Category: Shipping Industry

Sleep Apnea: What Every Driver Should Know

sleep-apnea

Sleep apnea is a growing problem in the trucking industry.  According to a study sponsored by FMCSA and American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations, almost one-third (28 percent) of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea.  The reason for the high number in drivers is because it is more common in men than women, more common in smokers, and in people who are overweight, all things that tend to be higher among drivers.  A family history, alcohol use, and neck size also contribute to the likelihood of developing sleep apnea.  

Maintaining a healthy weight on the road is exacerbated by too many unhealthy food options and sitting sedentary behind the wheel for long periods of time, and those excess pounds can lead to sleep apnea.  Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed, can lead to serious health problems, and can even be life-threatening.

 

What Is It?

Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing while they’re asleep.  It can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute and can happen a few times to hundreds of times a night.  A person with sleep apnea may not even be aware that they suffer from the disorder and may merely think they snore which is a common symptom of sleep apnea, along with choking while sleeping.

Why Sleep Apnea is a Problem

Sleep apnea, disruptions in sleep, can cause sleepiness during waking hours which can lead to increased accidents while on the road.  Even mild sleep apnea can disrupt sleep and prevent the driver from entering deep REM sleep that all need to get a healthy, restful night’s sleep.  Because of this, drivers with sleep apnea are at a much greater risk of drowsy driving, or even falling asleep while driving, and causing an accident.  Sleep apnea not only leads to sleepiness, but it also increases blood pressure, memory problems, headaches, stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, and heart arrhythmia.  Increased risk of developing depression can also occur. All of these problems affect a driver’s ability to drive and could disqualify him from driving commercially.

Because of the risks, more and more trucking companies are requiring their drivers to undergo testing for sleep apnea.  Drivers with mild sleep apnea may still be eligible to drive but those with moderate to severe sleep apnea will not.  

Solutions

Obstructive sleep apnea is treated using a CPAP machine.  Once diagnosed by a sleep specialist, which can usually be done using a monitor that looks for disruptions in sleep, recommendations can be made for a CPAP device consisting of a machine that pumps air to control breathing, and a face or nose mask to distribute the air.  

CPAP therapy is the most effective solution for obstructive sleep apnea but while it may be a more immediate solution, the units can be uncomfortable to wear while sleeping which can cause users to not wear them as much as they should.

The best cure for sleep apnea is to lose excess weight and keep it off.  Eating healthy and getting regular exercise can be challenging for drivers who spend long hours behind the wheel of a truck and the added sluggishness that sleep apnea causes makes it difficult for drivers to maintain their optimal weight and get the exercise they need.

But it can be done.  Healthy meals can be brought from home and truck stops are beginning to offer healthier options for drivers.  Insurance companies may offer gym memberships and many carriers are offering ways for their drivers to lead healthier more active lives.  Once successfully treated, a driver may regain the ability to drive if approved by the medical examiner.

 

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that can help truckers find loads and help carriers find drivers in search of loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/sleep-apnea/driving-when-you-have-sleep-apnea

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/obstructive-sleep-apnea-causes#3

The State of Driver Salaries

state-of-driver-salaries

Across the country, the high demand and shortage of licensed drivers have been pushing up the salaries of truck drivers, making it a rewarding and lucrative career choice.  Drivers’ salaries can vary from state-to-state by nearly $20,000 with Alaska ranking highest when it comes to drivers’ salaries with a median of $56,250 as of May 2018 and West Virginia the lowest at $38,580.   Drivers who regularly drive in large cities like New York tend to bring in a higher paycheck as well.

Many other factors that can affect the earnings of truck drivers too:

Experience

As with any job, the most experienced workers get the highest pay.  This can be frustrating for drivers who are just starting in the industry and expecting a big paycheck.  Some companies do pay entry-level drivers more than others do so it’s good to shop around and if the training facility where you obtained your CDL offers job placement help, try it.  They may be able to find those higher-paying entry-level positions. Some companies shy away from first-year drivers because they’re a higher risk for carriers; their inexperience can cause deadlines to be missed or worse, it can lead to accidents on the road. If the driver sticks with it, and develops a good safety record, over time, he or she can increase their pay to upwards of $80,000 in a few short years.

Mileage

Long haul drivers generally earn more money than short route drivers but shorter routes have the bonus of allowing the driver to be home every night which may be better for drivers with families.  Life on the road for long hauls isn’t easy. Long hours behind the wheel can be physically demanding and your route may take you away from home for extended periods. For many drivers, the higher pay makes it all worth it.

Endorsements

Endorsements to a CDL are added training and certifications for driving specialty cargo.  They include HazMat, Double/Triple Trailers, Tanker, etc. Because there are fewer drivers qualified to carry this freight, a higher salary can be demanded.

Bonuses  

Many carriers offer bonuses as incentives to attract drivers.  They can be quite high but often carry with them some requirements.  Bonuses can include:

    • Sign-on bonus:  often paid in 2 installments: one when you start and the other after you’ve been driving for the company for a specified time.
    • Fuel efficiency bonus:  given when you’ve met fuel consumption requirements
    • Safety bonus:  awarded when you’ve maintained a good safety record for a specified time.
    • Referral bonus:  Carriers are always on the lookout for good drivers.  Referring drivers to them could earn you bonuses.

Owner/Operator

Drivers who earn the most are generally owner/operators which can bring in a salary as high as $184,803.  Of course, there’s the added cost of the truck, which can be purchased or leased, insurance, business operating costs, and taxes, brings down that take-home pay, but they still can earn significantly more than drivers who drive carrier vehicles.  Being an owner/operator is not for everyone, however, and takes discipline, responsibility, and organization. It can bring freedom, but earning a big salary is only accomplished by putting in the work and driving those miles.  

Driving a truck remains one of the most common jobs in the country and is expected to continue to grow.  With hard work, training, and a dedication to safety, drivers can earn an excellent living on the road.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows companies to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as 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:

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm#st

https://www.truckdriverssalary.com/owner-operator-salary/

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/

DF: Top 7 Scenic Routes For Truckers

top-7-scenic-routes-for-truckers

Driving a truck is a popular occupation for many reasons.  Some come for the good pay with job security and high demand for drivers.  Others choose the driver’s life because the road calls to them.  The vastness and the ability to see this beautiful country of ours every single day draws them in.  

Whether driving long hauls or short routes, drivers get to see it all.  Here are some of the most scenic routes for truckers:

  1. US Route 89

This road stretches from Canada to Mexico, taking drivers through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona and through an abundance of national parks, monuments, and heritage areas.  Taking this route will bring you across the Rockies, through the wild Yellowstone National Park, and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon.

  1. Pacific Coast Highway

Running along the coast from Northern California to Southern California, the Pacific Coast Highway shows some of the best views that California has to offer.  If you’re looking for an interesting place to stop, this route has Venice Beach, the Queen Mary, the Bixby Bridge, Hearst Castle, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Glass Beach to name a few.  Your big rig may not fit through a redwood tree but a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway is a must-drive, especially if you’ve got time for a little fun.  

  1. US Route 2

If your route takes you into NH in the fall, you’re in for a treat.  New England is awash in reds, yellows, and oranges as the trees burst with vibrant colors.  US Route 2 goes from Northern Maine through the White Mountain National Forest in NH, home to Mount Washington which boasts the second coldest temperature ever recorded anywhere in the world, and through quaint towns in Vermont.  After popping up through Canada, Route 2 picks up in the U.S. again in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and continues across the upper U.S. through Montana and ending in Washington.    

  1. Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway

Also known as the “Appian Way of America”, the PP-OO highway is a historical gem.  It was built before the national highway system was put in to bypass small towns.  This road takes you through farmlands, hills, and nearly-forgotten towns.

  1. Interstate 77

This route travels from Cleveland, Ohio to Charlotte, South Carolina.  It takes you through the dramatic Blue Ridge Mountains and into downtown Charlotte where you can take a break and check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

  1. Scenic Byway 163

Traveling along this scenic route through Monument Valley on the Utah and Arizona border, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the set of a movie about the Old West with a huge rock formation backdrop.  You’ll definitely want to stop for photos on this one.

  1. The Swiss Alps of Texas

 

Yes, The Swiss Alps.  Of Texas. If you can squeeze part of this loop that spans Highways 337, 187, and 470 into your route, you will be rewarded with picturesque hills and deep canyons and rivers.  It may not be exactly like the real Swiss Alps but it’s a beautiful drive just the same.

Incorporating a scenic route into your drive can make any ride more enjoyable and can break the monotony that sometimes comes with driving a regular route.  If you’re looking for loads that may take you along some of the more scenic routes of the U.S., Direct Freight Services can help. Our full-service load board can help you find loads all over the country and has numerous useful features such as full credit reports, credit scores, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information as well.  Check out the Direct Freight website to find out more. 

 

Sources:

https://usroute89.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_101

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/us2.cfm

https://www.wmur.com/article/mt-washington-tied-for-second-coldest-place-on-earth-saturday/14769919

http://www.ppoo.org

https://utah.com/scenic-drive/monument-valley

https://www.texasoutside.com/texas-scenic-drives/

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!

How a Product Gets From Factory to Your Doorstep

how-a-product-gets-from-factory-to-your-doorstep

In logistics, one thing is connected to the next.  You buy an item online and although it may seem like it miraculously appears on your doorstep a few days later, it actually goes through many coordinated steps to arrive there. 

A supply chain is just that―individual links that make up a long chain.  For example, you want to buy a dinosaur action figure from an online retailer who acquires them from China.  Before you’ve clicked the “add to cart” button, your dinosaur action figure has already begun its long journey.

 

Dinosaur Action Figure  Supply Chain

  1. Raw materials are sent to a manufacturing plant in China via boat, plane, train, or truck.
  2. Manufacturing plant molds plastic into the perfect dinosaur action figure.  
  3. Manufacturing plant sorts and ships dinosaur action figure to a port via truck or plane.  
  4. Shipments are loaded into shipping containers and loaded onto a ship bound for the U.S.
  5. At the U.S. port, containers are off-loaded and wait for further transportation.  
  6. Shipping container or its contents are loaded onto a truck,train or plane and sent to a warehouse.
  7. You place your online order and the dinosaur action figure is on the move again.
  8. At that warehouse, the freight is sorted and then loaded onto a truck to be sent to another warehouse.  This process could happen several times before the dinosaur action figure arrives at a retail outlet or distribution center for online orders. 
  9. Distribution center uses 3PL to deliver your dinosaur action figure to your doorstep.  Hurray!

 

Of course, this is merely an example of the way a product could get to your front door and the journey is dependant on many things such as starting point and destination, location of the retailer, and the manner in which the shipper chooses to ship their freight.  You may order directly from a foreign company that uses 3PL to get the product to you. Or you could drive to a retailer and buy a product that was flown to the U.S. instead of being shipped by boat.  

The one thing all of these supply chains have in common is that they rely on trucks to move products.  Even if boats or planes are links in the chain, trucks are used to get freight to and from them. Even when trains are used for cross-country journeys instead of long-haul trucking, trucks are still needed to get freight to and from the trains.  

Whether trucks are big rigs or 3PL vans, they will remain the backbone of every supply chain around the world.  It’s why there’s such a high demand for truck drivers with no hint of slowing anytime soon.  

If you’re a trucker who’s interested in becoming one of those important links in the supply chain, a good load board like Direct Freight Services is a great place to start.  With helpful features like a mobile app, quick pay, deadhead miles, text alerts, and turn-by-turn routing, Direct Freight will help truckers find the loads they’re looking for.  Sign up today at Directfreight.com and see how Direct Freight can start working for you!

Shippers: How Load Boards Can Help Your Business Grow

loadboards-help-business-grow

For anyone who ships freight, a good load board is the most essential tool in the shipper’s toolbox.  It not only allows loads to be posted and seen by many available carriers, but it also has features that help organize loads, track freight, and streamline the shipping process.

What is a Load Board?

A load board is an online system that allows shippers to post loads that need to be shipped and for truckers and carriers to find them.  Essentially, load boards match people with loads to ship with people who ship loads. Good load boards have useful features that make the entire shipping process move smoothly and allow the shipper to include relevant details about the shipment. This weeds out carriers that don’t meet the shipper’s needs or requirements and streamlines the process.

How a Load Board Can Help a Company Grow  

Load boards are much more than a handy tool.  Load boards can help companies that need to ship freight grow.  Even for shippers who have a loyal list of dependable carriers, load boards can be useful for finding a new carrier in a pinch if shipments fluctuate seasonally or business grows and the shipper finds he needs more carriers.  

They are also useful if the shipper needs to send freight to a new location that the current carrier cannot accommodate.  With a load board, anywhere a shipment needs to go, there will be a carrier that can take it there.

As a shipper who doesn’t use a load board but instead works directly with a trucking company to deliver goods, life is busy.  Taking the time to shop around for better rates is probably out of the question. Load boards can be competitive and can help shippers make new connections at competitive rates.  Using a load board allows shippers to expand shipments and expand the business.

It also gives the shipper the lowdown on a carrier’s licenses and whether or not a trucker has a good driving record.  In turn, the carrier can see if the shipper is reputable and pays carriers in a timely manner.

Load boards help shippers and carriers avoid deadhead miles so money is being earned on the return trip instead of paying for an empty truck.

Often, shippers use freight brokers as a middleman to facilitate shipping and negotiating while they spend more time running the business.  Of course, this comes with added cost. Others prefer a more hands-on approach to shipping and a load board that has an extensive database and useful tools can facilitate that.  

DirectFreight.com has everything shippers should be looking for in a load board.  With its clear-cut interface, customized features like important saved documents, email and text alerts, and a convenient new app for drivers, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  It not only provides current load and truck information, but it also makes your business more organized and professional. Check it out for yourself DirectFreight.com and watch your shipping company flourish!

Are Load Boards Worth Their Cost?

are-load-boards-worth-their-cost

For trucking companies, it’s not just a matter of booking as many loads as possible, it’s important to book as many high-quality loads as possible.  High-quality loads come from dependable shippers who have above-average margins, and pay in a timely manner.  A good load board is a useful tool to help keep your trucks rolling, but is the monthly subscription fee worth it?

Load boards can help you:

Get Clients

Using a load board can help you gain trusted clients that you can build long-term relationships with.  This allows you to cut out the middleman and not go through a freight broker, which will increase your margins.

Diversify

A wise investor diversifies his investments to be able to weather any negative periods.  The same approach should be applied to your trucking business. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  If you get all your loads primarily from one source, you’ll be in trouble if that company has a problem.

Find a Trustworthy Broker

As part of their diversification, many companies will work directly with shippers and with freight brokers.  It’s important to find one that is reliable and will earn you money.  To learn more about how to find the right freight broker, go here.

Eliminate Deadhead Miles

If you’re going to be bringing home an empty truck, be sure to include those costs in your rates.  Better yet, line up a load for the return trip. This is where load boards are essential. It’s so easy to search your return route for loads that can be made along the way.  

Shop Around

Load boards allow you to shop around for loads that will be most beneficial to your company.  Think quality, not quantity.

Are Free Load Boards a Good Deal?

As they say, the best things in life are free.  This may be true for many things but for load boards, it is not.  Free load boards will certainly save you a monthly fee that most load boards charge.  However, most top companies prefer to post their loads on the paid sites so you won’t see the quantity or the quality that you would find on subscription load boards.  Also, some of the “free” load boards are only free for a limited time, have duplicate loads and outdated information.

 

Tips for Working with Load Boards

Know the Low

Before you reply to a post to negotiate a rate, always know your lowest possible rate that allows you to break even.  This will make negotiating a rate for a shipment much quicker and easier.

Walk on By

Don’t be afraid to say no.  If a load isn’t going to earn much and may cause more problems than it’s worth, keep walking.  Load boards make it easy to find one that will work for you.

Don’t Overbook

If you’re finding a lot of good quality loads on a load board, be careful.  If you book more than your company can handle, you’ll start missing deadlines.  This could hurt your company’s reputation for being dependable and trustworthy. It’s important for your business’s success that you make timely deliveries.

 

If you’re starting out as a carrier, a good load board is essential.  It’ll help you make contacts with which you can build direct relationships.  Once you have those connections, it’s good to continue to use the load board to fill in gaps and book deadhead miles.  

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that can help you maximize your margins with our huge database of quality loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!