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What Is Power Only Trucking: How It Works and What To Know

Resources > What Is Power Only Trucking: How It Works and What To Know
Power only trucking services are a good option to use when you already have a trailer for your cargo. It’ll help you save on logistics costs and provide numerous benefits for your business.
How Power Only Trucking Works   |   Power Only Freight Rates   |   Benefits of Power Only Trucking   |   Increases Supply Chain Efficiency   |   Control for Shippers & Carriers   |   Reduces Shipping and Administrative Costs   |   Flexible Transport Options   |   Downsides of Power Only Truckloads   |   Trailer Maintenance for Shippers   |   Urgent Shipments Are Expensive   |   Deadhead Miles   |   Power Only Vs Regular Truckload   |   Our Services
Published: February 21, 2024
Last Modified: February 21, 2024
Author: Jacob Lee

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) describes power only trucking as a method of transportation where the shipper provides a trailer for their cargo. An independent driver will provide the tractor. When the trucker arrives, they hook up to the preloaded trailer and begin transport to the final destination. 

Power only trucking offers a convenient solution for shippers that have their own trailer. Before booking a tractor, use our guide to learn about the benefits, downsides, and costs of this service. 

What Is Power Only Trucking and How Does It Work

With power only trucking, carriers only need to provide a driver and tractor. Shippers provide their own trailers that are preloaded before pickup. When a customer is ready for transport, they will schedule the details of pickup and delivery with a carrier.

Shippers will provide the following information:

  • Desired pickup time
  • Location of pickup
  • Delivery location

Customers using power only transport should make sure their trailer is in a position where a driver can easily back into it and hook up. When the trucker arrives, businesses have to provide domestic shipping documents like a Bill of Lading (BOL), freight bill, and packing list. 

After the trailer has been attached and the driver receives all essential documentation, transportation can begin.  

Why dry vans that have been parked at loading=

How Much Are Power Only Freight Rates?

Like other forms of truckload shipping, power only freight rates vary based on factors like distance, urgency, and market demand. Since this form of trucking can be used for different trailers, we’ve provided data on the per mile rate for each one. 

Power Only Rates Based On Trailer Type

Type of TransportRates
National Dry Van$1.90 — $2.50
Reefer$2.50 — $3.00
Flatbed$2.50 — $3.00

Provided by DAT Freight Analytics

Shippers can expect power only freight rates for flatbeds and reefers to be more expensive than dry van transport due to the added risk and skill involved. 

Read our article on how to negotiate freight rates to get the cheapest price possible for your cargo. 

What Are the Benefits of Power Only Logistics?

Businesses don’t want to be constrained to one way of shipping freight. Fortunately, there are many benefits to be reaped when using power only loads to transport cargo.

1. Increases Supply Chain Efficiency

Businesses that use a power only trucking company can focus on other areas of their operations. Managing a fleet involves completing numerous administrative tasks.

This includes:

  • Driver management
  • Vehicle management
  • Fueling costs
  • Dispatch and routing
  • Running fleet management systems 

Power only trucking reduces this burden on businesses by removing many of these responsibilities. As a result, companies only have to focus on loading their trailers and scheduling a pick time. 

The time that would be spent on the administrative tasks associated with managing a fleet of trucks can now be redirected to other areas of a business. 

2. Equal Control for Shippers & Carriers

Another benefit of power only truck loads is that it evenly divides control over the cargo between the customer and the carrier. Many shippers take issue with how transportation companies handle their freight. 

With power only trucking, businesses can manage their trailer and freight any way they wish. Carriers have to care for the trailer during transport, but they don’t have to worry about loading or unloading the cargo.

3. Reduces Shipping and Administrative Costs

Power only trucking provides businesses with a cost-effective transportation option. The service eliminates the need for a company to own trucks.

Fleets of tractors can be expensive for a variety of reasons. Businesses not only have to purchase these vehicles, but they’ll need to maintain and refuel them as well. While trailers do need routine maintenance, it’s considerably easier and cheaper to manage. 

4. Flexible Transport Options

Shippers can use power only trucking logistics for a variety of different trailers. 

  • Dry vans
  • Reefers
  • Flatbed/open deck

As long as the driver has the ability to use different kinds of equipment for transport, a business can potentially have them work with all kind of goods. They won’t have to constantly worry if truckload capacity can meet their needs. 

The same flexibility applies to timelines. Since companies that utilize power only trucking have their own trailers, they can simply load cargo at their discretion. They can schedule a transportation provider whenever they’re ready without having to factor load time into the pickup. 

Of course, it is best to make sure that a driver will be available for the pickup, especially when the freight may be fragile or perishable. 

A green semi truck in a freight yard

What Are The Downsides of Power Only Truckloads?

Despite the benefits that can be reaped when shippers use power only trucking, there are a number of downsides they may encounter as well. Companies should review these factors carefully before using it in their operations. 

Trailer Maintenance for Shippers

Businesses are responsible for maintaining the wellbeing of their trailers. To be fair, performing upkeep for this equipment is much cheaper than taking care of semi trucks. That said, companies will still be spending money on their trailers to ensure they remain roadworthy. 

Trailers parts that need to maintained include:

  • Landing gear
  • Brake lights
  • Kingpin 
  • Tires and wheels
  • Door latches and hinges

Companies that require temperature control for their cargo will have to use reefers. This kind of trailer comes with refrigeration equipment to keep the interior cool. This piece of equipment will also require maintenance. 

Shippers need to maintain accurate documentation of trailer inspections and repairs to comply with regulatory requirements. Failure to meet these standards can lead to delays, fines, or other complications, emphasizing the importance of meticulous record-keeping.

Urgent Shipments Are Expensive

Despite power only capacity being flexible, urgent shipments can be expensive. Transportation companies need at least 24 to 72 hours to find a driver to haul a trailer.

Carriers may charge a premium for prioritizing and expediting the transportation process to meet tight deadlines. This is due to the added effort and resources required for time-sensitive deliveries.

Deadhead Miles

Another downside of power only shipping is that it can result in deadhead miles. This method of transportation is good for pickups and drop-offs. However, it’s not a great way for moving trailers back to the point of origin, as they will often be empty. 

This can be money drain on both the shipper and the driver, who may refuse to make the delivery unless a substantial fee is paid.

These unloaded trailers will rack up deadhead miles for businesses. To circumvent this problem, shippers should ensure there is a shipment of freight that can fill their trailer before it comes back to the point of origin.

A dry van trailer parked at an old loading=

How Power Only Shipping Stacks Up Against Regular Truckload

Power only shipping and regular truckload transportation are vastly different from one another, even if the intent is the same. Shippers should understand how they vary to determine which one is best for their business operations.

Differences between the two include:

  • Equipment responsibility
  • Flexibility and customization
  • Scalability 

Shippers that use power only services are responsible for their trailer, while carriers only need to worry about their vehicles and drivers. For regular truckload services, the transport provider is responsible for their driver, truck, and trailer. 

The level of flexibility provided by the two services is different as well. With power only transportation, shippers will already have the trailer needed to move their unique load of cargo. Regular truckload services will require a shipper to take additional steps for loading and may have limited trailers types available.  

If a business requires refrigerated or oversized transport, they’ll need to find a carrier that provides that specific service. The scalability for each service is another distinct difference. 

Power only is best suited for high volume shipments. This ensures there’s always cargo in a trailer when it’s leaving or returning to the point of origin. Regular truckload is a good option for various shipment volumes. 

Businesses that have to move goods in bulk can simply use the entirety of a trailer. If a company has a smaller volume of cargo they need to transport, they can use less-than truckload (LTL) services

Make Every Shipment A Success with USA Truckload Shipping Services

USA Truckload can provide premier 3PL transportation services for your business. The experience and reliability of our carrier network will make your shipping operations smooth and efficient. We can help move a variety of cargo with our unique services.

These include:

  • Standard Truckload Services: Benefit from our comprehensive truckload solutions, where we manage both tractor and trailer, ensuring a seamless and hassle-free transportation process.
  • Expedited Freight Services: Our expedited freight services deliver with urgency and ensure your shipments reach their destination swiftly.
  • Hazmat Transport Expertise: Trust in our specialized hazmat transport services, where safety and compliance take precedence.

USA Truckload is ready to be your reliable ally as you navigate the intricate landscape of logistics. Fill out your RFP today or contact our team at (866) 353-7178 to learn more about what we can do for you.  

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