Improving Driver Efficiency with MIT

Drivers, Resource, Safety, Technology and Innovation

In a perfect world, drivers and carriers would be able to take advantage of every minute of their hours-of-service clocks. They’d enjoy day after day of clear skies, unclogged roads, and smooth sailing at pick-up and drop-off appointments.

Racking up miles daily shouldn’t be such a hassle. But the trouble is that moving freight from “Point A” to “Point B” isn’t that simple. A lot can happen while out on the road. Delays can occur at shippers and receivers as well. Keeping the wheels rolling requires a special kind of choreography between shippers and carriers. It also necessitates the ability to gather and analyze the right data. Fortunately, data has never been more abundant than it is today.

As part of our ongoing Supply Chain Exchange partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, we sponsored a capstone project for graduate students in MIT’s Masters in Supply Chain Management Program. These research projects are a great opportunity for graduate students to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and put it into practice solving real-world problems.

Here’s the real-world problem we gave them: help us understand the most common determinants of dwell at shipper and receiver sites. For two semesters, our project team of two graduate students utilized our ELD and tractor GPS data to isolate the factors contributing to dwell. They explored possible dimensions ranging from a shipper or receiver’s proximity to major highway bottlenecks to the number of times a given driver has visited the same site. They even analyzed whether a truck driver’s years of experience behind the wheel is a factor in dwell time.

After several months of cleaning, structuring, and analyzing the data, they presented their findings at a day-long virtual research summit broadcast from the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We’re impressed with how much they’ve learned about the trucking industry throughout this entire process. Moreover, we’re thrilled with what we’ve learned from their analysis.

Here are two quick revelations from their research that we’ll dig into with our shippers and other stakeholders in the near future:


  • The conventional assumption that a drop-and-hook load takes an average of 45 minutes might be a bit ambitious. On most occasions, one hour is a more reasonable estimate.


  • The more a given driver visits a shipper or receiver location, the less likely they’ll experience dwell at that site. The relationship between the number of visits and the probability of dwell becomes particularly powerful after ten visits.


Those are just a few of the takeaways from the capstone project.  We’re looking forward to incorporating what we’ve learned into how we collaborate with shippers and move freight over the coming months.


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