The Measure of a Truckload

How are you measuring the efficiency of your truckload?

One of the best ways to reduce transportation costs, is to put more freight in each truck. There are a number of ways to increase freight per truck, but let’s talk about an equally important first step— understanding and measuring your truckloads. If you don’t track how well you’re using the available capacity on your trucks, it may be difficult to get started improving results. As the old saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.” So how are you measuring your truckloads?

The two most common ways, used for brokered freight, are weight and linear feet (how much of the truck length is needed)—but both of these have a lot of limitations. Weight is often misstated when reserving trucks. We have found that a majority of brokers and shippers will say they are shipping 40,000 lbs simply to make it clear they want a full, normal dry van trailer for their freight. However, the actual weight on a bill of lading is often much less. Similarly, linear feet in a truck may help for planning how to combine two partial loads, but it does not do a good job saying whether the freight that was loaded is using the part of the truck it’s loaded into.

At FreightWeb, we believe the best way to measure your truckloads includes the following:

  • Keep track of what you are shipping (ideally a spreadsheet or data file) and how well you do using trailer capacity

  • Measure the volume of freight going into the trailer—For example, if you are loading the trailer with 48” x 42” pallets write down the height and number of all pallets

  • Calculate cube utilization and weight utilization as a % and show both

  • If possible, take 1-2 photos of each truckload as it is being built and another 1-2 photos when the door is ready to close so you can visually see how well it is loaded

Good cubic utilization is generally around 70 percent of the available cubic capacity—though this varies by type of cargo. That is, if you’re loading 2,800 cubic feet of freight in a 4,000 cubic foot high cube trailer, you are probably doing well. BUT, if your tracking shows you are shipping a lot of trucks with less than 2,800 cubic feet of freight in them, it may be worthwhile to assess your options to improve trailer utilization. This is particularly true if these trailers also have

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