A professor from Oregon State University says that trucking could be done more efficiently if the industry embraced a spoke-and-hub system. The benefit, says professor Hector Vergara, is a more organized industry and happier truck drivers.
A spoke-and-hub system works when shipping companies or carriers have hubs or terminals at various points across the U.S.
Companies like Walmart, Swift, J.B. Hunt and UPS currently employ the type of system Vergara is advocating. Drivers would have designated legs and routes to and from distribution centers.
Vergara says the system would create a better way of life for drivers by allowing them more home time as they could work routes closer to their homes.[pullquote align=”right”]”There’s a benefit for the driver if they can return home more frequently,” he said. “There’s the benefit for the carriers because they have a better utilization of the organization of their resources.”[/pullquote]
“This will keep drivers in their regions, and save them from driving long hours,” Vergara explained.
“The quality of life for long-haul truck drivers is poor, and it shouldn’t have to be that way,” Vergara told KVAL. “Truck drivers will spend weeks, if not months on the road before going home.”
In addition to shorter routes, Vergara says the system allows drivers to pass off loads to other drivers at half-way points in the route.
For example, if a shippers and carriers had hubs in Denver, San Francisco and Chicago, a driver heading from California with a load headed toward Chicago would meet a driver headed from Chicago with a load headed to California at the Denver hub. The two drivers would swap trailers and the drivers would head back to their home region.
This would create a more structured schedule for drivers and loads.
While having more hubs would be costly, carriers could cut back on the number of drivers and trucks needed.
“There’s a benefit for the driver if they can return home more frequently,” he said. “There’s the benefit for the carriers because they have a better utilization of the organization of their resources.”
Billy Dover with Leavitz Freight Service in Springfield said the system wouldn’t work for certain types of freight, but that it could work for a sizable portion of the industry.
“Having a more organized and stable work environment will promote better health, less stress and allows you to bring in a younger workforce.”