Many current challenges in logistics aren’t new to the industry. Driver shortages, trailer shortages, and the highly competitive environment are all things that have made it more important than ever that logistics companies stay on top of their capacity management. Companies can’t afford to allow inefficiencies or use solutions that aren’t proven.
It’s hard to control efficiency when so much of the route is dependent on the warehouses and loading docks. A solution to many bottleneck problems and shortages for truckers is to establish a trailer pool. Managing a trailer pool allows logistics companies to be more flexible with how they manage loads and power assets. This article focuses on how to improve trailer pool management to increase capacity and profitability.
What is Trailer Pool Management?
But what if you didn’t have to rely on a single trailer to complete a route? Over the years, one way trucking companies have improved capacity and asset management is through trailer pools. These collections of assets make it possible for drop-and-hook setups rather than holding up drivers to wait on live loading or unloading. A trailer pool makes it possible for the shipper or receiver to work at their own speed, allowing drivers to pick up a loaded and waiting trailer to take it to the next destination.
Outdated technology can cause a bottleneck in the loading and unloading process that affects the supply chain. Trailer pools make it possible to accomplish more, but in order for a drop-and-hook setup to work, the trailers have to be pre-loaded and ready for pickup. Current technology makes it possible to keep all partners updated and informed. Better management will reduce wait times and empty miles while eliminating detention fees and improving shipping times.
The Basics of Trailer Pool Management
Trailer pool management is a necessary component when you have multiple assets you are using for different drivers. It’s easy to get unorganized if you aren’t on top of the management process.
Sometimes, a trailer pool can grow without a lot of proactive planning and become a haphazard collection of assets that isn’t nearly as effective as it should be. The right setup can make it possible to get more out of your trailer pool.
Keeping track of your trailers should be a primary concern when managing a trailer pool. Not only should the fleet manager know where the assets are at all times, but they will also need to know the status of each trailer and stay on top of maintenance to support the longevity of each asset.
Optimizing Fleet Size
A thoughtful approach to fleet growth can help improve efficiencies by keeping the power-to-asset ratio at manageable levels. Extra assets can make it possible for drivers to accomplish more, but too many assets will mean many sit idle on lots until the drivers are ready to move them.
For a trailer pool to be truly effective, all involved touchpoints have to be a part of the management system. Shippers and receivers, for example, must provide updates and accurate information to help fleet managers plan efficient routes. And drivers have to stay on top of expectations with a clear understanding of what they need to do to keep the trailer pool flowing in a structured way.
Benefits of Trailer Pool Management
When managed effectively, a trailer pool makes it possible for logistics companies to operate with more agility. Trailer pools make it possible to take on lanes with more difficult dock situations or demanding load times. Trailer pool management can reduce shipping costs and times by supporting a more flexible approach to assets and lanes.
Trailer pool management is a necessary component for an asset-based carrier or broker. Without a structured management approach, asset-heavy teams are left floundering and unable to stay efficient in their operations.
Challenges of Trailer Pool Management
There are several complex pieces to manage when overseeing a trailer pool. Supply chain volatility, worker shortages, increased expenses, and other issues have increased the complexity surrounding logistics planning. Trailer pool managers are faced with challenges that can make a trailer pool hemorrhage profits.
Tracking Multiple Locations
When trailers are left with shippers or receivers, assets start to get spread out. Staying on top of asset management for multiple moving parts in different places can create many complexities. Fleet managers can quickly lose control of the trailer pool without effective and accurate tracking in place.
Communicating with Multiple Parties
Adding moving parts to your process can make it harder for key stakeholders to see what’s going on at any given time. Shippers need to know when they should have trailers loaded or when they can expect the next drop-and-hook driver to arrive for the next trailer. Drivers need to know what they should expect at the dock or loading bay so they aren’t waiting around when a loaded trailer is ready.
At every point, increased visibility is a key part of keeping communication lines clear for effective asset management.
Improving Flexibility and Overseeing Relocation
Managing a trailer pool can make it possible for logistics teams to offer more flexibility for their shippers, but trailers can also end up stranded without the right solutions in place. A drop-and-hook setup is ideal because it means a new load is ready to go out when a new load comes in, but this isn’t realistic for many receivers who don’t have anything to send back to the shippers.
There are ways to manage these challenging situations without empty return trips. In some cases, fleet managers can implement a kind of drop-and-hook setup that includes a load-out arrangement with a nearby company interested in a lane that heads back toward the initial shipper. Trailer pool managers might need to include unconventional solutions to keep trips as efficient as possible.
Best Practices for Trailer Pool Management
If you are interested in building and managing your trailer pool, there are some best practices you should consider.
Establish a Trailer Pool
First, you have to have additional assets you can use within your trailer pool. Not all companies own their assets within the pool. Some companies choose to work with other companies or rent out extra assets to help them increase the size of their trailer pool.
Not every part of trailer pool management should be a hands-on task. Ideally, you can offset some of the work for your team by increasing specific points where automation can ease the burden. Automation might include tracking updates or maintenance alerts to help keep your team on the same page.
Monitor Fleet Operations
Staying on top of the data is a central part of a strong management solution. Fleet managers need to know where their assets are at all times. Technology has made it possible to stay more informed and understand optimal routes to cut down on empty miles and idle assets.
Solutions for Increasing Visibility
A crucial element of effective trailer pool management is the visibility you have into real-time movements and future possibilities. There are three basic ways to increase visibility to support better trailer pool management.
Knowing where boxes and trailers are at all times is a necessary part of improving trailer pool management. GPS tracking has made it easier to keep tabs on your assets so you have a clear understanding of where things are at any given time.
Real-time information and historical data are both crucial elements in helping improve business efficiencies. A solid understanding of your business data will help you identify areas where you tend to lose money or waste assets. It’s important to have a solid understanding of what you’ve done with key metrics that help you pinpoint areas of weakness or success.
To make it easier to stay on top of your data and business goals, set up automated reports to run on a regular basis. Keep all involved parties informed with the data they need to make decisions or support better trailer pool management.
How vHub Increases Visibility for Trailer Pool Management
You don’t have to look far to find a solution that makes it easier than ever to stay on top of your trailer pool. With vHub, it’s possible for logistics players to rent out assets or track their assets, offering an ideal setup for trailer pool management.
Our existing platform and software help companies keep track of their trailers and crucial data points for improved visibility. Our Badger software continually searches for optimized routes, while Interlock helps you manage the back end of your business with clear insights and automated billing.
You can use vHub to support a more effective trailer pool, giving your business a competitive edge in a difficult industry. If you are ready to improve your capacity and reduce inefficiencies, vHub is here to help.
Talk to our team today to learn more about how our platform is right for businesses that want to increase visibility and trailer pool management. Our team is ready to help you get started.