Improving sustainability in trucking requires a fresh look at everything in the industry. It’s time to find better ways to do what we have always been doing in an effort to reduce emissions. One area we can focus on is empty miles, which adds to emissions without any benefit to the industry. Taking a renewed look at backhaul in trucking to reduce the act of “shipping air” is a great way to cut emissions while improving driver safety, enhancing efficiency, and creating more revenue.
What Is Backhaul in Trucking?
A backhaul shipment has a lower rate than headhauls, yet it still brings in revenue for the return trip and is the more sustainable option. Rather than running empty miles as a deadhead, the truck’s return trip is utilized with a shipment.
How “Empty Miles” or “Shipping Air” Is Costly in Carbon Emissions and Total Carbon Footprint
In the U.S., about 36% of heavy-duty trucks run empty. Since transportation and logistics make up more than 20% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, it’s essential to consider possible changes. Rather than contributing emissions on empty loads, backhaul in trucking offers a simple fix that makes a significant difference.
In general, it’s challenging to find a load for the return journey. Shippers often don’t have the time and focus on investing in executing spot market contracts and allocating driver hours for backhauling. They simply need the truck and driver to make the delivery and return to pick up the next shipment.
Ongoing carrier relationships and contracts can also stand in the way.
7 Tips to Reduce Empty Miles Through Backhaul in Trucking
Fortunately, it’s possible to turn things around and fully utilize trucks and drivers for both legs of a journey. Here are some ways backhaul in trucking is possible:
Maximize Trailer Utilization
Use a TMS and Digital Freight Matching Tools
Advanced shipping technology makes it much easier to match a truck with a shipment. For instance, digital freight matching tools allow shippers and carriers to find each other and match up based on the suitable capacity for a shipment. The two parties can use these tools to conduct a search or rely on machine learning and automation tools to create matches.
A transportation management system (TMS) supports the process of utilizing a trailer. It brings together information on shipments and capacity within a Digital Freight Marketplace.
Use Consolidation Strategies
Freight pooling allows you to consolidate numerous LTL shipments into one shipment that goes to a pool point, where it is then sorted for final mile delivery. Consolidation ideas include zone skipping, fanning into a consolidation center, or setting up consolidated loads that are fanned out after reaching a distribution center.
Use a Sharing Economy Model
Through a sharing economy and shared resources, everyone is better able to consolidate and reduce empty miles. A sharing economy features peer-to-peer activity and transactions to facilitate the best processes, in this case, utilizing trailer space and cutting down on shipping air.
Optimize Routes in Real Time
Rely on Private and Dedicated Fleets
A good private or dedicated fleet program can cut down on empty miles while providing cost-cutting benefits. It may be more possible to access private fleet capacity and reduce shipping air.
Tap Into Trailer Pools & Programs
Fill Backhaul in Trucking with Digital Freight Networks
Efforts to improve backhaul in trucking can significantly impact the industry’s efficiency and sustainability. To learn more about setting up backhauling, read our eBook on the role of digital freight networks in matching freight with capacity.
For more help be sure to download Navigating Digital Freight Marketplaces.