You’ve probably read that DAT Load Boards recently added 15 specialized equipment types, up from 57. This means that brokers can now be more specific about their specialized loads and search for carriers with the right equipment. Likewise, since carriers generally prefer to search for loads rather than post their trucks, they can now search for loads that require their specialized equipment.
Flatbeds make up a significant percentage of loads posted to the spot market, and an increasing number of these loads support the oil and gas business. Typically, you might have a piece of machinery that comes into a Southeastern port from Europe, goes to a warehouse in Houston, and then is dispatched out to West Texas, Montana or North Dakota when it’s needed. These are the types of flatbed moves that end up on the spot market. When you survey the top flatbed lanes in the United States, it’s not surprising that “Houston to Bismarck” comes up a lot, as Bismarck is often a staging area for hauls into the Bakken region.
Another indicator of the strength of the oil and gas market is the number of spot loads moving in the nation’s midsection. That belt of states from Texas to Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Montana has some of the strongest load-to-truck ratios we’ve seen in the past nine months. Adding more equipment types to the DAT Network will help brokers and carriers to capitalize on those spot market opportunities.
Look for "Trihauls"
As more flatbed haulers use the DAT Network, one of the things I’m excited about is introducing them to our new tools to develop triangular or "Trihaul" routes, using DAT RateView. If you’re in the oil patch trying to make some extra money as you get that flatbed trailer back home, it’s a useful feature.
With Trihaul routing, when you look up a rate from A to B you’ll see the return rate, as well as the best per-mile options for breaking that return trip into two legs -- creating a Trihaul.
For example, as I write this, on that Bismarck-to-Houston return trip our trihaul routing feature recommends that I look for freight to Laredo. San Antonio and Austin are other options. By making Bismarck to Laredo the first leg of my return, I would improve my revenue per mile by 50 cents compared to a straight backhaul. From Laredo, it’s a short move to reposition my truck and trailer in Houston, at a high rate per mile.
Flatbed loads consistently provide some of the strongest rates we see on the spot market. With new, more granular searches for equipment types, and the added advantages of Trihaul routing, there are even better opportunities for flatbed carriers to maximize their profit.