A capacity crunch is occurring in the freight market due to a few factors, including a strong economy and strong freight demand. When these are coupled with the current truck driver shortage, it’s evident why space on trucks is at a premium. Many shippers are now finding themselves with more freight to ship than there is carrier space available to get it delivered.
There are several ways that shippers can combat these challenging market conditions to get their loads delivered both cost-effectively and on time — here are five you may not have thought of.
Use a TMS
A Transportation Management System (TMS) can make load planning and the optimization of truck loads faster and easier. When this process is done manually, it is both time-consuming and open to error. TMS technology ensures that the minimum capacity truck necessary is utilized. It also helps shippers lower their risk by vetting trucking partners, optimizing routes, and meeting due dates despite market conditions. Some TMS also offer analytics tools that enable shippers to make high-level strategic decisions based on real data to keep their operation running efficiently.
Focus on Carrier Relationships
Leveraging positive carrier relationships helps shippers and 3PLs consistently find capacity that aligns with carriers’ preferred lanes and backhaul needs. This is mutually beneficial, and a quick conversation with any carrier can help uncover what they are looking for to help optimize their own network. For example, a shipper can offer longer weekend routes to satisfy carriers that want to maximize driving time. Also, by finding out where carriers have empty miles, shippers can optimize utilization for carriers, making their own loads more desirable.
Look at Regional Routes
Separating freight bids by region instead of looking at it nationally can be a more productive way to find capacity. In order to make loads more attractive to their own drivers, more carriers are providing regional coverage. Regional carriers are also better at managing assets and guaranteeing capacity, which translates to better and more reliable service.
Be a Shipper of Choice
In today’s market, carriers are able to choose which loads they want to ship, and which ones they do not. A company can become a preferred shipper by paying invoices on time, being reasonable about accessorials and chargebacks, and providing a pleasant experience for drivers at pick up. Carriers want to work with shippers that value the relationship and are good to work with.
Consider Dedicated Contract Carriages
Dedicated contract carriage (DCC) is one way for shippers to lock in rates and capacity regardless of freight market changes. Dedicated capacity networks benefit both shippers and carriers, with carriers enjoying consistent volume and shippers/3PLs avoiding the spot market. Shippers also get improved service levels for on-time pick-up and delivery, and they can choose their own driver pool, partner with other carriers, or outsource dedicated transportation to a third-party provider.
Shippers who utilize these strategies will be more likely to manage the capacity crunch while building positive carrier relationships. With freight demand rising and no capacity expansion in sight, shippers and their 3PLs must develop new strategies to keep their loads moving and deliveries on time.