What Is Power-Only Trucking?

Power-Only Trucking

Power-only trucking is a shipping strategy that enables shippers to separate the carrier from the trailer. In other words, with power-only trucking, the shipper is the one that supplies the trailer, not the carrier. By approaching it in such a way, shippers and 3PLs enjoy many unique benefits that cannot be realized through more traditional shipping methods. 

In this article, we will take a look at the topic of power-only trucking and demonstrate how the use of this technique can help shippers during a time when they need to leverage every single advantage available to them.


Power-Only Trucking Explained

So, what does power-only trucking look like in practice?

This method can actually be utilized in a few different ways. However, the most common example of power-only trucking is when a shipper or logistics company recruits a carrier only for their driver and truck. In these cases, the carrier does not supply the trailer. Rather, the logistics company themselves (or the shipper) uses one that they’ve leased from elsewhere or that they own themselves.

The trailers themselves can be anything from flatbed trailers to big freight shipping containers, depending on the carrier. No matter what type of trailer is being utilized, if it is not owned by the carrier, this is what is considered to be a power-only trucking strategy.

Also read: With Container Shipping Prices Still Rising, How can you Negotiate the Best Rates?


Why Use Power-Only Trucking?

There are many benefits of power only trucking. In this section, we’ll review some of the top perks inherent with this particular method of shipping. 


Last-Minute Changes

Issues can sometimes arise in the blink of an eye. At zero hour, you may need to make a shipment that you weren’t anticipating. Often, power-only trucking enables you to secure a truck and driver whenever you need them, as long as you have access to a trailer.

This is true regardless of how far your shipment needs to travel.


Scaling Up or Scaling Down

When employing a traditional trucking method, you may be limited by what your carrier can handle. With power-only trucking, you can work with a group of carriers to ensure that you always have exactly what you need at any given time.

Whether you’re in a busy season or a slow period, power-only trucking strategies can keep your operations running smoothly.


Flexible Options

No matter what your current needs are, a power-only strategy offers a flexible solution. 

You can generally, fairly easily, overcome any hurdles you may encounter with power-only trucking. This option opens up a whole new network for you by breaking a seemingly connected pair (truck and trailer) into their component parts. Separating these components is useful as it allows you to pinpoint and replace or otherwise switch out whatever element is not working out as intended.

Furthermore, power-only trucks are up to the task of hauling all sorts of different trailers and loads. For instance, these trucks can haul flatbeds, temperature-controlled trailers, and many other different types of equipment. 

Contrast this with a traditional carrier, which can only haul certain types of trailers. 

Best of all, any carrier can choose to enter the power-only arena. This largely depends on the carrier’s strategy and whether or not they want to devote their manpower towards this cause. 


Potential Drawbacks to Power-Only Trucking Strategy

As with any proposed solution, there are always a couple of trade-offs to consider. Here are two of the trade-offs associated with power-only trucking.


Equipment Maintenance

For those who own the trailer in question, the issue of maintaining said equipment is extremely important. It’s up to the shipper to ensure that the trailer is compliant with all state and federal regulations as well as in good shape for shipping.

On the other hand, if you’re leasing the trailer, you can offset this liability and upkeep issue.


Drivers’ Preferences

Some drivers do not always prefer to work in a power-only capacity. While this is not always the case, these individuals may be leery of working with someone else’s trailer and equipment. They need to be sure that all of the gear is safe and legal for the road so that they don’t suffer any unfortunate outcomes.

By and large, however, this issue can be overcome when shippers develop a good reputation in the field and follow all proper protocols.


When to Consider Power-Only Trucking

There are times when a power-only solution will be ideal. For example, during peak shipping times, such as the holidays, you may find that this option works well for your needs. Power-only shipping during peak season allows you to have more flexibility and to access unique solutions for your shipping requirements. 

Additionally, many shippers will switch to a power-only model when they are making a move to a new facility. During these tricky times, it’s key to have the ability to use your own equipment while still relying on carriers for the operation of the truck.

Last but not least, if you use a just-in-time shipping model, power-only trucking may work well for you. For these companies, having the ability to quickly pivot and recruit a truck is important. You will be able to meet your clients’ needs much more easily with this extremely versatile power-only method. 



Power-only trucking offers a unique solution to the issues encountered by many shippers in today’s market. Whether you are looking for an option that will meet your current scaling needs or just one that offers more flexibility, power-only trucking bears consideration. 

If you own your equipment, you can dive into this strategy right now. However, if you don’t own trailers or aren’t sure how to go about leasing them, a third-party logistics provider can make this process a breeze for you. They will handle all of the negotiations and make sure that you are set up for maximal success.

Looking to utilize new supply chain strategies or shipping models for your next shipment? Let the team at Redwood show you how you can better manage and optimize your shipping strategies today. Connect with us.