The First Step to Get into the Last Mile Action

Choose the right equipment when charting a new course

“Pivot” was a fun pandemic business buzzword you likely heard one too many times, but the reality is those shifts needed to happen then and continue to happen today. Last mile and regional delivery, for example, is an application that continues to grow. For transportation companies looking for opportunities, pivoting toward these shorter, more frequent hauls can be profitable. But saying it is one thing—how do you actually shift your business?

Let’s start with the equipment. After all, you need the right tools for your new trade. That means spec’ing trailers and truck bodies to match your loads and duty cycles. And there are a lot of factors fleets should consider when moving through that auditing process. “Specs that support ease of entering and exiting the trailer such as rear or side liftgates, walk ramps, platforms, steps, and side doors are great examples of features last mile delivery personnel could find beneficial,” said Barry Personett, vice president, product and sales engineering, Great Dane. Keep in mind that with last mile and regional deliveries, your drivers are in and out of the cab much more than on long-haul routes. Ease of access to the load is a theme that continues with Personett’s additional equipment advice that includes interior and exterior work lights, shorter vehicle heights and lengths, and liftgate battery charge options to maintain functionality.

“If loads are heavy enough to require tandem suspensions and the operation experiences descending loads throughout the day, we can offer lift axles to improve fuel efficiency, tire wear, and lower tolls,” Personett noted.

Moving into a new application can mean completely re-thinking your spec’ing strategy. If you’re a tractor-trailer operation, last mile delivery can benefit from a straight truck and truck body spec, and not just in operational benefits like maneuverability.

“Class 6 or below [below 26,001 lbs. GVWR] straight trucks do not require a commercial driver’s license to operate,” Personett said. “This opens the opportunity to hire from a vastly larger pool of potential drivers, giving companies the opportunity to train drivers who show a desire to advance their career and drive larger vehicles.”

This is especially crucial as the driver shortage continues to impact the industry. Driver-related issues dominated the “Top Industry Issues” report recently released by the American Transportation Research Institute, a trucking industry not-for-profit research organization.

Once you get drivers in the seats, you need to keep them, as well as your load, safe and secure. That means back-up alarms and cameras as well as the latest advanced driver assistance systems. To keep your loads secure, you’ll want to consider interior cargo retainment and logistics tracks, as well as front top rail protection in the corners to protect against tree limb strikes.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice when pivoting into a new application is to lean on your partners. Suppliers and solutions providers who you have turned to in your previous applications can likely help you in your new endeavors. Talk with them, tell them your goals and you’ll quickly move past the pivoting stage and into true profitable productivity.

Last Mile Tips

Take advantage of technology

“Customers in the final mile are demanding more and more transparency and specificity when it comes to delivery times. Being able to actively monitor and accurately track route progress is important. Products like FleetPulse help keep customer satisfaction high,” said Justin Garver, Fleet Pulse sales manager, Great Dane.

Important maintenance to keep in mind

“For the most part, the impact will be centered around brakes and tires as those will require attention sooner and more often due to the stop-and-go nature of the operation,” said Barry Personett, vice president, product and sales engineering, Great Dane.

Also, keep a lookout for impact damages to the truck or trailer body, and put roll door maintenance on your preventative maintenance checklist.

Keep foods cool with the right spec

Food transportation is a large segment of last mile delivery, and with that comes the unique opportunity for multi-temperature trailers and truck bodies.

In the trailer realm, Great Dane’s Everest reefer trailers offer as many as three temperature-controlled compartments and an ambient section for maximum refrigerated flexibility. When it comes to truck bodies, the Great Dane Alpine R-Series offers a lighter weight, reach-in truck body option that touts thermal efficiency, durability, and multi-temp capabilities.

Food safety is paramount, and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act has enacted regulations to ensure that high transportations standards are met. Not to mention that when supply chains are stretched thin, you want to deliver every load to your customer and that means keeping perishable goods at the right temperatures, every time.