If you’re in the trucking business, you may have heard of power-only trucking. But exactly what does power only mean? Power-only trucking happens when a trucking company provides only a driver and a tractor. The trailer is provided by the shipper, a third-party logistics company, or, sometimes, through a lease option. In some cases, the trucking company also owns a fleet of trailers but provides power-only solutions to account for seasonal fluctuations, network imbalances, or other issues.
There are also power-only trucking companies. A power-only trucking company does not have its own fleet of trailers but solely takes on power-only trucking jobs. Either way, power-only trucking offers an alternative that, depending on the circumstances, can deliver greater flexibility, efficiency, and even make the carrier’s job easier.
What is power-only trucking?
What does power-only trucking mean to shippers? Power-only trucking is a flexible option that can work especially well for shippers that get fluctuating levels of perishable goods. It’s also helpful for those who tend to store loads on trailers for long periods of time. In the case of perishable goods, a shipper might have plenty of trailer space, but not enough drivers and tractors to ship them in a timely manner. Or maybe a shipper needed to clear out a warehouse, so they loaded everything onto trailers a month ago. Now they’re ready to move the items to a retail location for a liquidation sale but need someone to haul them. In either case, power-only trucking gives shippers the right number of drivers and tractors, generally on short notice.
How does power-only trucking work?
When a shipper has a load of freight but no tractor or driver to haul it, they can connect with a power-only trucking company directly or work with a broker to find the right carrier. Power-only trucks use an adjustable fifth-wheel hitch that can safely tow a wide variety of equipment. Different sized trucks have different towing capacities, but the most common are standard and four-axle trucks.
For the best and safest results, it’s important that power-only trucking companies know their equipment’s capacities and limitations. It’s equally important for shippers to know the size and weight of their loads. Also, if they’re shipping hazardous materials, they need to tell the trucking company so they can send the right truck and a properly certified driver.
Important power only trucking terms
Here are some terms that are important to know in order to understand power only trucking:
Drop trailer: A drop trailer is unhooked from the tractor and left behind at either the shipping or the receiving location. Drop trailers allow shippers or receivers to load or unload the trailer without the driver having to stand around waiting for them to finish. The shipper or receiver then calls either the original drop-off company or another power-only trucking company to pick up the trailer when it’s ready to go. Or, the shipper contacts a broker who finds a power-only trucking company to help.
Trailer pools: Also known as drop pools, a trailer pool is a group of multiple drop trailers at a single location. Large shipping or receiving facilities often have numerous trailer pools, each maintained by a separate carrier company.
Drop-and-hook: This is an efficient way for a carrier to maintain a drop pool. The driver brings in one trailer, drops it, and picks up another trailer that’s ready for hauling.
Trailer leasing: Drop pools rely on there being a bigger supply of trailers than trucks. However, it doesn’t always make sense to purchase the maximum number of trailers you’ll need. If you run a seasonal business, for instance, you might need a bunch of trailers for a few weeks, and then significantly fewer the rest of the year. In this case, it might be more cost-effective to purchase only the trailers you need year-round and lease extras when required. When a shipper (rather than a carrier) leases the trailers, the shipper can then use a power-only trucking company to haul them.
Common types of power only loads
One of the biggest advantages of power-only trucking is its flexibility. Power-only trucking companies can transport numerous types of loads. These include, but are not limited to:
- Flatbed trailers
- Shipping containers
- Refrigerated vans
- Dry vans
Of course, each of these types of loads will require different equipment. Depending on the exact makeup of the load, such as an oversized load or hazardous materials, a driver with specific credentials and training might be required. The more information you have about your load, the more successful your power-only trucking experience will be.
Benefits of power only trucking
Power-only trucking can be an excellent solution for carriers, shippers, and receivers. Here are just a few of the biggest perks:
Control: In a power-only trucking arrangement, the shipping company maintains control of the trailers and the trucking company maintains control of the trucks. Dividing up these two elements allows each company to focus on what it does best.
Reliability: Shippers don’t have to worry about putting together a driver schedule and whether someone will be there when needed. Instead, shippers can simply put out a call for a truck and driver, and be sure that the load will be picked up.
Efficiency: When trucks and trailers are a package unit, it can be difficult to maximize efficiency, constantly matching up loads to reduce deadheading, or moving empty trailers around the country. Power-only trucking solutions maximize efficiency by allowing shipping and receiving companies to load and unload trailers as needed, and drivers to pick them up when they’re ready to go.
Lower costs: New equipment doesn’t come cheap. Dividing it up means that power-only trucking companies don’t need to pay for trailers, and shippers don’t need to purchase trucks.
No insurance: This is a huge advantage for shippers and receivers. Insuring a truck can be quite pricey. When a shipper uses a power-only trucking company, the shipper is not responsible for the insurance costs. This advantage to the shipper is also an advantage for the trucker, who may get more loads as a result.
No maintenance: Maintaining a fleet of trucks is expensive. Shippers who own (or lease) the trailers, and hire a power-only trucking company to do the driving, don’t have to worry about truck maintenance. Again, this advantage for shippers providers truckers with more opportunities to find loads.
Budget flexibility: Rather than paying to keep and maintain equipment that you might only need seasonally, power-only trucking lets you bring on extra equipment as needed. This gives you more flexibility in your budget all year round.
Greater profits: Lower overhead means more profits. The less you have to pay in capital expenditures and maintenance, the more money you can ultimately make.
Driver satisfaction: Most drivers would rather be on the road making money instead of waiting around loads to be ready for them to haul. Power-only trucking companies minimize driver wait times by sending them to pick up loads that are already ready to go. When they get to their destination, they simply drop off the load, possibly pick up another load, and get on their way again.
Speed and flexibility: For trucking companies, power-only trucking lets you send drivers when and where they are needed, combining job stability with the flexibility that helps keep the money rolling in from day to day.
Power only trucking rates
Like any other trucking job, power-only rates vary widely depending on the circumstances. Runs in and out of major cities often pay more than more rural routes. Rates also vary according to the region of the country. The type of load matters, too. Is it a standard flatbed trailer? A refrigerated tanker? A Hazmat load? Are multiple trucks going to a pool, or is one single driver picking up one single load? With so many factors at play, rates can vary dramatically. Working with a broker lets you negotiate and determine the going rates for various types of loads and choose the runs that make sense for you.
Use power only load boards to find high-paying loads
Power-only trucking load boards are one of the best ways for power-only truckers to find shippers and brokers who need a tractor and a driver. Rather than trying to find each other on your own, you can post and search listings, making it far easier and faster to make a connection.
Truckstop.com connects tens of thousands of carriers, shippers, and brokers via a complete technological solution that includes freight matching, planning and tracking tools, transportation management systems (TMS), real-time rate analysis, and even innovative payment solutions. Truckstop.com is also fully integrated with most of the major software solutions in the industry. As one of the internet’s first load boards, it’s also the most trusted. Use Truckstop.com’s Power Only Load Board to make the connections you need to find the best loads.