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What is backhauling?

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

Backhauling in trucking (sometimes also referred to as “backloading”) means planning for roundtrip hauls, mapping out routes to ensure goods are transported on every leg of a truck’s journey. This increases vehicle and driver utilization improves productivity and eliminates additional trips, cutting down on unnecessary fuel use. 


Table of Contents

  1. Backhauling improves fleet operations
  2. Differences between internal and external backhauling
  3. Backhauling in the moving industry
  4. Benefits of backhauling
  5. Conclusion


Backhauling improves fleet operations

As a fleet owner, the last thing you want is your trucks driving around empty, burning costly fuel transporting just your drivers on the roads when they could be moving more goods. That’s why you should consider backhauling, a practice in which a truck picks up an additional load once a haul is completed and transports it back to a location near or at the truck’s initial starting point. Essentially, it involves carefully planning routes so trucks aren’t empty on return trips, maximizing productivity on the road. GPS fleet tracking tools are invaluable for fleet managers looking to implement backhauling. 

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Differences between internal and external backhauling

Internal backhauling refers to moving a company’s own goods or products on a return trip. For example, an ice cream company might leave its factory with several gallons of ice cream to deliver to a grocery store, then pick up ingredients like milk and eggs near the store to transport back to the factory.

Most fleets, however, do external backhauling, which is transporting third-party freight to and from the original delivery point. It involves communicating regularly with other carriers who are known to operate in the same “lanes” as well as with brokers, who schedule with other carriers to plan the moving of goods ahead of dispatching and delivery. Most (if not all) fleets who backhaul externally are for-hire transportation companies, but there’s been a rise lately in private fleets also doing this to help increase revenue and lower operating costs.

Backhauling in the moving industry

While some moving companies plan round-trips to avoid empty vehicles, backhauling in the moving industry specifically refers to multiple customers sharing space in a moving truck for a discounted price. It only makes sense if the customers are moving to a similar area and don’t have much furniture to transport, but it’s a widespread practice in the industry and helps moving companies provide more efficient service to their customers while saving fuel and maximizing employee utilization.

Benefits of backhauling

Backhauling requires more planning than sending trucks out to complete one haul at a time, but the benefits add up. Planning efficient loads prevents wasted fuel, which translates to cost savings and minimizes environmental damage. It also improves operational efficiency from maximizing equipment and labor utilization, which in turn means improved productivity and boosted revenue.

It also leads to better customer satisfaction by predicting precise ETAs and make on-time deliveries. When Pointdirect Transport, Inc., started using Teletrac Navman’s fleet management software to plan routes, they noticed an immediate improvement in being able to provide accurate ETAs, which led to shippers giving them more freight and jobs. GPS tracking also lets them accept jobs faster from shippers thanks to better insight into drivers’ locations and available hours. It has been key to their ability to grow the business over 20% every year, as it has greatly improved customer service. See how you can grow your fleet business and increase productivity with our software.


Commercial motor vehicles carrying cargo take many forms, from tractor-trailer combinations to flatbeds. The Department of Transportation has established guidelines and rules dictating how the load is to be distributed and the proper methods for securing it in place, to prevent dangerous load shifting, vehicle overturning or accidental dumping or spillage.