March 9, 2023
There are many options today for shippers to transport their goods from one facility to the next. Depending on how large of an operation the shipper has, where they're located and what assets they own, they may be limited in their trucking choices -- or they may have many options.
The most common method that shippers use to transport their goods is to hire a trucking company or transportation service to handle the shipment for them from start to finish. The shipper packs up their goods, gets it ready to be loaded onto the truck and then allows the trucking company to take it from there.
For many companies, this process works beautifully. However, there is one type of trucking that could provide a huge relief to some shippers if they have the capacity and assets to do it.
It's called power only trucking, and it refers to shippers hiring a trucking company to provide the both the drivers and the tractor that they drive, but not the trailer that holds the goods.
Let's dive deeper into what power only trucking is, and the potential benefits for shippers.

What is Power Only Trucking?

Most semi-trucks that drive on the road include the tractor that powers the vehicle and a trailer that's attached to it. This is all driven by someone who sits in the cab of the tractor.
These vehicles, though, were designed to detach. The tractor and the trailer are two separate and independent parts that are connected together for transport. This provides trucking companies the ability to pick up and drop off full trailers, rather than just loading and unloading the same trailer over and over again.
Because of how these vehicles are designed, it's possible for a person to drive the tractor without a trailer attached at all. Together, the truck driver and the tractor are referred to as the power unit, since they are the two things that are required to actually move the vehicle forward.
Power only trucking, then, refers to a shipper hiring a trucking company to provide just this power unit and not the trailer.

What Happens with the Trailer?

For power only trucking, the shipper would be responsible for providing the trailer. The trucking company's driver would show up at the shipping facility with the tractor and connect it to the trailer that the shipper provided.
When the driver shows up at the facility, the process would be very simple. The trailer would already be loaded and ready to go, cutting down on loading time -- and associated costs -- significantly. The driver would simply hook up the tractor to the trailer and be on their way.
When the driver gets to the destination, they could either drop off the entire trailer -- again saving a lot of time and money -- or unload the goods and return the trailer back to the shipper.

Who Uses Power Only Trucking?

For power only trucking to be an option, the shipper would have to have a rather large facility. They would have to be able to store empty trailers at their facility, of course, since the trucking company would not be providing them.
The shipper would also have to have the capacity, manpower and expertise to load the trailers on their own, since they again won't be getting any help in this area from the trucking company.
Shippers who transport a lot of goods very frequently could be a good fit for power only trucking, especially if the goods they ship would be transported via dry van or open deck trailer. If the goods they were shipping required temperature-controlled environments, then it might not be economical or logistical to use power only trucking.

Power Only Trucking Advantages

There are a few major advantages that power only trucking provides to shippers. Let's dive into a few of them below.

Money Savings

The first advantage of power only trucking is that it could save shippers a lot of money upfront. The rates for freight are typically much lower with power only trucking than traditional trucking, since they're only hiring the power unit.
At the same time, power only trucking comes with a significantly lower upfront investment than purchasing a full fleet of tractor trailers and hiring an entire logistics team staffed with drivers, dispatchers and more. While shippers will obviously have to purchase or lease trailers and store them, these upfront costs is a lot lower than the alternative.

Flexibility and Control

Since shippers will own or lease the trailers they are shipping their goods on, they'll have full control over what goes in them, how it goes in them and when it goes in them. This level of control may be vital for some shippers, as they can ensure that all the goods are packed in the proper way.
It also provides a lot of flexibility in terms of storage. Instead of having to store goods in a warehouse until a tractor trailer arrives to load them onto the trailer, shippers can load empty trailers and store them fully packed ready to go. This could result in a much more efficient operation for the shipper, which could in turn save loads of money.

Power Only Trucking Disadvantages

The major disadvantage of power only trucking is that shippers have to purchase (or lease) trailers and then service and maintain them. They'll be fully responsible for not only the upfront costs of the trailers themselves, but also the ongoing costs related to ensuring they are solid and ready to hit the road.
In addition, the company would need to have a large enough facility to be able to store the trailers as well as some way to move them around the property as they need to load, unload and store them.
What's more, the shipper needs to integrate loading trailers into their operations, something they may not have to do if they hire a trucking company to handle all aspects of the transportation of goods.
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