OTR trucking is the bread and butter of logistics, making up 72.5% of the total freight weight moved in the US.
This makes mastering OTR basics crucial to employment as a traffic manager, and knowing the detailed ins and outs of OTR shipping can put you ahead of the crowd.
If you need a hand getting started as a traffic manager, or simply want to stay up to date on current OTR trends, then our Traffic Manager’s Guide to OTR Trucking is for you.
Keep reading to learn:
- What OTR trucking is and why it matters
- Who’s involved in OTR trucking
- The unique challenges that OTR trucking presents
- Our top tips for managing OTR trucking as a traffic manager
Let’s get started!
A traffic manager’s guide to OTR trucking
As a traffic manager, you’re responsible for managing the logistics of planning and transporting goods from one location to another.
Many of the shipments you coordinate within this role will be sent by OTR trucks. What exactly does that mean, and how does it affect you?
What is OTR trucking?
Over-the-Road (OTR) trucking refers to the transportation of freight across the extensive road networks of the US.
Also known as long-haul trucking, OTR trucking typically involves the transport of freight over distances greater than 1,000 miles. OTR shipments often travel from coast to coast, with the average OTR journey measuring 1,200-1,400 miles in length – now that’s a drive!
The two other main types of road-based trucking in America are local trucking and regional trucking.
Local trucking involves delivering freight within a 100-mile radius, while regional trucking usually covers an area of 4 or 5 states and doesn’t involve journeys of over roughly 1,000 miles.
Who’s involved in OTR trucking?
As a traffic manager, you’ll coordinate with various parties involved in an OTR trucking shipment’s journey from A to B.
The main coordinators in the OTR process are:
- Shippers: The businesses needing to coordinate a shipment (also called consignors)
- Carriers: The firms that transport freight
- Drivers: The drivers of the vehicles carrying the freight
- Freight brokers: Intermediaries that facilitate the shipping and storage of freight (typically non-asset-bearing and single shipment contracts)
- Logistics companies: Third-party providers that facilitate the shipping and storage of freight (typically asset-bearing and multi-shipment contracts)
For a more detailed breakdown of the difference between a freight agent and a freight broker, you can check out Jansson’s definition here.
The unique challenges of managing OTR trucking
OTR trucking is an essential and varied element of the wider logistics industry, and as such, it can take some work to fully understand the options available.
Pressure on global supply chains, pandemic conditions due to COVID-19, and US employment trends force the OTR trucking industry to continue to adapt. Trends indicate that some of the challenges facing the industry today include:
- Shortages of OTR truck drivers
- Driver conditions, compensation, and long-term retention
- Highway traffic and tolls add to costs
- The environmental impact of OTR trucking and long-term sustainability
- Cross-border expenditure due to delays
With these challenges ahead, it’s even more important for traffic managers to stay on top of industry-relevant developers and to work to find proactive, cost-saving, and socially-conscious solutions.
Top tips for managing OTR trucking logistics
Tip 1: Focus on driver wellbeing (and retention)
The OTR trucking industry relies completely on dedicated drivers willing to drive the – often thousands of – miles necessary to transport freight from one location to another.
Ensuring your drivers are happy and healthy is the backbone of a sturdy OTR trucking provision – but what does this look like in practice?
Any business policy that demonstrates a commitment to driver wellbeing and retention is a great place to start. Some suggestions include:
- Higher compensation and attractive benefit packages
- Shorter driving routes
- Advancement opportunities
- An increased emphasis on trucking safety and compliance
- Attracting new candidates to decrease shortages (and associated overtime)
- Comprehensive onboarding and training for new hires
- Improving working conditions to decrease turnover
Tip 2: Optimize shipments with LTL and intermodal solutions
One way to tackle the rising costs of everything from fuel to taxes is to optimize existing industry solutions, such as LTL (less-than-truckload) intermodal shipping.
LTL shipping cuts costs by allowing multiple shippers to use the same truck space – they only pay for the truck space they use. This can be a great option for traffic managers to be aware of, as it can lead to substantial cost savings, especially for small businesses or high-frequency shippers.
Similarly, intermodal shipping – which leverages multiple transportation methods along a single route – has increased fuel efficiency and lower costs to increase environmental sustainability.
Staying apprised of the various OTR trucking solutions available can help you, as a traffic manager, to select routes that benefit not only your client but the drivers, carriers, and wider industry, too.
Tip 3: Invest in technology and tools that ease the load
Finally, it can also benefit traffic managers to stay on top of new industry-relevant technology and tools that can help to keep shipping as smooth as possible.
Working with a Landstar-affiliated independent logistics agent is a great way to ensure your clients access industry-leading technology solutions that provide unparalleled value.
To plan your OTR trucking routes with ease, coordinate with next-level logistics from Jansson
We hope the info in this article has left you feeling more equipped to handle the demands of OTR trucking as a traffic manager! If you could use a helping hand managing your OTR services, then Jansson is here to help.
Jansson leverages the Landstar advantage to identify and fulfill long-haul shipping needs across the continental US and cross-border into Mexico and Canada.
As OTR trucking continues to adapt and improve, Jansson remains at the forefront of industry developments, providing you with a logistics service you can rely on – over and over. To find out more about how we can take your OTR trucking to the next level, or to find out more about our logistics services, reach out to Jansson today!