Category: Trucking Industry

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

IoT and the Trucking Industry

IoT-and-the-Trucking-Industry

IoT, or Internet of Things, is a term used to describe a network of things―devices, appliances, and vehicles, connected using wireless networks that can be utilized and monitored using the internet.  You may not think that there’s a network of things that connect us everywhere but every day we’re more connected than the day before. “Virtual assistants” like Alexa have become hugely popular in the last few years, as has home monitoring and security systems and health monitors like FitBits.  You can buy trackers to track everything from your child or pet to an elderly person who has Alzheimer’s. You can even buy a fridge with a camera that points inside so you can connect with it while you’re at the grocery store to see if you need milk.  

IoT can be used to benefit or improve many industries, including the trucking industry.  Shippers, carriers, and drivers alike have been implementing IoT as a way to improve productivity, safety, and logistics.  

Electronic Logging Devices

ELDs are a requirement for all trucks.  They monitor a driver’s hours ensuring they’re aware and following the mandated Hours of Service and remaining in compliance with the law.  ELDs were made a requirement as a way to combat drowsy driving for the safety of drivers and anyone else sharing the road. At first, drivers weren’t happy with “Big Brother” watching their every move but  reality is that ELDs save drivers the time of filling out paper logbooks. ELDs that track speed and location can help dispatchers keep drivers on the most efficient, money-saving route. 

Geo-fencing

Geo-fencing is a “virtual fence” that triggers an automatic response when a device enters or exits a specific location.  It’s an elaborate form of GPS that gives alerts if the freight is off course which could result in lost time and efficiency.      

Smart Tags

Smart tags are sensors that can be added to the freight itself that tracks the package in their simplest form or can provide more specific data like whether the package has been opened or tampered with as well as product temperature.  This is particularly important in the food industry for perishables and the biopharmaceutical industry where medicines and other biological materials have to be kept at specific temperatures at all times. IoT allows constant monitoring of freight so that drivers and management can be alerted to any changes in temperature that might compromise the cargo.  

Fleet Management

There are many different sensors that can be used on trucks.  Engine and tire data can be used to detect a small maintenance problem before it becomes a big, expensive one.  Tire pressure being too low or too high or engine issues can trigger an alert that can avoid a blowout or breakdown.  Accelerometers, fuel sensors, tracking, and other sensors can provide vital information to allow the truck to deliver its goods safely and on time.  Sensors can provide real-time alerts to hazards or delays and can improve fuel consumption which not only saves the company money on fuel costs but it can also help reduce CO2 emissions which is good for the environment.  Better communication between shippers, carriers, and drivers allows everyone to be on the same page and with new technologies ever on the horizon, current IoT solutions are just the beginning.

Another technology used to streamline the shipping process is load boards that allow drivers to search for available loads or for shippers to search for carriers or drivers.  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 those high-quality loads today!      

Source:  https://www.freightwaves.com/news/2017/11/9/trucking-and-the-internet-of-things