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Business Process Management Journal

Truck-sharing challenges for hinterland trucking companies: A case of the empty

container truck trips problem
Samsul Islam Tava Olsen

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Samsul Islam Tava Olsen , (2014),"Truck-sharing challenges for hinterland trucking companies", Business
Process Management Journal, Vol. 20 Iss 2 pp. 290 - 334
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Samsul Islam, Tava Olsen, M. Daud Ahmed, (2013),"Reengineering the seaport container truck hauling
process: Reducing empty slot trips for transport capacity improvement", Business Process Management
Journal, Vol. 19 Iss 5 pp. 752-782
Kant Rao, Richard R. Young, (1992),"Increased Weight Limits and Transloading: The Impact of Higher
Truck Weight Limits on the Inland Movement of Ocean Containers in the US", International Journal of
Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 22 Iss 7 pp. 25-34
DAVID ROBINSON, (1989),"US LOGISTICS: A LA MODE", Logistics World, Vol. 2 Iss 3 pp. 133-135

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Truck-sharing challenges for

hinterland trucking companies
A case of the empty container
truck trips problem


Samsul Islam and Tava Olsen

Downloaded by Universitat Politecnica de Valencia At 08:35 13 October 2014 (PT)

Received 28 March 2013

Revised 3 June 2013
Accepted 16 July 2013

Information Systems and Operations Management,

The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Purpose This study aims to explore the challenges of truck-sharing and effective ways of dealing
with those in achieving supply chain collaboration and collaboration in transportation management
(e.g. transport collaboration) for transport capacity expansion, and reducing carbon emission and
traffic congestion for integrating environmental and social sustainability issues. This paper also
reveals insights into successful shared-transportation and a reduction in empty trips.
Design/methodology/approach This exploratory qualitative study was conducted by means of
interviewing road carriers from the container transportation industry.
Findings In a truck-sharing initiative, technical issues (e.g. carrying capacity) arise, some of which
involve the container truck and some involving constraints that cannot be controlled, such as driving
restrictions, seaport operating hours, and the presence of the large number of container categories
pertaining to the industry. Therefore, a significant amount of structural empty running may always
prevail. It should also be noted that some, seemingly vital, constraints can actually be changed,
treated, or modified for better truck-sharing outcomes, such as building a foundation of trust and
establishing coordination among road carriers.
Practical implications A probable solution to the problem of increasing hinterland transport
capacity is to make appropriate use of the huge number of idle truck slots that exist; this could be
achieved by encouraging the acceptance of the challenges of truck-sharing realistically and suggesting
an approach to handling them.
Originality/value To broaden its appeal, truck-sharing initiatives must be able to overcome challenges
by combining theoretical insight with an understanding of the practical aspects of such an endeavor. This
original research fosters knowledge that is unique and which also has real-life applications in maritime
logistics studies and supply chain literature for both port authorities and container road carriers.
Keywords Supply chain management, Environmental sustainability, Empty trips,
Hinterland coordination, Truck-sharing, Social sustainability, Supply chain collaboration,
Vehicle routing problem with backhauls, Carbon emission, Traffic congestion,
Transport capacity shortage, Collaborative transport
Paper type Research paper

Business Process Management

Vol. 20 No. 2, 2014
pp. 290-334
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/BPMJ-03-2013-0042

From a micro-level perspective, ports have been used as crossing points between
countries and trade with the rest of the world since ancient times (Haynes et al., 1997);
however, from a different perspective, in a broader sense, these days a seaport is
The authors would like to thank Executive Officer Nicola Tapper of National Road Carriers
(New Zealands leading transport association) for her contribution and help in this research. The
authors would also like to thank Dr M. Daud Ahmed for his comments and suggestions.

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considered as an important part of the supply chain (Heaver, 2002; Bichou and Gray,
2005; Tongzon and Heng, 2005; Wang and Cullinane, 2006; Panayides and Song, 2008,
2009). To indicate the importance of performing that role properly in a cluster of
organizations within the supply chain, Carbone and De Martino (2003) have argued that
the possible roles of a port in a supply chain depend on a variety of factors including,
among other things, having sufficient facilities and hinterland connections as part of the
transport system. A ports hinterland was defined by van Klink and van den Berg (1998)
as, the interior region served by the port. The access to a ports hinterland can be an
influence in enhancing its competitiveness and profitability (Notteboom, 1997). The
privileges of sufficient access can be assured through the improvement of the quality of
hinterland transport services (Langen and Chouly, 2004), although the costs of hinterland
transport services are usually five to 30 times higher than those of maritime transport
(depending on the selection of hinterland transport mode) (Notteboom, 2009). In order to
ensure a smooth flow of containers, most transport services for connecting the hinterland
with its markets are provided by a combination of road, rail and barge. Barge and rail
transportation are not popular among port users; for example, the Port of Rotterdams
current modal split for hinterland container transport is about 30 per cent barge,
10 per cent rail and 60 per cent truck (Pielage et al., 2007). Similarly, according to the
European Union Road Federation (2008), during the period 1996-2006 the European
hinterland market share for road transportation increased by around 5 per cent
(this represents highest market share of 76 per cent) and the demand for rail decreased
by about 4 per cent. This example of truck transportation dominating hinterland
transport modes is true for many ports. Along the same lines as the previous one, truck
transportation has received much greater attention in recent times because of the
continuous growth occurring in the containerized trade, the introduction of bigger ships
and the rising level of port competitiveness (Moura et al., 2002; Iannone, 2012).
All these and other issues, collectively or individually, have resulted in a
system-wide capacity shortage (Paul and Maloni, 2010); such issues foster congestion,
increased transit time and the cost of cargo handling (Islam and Olsen, 2011). Capacity
problems can be solved by structural mechanisms, leading to facility expansion
(McCalla, 1999), and non-structural mechanisms, leading to improved utilization of
existing facilities (Dekker, 2005). Structural mechanisms to increase seaport capacity
require huge investment and effort (Pellegram, 2001). On the other hand, Roso et al.
(2009) have suggested that a non-structural mechanism to increase seaport capacity is
improving productivity by the use of advanced technology (Ballis et al., 1997) or work
organization (Paixao and Marlow, 2003). Similarly, business process re-engineering
(BPR) can also help to increase additional seaport capacity (e.g. transport capacity in
particular) (Islam et al., 2013).
Because of the evolving system-wide capacity shortage around major seaports of
the world, the access and quality of hinterland transport services are more important
than before. The quality of hinterland access depends on the co-ordination of many
actors, such as forwarders, transport operators, and port authorities (Langen and
Chouly, 2004). Such coordination problems (especially, lack of horizontal coordination)
appear in port-related transport services, resulting in underutilization of assets
(Van Der Horst and De Langen, 2008), inefficient operations, and revenue losses.
The problem of underutilization of assets may occur if the available slots of a container
truck are not fully used during import- or export-related transportation.




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The underutilization of a slot capacity (i.e. the number of empty or non-empty

containers a truck can carry) of a container truck can be termed the empty trips
problem (Islam et al., 2013). The empty trips problem is the most noticeable form of
vehicle underutilization (McKinnon, 2000).
Examples of empty trips are evident in leading seaports around the world and the
avoidance of such trips may represent an opportunity to increase seaport transport
capacity using a non-structural mechanism without the necessity for substantial
financial investment or long-term planning. The extent of the empty trips problem can
be seen in the example of the Ports of Auckland (POAL), where only 20-30 per cent of
the trucks visiting the port carry a full capacity load (POAL, 2008). This means that
between 70 and 80 per cent of the trucks visiting the POAL have the opportunity to
carry more cargo than they usually do. Higher utilization of available slot capacity may
lead to greater transport capacity and fewer carbon emissions. Increasing the transport
capacity of a port is a vital issue. For example, during the 1990s, California updated its
port capacity to handle bigger container ships without improving the transport
facilities to connect the port to the hinterland, which created major bottlenecks
(Auckland Regional Holdings, 2009). The value of increasing capacity depends on
whether it increases the capacity of the whole port or creates bottlenecks in other areas
of the container terminal (Dowd and Leschine, 1990), since all subsystems of a port are
interconnected and affect each other when there is a capacity shortage in one of
the components.
To give priority to this issue of empty trips and its consequences, Theofanis et al.
(2007) stated:
This situation not only causes significant inefficiencies that need to be addressed, but also
adds to the congestion in and around the port, and the highways that feed into the port area.

To address the practices for taking truck loads in both directions (especially, the
elimination of deadheads in backhauling truck loading on return trips to avoid
empty trips) and to reduce empty miles in the New Zealand (NZ) context, Sankaran et al.
(2005) stated:
Backhauling is also acknowledged to be a key priority in reducing inefficient capacity
utilization (whilst increasing overall trip load factors) and, especially in the NZ context that is
characterized by low market densities, is seen as a key factor in alleviating traffic congestion
and its impact.

Adopting a process re-engineering initiative to tackle problems facing businesses today

is not new. For an interesting example of how credit cards production and distribution
periods have been reduced significantly due to adopting a process re-engineering
approach, see Islam and Ahmed (2012). Similarly, to address the problem of empty truck
trips from a process re-engineering perspective, Islam et al. (2013) documented examples
of environmental, financial and operational benefits in using truck-sharing initiatives,
such as:
Each participating customer (exporter or importer) pays a portion of the fare to
lessen the transportation rate, which is generally determined by the number of
kilometers driven by the truck.
A truck driver earns more as shippers will share the same container truck and
use the full transport capacity.

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The study by Heide (2010) for the Port of Rotterdam shows that reducing empty-truck
trips can save trucking companies 17 million truck kilometres per year; this is
equivalent to saving e25.5 million a year. The avoidance of the deadheading of
container trucks results in a saving in expenditure. A comprehensive list of benefits is
shown in Figure 1.


Literature review
The literature relevant to empty-truck trips can be classified into three research
streams, as shown in Figure 2: maritime logistics, empty container trucks and supply
chain collaboration.
The maritime logistics literature includes studies related to co-ordination problems
in hinterland transport networks. The accessibility of hinterland networks has become
an important topic of research among scholars; it appears to inspire them in view of the
fact that the organisers of deep sea shipping show a preference for container terminals;
amongst other factors, this is based on the availability and convenience of hinterland
connections and networks (Wiegmans et al., 2008). For example, Panayides (2002)
examines the problem from a supply chain perspective, Van Der Horst and De Langen
(2008) have developed four different categories of arrangement to improve and
incorporate co-ordination in hinterland transport networks based on institutional
economics, and Langen and Chouly (2004) introduced and explained the concept of
hinterland access regimes (HAR) to analyse and interpret co-operation. Hence only a
few studies have investigated the co-ordination problems in hinterland transport
chains (Panayides, 2002), despite the fact that hinterland transport costs are usually
higher than maritime transport costs (Notteboom, 2009), and hinterland transport
chains continue to have economic importance in the contemporary business world.
However, as yet, and as far as the researchers are aware, there is no study that has
attempted to provide a conceptual or empirical justification or explanation of the
constraints and challenges of either truck-sharing collaboration, or what mechanisms
could be introduced among container trucking companies to establish and
encourage collaboration in order to reduce the number of empty trips for container
trucks. Such limitations should be addressed in the literature to fill the gap, from both
theoretical and practical perspectives.
The addressing of co-ordination problems pertaining to hinterland transport chains
has received scant attention in maritime logistics research; the available literature on
supply chain management focuses mainly on the collaborative aspects of the upstream
and the downstream parties, whilst disregarding both the logistics and the providers of
the transport (Chan and Zhang, 2011). The upstream and downstream parties include




emissions and



Figure 1.
Potential benefits of
reducing empty truck trips




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in hinterland
transport chains

Figure 2.
Major contributions of this
study to the literature

Supply chain



This study



obstacles of


the suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers; the third-party organizations

are comprised of transport providers and logistics companies. The apparent negligence
of supply chain studies in transportation management triggers the need to enhance
responsibility for more research, Quinn (2000) further confirmed this by supplying
the likely reason for this situation, the focus of supply chain management research has
neglected transport management. The role of freight transport in identifying the
importance of transport collaboration and the implications for supply chain management
is a thought-provoking topic, which is often ignored in commonplace discussions on
collaborative approaches in supply chain literature. Potential opportunities for
collaboration and the challenges that are common in road transport management
should be addressed and should focus on the discussion of supply chain studies.
The reason for this is to overcome some general inefficiencies that hinder supply chain
prosperity in general (Mason et al., 2007). Some typical examples of such inefficiencies are
high transport costs (for shippers) and empty deadhead miles (for carriers) (Sutherland,
2003). Fugate et al. (2009) have supported and confirmed the findings, that, despite a huge
amount of research in the supply chain collaboration literature, there has been no major
research outside the scope of the traditional buyer-seller perspective to account for the
explanation of the collaborative aspects of transportation management which lead to the
development of innovative and real-life solutions to assist in management services.

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Although such aspects may lead to many questions and topics, they are not limited to the
collaborative transport arrangements made between carriers in order to reduce the
quantities of empty miles.
Usually, a research study involving empty trips is approached in one of two ways:
(1) a centralized perspective involving only one carrier and their important assets
(e.g. container trucks); or
(2) a decentralized perspective involving multiple carriers collaborating across
disciplines, including supply chain management, in order to simultaneously
take account of the needs of a large number carriers.
The dominant solution-focused centralized approach to the problem views the carriers
as a single entity in deciding on efficient routes for individual vehicles. For example,
the vehicle routing problem with backhauls (VRPB) seeks to reduce the deadhead miles
of empty vehicle travel (Tutuncu, 2010). However, Agarwal et al.s (2009) study states:
Many of the traditional optimization algorithms that work well when there is only one
decision maker become ineffective in a collaboration setting. In addition, practitioners
acknowledge the limitations of single-company-based operations management
practices as much as do scholars (Greis and Kasarda, 1997; Brunell, 1999; Busi and
Bititci, 2006). The reason for that, as previously outlined, is that conventional practices
focus on the optimization of activities of one company and are inclined not to integrate
with a partner in a collaborative environment of mutual benefit (Holmberg, 2000; Busi
and Bititci, 2006). Above all, for a single carrier it may be difficult to solve the problem
of empty trips (e.g. VRPB problems usually refer to one company); this is because
customers (e.g. exporters or importers) load their cargoes (e.g. containers) either by
fronthaul or backhaul methods, but not in both ways (Bangviwat, 2012).
By taking the constraints of the centralized approach into account, the studies of
Islam et al. (2013) and Heide (2010) proposed separate solutions from a decentralized
perspective involving multiple carriers. Heide (2010) suggested the concept of the
chassis exchange terminal (CET), in order to increase the utilization of container truck
capacity and to minimize the number of empty-truck trips. Another possible solution to
address the problem is to put forward the concept of shared-transportation based on
two assumptions:
(1) that operational and technological innovations can effectively contribute to
increasing seaport capacity (International Transport Forum, 2009); and
(2) that supply chain stakeholders react by thinking of their own self-interest
without regard for the efficiency of the system through collaboration (Dowd and
Leschine, 1990; Maloni and Jackson, 2005).
Therefore, Islam et al. (2013) introduced the application of the transport-sharing
concept to fill the gap in addressing the empty-truck trips problem. The concept of
shared-transportation is popular in other research domains (Wolfler Calvo et al., 2004;
Kelley, 2007; Morency, 2007; Thaler and Teredesai, 2009; Agatz et al., 2010;
Martino et al., 2011). Although Islam et al. (2013) observed the problem of empty trips
from a decentralized perspective in order to be able to suggest a solution, they ignored
the practical implementation issues of truck-sharing initiatives in order to establish
collaborative arrangements among carriers and to address the topic from a real-life





Research questions
Two of the important elements in measuring a trucks success in contemporary
business operations are reducing deadhead miles and increasing truck utilization; and
decreasing deadhead miles depends on the level of collaboration among carriers
(Beaumont, 2004). Based on all of these assumptions, the two research questions to be
answered with this study are:
RQ1. What are the challenges in achieving a higher level of collaboration among
road carriers to gain optimal container-truck utilization?

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Further contributions to the literature describing collaboration challenges or

impediment issues are a necessity. The reason for this is to support and establish
coordination between hinterland transport chains, particularly among road carriers.
As opposed to a climate of non-cooperation, collaborative efforts among carriers should
result in a higher degree of success in truck utilization for all participating parties. Hence
a cooperative scenario may be superior to a non-cooperative scenario in which small
carriers may be left behind in the making of profits through cooperation. However, prior
research that explores the challenges for container-truck utilization in addressing the
empty-truck hauling problem is scarce. This is true especially in the maritime logistics
domain. Agreeing with that importance, most importantly, a practical perspective on
truck-sharing constraints in the transportation sector is considered important to develop
and establish collaborative efforts among road carriers for the purpose of achieving
higher utilization of container trucks. However, such an expected practical application
and perspective requires the provision of an exploration and recognition of the
constraints that hinder truck-sharing opportunities and discourage collaboration among
road carriers to reduce the number of empty trips of container trucks. To date, as far as
we are aware, only a few studies reviewing the factors hindering truck-sharing
engagements have been published and only three papers were found that attempted to
explore the challenges (McKinnon, 1996; McKinnon and Ge, 2006; McKinnon et al., 2010).
A brief description of each of these studies is presented here.
In his study, McKinnon (1996) reviewed the role of the factors constraining return
loading and offered suggestions that might be useful in eliminating the obstacles to full
utilization of vehicles in arrival trips; McKinnons study presents the results of
interviews with senior logistics executives to explore the major constraints. For the
purposes of this study, the factors are grouped together in eight categories, as shown in
Figure 3. First, in order to maintain a reputation for delivering on time to the firms that

Factors inhibiting
return loading

Figure 3.
A list of the factors
constraining full loading
of vehicles in return trips

Requirements of
the outbound
delivery service


of vehicles and

Need to recover

Unreliability of


Poor matching
of locations and

Limitations of the
route scheduling

36% of firms

29% of firms

24% of firms

12% of firms

12% of firms

10% of firms

6% of firms

4% of firms

Source: McKinnon (1996)

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purchase their transport services, the outbound distribution service of finished goods
tends to be of greater importance to road carriers than the arrangement of supplies for
inbound backloading in order to comply with a range of important requirements.
Second, since many carriers (large, medium-sized and small) fail to align the calculation
of inward and outward trips, many opportunities for backloading pass completely
unnoticed and hence are not calculated for by competitive and profit-seeking road
carriers. Third, the incompatibility of transport vehicles and consolidated products can
limit the number of grazing opportunities for the loading of supplies and equipment for
return journeys on the same day. Fourth, the most necessary task relating to costs and
benefits, to collect handling equipment is another important constraint to the use of
total vehicle capacity on return trips. Fifth, the individual uncertainties of each
operation at the suppliers premises causes backloading operations to be unreliable and
renders them difficult for carriers to perform smoothly. Sixth, the transport capacity
available for carrying vehicles is frequently distressingly inadequate to support the
collection of supplies available for backloading. Seventh, if there is a wide geographical
difference between the premises of the delivery and collection points, it is difficult to
match the locations and timing for the collection of supplies for backloading. Finally,
many of the scheduling systems for traditional routes do not have the facility to allow
for a diversion from the main route of distribution in order to allow for the collection of
materials for return loading; this may require the analytical analysis of transport
routes and their surrounding areas.
Following a similar approach in a list of comparable factors, a study by McKinnon
and Ge (2006) also lists, organizes and describes the factors constraining the backloading
of trucks. The factors have been grouped together in six categories, as shown in Figure 4.
First, managers generally give greater or even maximum importance to the quality and
optimal timing of the outbound distribution of finished goods (e.g. from the delivery
point of plant to the point of sale) than they do to the inbound arrival of supplies that are
considered to be less important. Second, the reliability of quick assembly is uncertain
and delivery operations of goods can be delayed; thus, depending upon the nature of
backloading operations, delivery can be risky. Third, carriers may be simply unaware
of the possible demands of backloading services or locations. This happens (and is a
phenomenon that typically occurs) because of the lack of transparency in administration
and proper communication in the road haulage market. Fourth, effective coordination
between departments and companies could help transport managers to realize the many
backloading opportunities available to them. Fifth, the non-standard condition of
vehicles of many shapes and sizes, and the many different types of goods being carried



constraining the
backloading of

Priority given to
the outbound
delivery service

Unreliability of
collection and
delivery operations

knowledge of
available loads

Source: McKinnon and Ge (2006)

Lack of

of vehicles and


Figure 4.
Factors constraining the
backloading of trucks


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make backloading difficult for carriers. Finally, it is vital to have support for a number of
facilities and resources that would allow drivers to drive the trucks, in order to conduct
backloading operations.
Following a slightly different approach, McKinnon et al.s (2010) study identified the
constraints (Figure 5) on vehicle loading and classified them into five categories, such
as; market-related, regulatory, inter-functional, infrastructural and equipment-related.
They reviewed and explored ten constraints on vehicle utilization that had been
derived explicitly from McKinnon (2007). For example, ineffective design of packaging
and type of equipment can result in poor use of vehicle capacity. Similarly,
incompatibility of vehicles and products can also contribute to limited utilization of
vehicle capacity since some vehicles are designed to carry only particular commodities
and are unable to load certain specific categories of goods. There are also safety rules
that prohibit the height to which truck loads can be stacked; this lessens the full
utilization of capacity.
Although many similarities can be drawn between general freight trucks and
container trucks, such as high fixed costs for daily operations (especially as these
fixed costs are associated with truck trips), vehicle routing with stochastic demand
for transportation services, and a limited quantity of transport slots which generate
costs if they remain empty during each trip; significant differences can also be
realized between these two categories of trucks. For example, from an operational
perspective, a container truck is involved around six times in each import process as
shown in Figure 6. In each of these movements, a typical container import process
may generate many completely unutilised or partially utilized truck trips
(Theofanis et al., 2007).
Here, for the sake of brevity, it is assumed that a typical container truck has two
capacity slots for transportation and all that containers are twenty-foot long:
In the import process, initially the most environmentally harmful unutilized
(i.e. none of the two slots of a container truck are used) slot transportation may
happen during the driving of an empty-truck (i.e. with chassis only and no
container attached) from the trucking company to the seaport in order to pick up
a laden container.
Another partially unutilized (i.e. only one of the two slots of a container truck is
used) truck movement may next take place when it picks up a laden container
Factors affecting
the utilization of
truck capacity


Figure 5.
Classification of
the constraints on
vehicle utilization


Lack of knowledge
of loading

Health and


Vehicle size and


Source: McKinnon et al. (2010)






Goods handling

Limited capacity
at facilities

of vehicles and

Poor coordination
of purchasing, sales
and logistics


Truck without any container
Truck with an empty container

Truck without a

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Truck without a

Truck with a laden container



Truck with an
empty container

Truck with a
laden container

from the seaport and delivers it to the importers warehouse, despite the fact that
the truck can transport two containers at a time. This failure to fully utilize each
of the transportation slots can accelerate seaport congestion and increase carbon
Then the truck leaves wholly empty from the warehouse after unloading the
container. This can create another completely unutilized (i.e. not a single container
on it) trip although it could have loaded two empty, or two full containers for
another firm and taken them back to the trucking company or to another
The road carrier then assigns another truck to move the empty container from
the importers warehouse to the seaport. This can create another completely
unutilized (i.e. not a single container on it) trip although it can load two
containers for another firm back to the warehouse.
The truck leaves the container at the ports empty depot before departing the
port territory. The arrival of the empty truck to the port creates another
unutilized truck movement.
Finally, the truck leaves completely empty from the port territory after unloading
the empty container at the empty depot.

This may also create another empty slot trip for the road carrier.
Hence, although container trucks have fundamental similarities with the
general-purpose trucks that transport non-containerised loads, several other variables
have to be taken into consideration in order to explore the constraints associated with
containerised transportation using container trucks:
One reason for this relates to the diverse characteristics of container trucks and other
interrelated vehicles (size, weight and capacity) used for freight transportation.

Figure 6.
Potential empty trips of a
container truck



These variables may vary significantly from port to port and be more complex than
other types of general freight trucks since many other types of non-containerised
trucks are not dedicated for container transportation. Therefore, they (as stated in
all similar studies) include many of the factors relating to general freight truck
transportation, but exclude the constraints that are related exclusively to container
freight truck transportation.
It is also important to note that, in a containerized truck trip, empty trips may
happen in both fronthauling and backhauling, as shown in Figure 6.

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To the contrary, the use of general trucks contributes to the increase in empty trips
during backhauling, as opposed to the use of container trucks, as shown in Figure 7.
For more information, on the movement of general trucks and empty trips see
McKinnon et al. (2010). Hence literature ignores the factors affecting the fronthauling of
container trucks (Figure 8):
RQ2. How can the challenges carriers face today in maximizing truck-sharing
efforts be overcome?
This study addresses the challenges mentioned above (i.e. collaboration obstacles
for truck-sharing) and advances the body of knowledge by exploring general industry
trends and by suggesting a collaboration framework to overcome the challenges in the
container transportation industry of NZ. It is crucial to offer suggestions to overcome
the challenges explored in order to optimize benefits of the supply chain members,
because sub-optimization may occur when the supply chain members focus on their
own welfare rather than on the integration of goals and actions, and the benefits to the
whole supply chain (Cooper et al., 1997). The collaboration framework presents a gap in
research which, because of the contribution of freight transportation to the supply
chain and maritime logistics environment, it is important to fill in order to address
hinterland coordination problems among carriers. From a practical perspective, the
initial output of this research question is the real-life outlook for the collaboration
opportunities in the transportation sector; this is intended to be complementary to the
existing practices of the road carriers. These practical perspectives are intended to be
an aid with which to guide transport companies towards greater mutual assistance.

Figure 7.
Potential empty trips
of a general truck

Source: McKinnon and Ge (2006)


Empty trips

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Various types of explanation and new prospects for theoretical or process frameworks
have been offered in the supply chain literature for organising successful collaborative
efforts and action in order to keep pace with, and respond to, new opportunities
(Fugate et al., 2009). For example, Simatupang and Sridharan (2005) proposed a
framework (collaborative supply chain framework CSCF) to examine and capture the
key elements of supply chain collaboration in order to initiate and improve mutual
effort and gain. The five features of the suggested framework include: a collaborative
performance system; incentive alignment; information sharing; decision
synchronization; and the integration of supply chain processes. Each of these features
assists in the adoption of a collaborative approach in relationship management, which is
an assembly of strategies designed to assist companies increase profits. These features
are closely related to each other and share a dynamic relationship in their contribution
to the achievement of collaborative gains for quality objectives. For example, accurate
information sharing enables effective decision making that mitigates the impact of
individual (as a single company) disasters; decision synchronization assists
contributions to a collaborative performance system in product-service system
innovation. Kampstra et al. (2006) addressed some of the common misunderstandings
in the collaboration process for bringing together well-suited companies. In order to
contribute to the closing of the research gap, and, in addition to closing of the gap between
research and practice, this study explains issues such as the role of powerhouses in the
supply chain, the levels of collaboration that are necessary, the potential for collaboration
and priority assessment techniques. The presented framework in the study can be used to
identify the financial implications of the outcomes stemming from collaboration networks

Figure 8.
The contributions of
RQ1 to the literature


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which have an effect on the innovative performance of companies. Bowersox et al.s (2003)
study presented a framework to assist companies in adopting a collaborative approach to
the pooling of their resources to achieve mutual gain and the realization of the benefits
ensuing from a collaborative mindset. Although the literature pertaining to supply chain
collaboration is extensive from both business and academia, the studies are not based on
differences in perspective (Kampstra et al., 2006). Therefore, the literature seemingly
ignores the specific perspectives and more refined implications of addressing the problem
of empty truck trips; these implications are likely to be different from other all-purpose
collaboration application contexts in the supply chain literature. Hence the suggested
framework in this study offers a different perspective from that of other, already existing,
studies by positioning itself to focus solely on the collaborative aspects of road carriers in
the instances in which the prospect of empty truck trips may occur due to the absence of
any collaborative arrangements between the key players (such as road carriers and their
customers) in the transportation industry. The contributions to the literature of the
suggested framework are shown in Figure 9.
Summary of research objectives
To sum up, the goals of this exploratory study are to identify and describe the
challenges that carriers face when dealing with truck-sharing initiatives and to take a
look at ways of coping with these challenges. For the sake of brevity, this paper only
considers horizontal collaboration (collaboration among container road carriers). The
meaning of collaboration adapted and defined in this paper is the co-operation between
independent companies to share resources in order to meet the needs of customers in a
better way (Narus and Anderson, 1996). The contribution of this study to the logistics
and supply chain literature lies in such aspects as shown in Figure 2.
To answer the research questions, this paper is organized as follows: the research
methodology is described in the next section; this is followed by an overview of reasons
for empty-truck trips and an analysis of contemporary trends in the container
transportation industry. Thereafter, truck-sharing challenges are described within
frameworks in the
supply chain

Figure 9.
The contributions of
RQ2 to the literature




aspects of road
carriers at ports

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a collaboration framework. The managerial implications of this study are then

discussed. This section is followed by the final one which summarizes the main aspects
of the research.
Research methodology
In explaining the issues pertaining to relationship management, a qualitative research
approach is appropriate. This has been demonstrated by a study by Chia (2005).
In another instance, along the same line of importance in explaining the value of
qualitative research in relationship management, Fugate et al. (2009) studied the way
that relationships between companies improve their performance in order to address
capacity constraints in the transportation industry. To answer their research questions,
Fugate et al. (2009) chose an exploratory qualitative methodology, because earlier supply
chain collaboration literature had primarily focused on behavioural aspects (e.g. trust,
risk-bearing commitment and penalty). For these compelling reasons, this study has
taken a similar approach to that of Fugate et al. (2009). Here the research questions are all
suited to qualitative data collection and analyses. To further support the research
approach adopted in this present study, the study by Min et al. (2005) argued that the use
of qualitative research methods is increasing in studying the topics of logistics and
supply chain management (Pfohl and Buse, 2000; Lemke et al., 2003; Lambert et al., 2004).
Qualitative research helps to collect data from organizations and provides the type of
valuable insights, which may not be possible to gain in a case study or in quantitative
style research (Min et al., 2005). A qualitative research approach is also useful for
gathering and analysing exploratory data (Goulding, 2005); it has the flexibility to ask
why, how or when, and to use probing questions to encourage participants to talk
spontaneously about the area of interest. Probable areas of interest to the research
questions in this study are: examples of collaborative arrangements among carriers and
common reasons for their failure; obstacles to effective resource sharing (e.g. trucks); and
the trends affecting the container trucking industry.
Respondent selection
For the purpose of the current study, and given that a qualitative approach was
adopted, the in-depth the interviewing of carriers was adopted as its main method of
data collection. The interview questions were re-designed many times using the
literature to ensure that the interviewers perceptions were as unbiased as possible, for
an example, see Theofanis and Boile (2007); in addition they were cross-checked by
other researchers from the same research domain. In total, eight semi-structured
interviews were conducted. After eight detailed interviews, no new data appeared to be
emerging from further interviews, showing that a theoretical saturation point had been
reached (Auerbach and Silverstein, 2003). Individuals were identified from
industry-based experience, ensuring adequate knowledge in transportation planning,
policy making, modelling, monitoring and decision making. Hence the participants
were chosen based on a match with the explicit eligibility criteria: industry experience
and involvement in transportation (e.g. freight transport evaluation, assessment or
design). The interviews helped to bring together participants from varied and diverse
backgrounds, leading to the involvement of an operational manager, a transport and
business development manager, a transport operations manager and a general
manager. Initially, a copy of the advertisement form, the consent form (to sign), and the




project description sheet (to ensure that each participant was presented with the exact
same background information), were sent to the participants by email. Cell phones and
emails were used sometimes as a reminder for non-participants. In most cases, the
email addresses and telephone numbers of potential participants were available on
company websites through the internet; there were used to collect data and to contact

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Data collection
A combination of structured and semi-structured questions was used for the interviews;
the approach to asking questions was adopted to resemble the method usually employed
for the determination of transport conditions in the container transportation industry.
Another important reason for following such an approach is that a blend of structured
and unstructured questions can be the well-organized approach and fulfils the promise
given that the researchers would explore both the depth and richness of the collected
data. In this study, the unstructured questions were those which had not previously been
considered relevant or important in regard to the issues of collaboration and
truck-sharing constraints that were under consideration. Therefore, to bridge the
conceptual gap, unstructured questions were composed during the interview sessions
and sometimes enquired as to whether, or not, an interviewees response and explanation
raised further questions and inspired further discussion of similar types of concern.
To further confirm the rigour of the research process during the data collection
activities, in particular cases, the illustration and clarification of specific scenarios of
collaboration and industry trends were required to be provided by the participant.
These illustrations helped the researchers to gain an understanding of the issues
pertaining to collaboration opportunities and challenges that had not previously been
considered by the researchers when formulating the questions. To reflect the
competencies sought by an interviewer for an interview session and post-interview
actions, detailed information was collected and recorded in accordance with Bowling
(2002). In some instances, the records helped to facilitate the cross-checking of facts
with written notes. Written notes were taken during each interview session and, in
particular, for those participants who objected to the recording of certain discussions
(e.g. those requiring confidential or sensitive answers and comments). Once
cross-checking had been completed, each session was verified and later analysed as
text in a similar way, using the data analysis techniques described in Strauss and
Corbin (1998). The interview protocols, which an attempt was made to follow during
the course of each interview, as shown in Table I, both improved the quality of the
interviews and revealed suitable phases for the conducting of future interviews.
Data analysis
The first step of evaluation and categorization of the interview results have been
included in subsequent sections as findings; central themes were used to extract and
categorize the interview data. A specific theme relevant to the research objectives
(e.g. for truck-sharing challenges, was: a lack of coordination; for industry trends:
the driver shortage problem) was selected as the unit of analysis prior to the sentence or
paragraph. Themes from every interview session were identified by reviewing the
entire transcription; the transcription was consistent with the expressions of different
ideas and the reflections provided by the interviewee through examples

1st phase
2nd phase
3rd phase

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4th phase

An overview of the interviewer

An introduction of the interviewee
A brief description of the research project
Description of the interview process
Assurance of anonymous reporting of findings
What are the rising trends in the industry?
How are they affecting your business?
How may they affect truck-sharing initiatives?
What are the truck-sharing constraints?
How do you collaborate with other carriers?
What are the obstacles to collaboration?

or individual recollections. These themes were further developed into sub-themes during
the evaluation of the transcriptions. Wherever considered important, the themes and
sub-themes were reviewed many times in order to fill the information gap and to
fine-tune wherever there was excess information. Thus, the researchers employed a
back and forth approach as suggested and exploited by Fugate et al. (2009) to analyse the
interview results and support those with literature (supply chain collaboration literature
and hinterland coordination studies of maritime logistics) in order to enable the building
of the theoretical model that they had deduced to overcome the challenges encountered.
Only those articles contributing to overcoming collaborative obstacles were reviewed
for examination. Thus, the data for this study came from the combining of the interview
results with information from subject-specific articles: the choice of contents is justified
by the purpose of the research. This is considered a proper process for this study as the
methodology is qualitative and that the collected data is subjective in nature.
Reasons for empty-truck trips
A container truck can perform many empty-truck trips in a typical cycle of an export or
import process for the fulfilling of diverse functions. Therefore, a single export or
import job can have multiple empty-truck movements. For an overview of the
container transport process, see Steenken et al. (2004) and Notteboom (2004). To fully
understand the sources of empty-truck trips, it is important to recognize all these
movements associated with every import or export process as described in the
following sub-sections.
Empty-truck trips (export)
A typical container export process may generate many completely unutilised or
partially utilized truck movements with every export cycle (Theofanis et al., 2007).
Here, for the sake of brevity, it is assumed that a typical container truck has a two slot
capacity for transportation and that all containers are twenty-foot long:
Initially, in the export process, the most environmentally harmful unutilized
(i.e. neither of the two slots of a container truck are used) slot transportation may
occur during the driving of an empty-truck (i.e. with chassis only and no container
on it) from the trucking company to the seaport to pick up an empty container.
A partially unutilized (i.e. only one of the two slots of a container truck is used)
truck movement next takes place when it picks up an empty container from the


Table I.
Interview protocols



empty depot and delivers it to the exporters warehouse, despite the fact that the
truck is able to transport two containers at a time. This failure to fully utilize
both of the slots can accelerate seaport congestion and increase carbon emission.
The trucking company then assigns another truck to move the loaded container
from the exporters warehouse and leaves it at the port to export before departing
from the port territory. This also may create another empty slot trip if only one
container has been loaded and the other slot remains totally unused.
Finally, a completely empty truck leaves from the port territory after unloading
the container.

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This can create another completely unutilized (i.e. not a single container on it) trip
although it could have carried two containers, empty or full, back to the trucking
company, or to another warehouse, for another organisation. A summary of the process
is shown in Figure 10.
Empty-truck trips (import)
In this instance, as in the export process, it is assumed that a typical container truck
has two slots capacity to transport, and that all containers are twenty-foot long:
Initially, completely unutilized (i.e. none of the two slots of a container truck are
used) slot movement may occur during the driving of an empty-truck (i.e. with
chassis only and no container on board) from the drayage company to the
seaport to pick up a laden container.
The next partially unutilized truck movement may take place when the truck
picks up a laden container from the seaport and delivers it to the warehouse for
emptying. The opportunity cost of fully utilizing both of the slots can have
adverse effect on the environment and its surroundings.
The drayage company then assigns another truck and the assigned truck moves
the empty container from the warehouse and leaves the container at the port
before departing. This partially unutilized slot movement can accelerate seaport
congestion and increase carbon emission.
Finally, the truck leaves the port after unloading the container.
Export-related truck movements

1. An Empty Truck

2. A Truck with
Empty Container

Figure 10.
Four legs of an export
truck movement

3. A Loaded Truck

4. An Empty Truck


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This can create another unutilized trip despite the fact that two TEUs or one FEU
empty or loaded container(s) could have been loaded for another warehouse for
transport back to the trucker. A summary of the process is shown in Figure 11.
The container road carrier industry
The form of road transport (that carried around 84 per cent of NZs total domestic
freight in 2008) is still the main freight transport mode (Upton, 2008). It is alarming that
NZs heavy vehicle kilometres on road transport networks are growing at a faster rate
than in the USA, the UK and in many Western European countries (Mackie et al., 2006),
with the probability of an increase in empty running. For a number of reasons,
a deviation from the targeted acceptance of empty running can occur in the container
transportation industry and this can be influenced by many factors. These factors arise
from a carriers immediate (micro) and distant (macro) environment that influence the
performance of the carrier and each of the factors may be interrelated. For example,
a shortage of truck drivers, which is a macro-environmental factor of importance, may
have an adverse effect on the reduction of empty trips (McKinnon and Ge, 2006), and
shape a carriers strategic direction. An attempt is made here to explain these factors,
which can be the variables that influence a road carrier to fully exploit its competitive
advantage, and at the same time, can be increasing trends in the industry. The trends
offer a company (e.g. a carrier) both opportunities and threats to respond (Ghuman,
2010). Such unique traits make the container transportation industry different from
other industries.



Driver shortage problem

Driver shortage is an issue within the transportation industry of NZ (Oliver et al., 2003).
Reasons include the fact that many drivers are inspired to move from NZ to Australia
because of the presence there of gold and coal mines. Even pay rates are better,
along with bigger and better trucks and longer driving distances. One of the reasons
for the driver shortage is the cost for anybody leaving university to get a truck and
trailer licence. Many years ago, the cost was around $140. Many school leavers would
simply obtain a truck and trailer licence. Now a licence costs around $2,500.
Import-related truck movements

1. An Empty Truck

2. A Loaded Truck


3. A Truck with
Empty Container

4. An Empty Truck


Figure 11.
Four legs of an import
truck movement

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Similar issues of capacity constraints in regard to drivers have also been observed in
the USA (Schulz, 2008). The driver shortage problem, combined with working
constraints, may have a negative effect on the achievement of the backloading of
trucks and the utilization of full capacity because of reduction in delivery flexibility
(McKinnon and Ge, 2006).


Truck appointment system

Another key factor shaping the industrys structure is the design and implementation
of the truck appointment system. Many ports around the world have implemented
truck appointment systems such as the vehicle booking system (VBS, Port of
Felixstowe), truck licensing system (Port Metro Vancouver) and VBS (POAL) to
efficiently handle growth in container truck volumes. Literature on such systems is
limited (Huynh and Zumerchik, 2010). Before the VBS, the trucks arrived randomly at
POAL and no booking was required. If a number of trucks arrived at the same time, the
port simply had long queues, and then, at other times of the day, when all those trucks
had left, there was no work. However, the implementation of such a system is still
considered problematic for the road carriers because an appointment system means an
inherently rigid flexibility on arrival at the port territory. The problems with
inflexibility in the port system and its subsequent consequences in truck-sharing
success are discussed in detail in A collaboration framework below.
Diverse types of customers
The types of trucking customers vary and hold different types of expectations about
service quality. The different types of customers and their diverse needs is an issue of
discussion among road carriers. The first type is the customer that carriers have had
for a long time. The second type of customer has many expectations of the carrier,
especially regarding service quality. Finally, there is the itinerant (flipping) customer
that goes from one carrier to another to make savings on their rate of payment, even
though it might not equate with regard to quality of service. Truck-sharing helps to
reduce the transportation rate for participating customers (exporters or importers)
because each party pays a portion of the total fare and thus the fare is divided among
them based on the number of kilometres they have travelled. Although it is expected
that flipping customers would co-operate with the truck-sharing plan to save
money, the research findings indicate that all other customers approve of the necessity
for quality of service for quick delivery or for the receiving of containers. Thus, they do
not care much if the truck rate goes down, but they are expecting to keep a stable
quality in regard to service.
Assorted value-added services
Value-added services are frequently considered to be part of the internal environment,
provided that that internal environment is comprised of the resources and distinctive
competencies of a road carrier. Intense competition among firms in the industry affects
their profitability and value-added services add value to the standard service offering.
Therefore, to win competitive business, large carriers try to offer value-added services
on the top of the rate-based competition. During the interviews, some road carriers
suggested that they could promote or support initiatives to provide value-added
services, such as truck-sharing, provided that they do so with the full support of other

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carriers as well. Many large clients would be interested in using truck-sharing services
in order to achieve carbon reduction targets because they look for the most effective
ways of reaching their goals in carbon saving. Full utilization of the available slots for
a container truck helps in reducing the total vehicle miles driven by the truck driver in
travelling to his destination. This is important from an environmental and social
sustainability perspective as it helps to reduce carbon emissions. Usually a truck emits
many times more carbon dioxide per tonne per km than other transport modes
(Kim et al., 2009).
Utilization of driving productivity
The industry has a trend of employing company drivers, owner drivers, or a mixture of
both. Owner drivers are paid on a per trip basis and work hard because profits are
divided between the owner driver and the carrier, the driver getting the greater share of
profit. Therefore, the turn-around time for company drivers tends to be greater than
that of the owner drivers in the POAL. It is also interesting to note, that while both
types of drivers are employed by the carriers to a greater or lesser extent, they may
have different views towards truck-sharing. Company drivers are not much interested
in a truck-sharing event. It is an extra effort for them, although the payment is the
same; this is on a per-hour basis. On the other hand, owner drivers want to maximize
their income with the trucks they have. Truck drivers earn increasingly more money,
the more frequently they simultaneously utilize and share the same truck for
transportation with other clients.
The challenges of truck-sharing
A container truck may look like this: it has two slots in (for transporting two containers
to the seaport) and two slots out (transporting two containers out of the seaport). This
current example only relates to the technical side of a truck. Constraints on sharing a
truck are not limited to one issue; the situation is much more complex than that. To
broaden the picture, one needs to acquire a far wider view of truck-sharing constraints.
Therefore, this section examines many of the potential variables that hinder
truck-sharing arrangements. The challenges are listed in Figure 12.
The single most important thing that carriers can do to encourage truck-sharing
between one another is to recognize the contribution of trust in relationships.
Relationships develop based on the foundation of trust (Welch, 2006). Therefore, trust is
important for effective collaboration and communication among supply chain members
(Lee and Billington, 1992). To recognise the importance of trust as an indispensable part
of relationship management, many respondents have argued that success in alleviating
the majority of empty truck trips depends on the extent of mutual trust among them.
To clarify the occurrence of absence of trust among road carriers in detail, one
respondent provided an interesting illustration: to move a container from Wiris inland
port (i.e. a dry port) to somewhere in Auckland costs around a $180. In Australia, for the
same move, it is about $5-$600. The rate is low in NZ because of the absence of trust
among carriers. Since the profit margins are low, the collaboration of carriers would
provide a smarter way of doing business. If a carrier can avoid 2 hours of empty running




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Demanding clients
Lack of commercial Low rate
Lack of understanding
Customer demands
Insufficient rate
Lack of solid ground
Lack of trust
Mechanical issues
Lack of coordination
Site limitations
Drivers fatigue
geographic locations
Driving hours
Competitive rate
Customer location
Lack of cooperation
Heavier exports
Complex internal costs
Container weights
Dissimilar skill level
Lack of timeliness
GPS Disintegration
Different dispatchers
Relationship with drivers
Dangerous goods
Many classes

Truck appointment
Lack of flexibility

Truck capacity

Container categories

Mechanical restrictions
Many truck types
Empty containers
Full containers

Figure 12.
A cause and effect
diagram to demonstrate
truck-sharing challenges

Empty depot location

Many geographical areas
Peak hours

Demurrage and


Insufficient slots

High penalties
Export cut-off times
Seaport operating
Restricted operating hours
Limited road office hours

Holidays and events




time, then there is a cost saving. However, such collaboration of effort tends to fail,
especially among competitors (Asawasakulsorn, 2009).
Container weights
NZs exports are heavy. Timber, meat, paper and scrap steel are all heavy export
commodities. However, import commodities are quite light in weight, such as
televisions and clothes. So, for exports coming into a port, it is hard to get two TEUs on
trucks. But POAL make provision for this for imports going out. If a carrier has
containers going to a warehouse, such as one full of televisions or one full of clothing
items, it can get two TEUs on a truck. In another instance, sometimes a POAL has two
TEUs containers coming in containing the personal possessions of people moving
overseas; these are generally light and thus carriers can load two TEUs onto a
single truck.
Dangerous goods
Carriers carry explosives and dangerous goods (DG). DG have classes, based on their
properties, from class 1 through class 9. These classes include: class 1: explosive;
class 3: flammable; class 6: toxic; class 8: corrosive; class 9: eco-toxic; amongst others
(Ministry of Transport, 2008). Carriers are prohibited from carrying classes 1A and 1B
together. So, although one container may weigh only 2 tons, carriers cannot carry
anything else on board the truck: the container is light, but it has to be carried
separately. Although there are few instances where this occurs, nonetheless it does
limit the number of truck-sharing possibilities.

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Customer demands
One of the problems for carriers with their clients is a lack of understanding about
what is actually required according to the logistics of a container. For example, a ship
arrives and the carrier has no control over when a container is likely to be unloaded.
Then, because of the booking system, carriers have to book it in. Carriers all try to do
the best they can for their customers; this depends on how demanding clients are. Most
clients want their containers as soon as they can possibly get them to allow for a
continuous flow of materials (e.g. JIT concept). Such a propensity encourages empty
vehicle running (McKinnon, 2000). This reduces the truck-sharing possibilities to a
minimum since anything that would restrict delivery means that carriers must have
different priorities for them. Carriers prioritise customers based on the availability, the
location, how far away that location is, how far away that is from other jobs to be done
at similar times, and what equipment carriers have to use.
Site limitations
To broaden its appeal to advantage, truck-sharing initiatives must be able to overcome
the site limitations of shippers. For example, vital things are major considerations
when a container is going to be lowered to the ground, such as how solid the ground is
and how big the storage capacity is (for information on storage capacity at company
premises, see McKinnon et al., 2010). Typically their concrete is not strong enough to
take a truck. Certain trucks can only take certain loads. Carriers may also have
technical issues that may be caused by the layout of a property. For an example, when
a carrier has a customer whose driveway is steep and only one of its large trucks is able
to get up the driveway to deliver the load. Site limitations are associated with container
size, hazardous materials and height problems. In addition, clients might misjudge the
size of the site or may not realise that a container truck can generally only offload from
the right side; few trucks can load from both sides.
Customer location
Usually customers have many warehouses in different locations and so their pickup
locations are diverse. They can be north, south, east or west. For example, one
customer may say that he wants his container delivered at seven oclock in the morning
and he is based on the North Shore. Another client may say that he wants his container
at seven oclock and he is in Otahuhu. Then the carrier has dissimilar geographic
locations, which will make truck-sharing plans unfeasible. If the locations are in the
same area at the same time, the carrier can send one container truck for both sites.
Therefore, the exact geographic positions of cargoes govern the reduction of empty
deadhead miles in the case of two or more shipment matching (Odijk, 2009).
Driving hours
Fatal crashes happen regularly because of driver fatigue, which is true for
transportation vehicles, such as container trucks. Drivers are not allowed to work more
than 13 hours per day (NZ Transport Agency, 2010). When they reach 13 hours, they
must take a break of at least 10 hours before driving again. Moreover, there is a
requirement for a 30 minute standard break every 512 hours. Although vital, such
limitations might worsen driver shortage situation and thus it becomes increasingly
difficult to process the requests of truck-sharing due to the scarcity of available drivers.



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Hence restrictions on working hours may increase empty running on roads

(McKinnon et al., 2010). Similarly, the study of McKinnon and Ge (2006) predicted that
the application of the EU Working Time Directive to mobile workers in 2005 might
reduce delivery flexibility and have a corresponding negative effect on the backloading
of trucks.


Truck capacity
Container trucks capacities and mechanical restrictions that differ from others: they
may use working methods that have been changed over time. The absence of a
standard truck and its handling equipment makes truck-sharing difficult for carriers.
Hence, McKinnon and Ge (2006) argued that the absence of standard handling
equipment may work as a resource constraint on backloading chances. There are four
types of truck that are most regularly available. The first one is a small truck; this can
carry a twenty-foot container. The second one is a scaly that can take a forty-foot
container, or two twenties; this type of truck has no swing lift and because of this it
can carry a much heavier weight. Then there is there swing lift truck which has a
forty-foot container capacity, or two twenties; this is a truck and trailer unit. The fourth
type of truck is a mini swing that can carry two twenty-foot containers and one
forty-foot long; this truck has an additional swing located halfway along it. There are
other types of truck; for example, high productivity trucks with a trailer which have
the advantage of having the ability to simultaneously carry one forty-foot container
and a twenty, or three twenties.
Seaport operating hours
It is important to permit additional flexibility in the schedule for backloading
(McKinnon and Ge, 2006). Many of the carriers operate 24 hours a day. The Port of
Tauranga and the Metroport operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week. POAL is a
lot more restrictive as it operates 24 hours per day, seven days a week for unloading
ships; however, from Monday to Friday its road office for Fergusson container terminal
is open 24 hours on weekdays, but is only open from 7 am to 3 pm on Saturday and
Sunday. The POAL close one of their container terminals at 3 pm every day. For
example, the Bledisloe container terminal remains open from 7 am to 3 pm every day,
and is closed Saturday and Sunday. Thus, POAL does not operate 24 hours per day,
seven days a week for truck deliveries. Usually, a decrease in timing flexibility in
scheduling in the work place leads to a rapid increase in the empty running of trucks
(Odijk, 2009). To make it easier for carriers to pick up and drop off containers for
truck-sharing, the rules of operation of the POAL need to be adjusted.
Export cut-off times
The cut-off time for container delivery at the port is based on the expected arrival and
departure times of container ships. Thus, the operational aspects of the carriers are
executed to support the servicing of all vessels arriving or departing. Because a
carrier has a deadline for arriving at the port, export close off times make a
considerable difference to when a carrier can pick up a container. Thus, a carrier does
not have the option of dropping off the container at a certain time to fit in with
someone else. Thus, a carrier has an export close-off time, which is a disruption to

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Respondents argue that carriers make more money from the container transportation
service in Australia than they do in NZ. The Australian carriers commercial flexibility
is much greater than that of carriers in Auckland because in Auckland the
transportation rate is so low. There is not enough profit margin. For example, a carrier
has to pick a container up with a truck, and cart it somewhere for $200. The carrier
picks it up and carts it for $80 and lifts it for another $40. There is not much money left
with which to manoeuvre because of the full cart and the full swing. The rates are very
low because of the intense competition among carriers. The strong competition
discourages collaboration among carriers, which is an essential component for
improving load factors (McKinnon et al., 2010). It is difficult to convince carriers that
working together in a collaborative environment will actually mean that two carriers
get the benefit of three, not just one on one.
Demurrage and detention
In the case of imports, demurrage is charged for before the unpacking of the cargo
and a detention fee is charged following the unpacking of the cargo and until the
return of the empty container (Song and Dong, 2012). Similar terms and conditions
also apply to exports. The detention issue is about an empty move. If the carrier does
not return the empty container quickly then there is a penalty. Several years ago,
clients had five days to move a container out of POAL, now they have three days
after which a large penalty fee is charged. Clients used to have 21 days before they
were given a penalty for empty containers, now this length of time has been reduced
to seven days grace. It is a lot more restrictive, and the penalties are considerably
higher. Formerly, the detention fee for a container was NZ $20 a day. Currently it
can be up to NZ $450 a day for a job that might pay carriers NZ $200 to NZ
$250. Restrictive hours and their associated penalties limit the flexibility of hours
for transport operations; such flexibility is required for a successful truck-sharing
To enable the picking up of a container for truck-sharing, many documents are required
to be processed prior to being given to the carrier. The accuracy and timely delivery of
the documents is crucial. Currently, document processing occurs electronically, thus
carriers are not necessarily provided with physical documentation but, nonetheless,
evidence of clearance has to be available. For example, cartage advice informs what
the customers want, where they want the freight to go, the nature of the container, its
port of origin and the weight of it. Customers give the carrier a Ministry of Agriculture
and Forestry (MAF) clearance sheet, because MAF have to authorise it to come
through. Customers also give the carrier a customs delivery order, which means that
customs are satisfied and that customs duty has been paid. The last piece of
information that customers will give the carrier is a personal identification number
(PIN); this means that shipping lines have been paid. If clients do not send the carrier
the correct information, the carrier has to wait for shipping holds and all those sorts
of things that can be frustrating. Some clients are very good at executing their
obligations; however the carrier has to follow up to obtain completion with other




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Lack of coordination
Lack of co-ordination among supply chain members results in poor performance,
such as higher transportation costs (Lee et al., 1997). An interesting example of this is
the co-ordination problem among the POAL and the corresponding carriers. After
joining the NZL Group, the POAL established a subsidiary company, Conlinxx, to
take over the Wiri facility (i.e. a dry port). Conlinxxs offer to all the carriers was that
if any carrier took a full container into the port but did not have one to come out,
Conlinxx would pay $60 to bring that empty container back to Wiri. The actual cost
of moving a full container out to Wiri was about $100. Conlinxx trialled the scheme
about some years ago, without success. One of the few reasons was that independent
carriers had no desire to work for one another due to problems of lack of
co-ordination in operations, decision-making and in their objectives. For example,
road carriers being independent companies, might have conflicting objectives, such
as the objective of gaining market share; this might not be well-suited with the
objective of increasing profit.
Truck appointment system
From a carriers perspective, one of the disadvantages of the POALs truck
appointment system is the lack of flexibility. Flexibility is the capability to vary
without penalty in terms of time, effort, cost or performance (Upton, 1995). Carriers
simply wish to arrive at their destination and do not wish for yet another constraint in
the process requiring them to be at the POAL at a certain time. Lack of arrival
flexibility at the POAL reduces truck-sharing opportunities among carriers. In the past,
carriers might have been able to move 300 containers in a night. Now with VBS, this is
not possible, because there are insufficient slots, and carriers are restricted to the times
they can enter the port. Currently, it is more difficult for carriers because they need to
manage those time slots to move containers, and carriers are constantly faced with the
problem of insufficient slots.
Container categories
There are two types of container: namely those with empty, and those with full,
containers. To transport the containers, two types of trucks are available: empty
trucks and full trucks. The empty trucks are smaller, they have small trailers and
they can carry empties only. Normally an empty truck runs with the capacity of
about 8 tons. On the other hand, bigger trucks can take up to around 30 tons. These
two different types of fleet do not work together because empty trucks cannot handle
the weight that full containers have. If full trucks carry those empty containers, then
that is wasted cartage. There are big differences in the capital cost of the equipment
and the type of equipment that would be used for empty trucks compared to full
trucks. Thus, empty trucks can only share the truck for empty containers as they
have different properties. Such separate and unique characteristics between full and
empty containers limit the maximum number of truck-sharing possibilities among
carriers. Moreover, carriers transport refrigerated containers, which have to be
moved separately because they need motor power to keep them running. It is easier to
match containers of equal size and type, but reefer containers are not matched simply
(Odijk, 2009).

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Empty depot location

Empty depots are located in many geographical areas, each with its own characteristics,
such as its proximity to other locations (Ahadi, 2002). Since most of Aucklands empty
depot locations are in dissimilar places, they are difficult to match for truck-sharing. For
example, the POAL are in the city and carriers travel 10-50 kilometres to deliver a full
container. A carrier might pick up two twenty-foot containers. One empty truck will go
to CSL Otahuhu (empty depot) and the other empty truck will go back to the city. Then
the carrier is in a situation in which the truck takes the container into CSL Otahuhu. But
the empty depot rejects that container, since the quota is now full and they want it to be
delivered to Metrobox (empty depot). The truck goes in and gets redirected to Metrobox
to dispose of it. Thus, the situation might become complex for truckers. Therefore,
unreliability of collection and delivery locations can discourage backloading tasks in the
transportation industry (McKinnon and Ge, 2006).
When calculating costs for a shared container truck, there are several internal cost
factors to take into consideration since double handling may be involved. Every time a
carrier takes a container on or off, it is regarded as two swings. When a carrier runs its
swing lift truck, it uses diesel, costs time and involves maintenance costs. A swing lift
operator may take about ten minutes to do one swing. A less-skilled operator may take
half an hour per swing. So, a truck driver puts the container on the truck, drives the
truck, swings it off and then somebody else swings it back on the truck. Now if the
truck has no swing lift, it needs the help of one. Thus, if the truck driver brings a truck
out with no swing lift then he needs another truck to swing it off unless there is a
forklift or a hoist. Not all trucks can swing containers on, and that is where other issues
come in. A swing lift is much more expensive than a scaly. A scaly has no swing lift,
but it can take heavier loads because of the absence of a swing lift. Since truck-sharing
involves swinging multiple containers on and off, the calculating of cost is complex.
Performance measurement
Performance measurement is important for measuring the efficiency of the truck drivers.
Efficiency indicates the extent of resource utilization to accomplish objectives (Sumanth,
1984). Since carriers have been assisted by the GPS tracking facility, those in authority
have been looking at how often a driver idles, how often he brakes, his average speed,
how much over the speed limit he goes and, most importantly, how many jobs he does
per day. It is hard to figure out the performance of a driver when the dispatcher is from
another company, which happens when a truck is being shared with another carrier.
Moreover, the way in which a person dispatches affects the performance of drivers. If the
dispatcher is less skilled, drivers are not going to do much work. If the dispatcher sends
the drivers all over the place, or to the wrong places, or if he does not organise matters
efficiently, a carrier cannot actually rate its drivers without bias. If a carrier does not
have the same dispatcher all the time, it may not be possible to figure out the average
over time and thus, performance measurement becomes difficult.
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion around Auckland City and the hassle of picking up multiple
containers during peak hours causes major difficulties that may reduce truck-sharing




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initiatives to a minimum. Since congestion affects strict delivery schedules and the
productivity of assets, transport managers are reluctant to secure backhaul
opportunities (Heriot Watt University, 2007). Traffic congestion in the Auckland
area is a problem and causes loss of income, time and causes pollution (Sankaran et al.,
2005). Nine oclock in the morning is a peak on the motorway since many people are
going to work. Twelve oclock is a peak because it is lunchtime. Three oclock is
another peak time as children are being picked up from school. Five oclock is another
peak because it is the start of the homeward rush hour. These are regular peaks in
traffic, but sometimes these are hard to predict. Sometimes there can be a traffic spike,
caused by Christmas or other holidays, on a Friday afternoon; this may occur suddenly
at and at two oclock because people are leaving work early because of the holiday;
such spikes occur randomly. Carriers can adopt strategies to avoid contributing to
traffic congestion. For example, the carrier would have more time to improve vehicle
use if the customers could receive deliveries at off-peak hours (Stock and Lambert,
2001). For other strategies to handle congestion, see Sankaran et al. (2005).
Holidays and events
A carrier also has issues such as the occurrence of holidays and events which disrupt
the schedule. The ports are closed during holidays and events. For example, POAL
ceases its business activities during a strike. The complex nature of these happenings
may have unexpected consequences, such as limiting truck-sharing possibilities or
hindering the attention necessary for the truck-sharing opportunities of carriers.
Relationship with drivers
A client may not want someone else coming in as a driver because they have a
relationship with a specific driver. Hence the minute the carrier puts someone else in
and replaces the driver the client wanted, the carrier upsets the relationship with a
regular customer. Almost every carrier has a couple of drivers whom customers like.
Customers just like them because those drivers understand them, they help with
unloading, and they help in ways beyond the expectation of the client. The customer is
even ready to pay for a favourite driver, if the driver is on holiday, to come and do a job
during his time off, because the client likes the driver. Since some clients do not want
unfamiliar drivers to work for them, the clients may be reluctant and unwilling to work
with an unknown driver in a shared-transportation project.
A collaboration framework
For road carriers, there is no commercial benefit in running empty. Some truck-sharing
happens among road carriers, but this not an extensive practice. Carriers may
share loads and exchange backwards and forwards but they do not share everything.
There is load sharing as far as constraints allow, as mentioned above. In some cases,
there are technical issues (e.g. cargo carrying capacity) involved with a container truck
and other constraints that cannot be controlled. This is one of the reasons a significant
amount of structural empty running will always remain (McKinnon, 2000). It should
also be noted that some constraints can be changed, treated, or modified for better
truck-sharing results such as, building a foundation of trust among trucking companies.
The suggested framework recognises, develops, and suggests, the key elements for
collaboration among road carriers in order to consider the interaction among the necessary

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elements that lead to effective company decision-making; decisions that can lead to the
reduction of the number of empty trips. The propositions offered may not fully solve the
empty running problem. However, McKinnon (2000) states that a small decrease in empty
trips can be expected to have dramatic effects for several key environmental conditions
and benefits.


Variable selection
When adopting a shared-transportation framework for the development purpose, it is
vital to take into account the truck-sharing constraints; Table II is presented to provide an
idea of boundary for those important constraints taken into consideration. Variables are
based on the transcription of the interviews and the objectives of the study. For example,
variables, as endogenous factors, that decision makers are likely to monitor and manage
are considered to be the most important candidates for selection and inclusion in a
framework. It also has been taken into account that endogenous factors may have
the highest impact on potential policies for truck-sharing and transport capacity
management to ensure that transportation services needed to maintain a minimum level
of service standard are available to the companies that buy transport services. For
example, carriers repeatedly report that more trust and proper co-ordination among road
carriers would be likely to cause a reduction in the number of empty-truck trips, along
with the expectation of greater flexibility from the seaport authority in regard to the truck
appointments system, its charges and timing. A few variables have been excluded
although they are only slightly related to the research purpose, for example, customer
demand. Customer demand may not be much influenced or controlled by the preferences
of the port authority or carriers. These might be candidates for inclusion in other studies
into which they might fit better than in this study. The rest of the factors are treated as
exogenous variables. For more information, on selection guidelines of endogenous and
exogenous variables, see Richardson (2011).


Seaport flexibility
The truck-sharing constraints of port-related attributes have been reported many times
by carriers as important obstacles to making and finding a truck-sharing event.
Research findings suggest that these constraints may be significantly related to the
carriers flexibility. The study by Chan and Zhang (2011) defines carrier flexibility as
the fine-tuning of planned delivery capabilities to match variable customer demand.



Driving hours
Dangerous goods
Truck capacity
Container categories
Empty depot location
Holidays and events

Site limitations
Customer location
Container weights
Customer demands
Relationship with drivers

Seaport flexibility
Truck appointment system
Demurrage and detention
Export cut-off times
Seaport operating hours
Performance measurement

Table II.
Boundary determination
for truck-sharing


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The definition of carrier flexibility adopted in this study is the adjustment of planned
delivery capabilities to match the changing uncertainties of the external environment
to handle many problems such as traffic congestion or driver scarcity. Usually carriers
give great importance to flexibility (Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1983). The reason can be
justified by the burden of lack of flexibility, as in port-related constraints providing
additional obstacles for road carriers. For example, it is especially applicable to the
running truck appointment system at the POAL; carriers offer mixed reactions to
the effectiveness of the appointment system. Giuliano et al. (2006) expressed similar
concerns and noted that the success of the appointment system depends on the
operating policies of specific terminals. The presence and properties of such a system
can restrict a road carriers engagement in port operations and increase stress, despite
the possibility of reducing the truck turn-around time.
The completion time of a task may vary widely in the container transport industry,
and may be difficult to predict accurately, as follows: sometimes it may take between
10 and 20 minutes to drop off a container. This dropping off may be an issue, in which
drivers may sometimes take longer than expected to discharge a container. Hence each
task may run for an amount of time that varies, from a minimum of a few minutes, to
half an hour. Truck drivers are punctual of necessity. However, drivers may also arrive
either earlier or later than their scheduled appointment time to attend the reserved slot.
For instance, 41 per cent of trucks arrived either early or late to attend their bookings
in January 2012 (POAL, 2012). A detailed picture of the variable nature of truck
arrivals is shown in Table III. The appointment system is in place to help road carriers
to maximize the truck turn-time benefits while increasing the risks associated with
arrival flexibility of truck drivers at the port.
Increased flexibility may contribute to the avoidance of financial loss
(e.g. demurrage and detention charges) and should be a vital part of a road carriers
profitability, and the extent of flexibility and adaptability that is normally used to
assess organizational effectiveness (Steers, 1975). However, due to the scarcity of
resources, the port system still appears to be rigid in its dealings. It is difficult to ease
this situation. For example, land is a scarce resource in many container terminals
(Liu et al., 2001; Cheng-Ji et al., 2011). Therefore, McKinnon and Ge (2006) assured:
Efforts are, nevertheless, being made to tighten delivery schedules through the proliferation
of booking-times at industrial and commercial premises and introduction of heavier penalties
for failing to arrive within narrow time windows. These trends may discourage further
growth in backloading.

To summarize, the function of flexibility in the seaport system is intended to provide

convenience and to enable the system to accept uncertainties (e.g. traffic congestion)

Table III.
Random nature of truck
arrivals at the port

























Early for
booking (%)
Late for
booking (%)
Source: POAL (2011)

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in the external truck operations without the triggering of a penalty. The possession of
greater flexibility in seaport operations is a powerful tool in the creation of further
opportunities for truck-sharing events and a reduction in the number of empty truck
trips around the port territory. Although flexibility offers benefits for truck-sharing,
no system is without its challenges. Challenges can be overcome through the
awareness of flexibility and the justification of cost and benefit analysis. Hence, before
the consideration of investment, decision makers (here, the port authority) should first
cautiously assess the impact of increased flexibility on profitability or efficiency
(He et al., 2011). Opportunities for flexibility may come from many different sources.
The seaport authority can consider one form of flexibility: timing flexibility in
scheduling, such as in demurrage and detention, export cut-off times, and seaport
operating hours, as shown in Figure 13. In these cases, flexible work schedules could
operate to meet the needs of carriers towards creating, building, and retaining a
positive attitude for truck-sharing. In particular, backloading is feasible only when a
schedule is sufficiently flexible (McKinnon and Ge, 2006).



Performance measurement
Although addressing flexibility issues in seaport operations is important, some other
carrier-related variables (four major factors that have been frequently reported by
carriers) as referenced in the boundary determination table, can also help to drive
more effective collaboration towards truck-sharing. Joint performance measurement
is one of those critical carrier-related variables that can be designed, developed and
implemented for better truck-sharing outcomes. Therefore, analysis of joint
performance measurement is an important component; it has been included here to
cultivate a more positive attitude to truck-sharing among road carriers.
Carriers need to understand how to make joint decisions for specific needs and to
work effectively by establishing and improving collaboration and making use of all the
available information to which they have access. Many authors address the importance
and support the idea of joint performance measurement for collaboration (Min et al.,
2005), although most previous studies of performance management are single-company
oriented (i.e. within the organization) (Beamon, 1999). However, many of the interview
respondents stated that it is important to measure the performance of the participating
road carriers in a truck-sharing arrangement in order to explore the areas where
attention and/or improvement are required and especially to quantify the efficiency and
effectiveness of the individual driver of the respective road carrier. The study by Neely et al.
(1995) expressed similar concerns. A performance measurement system (PMS, for more
information, see Papakiriakopoulos and Pramatari, 2010) for evaluating truck-sharing



and detention

cut-off times

operating hours

Figure 13.
Flexible seaport policies as
a driver for truck-sharing


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Table IV.
Expected performance
measures in a
truck-sharing PMS

performance is expected to have a profile of users (exporters, importers and truck

operators). The profile can be based on their preferences and past trip histories of slot
sharing (e.g. number of accepted slots, number of offered slots, user ratings). The PMS can
evaluate the performance of truck drivers and operators based on their past participation
in shared trips and the carriers can use those data for performance measurement.
By sharing performance data, carriers can explore and identify possible bottlenecks
and can take action to improve those areas to influence overall performance.
However, one of the obstacles to successful implementation of a collaborative
performance management system is the complexity of developing suitable performance
measures (Busi and Bititci, 2006). A performance measure is a single or composite piece of
information given to the company management with which to compare and contrast
the quality of an outcome (e.g. a truck-sharing event). For example, a few respondents
provided specific examples for developing such variables of interest in a truck-sharing
PMS as shown in Table IV: reduction in the number of empty trips of a truck, carbon
emission savings, capacity utilization of a truck and cost saving. Many studies emphasise
that a PMS should have both financial (e.g. cost saving) and non-financial data
(e.g. capacity utilization of a truck) (Kaplan and Norton, 1995).
One interview respondent provided an example of the way in which a PMS can be
designed in a collaborative truck-sharing environment. The idea was also supported
and discussed thoroughly by some of the other respondents. Carriers can monitor the
performance of their truck drivers because trucks have GPS units that give managers
live data on fuel burning, carbon emission savings, the level of force used in truck
braking, how much wasted drivers time has been incurred and truck slot utilisation.
All can be accomplished electronically using telematics, which is useful to enable,
expand, and optimize collaboration with improved connectivity for better transport
management and optimization (Mason et al., 2007). Therefore, due to the superior
visibility of transport operations, telematics makes it easier to communicate between
the driver and the base to organize backhauls (Department for Transport, 2003a, b).
For example, for every job which is allocated to a truck number, managers can see live
KPI reports on how well a truck driver is doing compared with somebody else. The
manager publishes that data upon a big screen every day, so the drivers can see live at
lunchtime how well or poorly they are doing. For instance, the number of deliveries
they did for the period. If it is 8:30 pm and drivers started at 5.00 am that morning,
one driver might see that he has done one job although everyone else has completed
five. Automatically he can see how his performance compares with that of others. Only
a few large carriers measure the performance of truck drivers in this way; this could be
copied by other carriers for measuring the performance of truck-sharing events in a
collaborative culture. Performance management of a driver would be important in
Performance measure



Empty trips
Emission savings
Capacity utilization
Cost saving

Number of empty trips reduction by a truck

Emission savings for reducing empty trips by a truck
Number of slots remaining empty in each trip
Cost saving for truck-sharing in a trip


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working jointly in a truck-sharing arrangement and would have an impact on the

business in a competitive environment.
The study of Simatupang and Sridharan (2002) recommended a generic process to
measure performance in a collaborative setting. According to Papakiriakopoulos and
Pramatari (2010), that generic process involves:
design of the PMS;
presence of a common information sharing and resource allocation system for all
involved parties to support the PMS;
availability of incentives; and
continuous improvement of performance measures.
To sum up, it has been briefly discussed here how PMS for a truck-sharing event
works as a way of recording the performance of the drivers on container trucks using
telematics and the way in which identifying referencing variables can be used to access
the performance of drivers in order to compare the value, or improve the attributes,
of the variables to updating the overall performance of a truck-sharing event. However,
the last two decisive factors of the study of Simatupang and Sridharan (2002) are
beyond the scope of discussion of this paper.
The majority of respondents believed that the presence of trust among carriers is
essential to truck-sharing success due to the competitive market structure. Following
the importance, lack of trust among partners is the reason for less success in dyadic
relationships than intended (Sahay, 2003), because sufficient trust needs to exist to
overcome the risk that one party will not exploit the weaknesses of another party
(Svensson, 2004). A mechanism should be in place to encourage road carriers to
follow, assess and establish trust among them. However, Naesens et al. (2007) argue
that a specific context-oriented model on how to establish and sustain trust is not
available in the supply chain management literature. Thus, the question arises as to
how a road carrier can develop trust for mutual benefit. One respondent explained how
trust develops between a larger carrier and a smaller carrier in the container
transportation industry.
A trust building model. Building trust is like making many small deposits in the
bank account as part of long-term planning. Trust takes time to build and establish
among larger and smaller carriers as can be seen in Figure 14. Sometimes some larger
carriers pull resources from smaller carriers and exert influence and bargaining power
(for more information on bargaining power, see Cool and Henderson, 1993; Handfield
and Bechtel, 2002) because of the relative size of the larger carrier. It starts off at the
beginning of the year when a larger carrier might have an urgent job that they cannot
cover using their own trucks. Some of them have close relationships with a few smaller
carriers and they will utilise whatever fleet those smaller carriers have available to
assist them. In other cases, the larger carrier will phone around other companies
(especially, the smaller carriers with whom they do not have any direct competition),
ask the charge for the job and plan to start a working relationship after assessing the
costs (e.g. charges to be paid to the smaller carrier) and benefits (e.g. payments about to
be received by the larger carrier). This is called calculative trust, as carriers decide to




Larger Carrier:
An Urgent Job?

Offer More

Smaller Firms


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Figure 14.
A relationship-building
model for road carriers



Offer the Job

form the relationship based on a cost-benefit analysis (Paul and McDaniel, 2004;
Ghosh, 2008). The involved parties aim to maximize their gains and minimize their
losses in their transactions (Kramer, 1999).
The other company, if they are sufficiently rational, economically, will see
the advantage of the volume that the larger carrier is offering and the benefits that may
be accrued. Smaller carriers lose money if trucks are running empty on one leg of the
journey. For every kilometre that a truck is running empty, deadheading costs are
generated. If the larger carrier finds an advantage after one or two trips, the smaller
carrier will benefit from an increase in volume. That is how such a project starts, and it
grows from that. This is called competence trust, which is based on the belief that the
smaller carrier is capable of doing what it says it can do (Butler and Cantrell, 1984;
Butler, 1991; Paul and McDaniel, 2004). It is rational to form a collaborative
relationship if the road carriers (i.e. parties) perceive the capabilities (e.g. technical,
operational or financial) of each other (Ghosh, 2008).
There are some smaller carriers that see no benefit in such an undertaking and they
prefer to avoid them. Such attitudes are slowly disappearing in the industry; this is a
good sign for all carriers. There will always be large carriers in the market, and it is
better to start a relationship that is specifically based on rational trust, which is the
degree to which one carrier experiences a personal attachment to another carrier (Paul
and McDaniel, 2004). It develops, perhaps, because of good will trust (Sako, 1992).
An illustrative case study. This case study presents the way in which two road
carriers (one larger and another smaller) created new service markets by truck-sharing
with each other and together developed mutual trust in order to earn profits in the
competitive market of container transportation in Auckland. The larger carrier would
sometimes contact dispatchers at the smaller carrier, to inform them that one of their
trucks was at the site, and whether they (the smaller carrier) had any opportunities of
their trucks running empty one way. If the smaller carrier was in this position, then the
larger carrier would say something like:

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[. . .] got a truck going now, coming off empty, and could we put a container on your empty
truck to get it out to here, or wherever your truck is going [. . .]?

or vice versa. On the other hand, if the smaller carriers truck was out somewhere, the
smaller carrier would call the larger carrier and the larger carrier would find work out
there; this is because of the large volume of trucking space that a larger carrier has and
that it is able to work in many locations. It is a good opportunity for both the smaller
and the larger carrier. The larger carrier uses set transporters at certain times. Thus, on
a day when the larger carrier may only utilise two or three providers, something
happens such as the port closing down for a week, then the larger carrier needs all the
work it can find. Idle trucks cost the larger carrier dearly. They rely on the smaller
carrier to save money. The commercial reasoning is obvious. The larger carrier does
not want to give away all its advantages. If the smaller company is aware of something
that will benefit them as well, they will take advantage of the opportunity. The
relationship between the smaller and the larger carrier is based on trust; it takes
continuous effort to build that trust.
Road carriers do not operate in complete isolation. If a road carrier does not find a
partner company with whom it can share resources, it faces a number of problems,
such as the failure to improve service delivery for customer satisfaction. Conducting
business in isolation can prove harmful to business profitability over time. However, it
takes time to build a quality relationship.
Currently, many carriers in the industry today have been in the business for a long
time. Carriers are selective of which customers, or information, they will let other
carriers have access to because they have to make sure that they have a contract and
proper co-ordination procedures in their actions, objectives, decisions and information.
The act of merging these elements together is called co-ordination (Ghosh, 2008).
Proper co-ordination among road carriers is important. It helps to achieve supply chain
goals (Simatupang et al., 2002) and to realize optimal performance because most
companies (i.e. the road carriers) are independent organizations with conflicting
business objectives (Zimmer, 2002). Such conflicting objectives can overlap; although
in most cases, they do not align with the general business objectives for each of the
collaborating road carriers. This may lead to higher transportation costs as a result of a
lack of proper co-ordination among them (Lee et al., 1997).
A co-ordination mechanism ensures that decentralized and independent
organizations can act like a centralized one (Zimmer, 2002). The study by
Simatupang et al. (2002) suggested four different modes of coordination: logistics
synchronization, information sharing, incentive alignment and collective learning.
Some respondents emphasised their view that it should be the information sharing
leading the process of co-ordination for all carriers. Some examples are given here to
illustrate that information sharing provides the necessary mutual gains for the carriers.
These are examples of the type of information sharing that frequently takes place
among them. What all these given-examples show, other than how different types of
information coordination efforts have been used to help each other in the delivery of
operations, is that further opportunities exist for the increase in co-ordination among
carriers and the potential to realize and gain further efficiencies in truck-sharing.




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Information sharing. Carriers regularly share relevant information with each other
and the larger carriers have access to a variety of high-tech tools to facilitate
information sharing on a structured basis. The importance of sharing information is
considered as an essential component of collaboration (Mason et al., 2007), and overall
supply chain performance is optimal when information is shared in an integrated
environment in order to facilitate the dissemination of information to decision makers
(Shah et al., 2002). A sufficient amount of sharing of relevant information ensures the
proper co-ordination of activities among road carriers. Although many of the real
world examples of information sharing applications in the literature are viewed from
the perspectives of manufacturers and retailers (Simatupang et al., 2002), very few
examples come from the container transportation industry. Therefore, an attempt is
made here to deepen the understanding of the nature and importance of information
sharing among carriers.
Sharing information allows road carriers to keep informed of new changes in the
environment, such as recent changes in road user charges (RUC) in NZ. Whereas,
beforehand, a truck driver could buy a road user licence for the tonnage that he had on
his vehicle. A driver could buy a 15 ton sticker or a 20 ton sticker, depending on the
weight carried. The government changed the rules. If a vehicle could carry 25 tons then
it must display a 25 ton sticker at all times. Carriers did not have the ability to lower the
RUCs. There was considerable information sharing among carriers about what the
carriers were doing and how they were doing it and also, about the configuration of
trucks. For example, whether a carrier should go for six wheelers or whether a carrier
should go for eight wheelers and the weight they could carry. There was a frequent
amount of sharing information as what are they were doing. They asked questions
such as Are we doing it better? and Which is the best configuration to use?. Such
information sharing continues to takes place among carriers for RUC.
Another excellent example of information sharing is the VBS. The VBS at the port
gave rise to a lot of communication between different carriers. They began talking to
each other: discussing such matters as the downside of their business, how it was to be
managed, how many more people would be required to manage it and what would be
their anticipations. So, RUC and VBS were the two most popular topics of conversation
amongst carriers. The goal of such sharing and dissemination is to facilitate the
distribution of relevant, actionable, timely, and classified or unclassified information
(Wang and Strong, 1996).
A truck-sharing scenario. The users of a truck-sharing service are assumed to be
independent; however, private trucking companies with different business objectives
or courses of action; aims and objectives can vary from carrier to carrier. Typical
objectives are: profit maximization, market growth and customer satisfaction. Along
with such diversified objectives, the road carriers have decentralized organizational
structures in which daily operations and decision making responsibilities are delegated
within organizations. At present, around 250 trucking firms are registered to continue
with business operations at the POAL.
A truck-sharing event requires extensive information sharing among these large
numbers of decentralized road carriers and their diverse customers (exporters or
importers). For example, it requires the provision of preferences (e.g. a maximum
deviation from the direct route to pickup or drop off any empty or full container and the
highest number of stoppages where the driver will stop the truck) of the drivers and the

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requirements (e.g. departure and destination points of the containers) of the exporters.
So, truck-sharing needs proper data sharing selection mechanisms and a complete
knowledge of the issues, such as cost, risks involved, and quality of shared data.
Addressing these concerns affects the degree of success in relationships (Ghosh, 2008).
Managerial implications
Given the importance of exploring and describing container truck-sharing constraints,
the objective of this study was to investigate the feasible truck-sharing opportunities
and their limitations. In order to increase understanding of the influences affecting
road carrier motivation towards shared-transportation, the findings of this research
paper provide insights. These important insights have managerial implications and
are relevant to business practitioners in the container transportation industry:
Simply relying on a road carriers success by depending on the firms assets
(e.g. number of container trucks) may not be sufficient to enhance its profitability
and competitiveness in the long run. Collaboration is the key in most cases. Many
issues negatively affect a collaborative truck-sharing initiative and a majority of
those are completely out of the road carriers control, such as the impractical
expectations from a carrier of a customer, the presence of different container
types and the site limitations at the premises of the shippers.
The study provides examples of operational inflexibility for road carriers; these
may result in poor collaboration in achieving the desired results of successful
truck-sharing, such as: the possibility of running out of time to attend the booked
slot of the appointment system; creating dissatisfied customers by imposing
severe demurrage and detention charges; failing to reconcile export cut-off times;
or the slowing down of operations because of strict seaport operating hours.
One of the few already operational examples of successful collaboration efforts
among road carriers is evident in the industry for truck-sharing. Such a real-life
example is based on developed trust to earn profits in a competitive market. This
is an interesting result as it implies that further opportunities to increase
collaboration among road carriers may exist; and added efficiencies may be
potentially realized and achieved by helping carriers to follow the given
relationship-building model towards developing competence and rational trust.
The above findings lead to a collaboration framework that will advise transport
and seaport managers on how to establish collaborative arrangements among
road carriers with the objective of reducing the number of empty truck trips.
Some vital truck-sharing constraints can be changed, treated, or modified, such
as establishing a joint PMS and enhancing co-ordination for information sharing
among road carriers. Therefore, the framework is developed and described based
on the exploration of the roles of seaport flexibility and the impact of developing
a joint PMS, and establishing and sustaining trust and co-ordination among road
carriers for truck-sharing success.
The quality of hinterland access is an increasingly important problem among port
authorities because of evolving system-wide capacity shortages in major seaports around
the world. Slow rail and barge transportation is cost-effective, but does not provide fast




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door-to-door transportation. This makes environmentally harmful and financially

expensive container truck transportation an attractive alternative to exporters and
importers. However, an attempt at solving the capacity shortage problem (e.g. container
transport capacity, in particular in the hinterland) by simply increasing the number of
container trucks is a costly solution, which encourages carbon emissions, traffic
congestion, fuel consumption and pollution. However, a nonstructural mechanism
(e.g. without a lots of risks, investment and efforts) to increase road-side transport capacity
is to lessen the number of empty truck trips to transfer increased number of containers
using the same number of trucks. It is also important to address the empty trips issue
to avoid congestion problem and to improve freight efficiency (Theofanis et al., 2007).
The traditional method (VRPB) of solving the empty trips problem may work under
the assumption of a centralized decision-maker for a single carrier. However, such a
solution may become ineffective in a supply chain setting where many road carriers are
involved. For an instance, around 250 trucking companies are registered to continue
business functions at the POAL. On the other hand, the decentralized perspective
(where all road carriers and their container trucks are taken into consideration to address
the empty trips problem) of problem-solving may benefit the whole supply chain by
decreasing road congestion around seaports, carbon emissions, and transportation costs,
and by increasing the system-wide truck capacity. Although the empty trucks problem,
from a decentralized perspective, has not been addressed widely in studies, those few
studies have either ignored exploration of the practical obstacles of truck-sharing
initiatives or have not been planned to observe and suggest a collaboration framework
to overcome the inherent constraints of truck-sharing initiatives. In accordance that
significant fact, the findings of supply chain collaboration literature and maritime
logistics studies confirm that there is a gap in the literature: there is little theoretical and
empirical support for explaining the existence of co-ordination problems among
container road carriers to mitigate or lessen the problem of empty truck trips.
In order to fill this research gap in the supply chain collaboration literature and
maritime studies, the objectives of this paper are to explore the application of
truck-sharing challenges and a successful way to deal with them to help practitioners
gain knowledge of shared-transportation. This is facilitated by:
understanding the industry trends (opportunities and threats) affecting the
trucking industry;
considering collaborative arrangements between road carriers and
non-controllable constraints in maximizing truck utilization to include more
collaboration and effort towards truck-sharing success; and
exploring the roles of some important truck-sharing constraints that can be
changed, treated, or modified for better truck-sharing results, such as building a
foundation of trust among trucking firms, or sustaining coordination among
road carriers.
Based on the idea of real-life obstacles to container truck-sharing initiatives, and
integrated with earlier research, this study was conducted through the interviewing of
road carriers since truck-sharing success requires supply chain collaboration among
those carriers.
Research findings show that port-related attributes, such as improving flexibility
in the truck appointment system, demurrage and detention, export cut-off times,

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and seaport operating hours, have been reported many times by interviewees as main
constraints against truck-sharing. Second, although addressing flexibility issues in
seaport operations is important, developing a joint PMS can also help to drive more
effective collaboration towards truck-sharing. Third, interviewees have mentioned
that, due to the competitive market structure in the container transportation industry,
the presence of trust among carriers is essential to truck-sharing success. Lastly, some
objectives of the carriers do not generally align with the business objectives for each
collaborating road carrier. The non-aligned objectives may lead to higher
transportation costs as a result of lack of appropriate coordination among them. All
of these issues can lead to problems with higher utilization of container trucks; these
important truck-sharing constraints can be adjusted for better truck-sharing results.
Thus, the proposed framework has the potential to be used at seaports in the
maximization of truck-sharing efforts.
Since the evolving system-wide capacity shortage is a problem facing many
seaports of the world, the full utilization of the empty slots of container trucks has the
potential to increase transport capacity. Therefore, the identified and described
truck-sharing constraints can be further tested for other ports of the world to fine-tune
them for particular contexts and to make these claims applicable to a wide range of
scenarios. Hence a limitation of the current study is the context-based findings, which
reflect the container transportation industry of NZ.
The truck-sharing constraints of port-related attributes have been reported many
times by carriers as being the vital obstacles to the making and finding of a
truck-sharing arrangement. This is appropriate for the operational truck appointment
system, which has received mixed reactions from road carriers. Hence future research
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