Motor carriers, especially in the less-than-truckload sector, are benefitting from the opportunities in e-commerce and expedited shipping.
With this opportunity comes the challenge of updating equipment, technology and services that traditionally were geared for the LTL sweet spot: shipments weighing between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds.
One carrier making the transition is A. Duie Pyle, the largest Northeast regional LTL carrier. The company offers same-day and overnight service across its network that stretches from northern Virginia to Eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York to Maine.
A. Duie Pyle was recognized as a CCJ Innovator in 2015 for investing in new equipment, infrastructure and technology to create a Customs Solutions Group (CSG) that offers an array of dedicated and private-fleet replacement services to shippers.
Its latest offering, Express Solutions, stems from the company’s existing Pyle Priority Service (PPS) for customers that want same-day and time-definite next-day service, but for smaller shipment sizes.
The carrier traditionally has used tractor-trailer combinations to pickup and deliver all shipments in the LTL spectrum of between 150 and 15,000 pounds. This model has evolved to increase freight velocity and reduce shipment transit times.
A. Duie Pyle’s fastest growing segment is now shipments weighing less than 500 pounds, and with this comes higher service expectations from businesses and consumers in e-commerce, says Randy Swart, chief operating officer.
In the Spring of 2016, the company started a proof-of-concept for Express Solutions to provide customers with same-day expedited shipping of freight weighing less than 500 pounds in the Boston area.
The experiment proved successful, and the company expanded the Express Solutions fleet in its network to 72 non-CDL delivery trucks with plans to expand by another 60 trucks within a year.
“I think it is a really good system. Our employees and customers like it,” Swart says.
Express Solutions operates diesel and electric hybrid Hino trucks with an 18-ft box to make pickups and deliveries. The trucks depart facilities in the early morning for pickups and complete deliveries in the early afternoon.
The hybrid versions of Hino trucks are deployed in New York City and surrounding metropolitan areas to take advantage of more stop-and-go traffic that regenerates the battery system.
A. Duie Pyle developed software that matches incoming orders to pickup and delivery equipment optimally suited for the task. Orders routed to an Express Solutions truck may need a lift gate to make a driveway delivery, for example, or orders that cannot be frozen during winter are routed to heated trailers.
Most of the business in the Express Solutions group comes from shippers with e-commerce sites that offer direct shipping.
“If you recognize the name, we haul for them,” he says.
A. Duie Pyle is also realizing benefits from using Express Solutions as the entry point for a career path for employees to obtain a Class-8 CDL through its internal truck driving academy.
“When we hire a dock worker that learns our culture, we can promote him or her into an Express Solutions truck,” he says. “We teach them how to be a good pickup and delivery driver and they retain our culture. Then they drive a little bit larger truck. We believe that moving drivers through a career path makes a very stable, valued employee and their retention rate is much higher.”