ArcBest Launches Technology to Speed ​​Up Freight Loading

The trucking company ArcBest corp.

is expanding its logistics services with new technology that allows warehouse workers to load and unload truck trailers quickly, addressing one of the biggest pain points for logistics operators.

The cargo handling system, called Vaux, is a steel-and-aluminum racking system that sits under and around the cargo inside the trailer beds. Warehouse workers can hitch a forklift to the Vaux platform to push cargo onto a trailer or pull cargo in one motion, instead of moving pallets one by one.

ArcBest says loading or unloading a truck using Vaux takes less than five minutes, compared to the traditional process that the company says takes 45 minutes. The technology has big implications for truckers, who often have to wait more than an hour for trailers to be unloaded before they can pick up or drop off cargo.

“What our customers are saying is that they are really under pressure,” said ArcBest Chief Executive Judy McReynolds. “They want to deal with the bottlenecks and inefficiencies that exist within their distribution facilities. They also see a greater efficiency to be gained from turning the trailer in their yards and eliminating congestion in the yard.

ArcBest’s Vaux platform, pictured in Fort Smith, Ark.



Fort Smith, Ark.-based ArcBest. provides truckload services as well as less truckload options that combine shipments from multiple shippers into one trailer. The publicly traded company has added more logistics services to its offerings in recent years.

Vaux is designed to handle the challenges of loading and unloading LTL cargo, but it also benefits truckloads, Ms. McReynolds. Using Vaux for LTL shipments, for example, reduces the time spent unloading and reloading shipments to remove products that might otherwise be inside a trailer, he said.

Vaux also has software for tracking items in transit, giving shippers visibility into the location of their cargo. The racking system has cellular service and a Global Positioning System tracker. The bar codes on the pallets are scanned as they are loaded so the software can track the pallets using their location in the racking system.

Truck drivers often spend a lot of time, known as dwell time, waiting at warehouses to unload cargo before moving on to their next stop. The average dwell time will be 1 hour and 54 minutes per stop by 2021, according to the American Transportation Research Institute, a trucking industry group.

That time is deducted from the hours a truck is legally allowed to drive each day, known as service hours. Federal regulations limit most commercial truck drivers to 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour workday.

Decreasing lodging is one of the biggest challenges facing logistics operators, especially truckloads, said Chris Caplice, executive director of the Center for Transportation and Logistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“That is probably the biggest problem with the truck load because the excessive dwell time means that the driver is not paid, it leads to a higher turnover of the driver, it just destroys the system because it causes a ripple effect,” he said. . “If I’m two, three hours late unloading, that means the next load will be two to three hours late, and you’ll be delayed in service hours.”

Polaris Inc.,

which makes powersports equipment including snowmobiles, is one of the companies testing Vaux. In tests at a warehouse in South Dakota, Polaris found that the system allowed loading more cargo per truck because the racking could be arranged to fit different package sizes and shapes and to stack things. The system also helps Polaris reduce the amount of product that breaks as it is moved to trucks.

“We ship a lot of glass windshields and doors and if you put that pallet in the back of a truck, every pallet that gets loaded is going to hit that thing or get carried around,” said Paul Eickhoff, vice president of global parts, apparel and accessories distribution of Polaris based in Medina, Minn.

ArcBest reported record revenue last year of $5.3 billion, up from $4 billion in 2021. Rival trucking company TFI International Inc.

recently disclosed that it has acquired a 4% stake in ArcBest, prompting speculation that TFI is looking to buy ArcBest.

Write to Liz Young at

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