When you see a tractor trailer driving on the road, you likely view it as one complete package. It isn't until you see a cab only driving down the road without a trailer that you remember that they are actually two separate components.
Cabs and their trailers aren't linked together forever. Trailers can be detached from one cab and attached to another with relative ease.
From a logistics standpoint, this means that one company doesn't necessarily have to be the one who owns and operates both the cab and the trailer. Instead, cabs from one company can be linked to trailers from another.
In today's complex supply chain, many third-party companies in the logistics industry will use the fact that cabs and trailers don't have to remain attached to in perpetuity to provide better, more efficient service for their shipping customers.
What we're referring to here is called power only trucking. Let's take a deeper dive into what power only trucking is and the benefits it provides to shippers everywhere.
What is Power Only Trucking?
Power only trucking involves a trucking carrier providing just the driver and the cab they drive. They don't bring an attached trailer with them, instead hooking their cab to a separate trailer that's owned or leased by either a shipper or a third-party logistics company.
This is where power only trucking gets its name from. The company that is being hired in this case will only provide the power that moves the trailer. The trailer itself, and the goods loaded inside, are provided by a different company.
Power Only Trucking for Carriers
There is nothing special that a carrier needs to do to become a power only trucking company. All the carrier needs are drivers and cabs that they can drive -- which every carrier will have.
In essence, then, any carrier can provide power only trucking services with ease. While many full-service carriers won't offer just power only trucking, many can add it to their suite of services.
By doing so, they might be able to increase their revenue by maximizing the time their drivers are on the road for billable miles. In this way, carriers can create a more efficient process.
Power Only Trucking for Shippers
The other side of power only trucking are the shippers. Companies that use this method of shipping consistently are ones that typically will ship dry van loads. This is because this type of freight can be stored for longer periods of time without worrying about temperature sensitivity.
Shippers who work with power only trucking will typically have plenty of trailers where they can store goods to be shipped, but don't have the cabs nor the drivers to actually move them.
These shippers will also need ample space to store all the trailers, since they typically won't have the ability to move them around a facility easily.
If a company doesn't possess those two things -- ample trailers and ample space to store them -- they probably won't be a good fit for power only trucking. If they do possess these things, though, power only trucking is a solid option.
It allows these shippers to be able to focus on what they do well -- logistics in terms of making products and packaging them for delivery -- while allowing another company to focus on only the driving aspect of the job.
Advantages of Power Only Trucking
There are many advantages that power only trucking can provide to carriers, shippers and the logistics industry at large. Here are some of the main benefits.
One of the biggest benefits of power only trucking is that it creates efficiency in the supply chain. Shippers and carriers can both focus on the parts of the supply chain that they excel at, while basically ignoring the aspects where they are typically weaker.
With the help of third-party logistics companies, carriers can be matched to shippers in the perfect marriage in power only trucking, improving the bottom line for both companies.
Shippers can save a lot of money with power only trucking. By going this route, they don't have to worry about purchasing full trucks and trailers and hiring drivers -- all of which could form a completely separate division of the company.
They will have to pay a fee to an outside company to handle the delivery, of course, but that amount will typically pale in comparison to the costs of purchasing and maintain the equipment and recruiting and hiring the workers.
The shippers can use that cost-savings as a direct boost to their bottom lines, or they can use it to invest in other aspects of the company for growth purposes.
Another major benefit of power only trucking is the flexibility it provides throughout the supply chain. Carriers can maximize their fleet of cabs and drivers by ensuring they are always on the job. Shippers can take advantage of better rates if they don't have hard deadlines on delivery.
Third-party logistics companies can help both carriers and shippers find good matches, which reduces the amount of time that is spent waiting around at docks for drivers to show up, or for trailers to be properly loaded and locked onto cabs.
Disadvantages of Power Only Trucking
There are some disadvantages of power only trucking, of course, but they aren't monumental downsides.
One of the biggest disadvantages is that it can become costly for shippers if they need their cargo delivered on relatively short notice or on a tight deadline. They may pay extra for this service under these scenarios.
Carriers also essentially have to keep cabs and drivers available to fulfill power only truck needs that shippers have.
If carriers and shippers that want to participate in power only trucking aren't working with reputable and experienced third-party logistics companies, it can be challenging for them to consistently find customers so they can make power only trucking worth their while.