What is Power Only Trucking? (& How 3PLs Combine It with Leased Trailers) (2023)

What is Power Only Trucking? (& How 3PLs Combine It with Leased Trailers) (1)

When sourcing truckload capacity, most people assume that the truck and trailer always come together as one complete package, owned and operated by the same carrier.

That’s usually how it works, but it's not always the case.

Trucks and trailers are designed to break apart, and by considering these as separate assets, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) create unique, flexible shipping solutions.

Called power only trucking, these truckload capacity solutions use advanced freight matching technology and dense networks to source the truck (and driver) separately from the actual trailer.

We’ll cover everything you need to know about power only trucking, including how it works and how you can use it in your transportation network.

  • What is Power Only Trucking?
  • Power Only Carriers vs. Regular Truckload Carriers
  • Power Only + Leased Trailer Solutions
  • Power Only + Private Fleet Solutions
  • Why Shippers Use 3PLs for Power Only Trucking
  • Glossary: Power Only Terms to Know

What Is Power Only Trucking?

Power only trucking is a full truckload capacity solution that occurs when a carrier provides only a driver and a tractor (also known as a “power unit”).

In power only trucking, the driver does not bring a trailer, but instead hooks up to and hauls a trailer that is either leased or owned by a 3PL or shipper.

3PLs (and sometimes shippers) will specifically engage the carrier for power only capacity.

By decoupling the carrier and the trailer, 3PLs can create extremely flexible truckload capacity solutions, whether they’re leasing trailers on the shipper’s behalf, or moving the shipper’s owned equipment.

Power only trucking is a capacity solution where the carrier only provides a truck and driver— this power unithauls a trailer that is either leased or owned by a 3PL or shipper.

Power Only Carriers vs. Regular Truckload Carriers (How Are They Different?)

Every carrier can become a power only carrier — it just depends how they use their driver capacity.

Whenever a trucking company supplies a shipper or 3PL with only a truck and a driver (no trailer), they are functioning as a power only carrier.

Power only carriers can haul multiple trailer types:

  • Dry vans
  • Refrigerated trailers
  • Shipping containers

Do you know what a trailer pool is?
Power only trucking solutions use drop pools and leased trailers.
If you are new to these concepts, check out theglossary at the end of this post.

2 Ways Shippers Use Power Only Trucking Solutions

Though each solution looks a little bit different, there are two main ways that 3PLs use power only capacity to add flexibility to shippers’ supply chains.

1. Combining power only capacity with leased trailers

2. Combining power only capacity with the shipper’s trailers

Let’s take a closer look at how each one operates.

Power Only + Trailer Leasing

Combining power only trucking with leased trailers gives shippers the control of an asset carrier (i.e. dropped trailers) and the flexibility, responsiveness and scalability of a 3PL.

How It Works:
  • The 3PL will lease trailers in response to a shipper’s capacity needs.
  • The 3PL will use their large and diverse network to source power only carrier capacity.
  • The 3PL will coordinate with the carrier(s) to drop trailers at the shipper’s facility.
  • The shipper will load at their convenience, coordinating with the 3PL who will source power only capacity to run the drop pool, picking up loaded trailers and delivering (drop or live unloads).

While this might look similar to your average asset-based carrier drop pool, there is a key difference: a 3PL is not limited by the physical assets of a single carrier’s network.

When a shipper surges, a 3PL can easily lease more trailers and source more power only carriers from their network.

Coyote, for instance, can source any carrier from our network of 70,000 to haul a leased trailer.

When volume declines or the project ends, a 3PL can terminate the trailer lease and instantly scale back the power only capacity.

When to Use a Power Only + Leased Trailer Solution

Whenever you need drop trailer capabilities, and flexibility and scalability are your top priorities, a power only + leased trailer solution is worth considering.

Here are some common scenarios:

  • Facility or warehouse moves
  • Peak shipping seasons
  • Just-in-time shipping
  • Weekend surges
  • Special shipping projects
  • Consistent lanes requiring drop trailers

Power Only + Leased Trailer in Action

The best way to understand this unique capacity solution is with an example. Here’s how an apparel retailer worked with Coyote for a power only + leased trailer solution to add flexibility during their busiest shipping season.


The apparel retailer needed a dropped trailer solution to cover 50 loads out of a southern California warehouse for an end-of-year product push.

The catch? To clear warehouse space, they needed to load the product at least two weeks prior to shipping without knowing exactly when or where the product would ship.

Additionally, the shipper needed the trailers on short notice, right when capacity was toughest to source —Q4 peak retail season.

Power Only Solution:

We leveraged our unique access to the UPS network to lease trailers, and sourced power only carriers from our dense network to drop all 50 trailers in less than a week.

What is Power Only Trucking? (& How 3PLs Combine It with Leased Trailers) (2)

The apparel retailer loaded the dropped trailers, then power only carriers shuttled them to a local secured yard for storage until the apparel retailer needed them delivered.

What is Power Only Trucking? (& How 3PLs Combine It with Leased Trailers) (3)

With less than 24 hours’ notice, the apparel retailer told Coyote where the product needed to ship, and we then sourced power only capacity to deliver the loaded trailers to destinations across the country.

What is Power Only Trucking? (& How 3PLs Combine It with Leased Trailers) (4)

Power Only + Private Fleet

Many shippers operate their own private fleet of trucks and trailers. Though they will typically use their fleet drivers to haul their trailers, it’s not always the most efficient or cost-effective option.

3PLs can help shippers supplement their private fleet drivers with power only capacity, filling in the gaps where it makes sense.

Here are some common scenarios where shippers use a power only solution from a 3PL in their private fleet network:

  • Correcting network imbalances
  • Pre-Peak trailer positioning
  • Post-project pool tear downs
  • Integration of new trailers
  • Seasonal volume surges

Why Shippers Use 3PLs for Power Only Trucking

Whether you combine power only trucking with leased trailers, or use it to haul your own equipment, it can add flexibility to your network.

With large, diverse carrier networks and advanced load-matching technology, 3PLs are uniquely positioned to source power only capacity.

  • Flexibility
    Wherever you need to ship, even on short notice, a 3PL can find a power only carrier to haul it.
  • Scalability
    A 3PL is not limited to the physical assets of one carrier network. They can easily scale up capacity (power only and/or leased trailer) and pare down with your needs.
  • Versatility
    Whether you’re rebalancing your equipment network or moving warehouses, a 3PL can build a power only solution that gives you flexible drop capacity.

Are you trying to add more flexible capacity to your network?

Learn 5 ways to manage shipping spikes with 3PL solutions.

Power Only Trucking Glossary: Terms to Know

Though these concepts are not unique to power only trucking, it’s impossible to understand how power only solutions work without knowing these terms.

Drop Trailers:
When a driver unhooks their trailer and leaves it behind at the shipping/receiving location. This allows the customer to load or unload the trailer at their convenience.

Trailer Pools (Drop pools):
When a carrier drops multiple trailers at a customer location. Trailer pools eliminate wait times generally associated with live loading and unloading.

These are common for facilities with consistent volume. Shipping/receiving facilities will often have multiple trailer pools, with each carrier maintaining their own pool of trailer equipment.

When a carrier brings in a trailer (loaded or unloaded) to a shipping/receiving location, drops it, hooks up another trailer (loaded or unloaded) already at the shipping/receiving location, and hauls it out.

Dropping and hooking is how carriers efficiently maintain trailer pools.

Trailer Leasing:
To run efficient drop pools, you need more trailers than trucks, but it doesn’t always make sense to buy them.

Sometimes, during peak season shipping for instance, it’s not cost-effective for a carrier or shipper make a long-term investment in equipment when they only need additional trailer capacity for a few weeks.

Instead, they will rent trailers from large trailer leasing companies. 3PLs also work with trailer leasing companies, combining leased trailers with power only trucking to create flexible shipping solutions.

Back to the top


What is power only trucking? ›

Share. Power Only trucking is a service in which third-party carriers pull Schneider trailers containing a shipper's freight. It's a simple way to increase capacity while still receiving the benefits that come with Schneider's high level of service.

What are three types of power only loads? ›

Common types of power-only loads

Flatbed trailers. Shipping containers. Refrigerated trucks.

Can you make money with power only loads? ›

Yes, power only is profitable.

Owner-operators can also make some good money in power only trucking - they just have to be careful to plan their trips to they have as few deadhead miles as possible, and they need to be prepared to have less-than-ideal trailers since they aren't maintaining the trailers themselves.

What does power only mean on load board? ›

What Is a Power Only Load? Power-only" means that the carrier supplies the semi-tractor plus truck driver (the "power unit"), while the shipper provides the trailer.

How does power only works? ›

Power only trucking is a full truckload capacity solution that occurs when a carrier provides only a driver and a tractor (also known as a “power unit”). In power only trucking, the driver does not bring a trailer, but instead hooks up to and hauls a trailer that is either leased or owned by a 3PL or shipper.

How do you broker power only loads? ›

How do I book power-only loads?
  1. Open the Convoy app and search for loads.
  2. Select power-only as the trailer type.
  3. Book a power-only load.

What are the different types of trucking loads? ›

There are three types of truckload shipment — dry van, flatbed, and refrigerated. During the time of filling the entire trailer, "full truckload" should be selected. This is ideal for large shipments. If the freight does not need the entire space of a truck, it is called LTL.

How many types of logistics loads are there? ›

Light loads: these are loads that do not exceed 5 kg. Medium loads: these types of goods have a minimum weight of 5 kg and maximum of 25 kg per unit load. Heavy loads: in this case, the weight ranges between 25 kg and one ton. Very heavy loads: over one ton.

What are power loads? ›

noun. : the part of the output of an electric power plant used for the operation of motors or heating devices.

What kind of loads make the most money? ›

Flat-bed loads are good-paying loads because they're usually heavier or larger cargo, and the driver often has to help secure and cover the load. Dangerous goods, such as fuel, chemicals, or other unstable cargo, are better-paying as well.

Is power only trucking worth it? ›

If you're just beginning your career in trucking and have limited access to capital, power only can be a good way to get started in the industry. Running power only can help you increase your efficiency as a carrier because you don't have to spend a lot of time matching specific types of loads with equipment.

Who has the best power only program? ›

Quicklook: Best Power Only Load
  • Best For In-app Tools: Truckstop.com- Find Loads.
  • Best For Setting Your Own Rate: uShip – Find Loads.
  • Best For Well Maintained Trailers: Convoy – Find Loads.
  • Best For Experienced Owner Operators: DAT – Find Loads.
  • Best For Maximizing Drive Time: Uber Freight – Find Loads.
Sep 2, 2022

What is the average freight rate per mile? ›

Trucking rates per mile vary based on a number of factors—including gas prices, supply and demand, type of freight, mode, and distance. The latest national averages are: $2.41 per mile for vans. The highest rates are in the Midwest and the lowest in the Northeast.

What is the difference between power only and drop and hook? ›

Yes, drop and hook is the same as power only trucking. Essentially, drop and hook refers to the simple hook-up process that is used when transporting trailers.

How do owner operators get their own loads? ›

If you decide to operate under your own authority, you may use a freight broker to find loads to haul. Freight brokers can connect owner-operators to shippers. They also help determine load rates, times and locations. Using a broker saves owner-operators the work of tracking down their own freight.

What is a truck without a trailer called? ›

In trucking slang, bobtail, bobtail truck, and bobtailing refers to a semi-truck without an attached trailer. Additionally, the Department of Energy calls a straight truck transporting propane gas a bobtail. Typically, most truck drivers do not like to bobtail.

Does Werner do power only loads? ›

Whether you are a carrier that relates more with Juan or Sharla, there are plenty of Werner Power Only opportunities. As a power only carrier, you're able to maintain your own authority and choose which option best suits your drivers' needs. Werner's dedicated opportunities provide consistent origins and destinations.

Can owner-operators book their own loads? ›

CDL A Owner Operators (3334)

Routes & Schedule: Book your own loads and set your own schedule. You book your own loads and negotiate the rates that you are paid. Home Time: Choose your own home time.

What is power only for owner-operators? ›

Power-only trucking is a method for transporting freight where a carrier provides the semi-tractor and truck driver — also called a “power unit” — needed to haul a shipment but not the trailer it's resting on.

How do load brokers make money? ›

Freight brokers make money by charging the shipper a higher rate than the truck costs. This markup is the margin that they use to operate their business and ultimately make money. That margin is generally around 15 percent, though it can fluctuate based on the market.

What type of trailer pays the most? ›

Flatbed drivers earn more per mile than most other trailer types, which helps driver turnover. There are many opportunities for pick-up and delivery each week. Flatbed drivers don't need to back into docks and unload the freight.

What type of trucking is most in demand? ›

Flatbed drivers are some of the most in-demand drivers in the trucking industry today.

What are the 4 types of logistics? ›

The four major types of logistics are: Supply, distribution, sales and reverse logistics.

What are the 4 main types of freight transportation? ›

There are four major types of freight transportation available for shippers to use in the world of freight shipping. The primary ones are by ground (road), rail, ocean, and air.

What are 4 examples of a load for a power source? ›

Electric lamps, air conditioners, motors, resistors etc. are some of the examples of electrical loads.

What is the difference between power and load? ›

Whilst "power" can refer to the power that something is using or generating, "load" and "demand" only ever refer to the power that something is using.

What are the different types of power loads? ›

The Different Types of Electrical Load
  • Resistive Load. Any load that consists of a heating element is generally referred to as a resistive load. ...
  • Inductive Load. ...
  • Capacitive Load. ...
  • Domestic (Residential) Load. ...
  • Commercial Load. ...
  • Industrial Load. ...
  • Municipal Load.

What is the highest paying trucking company? ›

10 Best Paying Trucking Companies
Annual Salary
3.Epes Transport$83,921
4.Acme Truck Line$82,892
7 more rows
Apr 23, 2019

Can trucking make you a millionaire? ›

The trucking industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that rewards very generously those who earn it. So, a trucking company can turn into a tremendous success. And it can make you a Millionaire in just 2 years. Or, if mismanaged, it can become your worst nightmare.

What state pays the most for truck loads? ›


Who has the best lease purchase trucking company? ›

What Are the Best Lease Purchase Trucking Companies? The best lease purchase companies include Roehl Transport, KSM, JB Hunt and Swift Transportation.

How much does Amazon Relay pay owner operators? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $395,500 and as low as $27,000, the majority of Amazon Owner Operator Truck Driver salaries currently range between $78,000 (25th percentile) to $299,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $374,000 annually across the United States.

How much does Amazon Relay pay per mile? ›

In general, Amazon Relay pays $1.21 to $3.09 per mile.

How does Schneider power only work? ›

Power Only refers to the third-party carrier's role of providing only the truck (also known as the “power”) while Schneider provides the trailers that will carry the shipper's freight. Schneider coordinates the required number of third-party carriers and handles contracting their service.

Can you use JB Hunt trailers for other loads? ›

Yes! As long as the load is within J.B. Hunt's power-only network, we want you to keep running. Just check out the Carrier 360 load board, filter by 'Power Only' and book a load to save time and keep driving.

What are drop and hook loads? ›

Drop and hook freight is a straightforward shipping process for trucking companies that involves “dropping” one trailer at a warehouse and “hooking” a new one from the same source. One of those trailers can be empty or they can both be loaded trailers. The key is that the trailers are traded.

What is a good dollar per mile in trucking? ›

The latest data from the National Private Truck Council (NPTC) says the average trucking cost per mile in the U.S. for private fleets is $2.90.
Average Motor Carrier Cost Per Mile 2021 (NPTC)
2021 Cost% of Total
Fuel costs$0.3612%
Equipment and maintenance$0.5720%
Truck insurance$0.114%
7 more rows

Are trucking rates going up in 2023? ›

Less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers have experienced significant increases in base rates and pricing contracts lately, and most are thriving despite inflation, ongoing capacity issues, and rising diesel prices.

What is a good price per mile for trucking? ›

As of July 2021, trucking rates per mile remain steady. Here are the current rates for the most popular freight truck types: Overall average van rates vary from $2.30 – 2.86 per mile. Reefer rates are averaging $3.19 per mile, with the lowest rates being the Northeast at $2.47 per mile.

How much is drop trailer fee? ›

Even though the drop trailer is leaving your trailer at a facility, it can cause inconveniences along the way when a stay period is unexpected. The charge for this varies, usually starting at $250 and can go all the way up to $500.

What is the difference between a live load and a drop and hook? ›

Drop and hook vs.

In addition, drop and hooks typically don't need to be scheduled as tightly since they don't require time at the loading dock or a team ready to load or unload. Live loads must fit within a scheduling window to ensure there is space and labor available.

How much does it cost for the DAT load board? ›

Power Select runs at $180/mo. This includes the complete DAT load board, real-time result filters, market analytics, and more. Power Office runs at $295/mo, and includes all the tools from Power Select, plus LaneMakers, freight rates, and other features. How do I sign up for Power?

What is deadhead trucking? ›

Deadhead refers to anytime a trucker is hauling an empty trailer. Since finding loads isn't always easy, deadheading is often necessary to get to the next load.

What are the insurance requirements for DAT load board? ›

Insurance requirements to register and book loads with the DAT load board: Primary auto liability: $1,000,000 in primary liability coverage is required to cover damage or injury done in case of an accident where you are at fault. Many shippers or brokers require $1 million in primary liability coverage.

Can you get loads without authority? ›

Who owns the operational authority is the most significant difference between the two. In order to carry products in the United States, every carrier company must get authority. Owner-operators have their authority, allowing anybody in their company to deliver freight effectively and lawfully.

What is a ghost load in trucking? ›

Example: A shipper or broker posts a load on multiple load boards and then the load is covered by a carrier. The load is removed from one of the load boards, but not necessarily all the load boards. In this example, the covered load is now a ghost load, yet dozens of companies don't know it yet.

What is the most profitable type of trucking? ›

9 Highest Paying Trucking Jobs
  • Ice Road Drivers. ...
  • Oversized Load. Salary: $71,442 per year. ...
  • Specialty Vehicle Haulers. Salary: $82,099. ...
  • Team Drivers. Salary: $96,573. ...
  • Private Fleet. Salary: $95,999 - $110,000 per year. ...
  • Mining Industry Drivers. Salary: $58,862. ...
  • Liquids / Tanker. Salary: $88,024. ...
  • Hazmat Drivers. Salary: $65,466.

Can one person own two trucking companies? ›

Make sure the two businesses are separate. If you have two companies but operate both as a sole proprietor, you may not be able to get a second number. You should have a unique tax ID for each company that needs a DOT number. That way, there won't be any overlap when you apply for the second one.

Can Owner Operators book their own loads? ›

CDL A Owner Operators (3334)

Routes & Schedule: Book your own loads and set your own schedule. You book your own loads and negotiate the rates that you are paid. Home Time: Choose your own home time.

Is it hard to get loads with new authority? ›

One of the biggest challenges for any new trucking company with a brand new motor carrier authority is finding loads. Most new trucking authorities have to use brokers to either find all their loads or to find backhauls.

What is a blind load in trucking? ›

Simply put, a blind shipment is an LTL shipment in which the identity and address of the shipper or consignee (or both) are hidden from the other party.

What do truckers do with rejected loads? ›

As soon as the load is rejected, instruct your driver to visually inspect the cargo, take pictures, and then immediately re-seal the trailer. The shipping parties may assert that the lack of a seal has jeopardized the chain of custody and may refuse the load on this basis alone.

What is a sleeper creeper trucking? ›

Lot lizard (or sleeper creeper) — a sex worker that solicits drivers at a truck stop. Meat wagon — an ambulance. Motion lotion — diesel fuel.


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