What is line haul transportation? Complete guide to line haul transportation


By Komal Puri | October 13, 2022

Line Haul Meaning and Definition

The world of logistics, especially line haul transportation, is dominated by moving parts. We have freight moving from one city to another, one country to another, one mode of transportation to another, from a hub to a sorting facility, from manufacturers to customers, the list is exhausting! Let's bring things back into perspective and start by defining a line haul with regards to logistics.

Line haul logistics refers to the movement of freight or goods across different modes of transportation--by road, by rail, by air and by waterways--in between cities. The load carried by these modes of transportation are not homogeneous in nature. The range varies from small packages to heavy pallets. CEP (courier, express and parcel) providers, less-than-truck-load (LTL) carriers and third party logistics providers receive goods/freight from their customers from a particular depot.

Goods with similar destinations are consolidated in long-distance trailers and sent to one or multiple distribution facilities for further categorization and sorting. Then at a sorting facility, the goods go through one more round of consolidation before it's dispatched for the final destination. This entire chain of stakeholders and infrastructure, that includes drivers, dock executives, trucks, depots, hubs, distribution and sorting facilities, is termed as a line haul network. Am important aspect of line haul network management is a line haul charge.

What is a line haul carrier?

Carriers play an important, if not the most important, role in line haul logistics operations. As we already mentioned above, line haul operations are complex. It involves multiple moving parts. Freight being transferred from one city to another, one mode to another and one depot to another. Hence, it's important to select line haul carriers that have knowledge and expertise in managing both LTL and FTL loads, are experienced in handling time-sensitive goods, ensure 100% SLA adherence, and packages and highly aware of geography-specific regulations and compliance.

Importance of Line Haul Carrier Tracking

A key component of ensuring robust line haul services is deploying digital tools to enhance line haul carrier tracking. Such carrier tracking tolls empower not just enterprises but also carriers and 3PLs to gain real-time visibility of line haul trucking operations. Stakeholders responsible for line haul delivery can gain critical insights into carrier performance, SLA adherence, delivery duration, delivery success and failure rates and more. Line haul carrier tracking also improves customer experience by ensuring highly accurate ETAs, reduced delivery time and delivery transparency. Line haul pickup tracking or express tracking helps customers to know when exactly will a parcel arrive and this increases first-attempt delivery success rates drastically. Global line haul companies are embracing intelligent delivery management platforms to orchestrate and optimize freight movements.

Line Haul Delivery: Key Areas a Line Haul Carrier Impacts

  • Movement of freight between cities

  • Delivery duration

  • Movement of goods/packages to and from depots

  • Movement of goods/packages to and from sorting facilities

  • Transportation costs

Line Haul vs. Long Haul Trucking

Line haul drivers work in shifts. It's more like a nine to five job. Hence, at the end of each day line haul drives get to go home. Whereas in the case of long haul trucking, the drivers tend to spend days and weeks on the road.

So, what's a line haul charge?

Line haul charge refers to the cost of transportation. The transport, i.e. the shipping cost, is based on the distance between the pickup and destination. Line haul charge does not include loading and unloading of freight. These apply to long-distance transportation. The shipping cost is also based on the total weight of the freight.

The cost varies depending on the mode of transportation. When it comes to trucks and road transportation, mileage is factored in. When it comes to by-air freight transportation, the logistics price is calculated over and beyond the mileage and freight weight.

Advantages of Line Haul Trucking

Line haul transportation is a complex task which includes several checks and balances. The freight transport business is competitive and time-consuming.

The line haul transportation needs tracking for it to be more customer-centric and improve the customer service response. Following are the advantages of line haul tracking.

1. Better 3PL/carrier management

When handling third party logistics, including freight distribution and outsourcing, tracking comes in handy for both the companies. The transport communication becomes more manageable and flowing.

2. Reduced trucking costs

When a company employs a particular truck to transport their freight, they need to withhold the shipping process, until the truck runs at optimum capacity to reduce costs. Though a truck goes through a definite long route and gathers multiple organizations' shipments, they are essentially cutting down warehousing costs. In such a case, tracking becomes essential to have a clear idea about the shipment location.

3. Increased delivery production

As the trucks do not have to wait to be filled to optimum capacity at one location, the process of delivery gets a head start. The best part is the route and hubs are optimized for the fastest way and least fuel consumption. Tracking incentivizes the truck drivers to stick to deadlines, delivery dates and maintain performance.

4. Faster deliveries

In any freight business shipment, the end goal is to ship products fast providing they are safe and on time. The need for swift shipping can be easily combated with line-haul transportation. The issue with line-haul transportation is to find trustworthy drivers. Tracking ensures safe shipping promptly to the destination.

5. Enhanced delivery experience

Line haul tracking ensures that the customer be it a company or an individual is ready to receive the package or shipment. In B2B shipping, the freight size is usually heavy and constitutes multiple trucks, being prepared with the help of tracking saves nine and optimizes the operations.

What is Line Haul Optimization?

Line haul transport optimization refers to improving services wherein the trucks collect freight from different hubs. These hubs are placed wisely along the route with most freight traffic. First, at these hubs, the cargo is consolidated based on a common destination. The transport companies ship products varied from heavy machinery to light documents. The job of the drivers is to ensure the timely shipping of cargo to the destination hub. The industry of long haul transportation relies on the intricate network of trailers, drivers, depots and delivery boys.

Need for Line Haul Optimization

A common service issue that every transport company faces is to provide the best services in the smallest period with lease cost. To optimize the cargo movement, the company should follow the following three steps:

  1. The company must take detailed accounts of the location and capacity of depots.

  2. Secondly, the company needs to identify the optimal route for cargo flow from origin to destination hub.

  3. These observations will give the company insight into the most suitable route, service and cargo size.

These simple steps will help the company understand the best way to optimize their line haul transportation business.

Line haul transportation is a convenient method of transportation and has proved to be highly efficient and safe. The logistics services work best for long distances. The transport services usually take long durations due to aligning with one customer. The introduction of line haul transportation has given a new facet to the transport services.

Komal puri

Komal Puri is a seasoned professional in the logistics and supply chain industry. As the Senior Director of Marketing and a subject matter expert at FarEye, she has been instrumental in shaping the industry narrative for the past decade. Her expertise and insights have earned her numerous awards and recognition. Komal’s writings reflect her deep understanding of the industry, offering valuable insights and thought leadership.

Komal Puri
Sr. Director of Marketing | FarEye

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