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Understanding Freight Capacity Crunch

E-Guide: Understanding Freight Carrier Capacity

Stay ahead of shipping headaches by learning about the main factors that affect freight carrier capacity.
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Top 6 Factors That Impact Freight Capacity

When your freight is ready to ship, you need to get it out the door right away. There isn't room for delay — especially when customers expect shipments to arrive on time.

But if carrier capacity is constrained, delayed shipments and increased rates cause frustration for you and your customers.

Top Factors That Impact Freight Capacity

1. Truck driver availability

Nearly 1 out of 4 truck drivers will reach retirement age in the next 10 years, according to CCJ Digital. This, paired with a high industry turnover rate, can make it difficult for carriers to replace drivers. In fact, the driver shortage will remain close to its historical high at nearly 78,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations' Driver Shortage Update 2022. And if there aren't enough drivers to keep up with current freight demand, capacity constraints will follow.

2. Market conditions and supply chain performance

By the end of 2023, 1 in 5 retail sales will be made online, and retail overall is predicted to grow 4.8%, according to a Shopify report. Shipping volumes increase as more product is moved across the country via freight transportation — causing a rise in demand for shipping services and truck space.

3. Number of trucks

As new trucks are manufactured and purchased (typically in times of economic growth), freight carrier capacity increases and rates remain steady. However, economic decline can lead to carrier closures and fewer new purchases — meaning less trucks on the road.

4. Government regulations

Regulations like the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate — which effectively restricted the number of hours a driver can work per day — can put constraints on freight carrier capacity. This increases a shipment's time in transit while decreasing the number of trucks available at any given time.

5. Severe weather

Extreme weather and large-scale natural disasters can have a huge effect on freight carrier capacity. These events limit safe access to shipping routes and require necessities to be shipped to affected areas (often causing delays for lower-priority shipments).

6. Seasonality of the U.S. freight market

Certain times (typically near the beginning of the year) see less demand for shipping services, while others (such as the spring produce season, end-of-year holiday season and at the end of quarters) rise to peak shipping volume. Peak freight months include March, May, August, October, November and December.

Need help understanding freight capacity concerns?

Carrier capacity may fluctuate, which is why partnering with a third-party logistics company like Unishippers can help. When you request a freight quote from Unishippers, we'll design a customized shipping plan to meet the unique needs of your business and budget. Contact Unishippers today for a freight quote.