- Uber Freight this week launched a new program, Powerloop, which will rent trailers to carriers under a trailer-pool model that any eligible carrier can use, according to various news outlets.
- The model aims to cut delays in transportation by loading trailers at designated sites, without a driver present. "Drivers running power-loads through trailer pool programs spend less time waiting around at facilities and more time on the road moving freight," Max Pike, program manager of strategic projects at Uber Freight, wrote on Medium.
- Currently available only in Texas, Powerloop already is being used by Anheuser-Busch and others. Uber Freight plans to roll the program out throughout the country.
Along with the well-detailed issues of driver shortages, hours of service and ELD mandates, and other regulatory and safety issues, the sheer cost of operating an over-the-road truck can be massive. According to Fleet Owner, the average cost of a new tractor-trailer is now estimated to range between $140,000 and $175,000 ($110,000 to $125,000 for a new tractor and $30,000 to $50,000 for a new trailer).
As with cars, leasing might be a more economical route for shippers, especially smaller carriers. The American Trucking Associations notes that 91% of interstate carriers have six or fewer trucks and 97.3% operate 20 or fewer. By leasing, these smaller carriers can more easily take part in trailer pools, preloaded trailers that asset-based carriers can pick up and drop off at shipper facilities, said Uber Freight.
"Decoupling the power unit from the trailer allows for loading and unloading to happen without the driver present, which in turn lowers costs and limits waiting time for shippers and drivers alike," Pike wrote. "Drivers running power-loads through trailer pool programs spend less time waiting around at facilities and more time on the road moving freight."
In addition to time, delays at warehouses and distribution centers also can become a safety hazard for drivers. In a January 2018 report, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General estimated that a 15-minute increase in average dwell time — the total time spent by a truck at a facility — increases the average expected crash rate by 6.2%.
For the bottom-line observer, the report estimated that detention is associated with reductions in annual earnings of $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion for for-hire commercial motor vehicle drivers in the truckload sector. For motor carriers in that sector, the estimate was a net income reduction of $250.6 million to $302.9 million annually.