Several trends could lead to more regional hauls: report

(NACFE illustration)

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The latest report from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) is highlighting converging trends from e-commerce to electrification that could lead to growth in regional hauling activities.

“If you ask most people to define trucking words like ‘over the road’ and ‘long haul’ are likely to be part of the description. But the reality is that 45% of the Class 8 tractors produced today are day cabs, and a high percentage of those trucks are involved in regional haul operations,” says Rick Mihelic, NACFE’s director of future technologies and study team manager.

Growth in e-commerce and a push toward immediate deliveries are being observed along with innovations in load matching systems, GPS-based asset tracking systems, and data mining capabilities, concludes the More Regional Haul: An Opportunity for Trucking report. Regional operations are also supported by equipment options including electric and hybrid vehicles, long-combination vehicles, and specialty equipment.

Even the ever-present demand for new truck drivers has a role to play in a growing interest in regional hauls.

“Regional operations means drivers are more likely to get home on a regular basis and that could help the industry with its the driver recruitment and retention problem,” explains executive director Mike Roeth. “Regional operations are also fertile ground for alternate fueled vehicles because, by their very nature, they make it easier for fueling infrastructure for vehicles that use an energy source other than gasoline or diesel fuel to be installed.”

“If we can improve the coordination of regional haul and make it more of a choreographed stage performance rather than a pickup basketball game, we can capture even more benefits,” the report adds. “The question is, how can we as an industry hasten this movement to better take advantage of its opportunities for drivers and electrification?”

More warehouse space would mean that last-mile deliveries could be accomplished with smaller trucks or even cars, More Regional Haul suggests. Predictive routing based on historical and real-time data could help to offset the impact of traffic congestion, too. GPS tracking could even show where equipment is sitting underutilized, or help to provide real-time information on available parking along a route.

This won’t be the council’s last word on regional hauling. Plans are underway for a Run on Less Regional demonstration that will help to demonstrate the fuel economy that can be realized using equipment on the road today. That project builds on the Run on Less 2017 event, which showed 10.1 mpg (23.3 L/100 km) was possible using real trucks in long-haul applications.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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