Imagine you can predict the future. How would you answer the following:

Where is the transportation industry headed?

What will drive the change?

What opportunities will benefit the trucking and logistics industries most?

Answering these questions created thoughtful conversations among fleet executives at the 2019 Truckload Carriers Association annual conference in March. The consensus among those discussions – the industry is evolving quickly with technology paving the way.

According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, four major themes predicting the next directions for the industry emerged at the conference: enhancing transportation apps, growing logistics, embracing technology, and meeting customer needs.

FreightRover started considering industry shifts two years ago at its 2017 launch. The challenge in starting a transportation technology company wasn’t just to predict the future of the industry, but to help create it. While we didn’t have a crystal ball, our instincts were correct with our CarrierHQ platform aligning to each of the four key areas fleet executives predict the industry is heading next.

Enhancing Transportation Apps

Driver apps aren’t new. Many large fleets have created home-grown driver apps or purchased out-of-the-box options for years. However, many apps available to small fleets remain limited in scope. CarrierHQ’s app takes a more comprehensive approach:

  • Mobile marketplace – drivers can access fuel, medical, and equipment savings within the same place.
  • Driver settlements – CarrierHQ offers full pay visibility including establishing deductions, electing pay frequency, and viewing net earnings.
  • Factoring portal – fleets factoring with FreightRover’s affiliate partner Rover180 can access receivables information and upload invoice paperwork using their camera phone.
  • Private load board – asset-based carriers and 3PLs can post freight to drivers through CarrierHQ’s load board. Drivers can self-select freight and provide load updates through the app.

Growing Logistics

With more than $700M awarded in independent contractor misclassification lawsuits in the past 10 years, asset-based fleets are understandably concerned about leveraging the capacity of owner-operators. However, in a catch22, they also don’t want to introduce a third-party into their customer relationship to access additional capacity. CarrierHQ serves as an important tool for any fleet’s employment classification risk mitigation strategy. FreightRover partnered with Legalinc to offer business formation services inside CarrierHQ. Independent contractors follow a step-by-step process to obtain their DOT authority and establish a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). In doing this, asset-based fleets can expand their brokerage operations to leverage independent contractor capacity and maintain the direct relationship with their customer, without assuming driver misclassification risks.

Embracing Technology

In the trucking industry, 97% of for-hire fleets comprise 20 trucks or less. With such fragmentation, widespread use of new transportation technologies historically has a long adoption curve. No shortage exists of new company entrants working to solve transportation’s biggest challenges. At the Transportation Carriers Association conference, Greg Hirsch, senior vice president of Daseke, described these companies as providing new voices to help the industry evolve and attract the next generation of drivers.

Many of the new technologies in transportation specialize in creating efficiencies and controlling costs. FreightRover developed CarrierHQ with the same goals in mind. Fleets can purchase four insurance policy types through the platform. FreightRover has reduced the antiquated multi-week process of obtaining insurance quotes and binding to less than 48 hours through a mobile device. Fleet owners or individual drivers answer a series of questions to generate a real-time quote among multiple insurance companies. A policy is chosen and the insurance certificate delivered digitally. With CarrierHQ’s insurance offering, fleets and independent contractors don’t owe any money up front, instead paying through weekly or monthly settlement deductions. The no up-front investment in insurance and pay-as-you-go model also removes a barrier historically preventing many independent contractors from obtaining their own authorities.

Meeting Customer Needs

As customers demand faster deliveries, shipper service requirements keep increasing. Carrier on-time pick-up and delivery is more important than ever. CarrierHQ’s private load board feature meets these increasing demands by connecting to truck telematic devices and driver cell phones to capture freight tracking data. Fleets grant shippers data access to create streamlined cargo visibility.

CarrierHQ also allows the technology to be custom branded. Fleets and 3PLs benefit by white labeling the platform to create and attract capacity using the service offerings of the mobile marketplace. White labeling existing technology expedites deployment, preserves IT resources, and provides a marketing boost.

Capacity remains one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. Trucking currently sits short 50,000 drivers, a number projected to triple by 2025. Sign-on bonuses and increased marketing spend typically only create turnover among fleets and the existing driver pool. These tactics generally fail to attract new drivers to the industry. Outside of significant legislation changes or economic factors like work conditions and compensation, technology provides one of the best opportunities to stem the driver shortage. CarrierHQ tackles this issue three ways: 1) low-cost business formation services; 2) reducing the need for up-front insurance capital, which averages $3,000-plus per truck for small fleets; and 3) providing mobile access to fleet service discounts for the top cost areas of fuel, equipment, and medical. By reducing these barriers to entry and growth, CarrierHQ opens the doors for more new drivers to join the industry.

To learn more about FreightRover’s CarrierHQ and how it could benefit your business, request a quick demo at https://www.freightrover.com/demo-request/

Summer may bring to mind happy memories of lemonade stands, splashing in the pool, and tanned shoulders. For owner operators, though, summer only means one thing: produce harvest season. The more fruits and vegetables that we consume, the more truckloads of produce that need to be shipped, and the more fresh produce that’s shipped, the bigger the boom in the transportation industry.

But it’s easy to forget that owner operators are also consumers, and as an owner operator you can use your insider knowledge to find the freshest fruits and veggies at the lowest cost. While we might not often consider it, the global economy has a big impact on our crude oil costs, and we can use those fuel trends to save money at the grocery store every day.
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Diesel Fuel’s Influence on Freight

Regardless of the mode of transportation, freight requires fuel to travel. Between air, rail, and road transportation, the trucking industry is most immediately affected by changes in oil price – often experiencing fluctuation in price from day to day. If, for example, you compare the national average cost of diesel fuel for last week (May 29, 2017) to the average diesel fuel price of the week before (May 22, 2017), you’ll notice that the price jumped from $2.53 to $2.57. That’s a national increase of $.04 in just a week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It’s even easier to see the change if you break down bulk crude oil prices on a longer timeline. Crude oil dropped from $145 a barrel in the summer of 2008 to $29 a barrel in February of 2016, according to Transportation Economics and Management Systems, Inc. (TEMS).
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Balancing Fuel Cost

Constant fluctuation in fuel rates means that carriers must adjust accordingly to jumps or drops in diesel cost, if they want to stay profitable in the long-run. Many carriers calculate surcharges based on fuel prices of the previous week, which allows for freight companies to react quickly to a change in price.

These fluctuations affect not only the business operations of carriers, owner operators, and company drivers – they trickle down to everyday consumers. Carriers do not simply eat the cost of higher fuel prices in the hope that that loss will be remedied by lower fuel prices in the future. Such a strategy would mean the carrier is betting on a steady economic trend, which is unreliable. Instead, carriers surcharge shipping costs to shippers and brokers.

Shippers (we’ll use Walmart for this example) don’t eat the shipping cost either. Instead, Walmart adjusts their shelf prices to mirror the higher or lower shipping cost. One week, Walmart’s produce section features salad mix on sale for $3.99. The next week, you might come back to find the price has dropped to $1.99. As an owner operator, when you notice the cost to fill up your tank is lower than it has been lately, you can bet that the price of goods in the store will reflect that lower cost within the next week or so. If you play your cards right, you’ll know when to buy your groceries in order to save the most money.
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How We Benefit as Consumers

A drop in crude oil prices almost always means a drop in prices for the consumer. Crude oil prices have continued a downward trend since 2014, which has resulted in both shipper/carrier profit margins increasing and consumer good prices decreasing to closely reflect the lower costs. Keeping track of weekly diesel fuel and overall crude oil prices can work to your advantage as a consumer. Utilize your knowledge of fuel costs the week before to estimate whether you should buy a product now, or wait for fuel prices to change. Stay ahead of the fuel economy to stay on-top of savings!

Here at FreightRover, we are committed to the success of our owner operators, as well as the success of our carriers and shippers. We work daily to put out helpful information that brings new light to the transportation industry. Contact us today to learn about how FreightRover can streamline your business operations and simplify your daily life on the road.

The current average cost of diesel fuel across the United States comes out to $2.54. And while we have certainly seen worse (let’s not forget 2012, when the average price came out over $4), fuel is far from cheap. In fact, fuel costs have steadily been named the #1 expense for owner operators. Veteran drivers and those skilled in the industry produce up to 35% better mpg than rookie drivers, according to American Transportation Research Institute. And while most drivers would never purposefully burn through fuel, it can be difficult to know when your truck is utilizing fuel to its fullest potential.
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Speed

Reducing your speed is the first step to improving fuel consumption, according to Fleet Owner. A truck traveling at 75 mph consumes 27% more fuel than one going 65 mph. If you limit your rig’s speed to 65 mph, you would save 2.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel over a decade. The Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a controversial speed limiter mandate in 2016, but it is yet unclear as to whether that rule will be enforced under the new administration.

The impact of speed on fuel economy depends on a variety of influences, including vehicle aerodynamics, engine speed, and operating conditions. The factors seem complicated, but as a general rule of thumb, increasing speed by 1 mph reduces fuel efficiency by 0.1 mpg. Because trucks spend most of their operating time on highways, increasing your speed can also lead to higher maintenance costs, and a higher chance of road-side breakdown.

A long-haul truck with 90% highway operation that reduces its top speed from 70 to 65 mph could cut its annual fuel costs by at least $1,450, according to Fleet Owner. Further reducing the maximum speed to 60 mph could save an additional $1,850, bringing your estimated annual savings to $3,300. And the higher the diesel fuel price, the bigger the savings.
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Idling

After speed, idling is the second-largest culprit in wasted fuel. It can be difficult to stay comfortable in the cab of a parked truck overnight, especially if the outside conditions are particularly extreme. As a result, many drivers idle their rig overnight in order to keep the cab temperature comfortable. But when idling the engine is the only way to control the cab environment, fuel costs skyrocket. Studies by the Argonne National Laboratory report that the average long-haul truck idles anywhere from six to eight hours per day for 250-300 days of the year. Trucks that idle overnight consume more than 838 million gallons of fuel per year, and limiting your idling can save you more than $6,000, according to the EPA.

And while “limited idling” sounds simple, it is certainly unrealistic when the outside temperature is only 20 degrees. Luckily, there are a few different technological solutions that can help to reduce idle time.

  • Automatic engine shutdown/start-up systems control the engine based on a set time period or outside temperature. For example, a driver could set the system to turn on the engine and heat when the outside temperature drops to 60 degrees.
  • Direct-fired heaters are small, lightweight devices that provide heat only.
  • Auxiliary power units/generator sets are small, diesel-powered engines that are installed on the truck to provide air conditioning, heat and electrical power to run accessories like lights, onboard equipment and appliances. Reefer manufacturers also offer in-cab temperature-control solutions.

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Deadhead Mileage

The deadhead mileage of a given route is the miles driven with no cargo in the trailer. Driving with an empty trailer to pick up a load is the most common form of deadhead mileage, and can account for a significant portion of both wasted fuel, and wasted profits.

But here’s where deadhead mileage gets tricky. The weight of the combined cargo and truck also play into fuel efficiency. Take, for example, an 18-wheeler driving 60 mph with 80,000 lbs total vehicle weight (this includes the cargo in the trailer). The truck will get about 6 miles to the gallon. If the truck were to weigh 40,000 lbs (almost empty), rather than 80,000, you would see an increase of about 1.5 mpg. You’d be saving around $0.20 per mile in fuel. If you are running light loads or a significant amount of deadhead, you’ll find that the number of miles you can drive on a tank of gas increases significantly.

And while driving an empty trailer will get you farther per fill-up, excessive deadhead outweighs the advantages of better mpg. It may seem like simply selecting the highest-paying load available on FreightRover will be the most profitable, but it’s important to take into account the cost of fuel you’ll have to cover to get to the freight. Our estimated pay calculator will help you more accurately judge a load’s potential profit, and lets you better-plan the gas you would use to pick up a load.
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SmartWay

As an answer to the widespread issue of fuel efficiency within the transportation industry, the EPA created SmartWay. The SmartWay program helps companies advance supply chain sustainability by measuring, benchmarking, and improving freight transportation efficiency, according to the EPA. Initially launched in 2004, this voluntary public-private program provides a variety of services to participating mid and large-sized fleet owners, shippers, and owner operators.

  • SmartWay provides a comprehensive and well-recognized system for tracking, documenting and sharing information about fuel use and freight emissions across supply chains
  • It helps companies identify and select more efficient freight carriers, transport modes, equipment, and operational strategies to improve supply chain sustainability and lower costs from goods movement
  • It supports global energy security and offsets environmental risk for companies and countries
  • SmartWayreduces freight transportation-related climate change and air pollutant emissions by accelerating the use of advanced fuel-saving technologies
  • It is supported by major transportation industry associations, environmental groups, state and local governments, international agencies, and the corporate community

Here at FreightRover, we are committed to the success of our owner operators, as well as the success of our carriers and shippers. Contact us today to learn more about how our deadhead mileage calculator, combined with speed/idling reduction and research into Safeway, can save you thousands of dollars in fuel!


As an owner operator, you are much more than a truck driver. You are a business owner. And as a business owner, each year is an opportunity for you to compete with your past self in business practices. Whether you are new to the O/O stratosphere, or you’re a seasoned driver, there is always room to boost profits. It all comes down to planning ahead.

 

Create a Budget

The more accurately you can predict your yearly costs, the better. With a concrete idea of how much you’ll spend per mile on variables like food, showers, and fuel, you’ll be able to know with confidence how many loads you need to haul (at what pay rate, factoring in deadhead mileage) to make a profit at the close of the fiscal year. Smart-Trucker’s example budget, which we’ve included below, will give you an idea of some of the factors to account for when putting together your plan.

Aside from fuel and truck payments, one of the heftiest expenses an owner operator will face is maintenance. Maintenance can be difficult to plan for, though, because you never know when (and what type of repair) you’ll need. A large part of putting together an accurate maintenance plan is really just about knowing your truck. While “knowing your truck” may bring to mind images of your rig formally introducing itself at the next truck stop, understanding your truck’s needs actually comes down to one thing – preventative maintenance.

Preventative maintenance typically consists of oil changes, filter and engine checks, tire alignment, and a few other small upkeep tasks. Performed on a regular basis, preventative maintenance puts you in charge of your rig’s future. And while systematic preventative maintenance may feel expensive at the time, it is a regular charge that you can account for in your budget. In the end, you will find yourself saving money by fixing small issues before the problem compounds.

 

Choose Your Loads Carefully

It may seem like simply selecting the highest-paying load available on FreightRover will be the most profitable, but there are actually a few different factors to consider when deciding what load to request. Take into account not only the pay per mile, but also how many miles you will be driving, and whether your destination has a lot of jobs running out of it, as well. If not, the dead time you spend driving to pick up your next load might cancel out the higher paying job in the first place. Our estimated pay calculator will help you more accurately judge a load’s potential profit.

Regardless of the state of the economy, it is important to pay attention to what time of year it is, as well as the type of freight you will be hauling. The industry is naturally busier before the holiday season than it is afterwards. Similarly, more loads are going to be available around when the school year starts in August, than when it ends in June. Use the busy times of year to your advantage, so that you are prepared for the slow times. Consider load weight, which can make a significant difference in fuel economy, versus the pay per mile, versus the total mileage, versus the destination to find the loads that will give your small business the boost it needs to succeed.

 

Keep Your Health In Mind

It’s easy to push doctor’s visits and healthy eating to the back burner when you’re working long weeks on the road, but neglecting your body will only result in missing out on valuable work down the line.  You might find yourself forgoing fruits and vegetables in favor of more immediately filling carbs, but consuming carbs for your meals doesn’t mean healthy eating has to go out the window. Long-lasting energy comes from fiber and protein, so give your body a boost by snacking on cheese cubes, baby carrots, celery, and nuts, rather than chips or candy. And when you do stop for a meal, try to keep it relatively small – multiple small meals per day, rather than a few large meals, is better for digestion and will help your body properly transfer fiber and protein into energy.

If you have long-term health concerns, it always helps to plan doctor’s visits ahead of time, so that your driving schedule isn’t affected by sudden stops. It also pays to have comprehensive health insurance, with travel coverage, so that you don’t end up having to wait for healthcare until you make it back home. Long-haul driving can have serious impacts on your health and family life, and it’s important to consider all aspects as an O/O. Aside from physical health, long-haul drivinghas an impact on you and your family’s mental well-being. It is important to discuss the hours you will be putting into work this year with family/friends ahead of time, so that everyone knows what to expect.

Here at FreightRover, we are committed to the success of our owner operators, as well as the success of our carriers and shippers. If you would like to know more about how to increase your profits in 2017 with the FreightRover app, contact us today!