Load-matching services that match empty trailers with backhaul loads are nothing new. But typically, they are offered by transportation brokers and online freight exchanges. Now, in a new twist, three industry standards groups — Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association (VICS), GS1 Canada, and GS1 US —have banded together to offer one. Their "Empty Miles Service," launched in early 2009, has already attracted considerable interest in North America.
VICS develops supply chain standards, including its Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR) model, while GS1 Canada and GS1 US promote e-commerce standards in their respective countries. Together they have created a web site where motor carriers and shippers use a search engine to match empty trailers with available loads.
More than 30 carriers and shippers are using the service in the United States. One of them, the retailer Macy's Inc., said that Empty Miles has helped it put together about 30 backhaul loads per week with Schneider National. Because truckers charge lower rates for backhauls to avoid returning with empty trailers, Macy's receives, on average, a 30-percent rate reduction on those moves. The retailer expects to save about US $25,000 a year in transportation costs on each backhaul lane. Schneider National said that the service has helped it eliminate 11 percent of its empty miles and increase its backhaul freight by 22 percent.
Although the service is currently available only in the United States, there are plans to expand it to Canada. For more information, go to www.emptymiles.org.