Empty runs


Empty Runs, also known as deadheading or empty miles, refer to the movement of a freight vehicle, such as a truck or cargo container, without carrying any cargo. This situation typically occurs when a vehicle has completed a delivery and must return to its point of origin, or travel to another location to pick up a new load. Empty runs represent inefficiencies in the transportation system, as they consume time, fuel, and resources without generating revenue. The logistics and transportation industry continually seeks ways to reduce empty runs to improve overall efficiency, reduce costs, and minimize environmental impact.

— sennder Team


Carriers face decreased profitability and efficiency due to the added costs of empty runs without revenue generation. Shippers might encounter higher transportation costs and less availability of freight capacity, as vehicles are occupied in non-profitable travels.
Efforts to decrease empty runs include: Advanced route optimization: Leveraging sophisticated software for efficient route planning. Dynamic load matching: Using digital platforms to connect carriers with suitable return loads in real time. Collaborative logistics: Partnering with other carriers or logistics firms to share resources and optimize fleet use. Technology integration: Employing IoT, AI, and other technologies for better fleet management and load allocation.
The consequences of empty runs include: -Higher fuel consumption: Vehicles consume fuel even when empty, increasing overall fuel expenses. -Greater greenhouse gas emissions: Fuel consumption without cargo transport contributes to more emissions. -Reduced efficiency: These runs are a waste of resources and time, diminishing transport system efficiency. -Increased transportation costs: Costs incurred from empty runs can lead to higher charges for shippers and customers.
Several factors contribute to empty runs, including: -Imbalanced supply and demand: Disparities in freight demand across regions often result in vehicles returning empty. -Inefficient route planning: Poorly planned routes can lead to unnecessary travel without cargo. -Limited backhaul opportunities: A scarcity of return loads often leads to vehicles traveling empty. -Market dynamics: Changing market conditions can unexpectedly create situations where vehicles must travel without cargo.

Example or usage in road freight logistics:

A logistics company combats the inefficiency of empty runs by implementing advanced route optimization tools and participating in a digital freight platform for better load matching. It also forms partnerships for resource sharing and fleet optimization. These actions reduce empty runs, leading to enhanced operational efficiency, lower costs, and reduced environmental impact.