A New Fix for Broken Supply Chains?

Less-than-truckload (LTL) are prone to delays, damages, and inefficiencies, finds new data from Drive Research and Flock Freight.

Port delays and driver shortages have been making daily headlines of late. But there’s a key piece of the transportation equation that hasn’t been getting as much attention: Many trucks clogging dockyards and highways are moving at less-than-maximized capacity.

Delays, damage, and waste are inherent to less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) shipping modes, finds new data from Drive Research and Flock Freight. It is these inefficiencies, and not just the labor shortage, that is breaking supply chains, the companies assert in a new report.

The report illustrates how often LTL and TL inefficiencies cause late delivery and increase shipping costs. In fact, of the 200 shippers surveyed, only one in seven were highly satisfied with their current shipping process for mid-size freight. The inefficiencies stem from unoptimized trucking routes, time wasted in transloading, high damage rates, changing size restrictions, and accessorial charges, according to the survey.

Shared truckload (STL) solutions—where several shippers share trailer space in one multi-stop full truckload—may be the solution to mitigate the risks inherent in traditional shipping modes in order to maximize efficiency and cut costs, notes the report.

Freight sent via STL stays on the same truck during transit without transloading at shipping docks, which reduces damage risk. It also travels on technology-optimized routes that avoid hubs and terminals.

And, by reducing potential for shipping delays, shippers using STL can meet OTIF (on time in full) requirements and reduce fees. An increase in STL use could be one fix for broken supply chains, the study concludes.