Over the past decade, the trucking industry has seen a slow but monumental shift away from long-haul delivery and a greater focus on shorter hauling routes. Why is this change happening? What does it mean for the industry? Below we will explore both of these questions and more.
First, What Is Short Haul Trucking?
For the uninitiated, short-haul trucking is a method of delivery that focuses on quick delivery times, covering short distances of under 500 miles between destinations. Many companies have switched to short-haul trucking as it costs fleets less gasoline and maintenance and can help trucker retention as they are closer to home. Short-haul trucking is the preferred solution for companies that often move their goods between warehouses or need to cover a smaller area with their products.
Short-haul trucking differs from long-haul options in several ways. First, long-hauling often has larger loads, leading to higher fuel consumption. Additionally, long-haul truckers are required to be away from their place of residence longer, thus increasing the need for sleeper cabins or other expensive amenities.
There are two main types of short-haul trucking. Regional short-haul trucking is generally for companies with a wide area of goods that often travel between several states. Companies commonly use this method when a trucking fleet travels between a network of warehouses where goods will be moved for local delivery. Local short-haul is a faster, generally single-state-focused, form of trucking for smaller companies or as a supplementary delivery form alongside regional methods.
Why Has Short Haul Grown In Popularity?
While the rising titan of Amazon delivery is the easy target for the growing prevalence of short-haul delivery, several reasons and benefits make shorter trucking routes a more appealing option.
- Short routes, which can often be covered in less than a day or two maximum, are a more attractive option and draw in local drivers who may be more familiar with the routes than out-of-state truckers.
- Short-haul trucking can lead to stricter and more reliable scheduling. Longer cross-country hauling has always come with uncertainty, from weather to road conditions, and shorter routes offer a more predictable schedule that fleet owners can amend much quicker.
- Short-haul trucking allows for a closer relationship between provider and customer. Longer distances remove much of the personality of truck owners, truckers, and their customers. This disconnect is becoming less of the norm as business relationships have seen a need to grow more firm since the shipping crisis of the early pandemic years.
- Finally, shorter routes and smaller distances traveled are more cost-effective and eco-friendly. Short-haul trucking allows for fuel consumption to be optimized, lower weights, fewer permits needed, and the vehicles are easier to insure when compared to routes that require trucks to cross one or several state lines. Additionally, thanks to the emergence of electric trucking vehicles with ranges of up to 500 miles, the trucking industry is seeing a shift to more eco-friendly transport models.
What Does This Mean For The Trucking Industry?
Even since pre-pandemic times, the usage of short-haul routes has continued to rise, and there is little evidence to suggest that the older traditional models of long-haul trucking will soon again be the norm. Multimodal shipping options continue to grow, combining sea, river, train, trucking, and small local delivery. With AI (Artificial Intelligence) ‘s assistance, optimal shipping methods are becoming less expensive yearly. These multimodal methods incentivize short-haul trucking and last-mile delivery options while awakening a system of combined transport methods that are likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
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