Delivery trucks have a soiled secret. And there's no straightforward fix in sight

Delivery trucks have a soiled secret. And there's no straightforward fix

September 13, 2022: -The road freight enterprise has a significate problem. Every day, many trucks drive along miles of freeways and highways wholly empty, and the distances they go with no cargo onboard reach many billions of miles yearly.

After delivering its load, it may not have anything to carry for the return leg of its journey and goes back empty.

“I don’t think it is widely known,” said industry veteran Martin Willmore when asked if the people knew the problem in a phone call with CNBC. “There are all sorts of barriers. If it were easy, it would have been done years ago,” he added.

The problem of the trucks has gotten wrong in Europe, with the proportion of mileage driven by vehicles with zero cargo going up.

In the EU, trucks clocked up so-called “deadhead” distances of around 34 billion kilometers in 2021, according to European Commission data. This equates to more than a fifth (21.2%) of the total distance traveled by road freight in the previous year, up from 20% in 2020.

By its nature, the road freight industry is complex: manufacturers or retailers that need to transport goods are in various locations, shipping varying amounts of cargo to multiple destinations, sometimes relying on multiple carriers to do so.

Trucking companies ideally need one customer (or customers) for the outward journey and another for the return. If they don’t have two customers, vehicles drive empty. But needing a shipment for the return journey, they even require a truck that matches their load, with equipment such as refrigeration or a car with a forklift attached.

“There are a lot of factors involved in finding the following compatible load,” J.P. Wiggins, co-founder of transportation management software firm 3GTMS, told through email.

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