Historically, the LTL carrier market has resisted trailer tracking technology because locating LTL cargo was a simpler task than full truckload. But recent labor shortages, supply chain congestion and severely constrained capacity have created the perfect storm: exacerbated ancillary holding costs and growing tensions between shippers and LTL carriers. As a result, LTL carriers have implemented truck-less trailer programs in order to increase their capacity.
With drop-and-hook freight, it doesn’t take much to notice a huge difference in capacity. According to Aaron Terrazas, director of economic research at Convoy, a mere 1% increase in drop-and-hook usage equates to an increase in availability in the order of 10,000 conductors. However, as stall operations increase, visibility issues arise for LTL carriers, and the simple question “Where is my stuff?” »— Becomes more and more difficult to answer.
The good news is that when capacity remains constrained for an extended period of time, the rates that shippers pay carriers to transport the goods increase, which means that the margins also increase. The SONAR chart below reveals the steady increase in LTL contract prices since March 2020. It makes sense for carriers to use some of this new cash flow to improve their operations and invest in technology solutions.
“With all of the hiring challenges, technology is the obvious answer,” said Zach Strickland, director of freight market intelligence at FreightWaves. “The capacity problem is not going to be resolved quickly. Manual asset tracking is a huge cost and results in tons of inefficiency as carriers easily lose track of equipment. If you can find additional capacity now as a carrier, that will help you grow and sustain when the market takes hold. “
Today’s trailer tracking technologies surpass locating trailers, containers and other assets on a map. While the old guard of telematics sensor technology was able to distinguish whether a trailer was loaded or not, new cargo cameras allow carriers and shippers to see high-resolution images and how loaded a trailer is. . 4G LTE connected solutions are essential to enable continuous visibility beyond 3G sunset and better support video solutions that require increased bandwidth.
Since damage claims can easily tax a carrier’s bottom line and cause disputes with customers, high definition cargo cameras can also offer visual evidence as cargo is moving during transportation. In order for fleet managers to keep an eye inside the trailer at all times, telematics providers like PowerFleet use the latest camera technologies like image recognition processors, door sensors and environmental sensors. the loading area. PowerFleet can then take advantage of machine learning to identify trends in photos, all of the processes that can ultimately protect the carrier from rising insurance costs.
“We’re seeing tremendous interest from customers in not only implementing telematics to keep tabs on their assets, but they’re also adding cargo cameras to get figurative and literal visibility into their shipments,” Mark said. Stanton, Managing Director of Supply Chain Visibility for PowerFleet. solutions.
The main opportunity inherent in these solutions is to gain visibility and understanding of trailer capacity, which is entirely tied to revenue. Once carriers can see the full fleet capacity and available locations, they can optimize drivers’ routes, determining who is closest to the pickup location and which driver has the capacity to enter. load.
Integrating end-to-end telematics solutions allows carriers to take control of their equipment in a chaotic market and stop the guesswork: how long has the trailer been idle? Did it stay on arrival or did the sender unload it, but the carrier did not pick it up?
“Knowing how long your equipment is down in certain places can also lead to a huge improvement in usage,” Strickland added.
To learn more about PowerFleet’s end-to-end trailer tracking solution for LTL fleets, click here.