Ryder System Inc. said today it has unveiled a technology initiative to match businesses needing commercial vehicle capacity with fleet owners and operators sitting with idle assets, the first time asset owners have been given the chance to generate revenue from their underutilized equipment within a peer-to-peer structure.
The initiative, "COOP by Ryder," follows the same general model as Airbnb, the popular platform where property owners list space for rent to a global marketplace of prospective customers. In Ryder's case, an asset owner lists what equipment is available and the time frame of the proposed rental. Businesses looking for capacity would then contact the owner to arrange a transaction and, if consummated, pick up the assets. The parties would negotiate pricing terms, though Ryder would recommend appropriate pricing based on the specifics of the transaction. The platform would be open to all types of equipment, from vans to 53-foot tractor-trailers to just trailers.
The Miami-based rental, leasing, and logistics giant would vet the assets to ensure compliance with federal and state laws, as well as insurance requirements for operating. Each transaction would be covered by physical damage insurance and a $1 million liability policy. The asset owners would get paid immediately upon return of the asset. Ryder would charge a fee for each transaction.
The parties would be responsible for finding drivers to operate the vehicles. However, Ryder executives hinted today that the company might eventually expand into driver recruitment based on feedback from the 100 customers that are participating in the launch, which concludes at the end of March. The program began a 90-day pilot at the start of 2018 in Atlanta. It will go into full rollout mode there starting next week and will expand into as-yet-unspecified U.S. markets during 2019, Ryder said.
For any number of reasons, one-quarter of the more than 8 million commercial vehicles in the U.S. sit idle for more than a day a week, excluding weekends, according to Ryder data. Yet until now, there has been no tool available for asset owners to monetize their unused equipment, the company said. "Seasonal and cyclical truck shortages, coupled with fleets' excess and unused capacity, demonstrates the benefit of having a technology like COOP available in the marketplace," Robert Sanchez, Ryder's chairman and CEO, said in a statement announcing the program.
The vast market for idle assets goes beyond what any one company can manage, said Rich Mohr, Ryder's vice president and global product manager. Ryder manages a fleet of 240,600 commercial vehicles in its three divisions: Fleet Management Solutions, Supply Chain Solutions, and Dedicated Transportation Solutions. The new program will have no impact on Ryder's core businesses, according to Mohr.
The initiative hits the market at a time of a severe—and in the views of some, unprecedented—tightening of available truck capacity and driver labor. The supply shortfall has sent freight rates spiraling upward as fleets try to pass on the higher costs of recruiting and retaining drivers. According to a survey of more than 100,000 drivers released today by the trade group American Trucking Associations (ATA), the median salary for a truckload driver working a nationwide, irregular route was more than $53,000, a $7,000 increase from ATA's last survey, which covered annual pay for 2013. The typical private fleet driver reported an 18-percent increase in pay over the same period, to $86,000 a year from $73,000, the survey found.
Soaring freight rates may crimp the income statements of some big companies. Minneapolis-based food giant General Mills Inc., a huge truck user, last week reported weaker-than-expected fiscal third-quarter results, and blamed the under-performance in part on freight cost increases the likes of which the company hasn't seen in many years.
The driver shortage has primarily affected the longer-haul segment of the market, not the shorter-haul, final-mile category where most of these transactions would take place, Mohr said. The typical equipment rental period is about 8 days, and rental cycles rarely, if ever, go beyond 30 days. Distances traveled don't usually exceed 100 miles per day. Operators utilizing equipment in such a manner can be excluded from complying with driver hours-of-service requirements and, by extension, the mandate to have an electronic logging device (ELD) in the cab. That said, asset renters would be just as likely to bring an ELD with them in the form of an app loaded on their smartphone, according to Mohr.
Although Mohr acknowledged that the "timing couldn't be better" for Ryder to roll out the program, he said its development was not influenced by the current macro situation. Such initiatives will be needed for the trucking supply chain to manage through a multi-year environment of rising volumes and fewer drivers available to haul them, he said. Current driver turnover rates of close to 100 percent a year are "unsustainable," he said.