The struggle to minimize empty miles has been a well-known thorn in the side of carriers of all sizes for decades. But Tomorrow.io is bringing perspective to the lower-profile adjacent problem of wasted miles. Despite having different causes, wasted miles result in the same economic repercussions as empty miles.
“Empty miles are one of the most frequently discussed form of waste in the logistics industry,” Ayala Rudoy, vice president and general manager of the Logistics & Enterprise Business Unit at Tomorrow.io, said, “but wasted miles, a lesser-known issue, pose just as many, if not more, challenges for trucking and logistics.”
What are wasted miles?
Wasted miles describe the extra resources that drivers use to get back on track due to unexpected events or conditions, which, in some cases, can be avoided with proper planning. These are miles that shouldn’t necessarily have been driven in the first place or weren’t originally intended to be driven at all, such as when drivers double back or take inefficient routes in response to road conditions or extraneous circumstances.
Empty miles, on the other hand, are driven with an empty container or with no trailer. These miles are considered empty because they do not generate any revenue. Instances of empty miles include driving to pick up a load or deadhead miles returning to a terminal yard after delivery.
There are many reasons why drivers may end up driving miles that are considered wasted. One big reason is weather conditions.
“[Wasted miles] are caused by disruptive events that negatively impact delivery commitments and schedules — from weather, highway and traffic congestion, road work, delays and detention, missed or spotty communication, and more,” Rudoy said.
Backed by weather intelligence technology, Tomorrow.io’s platform and API empower carriers, shippers and logistics providers to mitigate weather-related threats of wasted miles. Its localized, automated insights help drivers and fleet managers prepare, predict and adapt to changing conditions via its real-time monitoring and recommendations based on customizable thresholds and protocols tied to a company’s assets such as warehouses, routes and hubs to provide full-network monitoring. Companies can set up dynamic alerts to manage the complex nature and scale of logistics networks.
In an industry with low operating margins, wasted miles, like empty miles, become burdensome for carriers over time.
“When conditions change, the original delivery plan no longer reflects the realities, requiring many resources to get back on track and leading to lost time, productivity and revenue,” Rudoy said. “Additional challenges include wasted fuel, increased carbon emissions, poorly utilized resources and capacity, increased pressure on operating margin, and much more.”
Weather-related delays in particular cost the trucking industry $3.5 billion annually. Changing weather conditions cause accidents, highway congestion and later arrival times due to lower speeds. Most of the time, snow and ice are responsible for these delays, especially in areas under equipped to manage wintry conditions. Two inches of snow in Texas is drastically different from 2 inches of snow in Ohio.
Weather-related delays happen not just because of devastating events like hurricanes, snowstorms or tornadoes, but also due to everyday conditions. Snow, hail, low visibility, wind and rain are far more common than weather catastrophes, but they too can be the reason for disruptors like stalled or slow-moving traffic. Although these conditions may impact only part of a trip, they may be why load pickup or delivery is late. The ability to receive automated hyper-local weather insights is critical for fleets to proactively plan and account for weather-related disruptions ahead of departure or en route
By planning for weather conditions, logistics companies can make better decisions surrounding order acceptance, scheduling, protecting cargo and equipment, and what areas to send trucks.
ITS ConGlobal, North America’s largest integrated intermodal terminal services company, is one logistics leader that utilizes Tomorrow.io’s system to plan and prepare for weather conditions affecting its business.
“When you think about the challenges for ITS ConGlobal that come with the weather, it’s important to first understand that everything we do is outside. And so the weather is more important to our work than many other businesses. It goes beyond just understanding whether or not people can get to and from work because all that we do is outside. So planning for the weather is paramount,” said CEO of ITS ConGlobal Brant Ring.
Users of the platform can monitor the intensity, duration, and impact of weather events for every route and shipment at a granular level.
Going forward, Tomorrow.io will provide even more comprehensive weather intelligence with plans to launch a constellation of space satellites that will cover the entire globe.