Intentional Pairing: An Operations Change That Could Lead to Lowered Trucking Costs

Trucking companies have been operating with drop-and-hook operations for some time hoping to maximize efficiency. But while many trucking companies stick with this method, there’s little focus when it comes to matching tractors. In a new report from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), it’s pointed out that a change in operations to allow for more intentional pairing as it’s known could lower overall trucking costs and have more room for needful assets such as hiring and truck insurance.

But while it’s projected to help with efficiency and cut costs, some leaders in the industry argue against pairing, saying that while it’s a good idea, it’s not really feasible. Even with a net improvement of five to 10 percent, as stated by the NACFE, the case to change things up may not be compelling enough.

Studying The Road

In the study, titled “The Feasibility of Intentional Pairing,” the NACFE portrays pairing as a dream for engineers, allowing for the design of an integrated tractor-trailer combination to be operated in a cost-cutting way. The report, which spans 86 pages, outlines everything needed to change for a complete overhaul of how things get done on the road through pairing. Through a survey of 50 fleets, including big names in the industry like Werner, UPS, and PepsiCo, NACFE found that the majority of fleets operate in drop-and-hook with the focus on keeping the trailer in motion as much as possible.

The benefits of pairing would be on a sliding scale according to the NACFE’s findings. Fleet annual net MPGs would improve and intentionally pairing by model type would provide the best opportunity for gains on the road.

The ability to pull this kind of move off is still questionable as many variables are involved and would require a whole new way to go about moving freight around. From time to pricing to asset location, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to an issue.

According to the NACFE, a growing number of GPS tracking systems and more data does present a new opportunity for a more efficient asset optimization in certain applications of freight, such as shipping beverages around. These commodities already operate in a certain manner as fleets pair weight-reduced tractors with weight-reduced trailers to maximize payload.

Altogether, NACFE, concluded that intentional pairing, while a great idea, and something to look forward to in the future, is not a full-fledged reality at this point. But the new technology does offer up opportunities through asset tracking and asset management. With data available around these entities, including driver information, tractor characteristics, asset status, locads, weather, and routes, better operational decisions can be made.

By combining this with the vehicle data, it could allow fleets to match trucks to certain shipping situations. Lightweight tractors could be paired up with lightweight trailers in order to maximize payload potential, even if it’s resulted in a shorter lifespan for those assets. Tractors with down-sped transmissions could be used for routes where technology can best be of benefit.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

In 2019, Independent Truck Drivers Are Earning More Than Company Drivers

Striking out on your own and working in the gig economy may seem like a risky endeavor for people working in tech or the arts. But one area where being self-employed is actually coming out ahead is in the trucking business. Self-employed truck drivers, also known as owner-operators, earn more per hour and work longer, or have more business opportunities, than company drivers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a May 2018 report, the average truck driver salary hovers around $43,680 a year. The average salary for owner-operators, which make up about 11 percent of the trucking industry, comes in about 5 percent higher. Plus, in the spirit of making their own schedule, these drivers can take on more work as they please.

Let’s take a better look at what’s impacting this trend.

Trending Up

Among workers across all jobs in the industry, self-employment has been heading lower on a steady basis, even with increasing numbers during economic downturns when workers who are laid off turn to self-employment. Considering other factors such as age, education, sex, and family status, self-employed truck drivers earn about five percent more per hour compared to company drivers, bringing their average salary up to about $45,500 annually.

But factoring in more availability to take on more work and you have more earning potential and a more attractive opportunity for drivers to go out on their own. The income and hours advantage among the self-employed does not necessarily hold up in other industries that employ large numbers of employees with the same kind of demographic profile. Think mining, food service, construction.

Not Guaranteed

This advantage for self-employed drivers may not be a uniform opportunity for all in the industry. While it may be attractive to work for yourself, make your own schedule, and earn more money, getting additional jobs and a steady stream of work may not be a guarantee.

The best owner-operators have the potential to earn more money per hour, but some actually end up taking a loss compared to company drivers. The top group of owner-operators earns 52 percent more per hour than their company driver counterparts, which comes out to about $19,000 more. But the bottom level of drivers actually earns as little as 30 percent less than regular drivers.

What’s more, you have to be willing to work longer hours if you want to be self-employed on the road. On average, owner-operators put in an extra hour a week behind the wheel. It may not seem like much, but it’s the pace that drivers have to keep up with in order to earn more that may grind away at them after a while.

Also, there are risks built in when it comes to working as an owner-operator. Self-employed drivers are more exposed to variables in the trucking industry that could affect their opportunities and wages, plus they have to pay their own commercial truck insurance and take care of their own maintenance fees. If a mechanical issue arises, commercial truck insurance won’t be able to protect an owner-operator. But even with these risks, there are owner-operators willing to go it alone and boost their own opportunities. Being a self-employed driver can be a lucrative endeavor that also provides an enviable level of autonomy that others want.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

How Data-Driven Technology Could Change the Trucking Industry

Technology is increasingly changing the world around us and making innovative steps in virtually every industry including trucking. Long haul companies are seeing a growing dependency on digital technology affect their operations and having to reorganize the way they do business. With the advent of autonomous trucking and a threat of a driver shortage looming, the trucking industry is seeing a number of rapid changes pushing and pulling it in many different directions.

Digitized trucking is still a little ways off and the logistics industry as a whole still has time to prepare for dramatic shifts like how to go about commercial truck insurance. Parts of it are already being put in place due to a couple major global trends that are helping to change the trucking industry.

The first is a push to manage climate change and to save energy and resources in an industry that traditionally goes against those notions. Secondly, social and cultural changes are beginning to open up new markets and expectations for the influence of autonomous vehicles and the digitized supply chain. Together, these two factors show that the effect of these trends isn’t just a matter of trucks themselves or how global supply chain is managed. Instead, digitized trucking will transform how most stakeholders in OEMs, logistics, warehouses, and others will operate.

Logistics

Soon enough it will be possible to integrate the truck into real-time logistics data across the whole supply chain. Parts, materials suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses–virtually every area will be affected. When orders are sent to manufacturers, a supply chain system will send back a report on the availability of the goods and timing of shipping it out, thus optimizing its production schedule. If something happens that impedes the truck from delivering on time, on schedule, the system can automatically determine a new route and update the receiving party about the new arrival time.

Transforming the Industry

Bringing updated digital technologies together in the trucking industry of tomorrow has already begun and the digitally integrated world of trucking will see massive differences soon. Trucking companies should already be on top of these changes and anticipating how they can change in real time. Expect to see further development of a hub-and-spoke delivery structure.

The use of large distribution hubs will become normalized in trucking. Trucks will have the ability to do away with human interaction during hub-to-hub trips as autonomous technology continues to be perfected. For now, there are trucking companies trying out this tech, such as Uber and Tesla, seeing how trucks can handle getting on and off highways as well as tracking their cruising performance. As hub-to-hub trucking becomes more common and necessary, regulations will have to change around the impact of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

This digital data landscape is more than just software and more visible in areas besides just warehouses and freight loads. Trucking companies should connect the dots between all areas of growth and change in the industry and see their domino-like effects.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and \ transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

The Biggest Problems Facing the Trucking Industry Today

No matter the type of business, no matter the economy, there are high times and tough times for each major industry. And with the advent of smarter and more efficient technology many industries are seeing the speed of change pose new issues.

One major industry feeling the pressure of too much change, too fast, is the trucking industry. From driver shortages to more tech-based opponents, traditional trucking companies are having to change course. One step to protecting the overall future of the industry is to invest in truck insurance, and another is to invest in the actual future: drivers. Here are some ways in which the trucking industry is feeling some pain today.

1. Driver Shortage

Even with an average pay of around $80,000, many news outlets are reporting that the trucking industry is seeing a huge challenge meeting it employment needs. A driver shortage is causing trucking companies to find new ways to attract tomorrow’s drivers. This has been a concern for years in the industry and with companies like Tesla and Uber testing out self-driving trucks, traditional truck drivers are feeling like they’re being replaced.

According to ATRI research, nearly 57 percent of the trucking workforce is at least 45 years old. If this continues, the shortage will reach more than 175,000 drivers by 2026.

2. Hours of Service

Flexible hours or service rules are now more emphasized by companies for their drivers. Many of those who hold stake in the industry believe that drivers should split their hours of operation, while some stress eight hours of straight driving. Employees could get an opportunity to rest when tired and adjust their schedules to avoid everything from traffic congestion to health risks.

3. Cash Flow

Trucking fleets may see a wait time as long as 60 to 90 days to get paid by brokers and shippers. With an extended cycle, a fleet’s cash flow can be drained and growth could be limited. Accounts receivable financing turns fleets’ invoices into cash in under a day, which results in building their working capital.

4. Driver Health

Truck drivers face a number of health obstacles, especially the longer they’re behind the wheel. These drivers are twice as likely as other workers in any industry to be obese, have diabetes and not have any type of health insurance. The job is demanding, and with such stress put on it, drivers are seeing a rapid decline in health, another component of making the job less enticing to new crops of drivers. There are new initiatives in place, like Rolling Strong, which aim to invest in drivers’ health and wellness with better fitness.

5. Safety

Accidents and fatalities behind the wheel happen and have always posed a risk for drivers. But beyond these risks, drivers face overall safety at their truck stops or where ever they park their trucks. There is new sensing technology that has come out that helps trucks avoid collisions and helps reduce the number of accidents, with numbers expected to reduce in the coming years.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and \ transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.