What Is Line Haul Transportation: Explained

December 19, 2022

Line haul transportation is essential in transportation, delivery, and fulfillment. This freight model helps companies facilitate the logistics of moving goods from one location to another within a specific time frame. 

Today, line haul trucking is the closest thing to a nine-to-five trucking job one could find within the freight and logistics industry. Unlike long haulers, line haul professional drivers typically have more predictable schedules and routes. 

But what is line haul transportation, exactly? 

Let’s review some of the basics. 

Line Haul Transportation 101

Every day, there’s an endless stream of finished products and raw materials that need to be moved from A to B. Line haul transportation carriers make that possible. They partner with brands to determine the most optimal logistics for moving the shipment to its intended destination—typically, for a shorter journey. The shorter journey is one of the biggest differences between line haul vs long haul transportation. 

Line hauling can encompass all forms of transport, including:

  • Truckload
  • Less than truckload (LTL)
  • Partial truckload (PTL)
  • Full truckload (FTL)
  • Rail
  • Water
  • Air 

That said, most line carriers tend to carry heavy and oversized freight. And, importantly, they only load cargo at pickup and unload at delivery.  

The typical operations of line hauler carriers are difficult to encompass. It’s such a broad field that the routine operations of one carrier could vary dramatically from another, including due to factors such as load size, load content, transportation modalities, and average route distance. 

That said, in most cases, the normal driver for a line haul carrier will not need to travel nearly as far as long haul drivers do. Greater predictability and reduced driving distances help increase driver satisfaction, which reduces attrition rates. 

Benefits of Line Haul Transportation for Brands 

For both eCommerce brands and brick-and-mortar retailers, line haulers play a vital role in your transportation and fulfillment line haul logistics, providing several tangible benefits. These can include: 

  • Rapid delivery – Line haul carriers differentiate themselves from conventional freight models and carriers by offering rapid delivery. Line haul providers carefully track, analyze, and optimize their shipping logistics to reduce route times and distances while speeding up the average time for delivery. 

  • Compliance – Line hauling is designed to accommodate many of the trucking regulations that limit driving times and distances. With line-hauling, drivers work in shifts so that trucks are always on the road, but the drivers stay fresh. Make sure your drivers are aware of the DOT compliance checklist

  • Cost optimizations – Line hauler carriers constantly seek to find optimizations within the supply chain. When improvements are identified and implemented, those savings are passed on to the customer through cheaper, more efficient shipping. 

  • Customer service – High-quality line haul carriers will partner with brands to identify their needs and then provide bespoke line haul logistics and fulfillment solutions that surpass those demands.  

Tips for Optimizing Your Line Haul Services 

If you operate a line hauling fleet, there are several strategies you can deploy to optimize your services, including: 

#1 Implement Fuel Cards 

Taking control of your fleet’s finances is a vital way you can build your business the right way. One of the easiest ways to start doing that is with a secured gas card

Even before prices skyrocketed, fuel was typically a regular or line haul carrier’s largest variable expense. Now that prices are hovering around all-time highs, controlling your fuel spend is more important than ever 1.

With AtoB’s dedicated fuel card, you can manage your spend while gaining access to a competitive, high-tech discount network. These cards are accepted nationwide, can be used on vehicle-related business expenses, and make it easier to process payroll instantly. 

Put simply, fuel cards are the tool you can leverage to save money and boost line haul driver retention thanks to smooth workflows, benefits, and instant payroll. 

#2 Maintain Detailed Records 

These days, data is a critical factor in line haul process improvement. You need to keep, maintain, and analyze records of all your deliveries, including: 

  • Delivery date
  • Freight dimensions
  • Delivery time
  • Driver
  • Destination
  • Customer

By keeping a detailed accounting of your line hauling activities, you can use that data to identify areas for growth, optimal routes, and line haul driver performance, even if your drivers aren’t covering a long distance. This is also important for complying with regulatory requirements, such as IFTA, which compels you to calculate miles driven in a member state or province to file taxes 2

#3 Keep Clients Informed 

Modern clients want to know exactly when their freight will arrive from the sorting facility. And since line haulers have more interactions with the final recipient, you should keep them informed of the important delivery factors. Maintaining an open line of communication keeps customers in-the-know, which keeps them satisfied with your service.

AtoB: The Fleet Fuel Card for Line Haul Carriers  

Line haul carriers provide an essential service within the world of logistics, delivery, and fulfillment, offering multimodal services to demanding customers. 

But in such a low-margin business, you can’t afford to waste money. That’s where AtoB’s zero-fee fuel card can make the difference in your bottom line. 

With AtoB, you can control your fleet fuel management and spending by saving money on competitive per-gallon discounts and utilizing the helpful automations and features that come with the card.    

Extra secure fuel cards, centralized payroll, and smarter fleets—that’s AtoB. Start your AtoB fuel card application today.

Sources: 

1 EIA. US All Grades All Formulations Retail Gasoline Prices. https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=emm_epm0_pte_nus_dpg&f=m

2 CDTFA. Tax Guide for International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and Diesel Fuel Interstate User. https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/taxes-and-fees/ifta-ciudft-di-license.htm

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