What Is Line Haul Transportation? (With Advantages)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Logistics refers to the process of managing resources and transporting raw materials or finished goods by trucks, planes, trains or ships. Line haul transportation is typically a more efficient method of hauling large quantities of goods across long distances. Learning about this transportation method can help you in your logistics career and optimise the company's existing processes. In this article, we explain what line haul transportation is, discuss its importance, list its advantages and provide several tips on optimising it.

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What is line haul transportation?

Line haul transportation is a logistics term that refers to the movement of freight or goods across different modes of transport, such as land, air or sea. The goods transported usually vary in size, weight and volume, from small documents to heavy pallets, so the logistics for moving them might differ depending on these factors. As a branch of shipping logistics, it assists companies in deciding on the logistics for moving goods along fixed routes within a pre-determined timeframe.

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What is a line haul carrier?

It's an organisation that engages in the line haul process through the provision of shipping services, management, quality assurance and compliance with government regulations. Carriers play an important role in logistics operations as they help the process work and supply the required data for tracking logistics. This makes it essential for carriers to have the knowledge and expertise in managing both Less Than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) loads and handling time-sensitive goods.

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Why is line haul carrier tracking important?

To ensure robust services and produce accurate analytics of the process, carriers usually track the logistics of each delivery using digital tools. These tools benefit companies, carriers and third-party logistics as it provides real-time visibility of the operations. It also helps ensure that carriers are meeting customer requirements and complying with government regulations. Customers can benefit from a better service experience by knowing exactly when their parcel is going to arrive, which increases first-attempt delivery success rates significantly. Tracking also enables carriers to gain critical insights into their carrier performance, delivery duration, delivery success and failure rates.

With these insights, they can improve their processes to lower costs and increase efficiency and optimisation. For example, a carrier may collect data on the time taken for a truck travelling up an expressway by the coast and a cargo ship sailing around the coast to determine which transportation method is more cost-efficient for the subsequent delivery. This can also lead to reduced delivery time in the future.

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Line haul vs. long haul trucking

Essentially, line haul trucking is for transportation of goods between two points that are close together, whereas long haul trucking is for transportation of goods over a longer distance. Long-haul truckers typically spend days or weeks driving to and from their destinations while line-haul truckers usually do shift work. Long haul trucking is also more expensive as the distance is longer, as there are additional costs for petrol, food and accommodation.

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Areas of impact

Carriers can impact the shipping process in a number of ways. The efficiency of the carrier can affect the cost and punctuality of the process. Here are more details:

  • Delivery duration: The efficiency and tracking of the carrier can shorten the duration of the delivery. For example, if carriers have a system of notifying the recipient of the estimated arrival, they can be ready to start unloading when the goods arrive.

  • Transportation costs: By tracking analytics for every delivery, they can gain a better understanding of the costs of transporting items. This enables them to determine an amount that's competitive, yet profitable.

  • Freight movement: Carriers directly impact the movement of freight as they control the methods of transportation. For example, a carrier with a large fleet of cargo ships may have significant control over a majority of freight shipping across a specific area, thereby controlling costs and reducing competition.

  • Shipping to and from depots: Carriers ship to and from depots, which enables these companies to have more control over ship times. Depots keep finished products or raw materials in controlled storage conditions before they get transported.

  • Shipping to and from sorting facilities: Carriers ship to and from sorting facilities, where companies sort raw materials and goods into groups for specific uses. For example, an apparel company might sort thousands of specific clothing items at a sorting facility and ship certain items to stores.

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Advantages of this transportation method

Here are some of the primary advantages of this transportation method:

Faster deliveries

In freight business shipment, the primary objective is to ship products quickly and safely. A carrier can typically deliver goods faster than traditional freight models. As the carriers track the logistics of each delivery, they can constantly optimise the entire freight shipping process to increase the punctuality and quality of each delivery. For example, if a freight carrier typically tracks the average speed per delivery, it can identify which roads or areas are congested and inform drivers of an alternative route to ensure that customers get their goods on time. This also saves costs due to reduced petrol costs.

Stronger customer relationships

As tracking can increase the efficiency of the movement of freight and reduce costs, customers may have consistently positive experiences. They may appreciate greater transparency in the movement of goods, lower costs and the punctual delivery of goods so that they can run their business operations effectively. This can help to build trust and strengthen relationships between the carrier and customers.

Lower costs

Tracking analytics for freight transportation gives valuable insights into the shipping process and helps carriers identify areas where they can reduce the costs of transportation. One way to reduce costs is by using load boards. Load boards match trucking companies with shippers who have loads that require hauling. Therefore, trucking companies need not search for shippers and this ensures that loads are filled before the trucks get dispatched.

Using GPS tracking also ensures that drivers are using the safest and most efficient routes. By employing these technologies, carriers can reduce costs and improve their efficiency. They can then pass these savings on to customers to improve their competitiveness and gain customer loyalty.

Fewer accidents

As truck drivers work in shifts, it reduces worker fatigue. They're able to rest between shifts and this enables them to be more alert while driving. Subsequently, this may reduce the likelihood of accidents and errors. This also improves the efficiency of the overall transportation process.

Tips to optimise transportation

Follow these tips to optimise transportation for the company so that it can lower the costs of transportation and improve customer relationships:

  • Maintain detailed records. Keep records of each delivery, including the weight of the goods, delivery time, assigned driver, destination and customer. It's also beneficial to record the capacity of each depot or sorting facility and vehicle in the company's fleet to get a better understanding of the company's shipping capabilities.

  • Offer rewards to drivers. Providing drivers with attractive compensation and benefits packages can motivate them to improve their work performance and increase their loyalty to the company. This can also help to attract qualified candidates to join the company.

  • Update customers. It's essential to keep customers up to date regarding delivery times, delays and other information about their freight. Strong communication builds the relationship between the company and customers and allows for a more efficient supply chain.

  • Use the right software. Digital tracking software can enable you to track key analytics for each delivery and optimise the freight transportation process. Choose a suitable one depending on the company's needs and customer requirements.

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