What Is Backhaul Trucking: Everything You Need To Know

April 24, 2024

What Is Backhaul Trucking: Everything You Need To Know

Discover how to leverage reverse logistics and how Covenant helps you identify backhaul revenue opportunities.

Discover how to leverage reverse logistics and how Covenant helps you identify backhaul revenue opportunities.

Backhaul trucking is a reverse logistics strategy of hauling loads during a truck's return journey to its origin point. This approach helps reduce deadhead miles - those unprofitable miles a truck drives with an empty or partially loaded trailer. 

This might seem straightforward, but developing effective backhaul strategies requires in-depth data analysis, careful planning, and seamless collaboration. When done right, backhaul operations can significantly boost revenue for shippers and carriers while contributing to a more eco-friendly supply chain. 

Types of Backhaul Trucking Backhaul transport opportunities can be leveraged either through a company's fleet or through a 3PL's network resources, depending on the specifics of your operation. 

Internal Backhaul: Companies with their own fleet, whether small or large, can implement internal backhauling. For instance, Walmart has effectively minimized distribution costs by streamlining all logistics processes, including backhauling. 

External Backhaul: External backhauling involves cooperation with external carriers and 3PLs to utilize backload capacity.  

See how Covenant assisted the world's largest bedding provider in achieving a backhaul revenue share of $120k within a year. 

Advantages of Backhaul Trucking  

Backhaul trucking offers several benefits:

  • It turns deadhead miles into profitable inbound routes. So empty miles aren’t a cause for concern.
  • It generates additional revenue for return trips while accounting for costs such as driver salary, fuel, and maintenance.
  • It supports sustainability initiatives by minimizing resource wastage.
  • It provides extra capacity options without unnecessary emissions. 

Overcoming Backhaul Trucking Challenges 

To successfully implement backhaul operations, there are certain challenges to consider: 

  • Streamlining capacities and routes is vital.
  • Freight type and classification must be carefully considered. In food and beverage distribution, for example, dedicated food-grade trailers should only carry appropriate backhaul loads to avoid contamination.
  • Safety regulations must be adhered to.
  • The complexity of managing two trips and two transactions must be navigated.
  • Drivers' Hours of Service (HOS) schedules, including potential delays, must be factored in. 

While these challenges may seem daunting, the benefits of backhaul trucking make it worth the effort. At Covenant, we're here to simplify the process and cater to all your logistics needs, helping you navigate the complexities of backhaul trucking with ease. 

Leveraging Backhauling for Profitability and Sustainability 

In the transportation landscape of 2022, OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation) reported over 25,000 deadhead miles, a staggering figure considering the prevalent driver shortages and capacity constraints. 

Yet, in a recent sustainability survey, an overwhelming 69% of small and mid-sized carrier companies expressed the importance of reducing these empty miles. The conclusion? There's untapped potential and a pressing need for backhauling – a perfect synergy waiting to be exploited! 

At Covenant Logistics, we bridge this gap through our robust network and unrivaled backhaul expertise. Our partnership enables you to transform your vacant trailer space into a conduit of profitability and sustainability. 

Maximizing return journeys is not just a revenue booster but also a green initiative. By doing so, you conserve resources that would otherwise be wasted on additional fronthaul trips, all while maintaining superior KPIs. 

The Importance of a Robust Backhaul Strategy 

Extracting full value from your inbound routes mandates a comprehensive backhaul strategy. The task of synchronizing pickups and deliveries, balancing capacities, and loads, and coordinating vehicles and drivers can get complex. 

To combat this complexity, you need to cultivate streamlined, data-driven, and profitable operations. The answer lies in backhaul optimization. Employ techniques like route optimization, consolidation, and collaboration tailored to your specific needs to enhance efficiency. 

Navigating Cost-Efficiency in Trucking 

Backhaul transport opportunities are your ticket to significant operational cost reductions. Avoid relying solely on load boards and asset-based carriers, as their communication, processes, and costs may not align with your requirements. 

A strategic alliance with a 3PL, like Covenant, that understands your company's needs and processes can help you achieve transportation savings and backhaul revenue. For instance, observe how a quick-serve restaurant chain leveraged backhauling within a dedicated fleet model to ensure punctual deliveries and cost savings. 

In the current transportation industry, collaboration is pivotal – from sharing information and knowledge to sharing routes with other shippers. Through backhauling, shippers can unite to cut down empty miles by establishing consistent joint lanes and setting up round trips. 

Securing Backhaul Loads 

Partnering with a leading transportation provider like Covenant empowers businesses to surmount challenges in reverse logistics. We integrate state-of-the-art technology into our process, enabling you to monitor your shipments, scrutinize your current operations, and pinpoint areas for improvement. 

Moreover, we synergize our extensive clientele to devise optimized backhauls, translating into substantial cost savings for your network. Get a customized solution.