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June 10 2019

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June 10 2019 | The Journal of Commerce 47 www.joc.com Surface Transportation J.B. Hunt mixing it up Intermodal trucker introduces 360box, blending load-matching and trailer assets By William B. Cassidy "Shouldn't we be trying to put at least one hour back in the hands of the driver? They'll get a 13 to 14 percent pay increase if we do." FOR MANY SMALLER US trucking compa- nies and shippers, the ability to pre-load trailers dropped at a dock and pick them up without a wait or hassle has long been desired but just beyond reach. J.B. Hunt Transport Services wants to change that with a new service called 360box, which blends big iron trailer assets with the intermodal trucker's digital load-matching platform. The new service, announced in May, is part of a trend toward drop-and- hook in digital brokerage, but it's also part of an effort to push the boundaries at the $8.6 billion-in-revenue trucking operator beyond the company's core asset-based intermodal, dedicated, and truckload operations and expand beyond traditional non-asset brokerage into more digital services. "Our big objective is to help our customers eliminate cost," said Shelley Simpson, chief commercial officer and executive vice president of the Lowell, Arkansas-based company. Since the launch of J.B. Hunt 360's digital freight-matching platform in 2017, shippers have asked for drop-and- hook trailers to help them cut costs by speeding truckers through their gates. Using drop-and-hook trailers would seem a simple solution: pro - vide trailer equipment that shipper customers can pre-load, allowing truckers to pick up freight without lengthy wait times. There's a chicken- or-the-egg problem associated with the practice, however: Where do the assets come from? From large companies, typically, that can afford to maintain big trailer pools. Smaller trucking firms often can't spare the assets, which means moving to drop-and-hook operations, a key element of the "shipper-of- choice" program pursued by many companies last year, when capacity was tight. Even with capacity much more abundant in 2019, the efficien- cies that can be gained through drop- and-hook trailer programs are still on shipper wish-lists. "The unpredictability of cost is an issue for shippers and carriers," Simpson said in an interview. Part of what makes costs unpredictable is the amount of time truck drivers spend doing anything but driving. As much as a third of their driving time is wasted each day, Simpson said. "There are 11 available driving hours, and nearly four are wasted every single day," she said. Some of that waste is caused by traffic congestion, but much time is wasted at shipper or consignee docks waiting for trucks to be loaded or unloaded. "Shouldn't we be trying to put at least one hour back in the hands of the driver?" Simpson asked. "They'll get a 13 to 14 percent pay increase if we do, and we'll add that much more available equipment on the road." Starting this summer, J.B. Hunt will roll out a pool of 500 53-foot trailers through 360box that carriers on its digital Carrier 360 platform can reserve to use as drop trailers, Simpson said. J.B. Hunt has used drop-and-hook for years in its asset-based operations, but this is the first time it will dedicate these assets to its non-asset Integrated Capacity Solutions division. "We're creating access to this mar - ket that wasn't available before," she said. "Typically, there are two types of markets available: live load freight and drop-and-hook. Live load is typically offered in the brokerage market and drop-and-hook by asset providers. This is the blending of both worlds. You're getting more of an even playing field for carriers and customers." J.B. Hunt isn't the first company with a digital platform to wade into drop-and-hook. Both Convoy and Uber Freight introduced drop-and- hook services last year. Convoy envisioned using a gray trailer pool in a network of "loops." "You do need to identify a loop or some sort of network where there is a density of loads," Adarsh Nair, vice president of growth at Convoy, told The Journal of Commerce. Uber launched a separate trail- er-leasing subsidiary called Powerloop to work with Uber Freight in estab- lishing drop-and-hook networks. The ultimate goal of all these programs is to cut driver wait time. "From a carrier Shutterstock.com Trucking | Rail | Intermodal | Air & Expedited | Distribution

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