Did you know that over 90% of all consumer products and goods are estimated to be shipped either solely or in part by a truck?
That’s a lot of stuff moving by truck!
Whether your business is big or small, selling consumer goods or raw materials, you will likely interact with a trucking transportation company at some point in your business’s lifetime.
But what exactly do you need to know before you choose a carrier to move your goods around in a safe, effective, and economical way?
In this post, we’re going to cover just that, plus the role of the freight trucking company along with types of trucking transportation you may come across.
So let’s get trucking with it, shall we?
What is a Trucking Transportation Company?
It’s not rocket science to understand, so you can take the name as literally as it sounds.
A trucking transportation company can simply be described as a company that uses trucks to transport goods domestically and internationally.
In the trucking industry, there are people and firms who all participate in the business of motor trucks to transport goods. These are people and businesses get your stuff where it needs to go!
There are 3 formats that trucking transportation companies typically operate under:
- Common Carriage
There are key differences between each of these set-ups in business, as outlined in the table below.
Type of Trucking Company
How it Works
Transports goods for one or limited clients under contracts that set out rates, schedules, and other particulars.
Transports their own goods, including raw materials and finished products, only.
Transports any goods from any business and is available to the public for hire.
When it comes to choosing which kind of carrier you’ll work with, you’ll more than likely be working with a common carriage company. These are the trucking companies that work for anyone and have legal obligations thanks to countries’ individual regulation that protects consumers and makes sure that rates are fair and accessible to view for everyone.
Canada Transportation Companies
In Canada, trucking transportation companies are a huge part of both the economy and the logistics industry.
In fact, the GDP generated by the for-hire trucking industry has shown to be three times that of the GDP generated by other modes of transportation (sea, rail, air). That’s a lot of trucks on the road!
If that wasn’t enough for you, two-thirds of trade between Canada and the US is done by truck, showing just how flexible, simple and fast trucking transportation is for businesses of all sizes.
In terms of regulations, provincial governments determine most of the rules and laws that affect the trucking industry when it comes to operations within one province. The federal government provides oversight on the trucking transportation industry as a whole, and for those passing through other provinces and over borders.
In general, governments seek to regulate things like:
- Driver qualifications
- Fuel taxes
- Vehicle weights
- Vehicle dimensions
- Rules of the road
- Vehicle inspection
- Securement of loads
- Vehicle licensing
- Mandated safety equipment
These are largely safety issues that require close monitoring and compliance in order to keep drivers, employees, freight, and the general public safe.
US Transportation Companies
When we look at the US trucking transportation industry, it is closely connected to the Canadian industry and trade with Canada.
Specifically, as Canada’s largest trading partner, the US imports $394 billion in goods from Canada in one year and exports which total $278 billion.
US transportation companies can offer easy cross-border transportation to both Canada and Mexico under the newly updated Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) that replaced NAFTA (North American Free Tree Agreement) in 2020. This helps both regulate and facilitate the positive movement of goods between the three countries.
Within the US, trucking transportation is a massive industry. In fact, 2019 saw almost 73% of all freight in the United States travels by truck. This was equal to 11.84 billion tons. The US trucking industry continues to be strong, and though the pandemic has largely changed the way consumers shop (hello, e-commerce!) goods still need to be transported across the country.
By employing 7.65 million people in trucking industry-related jobs, with 3.36 million of those jobs going to truck drivers alone, the US derives a lot of economic benefits from an industry you don’t always think of as being so important.
Role of a Truck Freight Company
When a logistics trucking company operates a fleet, they are creating a business built on serving other people's businesses.
While may that not sound very glamorous, it’s truly about being the backbone of entire economies and industries!
Pretty cool, right?
So what does being the “backbone” of transportation look like? And what is truly the role of a truck freight company in today’s marketplace?
Though every business and carrier will be unique, the role of the truck freight company in the economy can be broken down into a few basic things:
- Transportation of raw materials to production facilities
- Transportation of finished goods to export
- Transportation of imported goods to manufacturers, distributors, consumers, and retailers
Each of these roles is crucial for the success of both individual businesses and the economy.
Think of this example, for instance.
Let’s say some corn is harvested from a remote farm in Ontario and has to travel across the border into Manitoba to be processed, and once it becomes breakfast cereal (or any other finished product), it needs to get to a distribution center for a major Canada-wide grocery retailer elsewhere in the province. Finally, it gets sent across the country to the retailer’s stores.
Each time the corn or its finished product travels, it’s probably doing so by truck.
The important role truck freight companies play goes beyond the physical act of transportation. They play a crucial role as a creator of employment, too.
In fact, 3.6% of Canada’s entire workforce is employed by trucking and logistics businesses. While less than 4% doesn’t sound like much, that translates into
The trucking and logistics sector employs 3.6% of Canada’s workforce, translating to more than 650,000 workers. Truck drivers account for 300,000 employees, while 90,000 people are in shipping and receiving, 70,000 are courier service drivers, 38,000 are material handlers at warehouses and distribution staff.
So as you can see, there is more than one key role trucking companies play in our modern business environment.
Types of Trucking Transportation
Many trucking companies will offer a variety of services and types of trucks to their customers, while others will focus on specializing in a certain kind of truck.
At Moto, we offer both dry van and flatbed options, so whether you have bulky freight or palletized shipments of dry goods, we can help.
No matter what carrier you end up choosing, you’ll come across a few key terms that refer to types of trucking transportation, so in this section, we’re going to go over the types of trucking equipment you’ll likely encounter out there.
Arguably one of the most common forms of trucking transportation, dry van transportation is a type of truck that is enclosed and box-like in nature. Usually, goods traveling this way are shipped in containers or on pallets.
They protect your goods from the elements and can be used for both FTL and LTL shipping.
Many kinds of goods, such as household goods, auto parts, and heavy machinery to name a few, travel by dry van, and there are definitely some advantages to using this method of shipping.
Those “pros” are outlined in the table below, in contrast to some of the drawbacks of dry van shipping.
Flatbed or flat deck, trucks are a type of trucking transportation that allows you to transport oversize or large goods or goods that are otherwise not able to fit into a dry van.
This trucking transportation mode is known and used primarily for its flexibility and ease of unloading and loading.
As you can see in the photo above, there is a large, flat deck space that can hold bulky, oddly shaped or just plain heavy cargo. It usually uses strapping to hold everything together, and some may require tarping as well. Each shipment is unique, and there are rules and regulations regarding how loads must be secured that are important to adhere to for the safety of all parties involved.
Commonly transported cargo by flat deck trucks includes:
- Building and construction supplies and materials
- Landscaping supplies
That’s by no means a comprehensive list. Many things are transported by flat deck truck because they are unique in nature and can’t fit inside a regular dry van. When you work with a carrier like Moto, we help you decide the best way to transport your cargo from one location to another.
When you need to send something to its destination by truck, but it can’t be left unrefrigerated for long periods of time, you’ll need to employ a reefer or temperature-controlled truck.
These kinds of trucking transportation are reliant on a system that keeps the trailer cool. It uses a compressor, condenser, and evaporator to remove heat from the cab and subsequently cool to maintain a stable temperature.
Sometimes, your product doesn't necessarily have to be refrigerated but it needs to be kept cool, you can employ a cooling van. These are insulated and vented for temperature regulation but don’t have a unit to specifically keep everything cool.
Temperature-controlled trucks have been around for a long time, or at least longer than you might think. In 1938, Frederick McKinley Jones of Cincinnati created the first portable refrigerated unit meant to keep goods cool in trucks. By 1940, he received a patent for this early version of the reefer system. By the end of the 40s, the first fully refrigerated truck was on the road, and Jones had built a huge business.
Today, reefer trucks are more important than ever, carrying goods from cheese to meat to fresh produce across the country.
Heavy Haul & Specialized Services
Have you ever seen a house being moved?
It’s pretty cool stuff!
They require a kind of trucking transportation known as heavy haul and specialized service. These kinds of trucks could be transporting anything from a house to a wind turbine to gasoline.
Each type of purpose-built truck serves a specific purpose, and unlike a dry van or flatbed, can only carry certain goods. Additionally, drivers will need special training for most of these formats due to the unique risks and challenges they can bring.
Some specialized types of trucks are summarized in the table below
Type of Trucking Transportation
To carry any liquid cargo, such as gasoline, milk, and oil
For the transportation of live animals like cows and pigs from
Designed to hold various kinds of automobiles and vehicles
Meant to carry bulk dry loads that must be dumped to be unloaded, like grain or corn
4 Tips for Choosing the Right Trucking Transportation
When you have all of these options for trucking transportation in front of you, it can be overwhelming to know which one to pick.
Your freight is unique, and depending on the specifics of your cargo, the right trucking solution will depend.
So how do you pick one?
Well, you need some selection criteria to go off of!
We have four tips for choosing the right trucking transportation so you know how to get your freight to its destination safely, on time, and damage-free.
#1: Know Your Stuff
No one knows your product and your freight like you do.
You know everything there is to know about shoes, or automotive parts, or whatever it is you sell, so now you need to translate that information to your trucking transportation company of choice so they can get you the right set-up for your shipment.
But what specifically should you nail down before picking up the phone to call your carrier?
That can be broken down into three categories:
- Your Customers
- Your Goods
- Your Competition
When it comes to your customers, you should know where they are generally located, including whether or not they are a retail store or distribution center, or something else. This will avoid sending the wrong equipment, like a truck that needs a loading dock, to a main street retail store.
The next thing to know all about is the goods you’re sending. You should know if anything in your shipment is considered dangerous goods, and just how heavy it will be. You’ll also need to grab your shipment’s dimensions and calculate your freight density if you’re shipping via LTL. You’ll also want to consider whether or not this is a one-time shipment or a route you need to set up for weekly, monthly or seasonal shipments.
Finally, you should know a little about your competitors before you engage with a trucking transportation company. Having a look to see what your competitors are pricing their products at, as well as where they are available to buy can be helpful at establishing your own logistics plan. If you’re considering parcel delivery for your e-commerce business, it can also be helpful to see what your competitors are charging customers for delivery. That way, you can be competitive in the marketplace.
Once you know all of this, it’s time to choose a carrier that can meet your needs. You’ll want to consider how they can customize your quote based on the information you provide and be able to work with you, big or small.
At Moto, we love helping businesses of all sizes get their products to where they need to go. We’ll help you build a customized quote over the phone, or you can submit an easy online quote request so you can know ASAP what shipping is going to cost you.
#2: Delivery Speed
When you’re considering a trucking transportation company, you want to think about speed.
The speed and timing of your shipment are some of the most important parts of sending freight. After all, no one wants to pay extra to ship expedited if you don’t need it there for another two weeks! And nothing is worse than disappointing a customer with a late delivery.
There are several things that impact your delivery speed:
- Shipping mode
Each of these factors plays a key role in how your freight trucking company will quote your shipment.
For example, expedited or express shipments traveling by truck may take as little as 2 to 3 days to arrive. On the other hand, if you have freight forwarding involved, and your shipment has to travel by sea before it makes it to a truck, it could take a month or more to get there.
That’s why you should consult a truck departure schedule so you can see when your freight needs to be ready to be picked up, when it leaves, and when it will reach its destination.
Source Sample of Moto’s Transportation Schedule
That way, you can be sure you don’t miss the deadline for your freight trucking company’s cut-off and end up with unnecessary delays.
Another time you’ll find delays is during certain seasonal periods. Due to things like long weekends and holidays, you will have closures, delays, and headaches for you. Especially if you are going across the border, keep in mind that Canada and the US have different holidays, and consulting a calendar should always be one of the first things you do when planning a shipment. That way, you avoid disappointment for you and for your clients.
#3: Tracking Capability
Not knowing where your stuff is is plain old annoying if you ask us.
You have money and your reputation with customers on the line. Not to mention that a damaged product could set you back time and money to fix.
So it’s only natural you want to be able to track your shipment as it moves around.
That’s why we consider it so important to ask potential carriers if they have a tracking system before choosing to work with them.
Not all carriers are created equally, and that means not all carriers will have an easy-to-access online tracking system that allows you to follow your shipment.
So when you’re trying to choose a shipping provider, ask them things like:
- How will I be able to track my shipment?
- Can I track my shipment online?
- How often will I get updates on my shipment?
- What happens if there’s a problem with the shipment along the way?
They should provide you with answers that make you feel confident about your shipment’s safety and on-time delivery. At Moto, we allow our customers to track their shipments online or through a manual request. We also send email updates every day with your shipment location, and if there are any problems, your account manager will be happy to help.
#4: Customer Service
The saying goes that there is only one boss: the customer.
When choosing a carrier for your shipments, you need to be sure they will be there for you from the moment you put a quote together to the post-shipping services they provide for you. Plus, you want to know that they can handle your current and future freight needs with professionalism and efficiency.
At Moto, we consider ourselves both of those things, plus we like to think we make our customers smile along the way with our sense of humour! But jokes aside, Moto also offers stats to back up our claims:
- 98% on-time performance
- 0.02% damage rating
- 491,641 pallets shipped and delivered
- 2673 client tenures
Something else you should really consider is what else your carrier is going to be able to provide you service-wise before choosing to work with them.
Not that we’re braggarts or anything, but at Moto, we have a buffet of extras and customer-friendly information available to you, like upfront accessorial pricing listed right on our website. If you need extra services, like freight forwarding, logistics planning for large complex projects, parcel delivery, or even warehousing and distribution services like container de-stuffing and cross-docking. We’ll even help you clear customs in a breeze.
These are all the ‘extras’ that can make working with a freight trucking company even more rewarding to your business, and also help you scale your business by offering a variety of services to help your business grow.
Get on Track With Trucking Transportation
You’ve officially navigated the ins and outs of working with transportation trucking companies!
Now you can set off and use all the information you’ve gained to not only choose the right carrier but know exactly what goes into trucking transportation too. You even know the difference between different types of trucking equipment.
So what are you waiting for? Start using this knowledge to get your business on the right truck, or should we say track, to success.
Have questions about how trucking transportation can help your business? Give us a call and we’d be happy to help you answer any questions you may have. Or hop over to our FAQ page to read more about our services and commonly asked questions.