In the European Union and the United States there are yearly about 120 billion kilometers (74.6 billion miles) run empty by freight trucks. The figure is the sum of truck trips driven between the unloading and the next loading places, which equals to 440 return trips between the Earth and the Sun!
In an industry where there is a constant shortage of truck drives, where the fuel consumption is one of the major cost factors and at times of global warming, that a large amount of empty running is more than luxury business, it is a wasting issue on a global scale.
In the background of the dead-head trips are several factors e.g. in the unloading areas where there is not much industry is not easy to find a back-load; seasonality of demand for transportation cannot be followed by the supply etc.. There is a common reason for empty running of truck: Freight Forwarders are limited to find and book the nearest possible truck, because lacking transparency regarding transportation availability of their subcontracted Hauliers. Currently, Freight Forwarders and Shippers when looking for an available truck on an ad-hoc basis, they are contacting their subcontracted hauliers by email, on the phone, on chat, load boards or by FAX even. The truck booking process is similar to „blind darts”. One has some feelings about the target (who could probably have a free truck in the departure – loading area) but no certainty about the best possible choice and has a limited number of trials to find a suitable truck (because of time pressure). The probability to find the nearest free, suitable, available truck is 1 to 30. This is why an average freight clerk (broker) books 1 full-truck-load per hour, resulting in 23,2% empty running.
Logistics professionals, global 4PL companies, logistics institutions and universities, even governments are investigating possible ways of reducing empty running and accelerate truck booking process.
“If the industry is going to change practice significantly, and meet Government regulations, it’s important to not only invest in new technology and systems but to encourage new thinking. Reducing empty running will require new levels of operation and collaboration, which is one of the critical success factors the Centre aims to address“. – * Maja Piecyk, Principal Investigator at Cambridge and Heriot-Watt Universities
“…to encourage new thinking” will most likely be the hardest of all, but there is an easy-to-implement and simple-to-use tool out there, which empowers logistics professionals to objectively book the nearest and most suitable truck in the loading area. It provides a searching possibility for empty trucks at any time anywhere on the map. Hands on: TrucksOnTheMap. The map-like platform is an exclusive professional community where hauliers share access to their trucks on the map at the places where they get empty from the time when they get available. Each user designs her network on her own, by simple invitations/acceptance, ensuring high-quality networks and safe environment for doing business. The result: a new, higher level of transparency; quicker truck booking and fewer empty running. It is worth to try. Click to learn more.