Category: Shipping Industry

How To Avoid Truck Driver Burnout

how-to-avoid-truck-driver-burnout

Driver burnout is a real problem that many drivers don’t want to admit experiencing.  The long hours, loneliness,  stress,  traffic, all of it can get to a driver and make him want to leave a job that he once enjoyed.

Causes of Driver Burnout

Usually, it’s not the job itself that leads to driver burnout but rather, specific aspects of it.  

Lack of Real Downtime.  Instead of being able to do something relaxing during downtime at home, time off is usually spent in the cab of the truck or in truckstops.  A day off on the road is not the same as a day off at home.  

Drivers Are Overworked.  Because drivers are paid by the mile, they need to be constantly moving to make money.  Even with HOS restrictions, drivers spend long hours without breaks to meet strict deadlines.

Lack of Sleep.  Sleeping on the road can be tough.  Truck stops can be noisy and sleep schedules irregular.  Often a driver’s sleep habits are just sleeping whenever they can.  Not getting a full 8 hours a night can lead to problems with both mental and physical health.

Signs of Driver Burnout

Signs of driver burnout may be brushed off as being tired and needing a vacation but it can be more serious than that.  Some signs include irritability, insomnia, getting sick frequently, exhaustion, obesity, and signs of depression.  One of the most obvious signs of driver burnout is not wanting to drive anymore.  A burnt-out driver may dread getting behind the wheel of their truck, a job they used to love.  Once they do get in the truck, they may take frequent breaks or spend lots of time at truck stops, not for rest but as a way of avoiding the job.  The next step is quitting altogether.  

How To Get Over It

Driving a truck is not an easy lifestyle.  If there was a time that the job made you happy and you’d like to get that feeling back, you may be able to overcome your burnout and enjoy driving again.

Take regular days off each week.  This may not be easy but if you can swing it, having regular days off at home will give you something to look forward to each week and your mind and body will get used to the routine.

While on the road, take breaks.  Again, it may not always be easy, but it’s important for your mind and body to relax during a hectic day.

Try a regular route.  Having a regular route with regular stops can help your body get into a regular pattern of sleep.  

Take time off.  A vacation, even if it’s spent at home can recharge your batteries and give you something to look forward to.   It’s better than being forced to take time off because you’ve burned out and made yourself sick.

Make time for exercise.  Regular exercise will help fight obesity, depression, and a whole bunch of other health problems.

Eat healthy foods.  A healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with exercise to make your mind and body strong and healthy.  

Get a hobby.  Nourishing your interests will give you something to think about instead of only the job.  If it’s one that can be done in your truck, even better!  

Occupy your mind.  Listen to something stimulating like audiobooks or podcasts.  They’ll pass the time while entertaining you or teaching you something.    

Get help.  A therapist can help you work through your issues that may be causing your burnout and help you find the right path forward.

Driver burnout can ruin your driving career.  By taking a proactive approach and keeping some of the usual causes of driver burnout in check, you may be able to have a long and rewarding driving career without burnout.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that 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 Driver app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for loads.  We’re always here to bring you the high-quality loads you need!

Low Rates During the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Hurting Drivers

low-rates-during-coronavirus-pandemic-are-hurting-drivers

On May 1st, a convoy of more than 70 trucks gathered on Constitution Ave. in our nation’s capital to protest the low freight rates that are crippling an industry already damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Rates have fallen to unsustainable lows with truck load rates down from an average of $1.79 per mile in Feb. 2020, to an expected $1.51 in May.  The protesters aren’t asking for changes in the rates but rather, more transparency when it comes to freight brokers.  Drivers have the same overhead they had before the virus hit―truck payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs, repair bills, etc. It is all still there.  Despite the lowered rates, many freight brokers are charging the same commission as before so the protesters are asking for more government regulation.  The drivers are asking that Congress require brokers to provide transparent transaction records upon service completion and eliminate clauses that keep drivers from accessing them.  

There have been some ease of restrictions for drivers who are hauling freight that’s considered essential, the 14-hour limit has been waived so the restriction doesn’t prevent necessities from being delivered quickly, but it’s not enough.  With the closure of bars, restaurants, and many stores, freight isn’t moving like it was before the pandemic so there are fewer available loads and many carriers and drivers, especially smaller operations, are really struggling.  Drivers who can find loads are barely breaking even.  With the major hit to the number of loads, drivers are finding it more difficult to fill deadhead miles and are returning with empty trailers.    For others, it’s more profitable to park their trucks.  

Of course, those who do get loads are opening themselves up to getting the virus.  With so many drivers prone to obesity and who smoke, they may be at greater risk for developing severe symptoms or even dying from the disease. Many owner/operators have chosen to stay home over contracting the virus driving through “hot spots” in states where the virus is more prevalent.  

As we gain control over the virus and the country begins to open up again, there may be lasting damage to the trucking industry.  Even when demand grows in this country, much of the freight comes from overseas, leaving us dependent on the re-opening of other countries so recovery may be slow getting off the ground.  When it does, there’s a real fear that after businesses begin to reopen and the demand for drivers climbs that many drivers will simply not return.  

The protesters in Washington, D.C. are looking for fairness, that if load rates are less during this time, freight broker rates will be less too.  They aren’t looking for Congress to step in and do something about the declining rates because, even with all the punches this virus has inflicted on the trucking industry, there’s still the belief that with recovery of the American people, recovery in the economy, recovery of our nation, will come the recovery of the trucking industry.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that can make finding profitable loads easier.  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!    

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. 

Direct_Freight_600x200_r3

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/

 

Truck Drivers Are More Essential Than Ever

blog-image-template
One thing the coronavirus has made abundantly clear is that certain occupations simply cannot take a break because they are too vital to the people of this country to keep everything moving. Of these, doctors, nurses, and other workers in the health industry are the heroes fighting the enemy on the front line for those who have contracted the virus. Then there are those who are keeping the shelves stocked so we have food and other necessities to keep the rest of the country going during the crisis. We’re grateful for all of them.

However, there’s one group of workers behind the curtain that make all of that possible, those who supply food for the shelves and medical supplies for hospitals―truck drivers.

Truck drivers truly are the backbone of our country and without them, everything would grind to a halt. Throughout the pandemic, drivers are putting in long hours and facing possible exposure to the virus, all so essential workers can do their essential work.   Our entire infrastructure relies on them.

Difficulties on the Road

Life on the road in the shadow of the coronavirus has become more complicated for drivers.  Essential freight is still moving so for drivers hauling food and hospital supplies, work is plentiful. But with the construction industry coming to a halt, and stores and small businesses deemed non-essential shuttering their doors, drivers who haul goods to these businesses are struggling.

For drivers still out on the road, dine-in restaurants at truck stops have closed, leaving weary drivers with no place to relax and recharge outside of their truck.  Some have been able to leave their showers and laundry services open for drivers. Some have closed altogether. With fast-food restaurants closing their dining rooms, drivers have had to adjust their eating habits. Trucks don’t fit through the drive-thru lanes and if they park and walk up to the window, some refuse to serve them. Palmdale Sheriff’s office tweeted:  “If you happen to be sitting in your car eating because the dining room is closed, & see a truck driver attempt to pull on a door, please ask if you can buy them a meal. Most places do not allow walk ups, and their rigs usually don’t fit. We owe them that much!”

Because meals are unpredictable, more drivers are now bringing their own food on the road and preparing it with their own microwaves, cookers, and coffee makers.

Relief May Be On the Way

A proposal by Senate Democrats for a COVID- 19 Heroes Fund would provide eligible front line workers up to $25,000 in hazard pay for those deemed essential during the crisis such as medical workers, truck drivers, grocers, transit workers, and essential federal employees. While still in its early stages, this proposal speaks for many who believe something needs to be done for the dedicated workers who put themselves in harm’s way every day.  In the meantime, we wait for the curve to flatten.

Through this crisis and the economic recovery when it follows, drivers are unsung heroes.  So when people talk of the heroic front line, remember where their supplies are coming from.  And the next time you reach for a new roll of toilet paper, thank a truck driver!

Direct Freight Services is an essential tool for shippers, freight brokers, and carriers that 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.

Sources:

https://www.democrats.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Heroes%20Fund%20FINAL%204.7.20.pdf

Getting Exercise on the Road

getting-exercise-on-the-road
In our hectic lives, fitting in time to exercise is increasingly difficult. Who wants to get up early and go for a run or stop by the gym after a long day at work? It can be particularly true for truck drivers. Deadlines are tight, the hours are long, and sitting behind the wheel all day is mentally and physically exhausting. Because their jobs require so much sitting, drivers are often overweight and deal with an abundance of health-related problems. In fact, a study appearing in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that 69% of drivers were obese, compared to 31% of the rest of the working population. With a little work, drivers can change this statistic. Working out on the road may be difficult but it’s not impossible. With some effort and a little planning, you can get in shape and improve your overall health.

Hit the Gym

Some truck stops have been adding gyms to their list of amenities for truck drivers.  Truck Stop Centers of America (TA), for example, have been installing indoor fitness facilities along with outdoor installations that include basketball hoops, bowling, horseshoes, and walking trails for health-conscious visitors to use.

Look Around You

What opportunities for exercise along your route do you see? Walking paths? Hiking trails? Parks? Stop for a brisk walk or run. Is there a gym in the truck stop where you’re fueling up? They’re popping up at truck stops all over the country so it’s easy and convenient to stop in for a quick workout.

Bring Equipment With You

Space in the cab of your truck is limited but a couple of kettlebells or resistance bands take up little room. If you have room for a bike, in your cab or strapped to the back of the truck, you’ll not only be able to exercise but you can do some exploring too. It can give you a little freedom from the restrictions of driving a big truck around.

Set a Daily Goal

Tell yourself that you’re going to work out for half an hour a day. Split it to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening if that works better for you. Whatever you choose, walking, push-ups and crunches, or a gym workout, hold yourself to that goal.  Half an hour every day. No excuses.

A healthy diet is an important component to getting in shape.  After all, why would you want to undo all that work you’ve done exercising to get in shape by eating unhealthy fast food?  It is possible to eat healthier on the road. Get a mini-fridge for your truck so you can keep some fresh snacks like fruits and veggies.  Before you go out on the road, pick up some nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, and jerky in individual packets. They may be a little more expensive this way but it makes it easier to control your portions.  Hummus, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and Greek yogurt are good protein-packed choices for the fridge.

Being a truck driver doesn’t have to be an unhealthy occupation.  Taking the time to exercise and eat better will improve your health, your mood, and your relationships.  A healthy driver is a happy driver!

At Direct Freight Services, we make happy drivers by posting up-to-date loads on our site.  We provide a thorough, easy-to-use and up-to-date load board for shippers to post loads and for drivers to find them. Sign up today at Directfreight.com and see if Direct Freight can work for you!

Sources:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.22293

https://www.ymca.net

https://www.planetfitness.com

 

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/

Truck Friendly National Attractions

truck-friendly-national-attractions

When you’re a long-haul driver, you see a lot of this beautiful country…from the cab of the truck.  Landmarks, scenic views, and exciting attractions pass by your windshield but you drive on because you have a deadline to meet.  But should you stop? Should you fit a little fun into your driving schedule?

Yes!  We all know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so why not try to squeeze in some of the wonderful attractions that our amazing country has to offer?  Make your plans ahead of time so you can fit them in your schedule and check with your carrier. They may have rules against bob-tailing. Of course, you can always rent a car, or call a cab or a Lyft.

Whiskey-petes-hotel

Whiskey Pete’s

Whiskey Pete’s is a hotel and casino located in Primm, Nevada near the California border.  It’s part of the Primm Valley Casino Resorts. You can spend the night, play some slots or catch the whiskey band at Pete’s Place.  Primm Valley offers a movie theater, great restaurants, and you can even get in a round or two of golf.

Biosphere_2_Habitat_&_Lung_2009-05-10

Biosphere 2

Completed in 1991, Biosphere 2 was designed to be a completely enclosed, self–sustaining ecosystem to demonstrate how life could be sustained in space.  The 3.14-acre structure is located in Oracle, AZ. In 2011, it was taken over by the University of Arizona for research on the ecosystems on Earth and how they can be sustained in the future. Itand it includes an ocean with a coral reef, a rainforest, mangrove wetlands, a savannah, and living quarters and research facilities.  Tours are available for this unique attraction and its parking lot can accommodate trucks.

Double-O-Arch_Arches_National_Park_2

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a red-rock wonder in Moab, Utah.  Park your trailer in the lot at the visitor’s center and drive through the park where you’ll see more than 2,000 stone arches as well as natural spires and balancing rocks.  If you have a bicycle, you could ride through the park or do some hiking.

Dean_Franklin_-_06.04.03_Mount_Rushmore_Monument_(by-sa)-3_new

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore’s majestic sculpture is more stunning in person than on a postcard.  It’s located in South Dakota’s Black Hills and is easily accessed by truck with parking in the visitor’s center lot.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln will be happy you stopped by!

3Falls_Niagara

Niagara Falls

Niagara’s astonishing 167-feet tall falls can be viewed from the park, or from the Niagara Falls Observation Tower, or you can see it’s rushing waters up close on the Maid of the Mist tour boat or the Top of the Falls restaurant.  Parking Lot 3 can accommodate larger vehicles.

1013646642_733ed9135f_b

South of the Border

This Mexican-themed attraction gets its name from its location being just south of the North Carolina border.  South of the Border is a rest stop that includes restaurants, gas stations, a video arcade, a small amusement park, minigolf, and truck stop.  It’s not Disney WorldDisneyworld but it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.

15542198496_aba1754427_b

Route 66

This one is a drive full of attractions.  The historic Route 66 was the original highway that led from Chicago to Santa Monica.  If you can take this highway along your route, you’ll see attractions like the Uranus Fudge Factory, The Leaning Water Tower of Groom, TX, Meteor  Crater near Winslow, AZ, The Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK and lots and lots of diners.

The next time you’re planning your fuel stops and overnights, take the time to find a fun and interesting place to stop.  It’ll break the monotony and add some fun to your trip. After all, don’t we all need a little adventure now and then?

Direct Freight Services not only gives drivers a way to search for loads or post the availability of their truck, but it also has many useful features for planning your run like deadhead and trip mileage, weather, and turn-by-turn specific routing.  Try Direct Freight today and find a load and plan your adventure!

Sources:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/las-vegas-apr-28-exterior-view-1413241208

https://www.primmvalleyresorts.com

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/circa-1992-biosphere-2-arizona-425312656

https://biosphere2.org/visit/what-is-biosphere-2

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/view-double-arch-arches-national-park-293792219

https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/mount-rushmore-national-monument-south-dakota-240571879

https://www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/american-side-niagara-falls-ny-usa-171241988

https://www.niagarafallsstatepark.com

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/south-carolina-usa-nov-11-2018-1423791755

https://www.sobpedro.com

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/us-route-66-highway-sign-on-544058587

https://www.historic66.com

 

The Driver Shortage and Recent Layoffs: Making Sense of It All

driver-shortage-and-recent-layoffs

Despite the shortage in certified truck drivers that has been raging on in recent years, last year brought big numbers in layoffs throughout the entire trucking industry.  Left and right, drivers lost jobs and carriers large and small closed doors. In December 2019, 3,500 truck drivers lost their jobs with a total of 6,600 for the year.  Many that managed to keep their jobs saw  rates slashed.

More Than Drivers Affected

Carriers aren’t only cutting drivers.  Many positions being cut in the trucking industry are administrative and non-driving positions.

The downturn in the trucking industry has a far-reaching impact. Carriers stopped adding to their fleets, purchasing 64% fewer new trucks than the prior year. Popular engine manufacturer Cummins announced that in Q1 2020 it will lay off 2,000 employees, and Volvo Trucks is laying off 700 people in January.

Ups and Downs

The trucking industry has a history of ups and downs, and often where the trucking industry goes, the economy follows. The economy has been on an upswing but a decline in the demand for trucks usually indicates that it’ll soon go the other way. The Great Recession that began in 2008 was preceded by a downturn in the trucking industry in 2006. Unfortunately, this is not a tried and true indicator of an impending recession. While a national recession is almost always preceded by a recession in the trucking industry, the reverse isn’t always true. In fact, the trucking industry experiences twice as many recessions than the national economy so trouble in the trucking industry doesn’t necessarily mean that the country will go through an economic recession.

Slowing in the Manufacturing Sector

Since the trade war with China reached a stalemate and tariffs were implemented, manufacturing has slowed.  Tariffs cost consumers and importers $1.4 billion a month with $165 billion in trade being directed to other countries, demand for goods has slowed and along with it, manufacturers aren’t producing, retailers aren’t buying, so carriers have less to ship.  Jobs up and down the supply chain have been affected.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Whether such a dramatic downturn will turn around quickly or we just see more of the same for 2020 still remains to be seen.  The hope is that 2020 will bring a light at the end of the tunnel. Talks with China are progressing.  If the US and China come to a deal on trade so tariffs are lifted and the U.S., Canada, and Mexico come to an agreement on NAFTA, there should be an upturn as manufacturing speeds up again to meet the demand, and freight begins to move again.

If you’re a driver who is looking for freight, Direct Freight Services can help you find loads to keep your truck on the road.  Direct Freight Services 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, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.

To see how Direct Freight can get you back out on the road, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-truck-drivers-december-jobs-report-2020-1

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

https://www.businessinsider.com/cummins-confirms-2000-layoffs-at-truck-engine-manufacturer-trucking-downturn-2019-11

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-truck-drivers-december-jobs-report-2020-1

https://cdllife.com/2019/volvo-announces-mass-layoffs-due-to-lack-of-demand-for-trucks/

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-ata-truckers-potential-2019-8

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/trump-trade-war-cost-americans-14-billion-per-month-last-year-2019-3-1028002357?utm_source=markets&utm_medium=ingest

https://www.npr.org/2020/01/16/797100293/china-trade-deal-a-truce-awakens

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/01/16/usmca-senate-vote-mexico-canada-trade-deal-replace-nafta/4471596002/

 

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.

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