Thinking Inside the Box Truck

Thinking Inside the Box Truck

While most people are at least somewhat familiar with box trucks, these little workhorses don’t get enough credit. Also known as straight trucks or bobtails, they are usually 26 feet long and can carry up to 10,000 pounds of freight. They can also come in small (12 ft.) and medium size (14-18 ft.) configurations.

From the cab to the rear trailer, box trucks are connected by a single frame and aptly defined by their box-like shape. Box trucks can hold 12 standard-size flat pallets or two dozen stacked pallets.

As a comparison, box trucks are less than half the size of 53-foot semi-trucks, which can carry up to 45,000 pounds and hold 26 flat pallets or 52 stacked pallets. But bigger is not always better.

Keeping the Supply Chain Moving

While logistics companies have struggled to keep up with semi-truck and trailer orders, box trucks offer a more widely available, cost-efficient solution that can keep the supply chain moving. Though smaller than typical cargo trailers, the internal dimensions of box trucks are similar to full-sized trailers, apart from their total length.

Every industry, especially food and beverage and retail, relies on timely deliveries to keep business in motion. With the current backlog of 53-foot trailers not expected to ease soon, working with a logistics company that creatively utilizes box trucks could help prevent supply chain bottlenecks.

Due to their smaller size, box trucks are suited to ship smaller loads more quickly. Less-than-truckload quantities are often delivered on unpredictable timelines because they share space with other cargo on 53-foot trailers, but box trucks can prioritize a particular load and ensure it arrives on time.

Plus, only a small number of semi trucks have lift gates, so docks are often needed to unload these massive vehicles. Box trucks are easier and faster to empty.

The Pain of Driver Shortages

A massive driver shortage has plagued the logistics sector since employment numbers crashed in the early weeks of the pandemic, and it’s unlikely to improve any time soon.

There are a number of reasons for the driver shortage—high turnover rates, pandemic-related stresses, the difficult lifestyle—but logistics providers that lean more heavily on box trucks don’t have to deal with the same challenges.

Why? A trucker doesn’t need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive a box truck, as long as the vehicle weighs less than 26,000 pounds. Earning a CDL takes hours of safety training, hands-on experience, and the ability to pass a knowledge exam. These barriers could prevent potential drivers from becoming paid employees, limiting the capacity of logistics providers to deliver timely orders.

Passing on Savings

Semi-trucks are expensive for logistics companies to purchase and maintain, so shipping prices will subsequently be higher. Box trucks, however, require lower operational costs as well as lower maintenance costs, which leads to lower shipping prices. This makes sense considering they have fewer tires to wear out and fewer parts to replace.

Box trucks also get better fuel efficiency, which is often one of the most expensive costs for logistics companies. Diesel prices remain 65% above pre-pandemic averages, so that cost is far from insubstantial.

At Veterans Logistics Group, routing cargo in box trucks has helped solve a number of challenges faced by our clients over the past few years. Especially in challenging times, there is so much room for innovation…as long as you’re willing to think creatively.