By preloading trailers in advance, shippers avoid the headaches that come with live loads, such as scheduling pickups and dropoffs, handling missed appointments, and paying detention fees for trucks waiting to unload. Drop cuts average dwell times by two-thirds, improves fleet utilization, and reduces inefficiencies in the supply chain.
Yet despite all the benefits, traditional drop has always been plagued by a fundamental flaw:
Drop operates well with a fixed set of tractors and trailers running predictable head hauls and backhauls between a fixed set of facilities. For this reason, drop is used almost exclusively for primary contract freight on lanes with consistent volume.
Of course, even dense lanes with consistent demand aren’t immune from freight market dynamics. Surges in customer orders, seasonal storms, changes in distribution, and “Black Swan” events like the COVID-19 pandemic create fluctuations in demand that disrupt drop’s stability. This results in hidden overhead costs, reduced operational efficiency, and increased risk to service quality.
Every time reality deviates from forecast, shippers suffer the consequences of inflexible drop. When demand surges above expectations, carriers struggle to flex tractor or trailer capacity, rejecting tenders and forcing shippers to switch to live loads on the spot market. This drives up shipment costs, creates logistical hassles of appointment scheduling and live loading, and increases service quality risk by introducing unfamiliar spot carriers.
Even when demand sinks below expectations, shippers face hidden costs. As tender volume drops, trucks stop moving. Lower fleet utilization results in punitive fees, either charged directly to shippers, or indirectly by carriers passing along their higher fixed costs.
This ongoing cycle of spot market spillover and punitive fees has always been part of traditional drop-and-hook, creating undue burden and risk for transportation teams, and constraining the potential of this otherwise highly efficient form of shipping.