Uber Freight’s research paper suggests empty mile logistics could be eliminated

There is a real problem in the logistics industry right now which is the fact that there are empty miles being run in the trucking industry which not only costs a lot to the industry but also increases the emissions which is harmful for the environmental point of view as well. Uber’s freight division, Uber Freight, took a hard look at the issue of empty miles in the logistics industry and released a research paper on how they believe that this issue could be resolved. They estimate that they can reduce empty miles by 64% with their techniques.

The research paper noted that “Such a massive reduction in trucking miles will have ramifications well beyond the freight industry. First, a reduction in empty miles will have positive effects on road congestion and fatal accidents. The effect a single truck can have on traffic flow is the equivalent of 2-15 passenger cars, depending on terrain and traffic conditions. In addition, trucks travel 5.5X more miles per vehicle than light-duty vehicles, and account for 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Furthermore, freight trucking is responsible for a staggering 79% of US Greenhouse Gas emissions.”

“Although the percentage of empty miles driven by medium and large-sized fleets have been decreasing over the past few years, carriers’ ability to improve utilization remains limited by visibility into demand and rigid contracts with shippers. Shippers can turn to transportation management solutions and technology to utilize advanced consolidation services that reduce trucking miles. For example, shippers can combine orders into LTL and multi-stop shipments”.

Mazen Danaf, economist at Uber Freight, said that 25-30% of trucking miles in the US are estimated to be empty. Danaf said that “Owner-operators and smaller carriers might not have the skills or capabilities of doing so—at Uber Freight, we offer them alternative solutions such as bundles (an Uber Freight offering that allows carriers to move from point A to point B as efficiently as possible) and personalized recommendations” and he added that “there are various strategies and concepts that can be implemented to improve the current situation, including load consolidation; the aforementioned bundling; network optimization at a carrier network level.”

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