Today, the transportation and carrier industry is massive, and nearly any other business that produces finished goods, from computer parts to clothes to liquid nitrogen, will need to make use of truckload freight to deliver their items to and from manufacturing centers, retailers, and warehouses, and carrier companies can make their profits by charging invoices to the clients who make use of their shipping services and other transport services. Although the concept of using trucks to deliver truckload freight for clients sounds simple enough, there are some strategies that carriers and clients alike can use to make this business more lucrative and efficient, and in some cases, special care must be taken with specialty freight, such as hazardous materials or sensitive materials that may become ruined in the wrong conditions. Just how big is the shipping and trucking industry, and what methods can carriers and clients use for truckload shipping today?
The Size of the Industry
Trucking is a big business, and trends suggest that it may continue to grow well into the future. Just in the year 2013, for example, trucking as a whole transported a total of some 15 billion tons of cargo, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has suggested that by the year 2040, that figure could grow to 18.79 billion tons per year. And a significant part of the American GDP, the Gross Domestic Product, comes from carrier services like expedited trucking and more. 8% of the American GDP was involved in the logistics and transportation industry, with a total value of $1.48 trillion in the year 2015. All this shipping is possible thanks to an impressive fleet of vehicles and operators, numbering around 5.9 million motor vehicle drivers and their trucks. All of this freight represents a lot of value; the U.S. Department of Transportation has said that the value of freight that is being transported per ton was $882 in the year 2007, and by 2040, it could very well reach a total of $1,337 per ton. With all this truckload freight needing to be moved, what methods are best for financing and handling all these different types of cargo?
Not all cargo is the same, and due to the fragility of the items being transported or their dangerous nature, some items must be handled with great care, and in some cases, only qualified, trained specialists with the right gear should handle some types of hazardous materials. Even aerospace logistics or shipping by sea calls for precautions with some types of cargo. Liquid nitrogen, for example, must be transported by special trucks that can handle this extremely cold material, and special crews may load and unload the cargo at the right places. Explosive or flammable materials such as natural gas or oil must also be handled carefully, and toxic waste from chemical plants can be a real hazard, as can dry ice. Materials such as these may call for protective gloves or even full body suits to prevent contact with skin, and goggles or respirator masks can protect the eyes, nose, and mouth from dangerous fumes from these materials. Specialized canisters, crates, or tanks may be used for these materials.
Also, some cargo is simply more sensitive than others. Cold food and organic materials such as dairy, meat, or frozen meals for grocery stores must be kept chilled, and special trucks known as reefers are ideal for transporting these and similar materials to and from warehouses and retailers. Similarly, wine is sometimes purchased online by customers, but wine can become damaged by heat and should not be stored in a hot truck for too long with the rest of the cargo. For this reason, wine can be moved from a truck to a warehouse and chilled there until the customer can pick it up.
Truckload freight can be handled either full-load or less-than-truckload (LTL). If a shipper has enough items to fill a truck, then they can use the full capacity of that truck’s cargo area, but truckload freight can also be LTL. In this case, multiple shippers can share one truck if their respective cargo loads only take up some space, and this can lower costs and make the process more efficient.