October 3, 2023

By: Caye Knight
Content Marketing Analyst

Many carriers use load boards to build their business, avoid deadhead runs, and more. However, load boards are not just for large loads. Small, last-mile loads that can be transported by box trucks also often appear on load boards. They can help you maximize efficiency in last-mile deliveries and keep your routes optimized and your drivers busy. Load boards are just one of many fleet solutions that make your business the most profitable it can be.

But what is a load board for box trucks, and how does it work? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a load board?

A load board is essentially a two-way communication system. It is an online portal that allows shippers to find carriers for their loads. Likewise, carriers can use it to find loads to keep their trucks full and profitable and add efficiency to their operations.

It’s almost like a load dating service. The carrier can pick loads and jobs that fit their needs, and the shipper can find carriers that can deliver their loads in the timeliest manner.

The difference between a load board and a freight broker is that the load board is essentially an automated marketplace, while a freight broker is more interactive and includes human operators. Although there are advantages to a freight broker, a load board can show changes in real time, meaning loads can be claimed and dispatched almost instantly.

However, a load board is often associated with bigger semi-loads or partial trailer loads. How do they impact last-mile delivery?

How do load boards impact last-mile operations?

Load boards for box trucks impact last-mile delivery by allowing owner-operators to do a few key things:

  • Load boards help eliminate empty miles and reduce wasted route time.
  • Load boards, in turn, help owner-operators increase efficiency and lower fuel costs, increasing profitability at the same time.
  • Carriers then can offer lower rates in the competitive environment that load boards create.

Shippers save money. Carriers increase profits. Load boards create a win-win for both.

Key features of effective load boards

All load boards are not created equal. In fact, some are much better than others. Those that excel include the following key features.

Real-time updates

One massive advantage of online matching load boards is that they are updated almost instantly. A carrier will not attempt to book a job already taken. Shippers do not have to deal with multiple offers for the same load. Both parties benefit from real-time updates. All effective load boards offer this feature.

Route optimization

On the carrier side, load boards allow for route optimization through the assignment of loads to drivers who are already in the area or who can add the load to an existing set of stops. This allows for the best use of drivers, vehicles, and fuel, meaning they can offer competitive rates and win more loads.

Load tracking

Effective load boards for box trucks and cargo vans also offer load tracking features, allowing carriers and shippers to know where loads are, when they are delivered, and how long they were in transit. When used properly, the best load boards for box trucks benefit shippers and carriers in various ways. As a carrier, reducing empty miles is often one of the highest priorities.

Reduce empty miles to maximize revenue

Empty miles are one of the most glaring inefficiencies for any carrier. An empty truck is still using fuel and driver time. A 26-foot box truck load board helps reduce or eliminate these miles by adding short-trip small loads that any box truck can easily handle.

Reducing empty miles also reduces fuel and labor costs. By offering competitive rates for these loads, owners increase profitability and maximize the revenue generated by both their fleets and individual drivers.

Challenges and tips for success

There are challenges to load boards. For instance, a percentage of the revenue from the load goes to the load board provider. Since they are competitive marketplaces, your rates must fall in line with other carriers who are using the load board. And you are relying on a load board for straight trucks rather than building relationships directly with customers.

Despite these challenges, there are ways to use load boards successfully:

  • Use load boards when you have trucks with empty miles or miles where trucks are not full and can handle an extra load or stop.
  • Watch your rates. Depending on the urgency of the order, the time of day or even the season, or the number of other load board users in your area, rates can vary greatly.
  • Use load tracking features to build efficiency into your routes and to determine the most profitable loads to accept. Load boards can be a great way to supplement your regular customers and routes to maximize profits and revenue.

Enhancing last-mile deliveries with load boards for box trucks

Last-mile deliveries often offer their own unique challenges. Still, you can reduce empty miles and increase fleet and driver efficiency by using load boards for box trucks and a transportation management system that will help grow your fleet. Learn more about Solera’s fleet solutions and contact us today with any questions. We’re here to help your fleet be the best it can be.