Flatbed Capacity Most Affected by ELDs

August 15, 2018 Company News Fleet Management Logistics Safety

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Published by freightwaves.com, May 18, 2018 —

As the trucking industry continues to broadly install and learn to use the ELDs required by the FMCSA, there are beginning to be some disparities in the way the devices are impacting capacity via mode, reports the online freight market publication Freightwaves.

Not surprisingly, carrier size is a factor in ELD adoption, with smaller carriers struggling more than larger carriers, but equipment type is proving to be a larger challenge than carrier size:

Truckers that are pulling dry van trailers still face challenges as they learn to re-optimize asset utilization but they are proving to be the most successful of all the truckload modes. Reefers face larger challenges, while flatbed carriers, who cannot take advantage of ‘drop and hook’ solutions that are relatively easier for dry van, are arguably dealing with the biggest challenges.

The capacity constraint produced by ELDs reached its worst point in February for dry van, reports Freightwaves. Demand growth has stayed strong and is continuing to exceed capacity, but capacity is recovering as carriers are pre-planning a driver’s schedule out for the next 48 to 72 hours. The use of additional trailers and giving favorable treatment to customers who allow loading and unloading of equipment without the truck (or driver) being present, is putting even small carriers on the road to asset utilization recovery.

Similar to dry van, the capacity constraint produced by ELDs reached its worst point in February for reefer. Also similar to dry van, demand growth has stayed strong and is continuing to exceed capacity.

That said, reefer carriers face two significant challenges that dry van does not: a new reefer trailer is more than two times the cost of a new dry van trailer; unloading, and especially loading, a reefer trailer requires far more monitoring than dry van … Even if a reefer carrier can work with a customer to yield more customer monitored loading and unloading (without the truck or driver present), the lower trailer count puts a limit on the amount of utilization that can be recovered through ‘drop and hook.’

Unlike dry van and reefer, the capacity constraint produced by ELDs for flatbed carriers became severe in February. Demand growth has stayed strong and is continuing to exceed capacity, but capacity is not recovering as pre-planning a driver’s schedule is not the issue. The use of additional trailers for most flatbed loads is just not an option. While flatbed trailers are more expensive than dry van trailers, the fact the driver must be involved in the tying down/securing the load makes ‘drop and hook’ extremely rare in the flatbed industry.

So, to the extent a trucker’s 14 hours a day are impeded by loading and unloading time, that capacity is not being recovered.

Read more at freightwaves.com.

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