-weather-calls-for-changes-in-diesel-fuel

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/fleets-fight-fuel-gelling-winters-chill-tricks-truck-maintenance-trade

Rookie Freight Brokers: Find the Right Load Board

rookie-freight-brokers

These days, supply chains are more complex than ever and freight brokers are a vital piece.  They are the link between shippers and carriers and do all the planning, negotiating, and tracking to ensure smooth, on-schedule delivery.  It can be a fun, fast-paced career and lucrative for the right person who is willing to put in the work.

Becoming a freight broker requires a freight broker license, a bond, and more (which can be found here).  One of the most crucial aspects of becoming a successful freight broker is building a well-rounded list of contacts.  In the freight broker business, it’s all about the connections. The more you have, the more work you’re able to facilitate.  

A freight broker is only as good as his or her contact list.  Quality connections are what make a freight broker stand out from the crowd.  Unreliable truckers or slow-to-pay shippers are only going to bring down the business.  

Finding Leads

Finding leads isn’t difficult.  They’re all around. There’s an abundance of businesses around you that need to ship supplies or goods.

  1.  It starts with who you know.  Look at where your friends and family work.  Do they ship goods? Having a friend or relative at a potential lead is a good way to get your foot in the door.
  2. Look around you.  What businesses are there in your area that may ship goods?
  3. Get referrals.  Once you have some established clients, ask them for referrals.
  4. Look at your current loads.  Where are they being shipped?  You may be able to find companies in that city or area who have shipments coming your way.  Since you’re already shipping there, you may be able to win them over with a discounted rate and eliminate some deadhead miles at the same time.  Always be on the lookout for leads.
  5. Add a referral bonus at the end of your emails or correspondences.  What would a new customer be worth to you?  $100? $500? Be sure to include a disclaimer that the referral must lead to a paying customer. 
  6. Use the internet.  Resources like Produce Market Guide, Marketnews.usda.gov, and even the Yellow Pages are good places to look.  

When on the hunt for leads, be persistent.  Some businesses rarely ship freight and others may be hitting a slow period.  Don’t give up! Once you have clients, foster those relationships. Learn details about their business and ask about the family.  If you take the time to get to know and build a relationship with a contact, they’ll be more likely to continue giving you work and refer you to others.  

Being the New Guy (or Gal)

One obstacle of first starting out in the freight broker business is that nobody wants to work with a newbie.  You could have years of experience in the trucking industry under your belt, you’ll still be the rookie freight broker when you first start.  If you’ve only got a carrier or two in your contacts, you’ll be at a disadvantage. A freight broker needs to move fast and potential clients won’t want to wait around until you find someone reliable to ship to an area of the country where you have no drivers.  This is where a good load board comes in.

By using a load board, rookie freight brokers can build their connections quickly.   For shippers with loads to ship and carriers with drivers to drive, a load board can fill out missing coverage areas  fast. Direct Freight Services’ load board is a complete tool allowing freight brokers to build up reliable and ready to go contacts.  Direct Freight has credit reports and scores as well as information on how long it takes a shipper to pay, so you can make the right choice when building your list of reliable contacts.  Direct Freight’s easy-to-use load board allows you to find both trucks and carriers to fill your growing contacts list. Its mile calculators, fuel price data, weather information, alerts, and organizational features make it the perfect assistant for your blossoming  brokerage.  

If you’d like to see what Direct Freight Services can do for you, call (888)894-4198 or go to https://www.directfreight.com/home/ to sign up.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t check us out sooner!

 

Sources:

https://www.producemarketguide.com

https://www.marketnews.usda.gov/mnp/fv-home

https://www.yellowpages.com/

Managing Finances While On The Road

managing-finances-on-the-road

One of the biggest difficulties that drivers face when they’re on the road for extended periods is keeping on top of finances.  Drivers have to watch their spending on the road on meals and other necessities that pop up. While out on the road, bills still pile up at home that need to be paid like rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, and vehicle loan payments.

Banking at Your Fingertips

Before the internet, it was more difficult for drivers to stay on top of finances and they had to rely on finding a branch of their bank wherever the road had taken them or did their banking over the phone.  Fortunately, most banks now offer their own secure mobile apps so you can connect and view your account or do transactions from anywhere. You can do things like pay bills, transfer money, and track your balance and payments directly with your bank.

Other useful apps for drivers include:

Acorns 

Acorns makes it easy to save money for a rainy day.  Acorns can transfer money automatically from your bank account to your Acorns account so you don’t have to remember to do it.  It’s round-up feature automatically rounds up the change from every transaction and deposits it into your Acorns account for painless savings.

Mint

Mint is a popular app that allows you to track your expenses in all of your accounts―checking, savings, credit card, and investment accounts.  Mint also lets you set financial goals and shows you a path to get there through budgeting.

Concur

Concur tracks travel and business expenses and capture receipts on your phone’s camera.

Cutting Expenses

If you’re going to stick to a budget, you’ve got to cut unnecessary spending.  With a little planning ahead, you can rein in your spending and stay on track.

 Food

Food is one of the ways that drivers overspend the most.  Plan your meals ahead of time. If you buy food from a grocery store and keep it in your truck, you can save money and have healthier food options that may be missing at truck stops and fast food restaurants.  A small fridge and microwave or hot plate for the cab of your truck will help you save on food costs. If you’re going to be cooking or storing food in your cab, make sure you have cleaning supplies to keep everything sanitary and don’t forget the storage containers!

Fees

If you set up automatic payments for all your bills with your lenders, phone company, and utility companies, you can avoid accumulating fees for late payments.  However, it’s important to carefully monitor these transactions for accuracy and to also make sure you always have enough money in the account to cover your bills as overdraft fees from banks can be hefty.  

Avoid fees from traffic tickets.  Have all the right permits if you’re hauling hazmat, don’t speed, keep your truck’s weight under the limit, and make sure your elogs are always accurate.

Use free wifi whenever you can.  Unless you have unlimited data, you’re going to use up those data minutes fast and be charged fees for additional data.    

Your Truck

Don’t skip the preventative maintenance.  Tire checks, oil and other fluid changes, and general maintenance will save you from costly breakdowns and repairs. 

Stay in Shape

 Save money by keeping fit.  Obesity is a risk for drivers who spend the majority of their time sedentary behind the wheel.  By eating a healthy diet and getting regular brisk exercise, you can save a lot of money on medical bills.

Owner/Operators

Owner/operators need to track their expenses carefully.  Truck expenses include truck payments, fuel charges, repairs, and maintenance.  Keep your business and personal accounts separate by using two different bank accounts and keep a close eye on what you’re writing checks for and inspect canceled checks so you know they were processed correctly. 

Taxes

Make sure your taxes are done correctly.  Keep all documentation and receipts and go see a tax professional, preferably one that specializes in truck drivers’ taxes.  It’ll be worth it. 

 

By tracking spending, sticking to a budget and lowering expenses, you can maximize your earnings and achieve financial independence.  A career in trucking can be a lucrative one but not if you’re spending all your money on the road.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the loads that will earn you the most money. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching today!

 

Sources:

https://www.acorns.com

https://www.mint.com

https://www.concur.com/app-center/listings/550353cc99066b13221bcded

Using Electronic Logs

using-electronic-logs

Federal law now mandates the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).  Aimed at increasing efficiency and safety in the trucking industry, ELDs have been a divisive topic for truckers and carriers alike.

About ELDs

An ELD is a device that is installed in a truck’s engine to monitor its drive time.  It can be accessed with a smartphone or other mobile device as long as it meets all technical requirements found on FMCSA’s website. A portable logging device can be used but must be mounted in the cab of the vehicle in a place that is visible to the driver when he or she is behind the wheel.  The ELD records date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles and driver information.

The Rule        

Up until the ruling, drivers have been forced to fill out paper logs to accurately record their Hours of Service (HoS) to remain in compliance with the HoS rule from the FMCSA.  The HoS rule was implemented as a way to combat drowsy driving which can lead to accidents.  By mandating driving hours and hours between shifts, drivers can get the rest they need to be alert on the road.     

To ensure compliance with the HoS rule, ELDs were made mandatory for any driver who is required to fill out HOS records.  December 18, 2017-December 16, 2019 is the phased-in compliance period. After December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers who are subject to the ELD rule must be using them and be registered with FMCSA.  Short-haul drivers are not required to use ELDs.

The Controversy

Many carriers and owner/operators see ELDs as an intrusion that will do little to improve safety on the road.  A recent study (Scott, Alex & Balthrop, Andrew & W Miller, Jason. (2019). Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?) supports this claim.  The study showed that while ELDs improved drivers’ compliance with the HoS rule, there was no evidence to show that the number of accidents decreased since the ELD rule was phased in.  In fact, the study found that smaller companies who struggle to compete with bigger carriers increased incidents of speeding to avoid going over their Hours of Service limits.  

Benefits

“Big Brother” feelings aside, there are benefits to ELD devices that go beyond safety.  ELDs make compliance with HoS a more streamlined process. Nobody enjoys paperwork. The use of ELDs has been estimated to cut time spent completing paperwork by as much as 15 minutes a day.  Not only that, ELDs round up to the nearest minute, not to the nearest 15 minutes like paper logs did so errors are virtually eliminated.  Less time on paperwork means more time on the road earning money.  

A more streamlined process is helpful all around.  ELDs give a warning to drivers when they are approaching their HOS limits and they also mean quicker truck inspections.  No more sifting through paper logs―all pertinent information is easy for the officer to see and get you on your way.  

 

ELDs also improve communication and tracking. Some ELDs have GPS tracking but with only a 10-mile accuracy intended to give drivers some privacy per the FMCSA rule.

ELDs protect drivers.  They’re harder to change than paper logs.  They improve compliance with the HoS ruling which protects drivers from bosses mandating that they work more than the hours per week allowed by law, which is a real problem for many drivers.  

 Agree or disagree, compliance with the ELD rule is the law and drivers who fall under the HoS rule must have an ELD installed and registered by December 16, 2019. 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330425892_Did_the_Electronic_Logging_Device_Mandate_Reduce_Accidents

https://eldfacts.com/elds-for-truckers/

What is Logistics?

what-is-logistics

Logistics is a word we hear quite often these days, often in relation to global commerce.  It used to be a term reserved for the military, referring to how they moved people and supplies around the country and the globe.  Now, it seems to be almost a catchphrase, used in all areas of business. But what does it really mean?

What It Is

Logistics is the planning involved with getting goods from producer to consumer, moving goods through the supply chain.  It’s a two-pronged approach, one consisting of the transportation of freight storage of freight along its journey and the other dealing with its storage. 

 The objective of logistics is to ensure that the journey is completed in a timely and cost-effective manner.  Large retailers like Target and Walmart own parts of their own logistics, evident by their trucks on the highways while smaller companies use Third Party Logistics firms (3PLs) like FedEx, UPS, and DHL.  You give them your product and they find the most efficient and quick route to get it to its destination. 3PLs work to integrate with your own processes to have seamless delivery of goods.  

Logistics is generally made up of transportation and warehouses.  Think about where a product comes from. A product from Japan would cross an ocean on a boat or plane, and when it lands in the U.S., it may be loaded on another plane, a truck, or a train, maybe more than once along the way before it reaches its destination somewhere else in the U.S.  It may sit in storage in a shipping container at its port of entry before it begins its state-bound journey, and it may have to sit in warehouses for a period of time. It may take one vehicle or be transferred to several modes of transportation along the route. Logistics will sort it all out.  It is not a single service, but rather, a group of activities, links in a chain, that take a product from completion to the hands of the consumer. 

Freight may sit in a warehouse for some time, for example, an Amazon fulfillment center.  Freight comes in from all over the world and is housed until consumers log on and order it.  Warehouses have their own logistics to get the product from shelf to truck, using manned forklifts or driverless forklifts and robots.

Why is it important?

Speedy and efficient delivery has always been important to any company’s bottom line, but Amazon’s famous 2-day delivery promise for Prime members has changed consumers’ expectations.  In order to compete, retailers need to figure out how to provide customers with inexpensive, fast delivery. It’s all about streamlining and creating the most effective processes.

Are Freight Brokers the same as Logistics Providers?

Not really.  Freight brokers are intermediaries for shippers and carriers.  They line up transportation that will take the freight from the shipper to its destination, negotiate rates, track the freight in transit and handle any problems that crop up along the way.  Freight brokers deal with the transportation side of things.

Logistics providers deal with the transportation of freight―in fact, they often hire freight brokers for this―but they also plan and organize warehousing products when needed as part of the supply chain.

Using a freight broker to move their product allows shippers to be able to dedicate more time to other aspects of their businesses.  Using a freight broker can be a cost-effective solution to growing a business.  

Direct Freight is an essential tool for shippers, freight brokers, and carriers.  It allows users to post or find trucks and includes many features that will help move freight smoothly and efficiently.  Go to DirectFreight.com today to find out more.

What Makes a Load “High-Quality”?

what-makes-a-load-high-quality

Not all loads are profitable.  Fuel costs, competition, and freight type can all impact the shipment rate.  If you’re not careful, you could end up in the red, the load costing more than it’s bringing in.  How do you know? How do you pick a high-quality load that’s going to be the most profitable?

The value of a load is what it pays.  However, there’s so much more to take into consideration than how much it’s going to pay.  A “high-quality load” is one that not only pays well but isn’t going to have added costs, added work, or increased risk.  By looking at the whole picture, you can better judge the quality of the load before committing to it.  

Is a Load High-Quality?

To understand the quality of the load, there are several questions that should be asked.

What is the pay? 

 Simple and straightforward.  Look at how much the load pays per mile.

Does the freight lane make sense for me?  

The freight lane is the freight going into and coming out of an area.  If it is balanced, it means there is an equal amount of freight going in and coming out.  Freight brokers will aim for a balanced freight lane because it means they’ll be able to eliminate deadhead miles and truckers should look at this too.

Is it a good rate for that particular lane?  

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Do some comparison shopping.

What is the competition like in this lane?

Load boards can tell you the number of trucks in the area.  If there is little competition, you’ll be able to negotiate a better rate.

What are fuel costs?

If fuel costs are high, there’s less profit and you’ll need to demand higher pay.

What is the load weight?

Heavier loads eat up more fuel.

Is there extra work involved?

Sometimes loads require a lot more work than anticipated.  “Tarping” is a good example of this and in fact, it’s a deal-breaker for many truckers.  Tarping is when large, heavy tarp must be placed over a load on a flatbed truck. It’s hard work, and it’s dangerous, and most truckers hate doing it.  Shippers generally understand this and will add tarp pay so make sure if you take a job that involves tarping that they pay you for the extra work. (Sometimes shipping have machines that tarp the freight on the truck for you.  Use it. It’ll make the process much quicker and easier.)

Is the load dangerous?

Even under the best circumstances, some loads are downright dangerous such as steel coils.  Steel coils are extremely heavy rolls of steel that are held on a flatbed by chains. Some truckers won’t touch them because of the danger involved with transporting them.  

How to Get Higher-Quality Loads

There are some steps that can improve your chances of obtaining higher-quality loads that will bring in higher pay and improve your business.  

Know your own operating costs.  If you don’t, you could take on a load that will cost you money or one that is worth so little it’s not worth your time.  Knowing the minimum amount that you need to make a profit will give you more negotiating power for rates. Walk away from loads that don’t offer enough.

Look at every aspect of the trip.  Things like wait-times can eat into a trucker’s profits in a big way.  These wait-times usually occur during load pickups and drop-offs. When you’re paid by the mile and you’re not moving, you’re losing money.

Consider government contracts.  Sure, it’s hard work to get them and there’s a lot of competition, but they can pay really well.

Get endorsements.  Getting specialized training and license endorsements can bring in better loads.  Whenever there is special training required, there will be fewer qualified truckers to haul the load. Examples:  

    • Liquid hauling.  Driving reefers, hauling liquids, requires added training and knowledge.  If the chemicals are hazardous such as gas or chemicals, a special hazmat certification is required.  
    • Oversized loads.  These loads also have a special license and training as well.
    • Driving specialty trucks.  Car carriers, dump trucks, mining trucks can all bring in higher pay.

Use a good load board. Load boards can help find quality loads in many ways.  They create a more balanced freight lane by cutting down on deadhead miles, find larger, established shippers who pay on time, show you the freight lanes you want to drive, and help you manage your operation.  Using a good load board can save a lot of time tracking down loads, making the whole process more efficient. After all, time is money and if you’re getting paid by the mile, you aren’t getting paid for looking for loads. 

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!