In response to the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration  (FMCSA) regulations, more shippers are turning to drop trailer services. The benefits span to carriers as well, though, as the services allow both parties to work together to achieve their mutual goals. Shippers, wanting to keep their supply chains running smoothly, are looking to plan more effectively for deliveries and outbound shipments. Drivers, trying to adhere to hours of service laws, want to spend less time waiting on a load to be packed and more time driving to their destination. Both shippers and carriers benefit from a drop trailer program that gives both parties control and independence, making the pick-up process more efficient and on-time deliveries more frequent.

For many, the biggest motivator for developing a drop trailer program are the new hours of service rules issued by the FMCSA.  Intended to improve driver safety, the new regulations limit driver work weeks to 70 hours and, instead of the previous “34 hour restart” rule, require two back-to-back 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods. While more nightly rest time could increase driver alertness, the new restart rules also mean that, depending on when they went off duty, drivers may have to wait much longer to start their next assignment [Source].

With driver capabilities limited, it is becoming increasingly difficult for carriers and warehouses to match their schedules. Without drop trailer capabilities, a carrier must arrive within an appointment window for the warehouse employees to live-load the trailer. Depending on how the appointment fits into their schedule, the driver could be forced to wait for hours, or they may miss the appointment altogether. In these situations, late deliveries are generally the result.

Drop Trailer Program Benefits

By adopting a drop trailer program, shippers and carriers can finally gain independence and be able to work as a team.

Benefits for shippers:

  • Value chain is uninterrupted – drop trailer capabilities mean shippers can load the trailer at their own convenience.
  • Avoid costly accessorial charges for driver retention
  • Pick and pack optimization: product is able to flow through warehouse effectively
  • Higher on-time percentages

Benefits for carriers:

  • Reclaim the planning power – they decide when they can and will pick up trailers
  • No more waiting to pick up a load
  • Higher on-time percentages

Drop & Hook Services

Taking drop trailer programs one step further are drop and hook services.  With a drop trailer program, a driver will bring their tractor to the distribution center and pick up a loaded trailer. The drop and hook services compound on that by creating a trailer pool at both shipping and receiving points. A driver going to pick up a loaded trailer will arrive with an empty trailer; they will then pick up the loaded trailer and leave the empty one.  This cyclical process ensures that there are always readily available trailers to be loaded, making the entire shipping process more convenient and further streamlining the supply chain.

For many shippers, the days of live-loading trailers, missing appointments and delivering late are over.  Developing drop trailer programs and drop and hook services revolutionizes the way shippers and carriers interact. Giving each the freedom to carry out their responsibilities independently, drop trailer programs streamlines the shipping process and ultimately leads to more on-time deliveries.