Walmart has jumped into the for-hire trucking business with a decision to offer the backhaul capacity of its 11,000 private and dedicated trucks to the general marketplace.
The time is right for this initiative, says Dave Ratliff, director of inbound fleet logistics, because the recent recession took out a lot of truck capacity that is not likely to return. Additionally, the program will remove trucks from the road, reduce empty miles and provide Walmart with a new revenue stream.
"A lot of shippers out there today are trying to find new and innovative ways to reduce costs and add value to their supply chain," Ratliff says. "We are in major markets and other markets on a daily basis delivering to our stores, so our fleet is almost guaranteed capacity that shippers can plan on and plan their business around."
The Walmart fleet is attractive to shippers not only for its size and scope, Ratliff says. "We are extremely proud of our safety record and of the fact that we have less than a 5 percent turnover in our drivers each year. That says a lot about our dependability, and we feel that if the pricing is competitive, safety and sustainability are issues that will favor us in the marketplace."
This initiative supports sustainability because it eliminates empty miles and takes trucks off the road, Ratliff says. In the first year that this program has been in effect, Walmart has cut more than three million empty miles from its operations. "As one example, for loads moving out of south Texas into central Texas, we were running more than 66,000 empty miles in the first quarter of last year," he says. "By the end of the third quarter we had reduced that to fewer than 8,000 empty miles."
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