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As the meteoric rise of drop trailer programs continue to reshape supply chains, it’s important to consider when you should and shouldn’t implement them.

Drop trailer programs can help address the market-wide shortage of drivers with the promise of less downtime in their schedules. They help shippers address staffing shortages and congestion delays by taking the pressure off tight delivery or pickup schedules.

They are an old solution to an old problem, but the use of drop trailer programs has grown during the pandemic. Due to stay-at-home orders, shipping levels increased. However, in many localities, staffing levels didn’t match the explosive growth in the industry. Compounding the situation further, in some cases, the number of available workers declined, making tight schedules even tighter.

What is a drop trailer program?

Put simply, a drop trailer program is when a logistics provider leaves a trailer for the shipper to load or unload on their own time. Then, once you empty or load the trailer, the logistics provider sends a power unit to pick up the trailer and deliver it to the chosen destination.

This saves valuable time in a driver’s schedule because they no longer require a dock appointment or need to sit idle during the live loading or unloading process. The driver simply picks up a preloaded or empty trailer, with minimal interaction from the shippers’ logistics team.

From a shippers’ perspective, they don’t need to compensate drivers if they delay their schedules, or lack the manpower to meet their dock appointment schedules. This increases operational efficiency, helps address labor shortages, and saves money all at the same time.

It all sounds perfect, everyone wants to save money and increase efficiency, but it’s worth considering, when are drop trailer programs not a good idea?

When a drop trailer program isn’t a good idea?

Perishables and time-sensitive cargo

If you have perishable or time-sensitive freight, a drop trailer program isn’t ideal. A drop trailer program is only beneficial when time is not a factor. If your freight needs to move on a tight schedule, the luxury of time a drop trailer program affords is now a detriment. In this case, live loading and unloading is the best choice.

You don’t have extra space in your yard for all the trailers

If you’re tight on space in your yard, or you have a high volume of shipments coming in that you need to make room for, a drop trailer program will simply take up space you can’t afford to lose.

When it is a good idea?

You’re experiencing delays in unloading or loading freight and drivers are waiting for you

Having drop trailers that can be loaded or unloaded on your own schedule allows you to allocate resources to time-sensitive shipments. This increases operational efficiency and reduces congestion in the yard.

You have high-value freight

If your operation deals with high-value freight, it’s likely that you have invested in higher levels of security than a typical carrier or rest stop might have. If you live load the trailer, there might be delays. This can cause a driver to stop in a less secure area before the cargo is delivered to a protected location.

Not sure if a drop trailer program is right for your organization? ENERGY can help you weigh the pros and cons. We will advise you about available options that can increase your operational efficiency and save you money. Contact us today to learn more about our drop trailer programs.

About the author

  • Adam Pinsky
  • Adam Pinsky

    Marketing Director

    Adam Pinsky is an endlessly curious, full-stack marketing professional. Having worked in a variety of industries—from legal services to space technology—Adam brings a unique perspective when crafting bespoke marketing and communication strategies.

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