Patriot Freight Group

What Is Power Only Trucking and How Does It Work?

It’s estimated that 72.2% of America’s freight by weight is moved by trucks. It’s also a common misconception that trucks and trailers are always a package deal, with the same carrier owning and operating this combination. In reality, power only trucking is an ideal solution that can save shippers time, energy, and money when transporting goods. 

Power only trucking offers advanced technology that focuses on freight matching. This essential service provides solutions for truckload capacity and uses a system of dense networks to source a truck and driver separately from a trailer. 

This article explains why power only trucking might be the best option for your freight shipping services, along with countless benefits you can expect from this type of service. 

Power Only Trucking

Power only trucking is when a carrier only provides a tractor and a driver. This is also referred to as a “power unit”.

In this instance, this offers a solution to a full truckload. With power only trucking, the driver comes without a trailer and connects to a third-party trailer.

This trailer might be leased or owned by a shipper or a third-party logistics company (3PL). Once the trail is connected to the tractor, the driver hauls it to its next destination. 

There are benefits of separating a carrier and a trailer, such as third-party logistics companies offering flexible solutions to various truckload capacities. Shippers that own or lease a fleet of trailers also benefit from this convenient shipping solution.

Since shippers don’t need to worry about sourcing out a truck and trailer, they only have to work with their partner in transportation, searching for a local power unit that matches their freight. The shipper commonly knows the driver and their experience level with moving each load safely. A driver and shipper then sign an interchange trailer agreement and the freight is attached and ready for transport. 

Power only trucking is the same as drop and hook. Drop and hook is the process of hooking up trailers before transporting them. If you’re looking to secure power only loads, you’ll need to work with freight brokers. You can also work with digital services that match up freights. 

Who Uses Power Only Trucking?

Power only trucking is common among companies that ship dry van or open-deck items. Power only loads are also utilized by companies that own a fleet of trailers and need freight shipping drivers. These companies usually don’t employ drivers of their own.  

The companies that rely on power only loads don’t usually have a semi-tractor on hand. This means they don’t have the ability to move trailers around their yard or from one loading dock to the next. 

Shippers without a fleet of trailers may find power-only trucking difficult. Any shippers without extra space for trailers would also find power only trucking a challenging task. 

It’s important to understand that companies that need their shipments to arrive at a very specific time might not benefit from a power unit. This includes anyone who transports refrigerated products or raw produce. 

Benefits of Power Only Trucking

Power only trucking has become popular with shippers for various reasons. For starters, it can help save shippers money and provide flexibility when needed. 

Here are some other benefits of power only freight shipping. 

Insurance Not Required

On average, semi-truck insurance costs anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. An insurance policy for a semi-truck owned by an owner-operator who has their own authority can cost as much as $12,000 —per truck. 

However, shippers that rely on power only trucking don’t have to worry about paying for insurance. The trucker also benefits from this, as they can secure more loads.

Zero Maintenance

The cost to maintain a truck can swiftly add up. For example, an oil change can cost as much as $700, and, coupled with other expenses, maintaining a single truck can easily cost $5,600 annually. 

Power only trucking alleviates the shipper’s need for maintaining a truck. As with insurance, this provides truckers with more opportunities to find available truckloads to transport. 


When a shipper owns their own fleet of trucks, they need to find storage for equipment that they may only need access to seasonally. But power only trucking provides greater flexibility. Shippers can bring on additional equipment as needed, providing them with a more flexible budget annually. 

Power only trucking also offers flexibility in a fast-paced industry. Since power only shippers have on-sight trailers, they can store freights until the arrival of a trucking solution. They won’t have to pay for drop trailer service and benefit from trailers nearby to load at the drop of a hat, adding a level of flexibility. 

When they have trailers loaded and ready to go, shippers can source for power only capacity only when they need it. This also offers shippers urgent or last-minute shipping solutions. 

More Profitable

When shippers benefit from lower overhead costs, the result is greater profits. Since they won’t be spending on maintenance and insurance, there will be more money left to go around. 

A fleet of semi-trucks can also set shippers back a pretty penny, and power only trucking can save them money. As money is saved, shippers can invest it elsewhere in their business. 

Freight brokers also have an easier time selling power only trucking close to a shipper’s facility. When loads are convenient for drivers, they’re more likely to service and deliver them. Convenient loads are also more affordable for shippers. 

Keeps Drivers Happy

Drivers want to be on the road, transporting loads and making money. They don’t want to sit idly by waiting for available loads to be hauled from place to place.

Power only trucking can reduce a driver’s wait time so they only have to pick up loads that are ready for shipping. As soon as they arrive at their destination, all they have to do is drop the load off (and maybe grab another load) before heading back home. 

Shippers may also find that power only trucking is more appealing to truckers than trailer pick-ups or full-fledged trucks are. Truckers must follow strict government regulations. These regulations determine how many on-dury service hours a trucker can accrue.

This means that truckers want to make the most use of their time, with power only pickups being the most advantageous. Truckers won’t have to wait around for available loads, which means they’ll spend their government-regulated work hours working and making money. 

Greater Supply Chain Efficiency

Power only trucking assists shippers with focusing on other aspects of their business. This is especially true of power only shipping that’s completed with a great transportation provider. 

Shippers won’t have to focus on when their trailer will be loaded. This means they can focus on their production schedules and other pressing matters.

Even better, third-party logistics companies and freight brokers may be able to coordinate pickups that best fit into a shipper’s needs. This added benefit can help companies adhere to deadlines and provide more reliable services to their customers. 

Power Only Trucking Uses

Power only trucking has two main uses that provide a shipper’s supply chain with flexibility. This includes the combination of leased trailers with power only capacity and the combination of the shipper’s trailers with power only capacity. 

Here’s a detailed breakdown so you know what to expect. 

Leased Trailers and Power Only 

When leased trailers are combined with power only trucking, shippers gain control over an asset carrier such as dropped trailers. The more flexibility a shipper has, the greater the scalability and responsiveness of these third-party logistics companies. 

Third-party logistics companies lease their trailers depending on a shipper’s specific capacity needs. From there, they work with shippers to coordinate where trailers should be dropped off, and when.

Shippers are able to load these trailers at their convenience. Shippers need to work with third-party logistics to determine who will assist the drop pool by sourcing power only capacity. They’ll also need to coordinate who will pick up the loaded trailers and deliver them to their destination. 

Keep in mind that third-party logistics companies are not limited to a single carrier’s network of physical assets. 

Companies would want to use power only trucking and leased trailers when they need drop trailer capabilities. Additionally, companies that require scalability and flexibility should use power only and leased trailer solutions.

This is ideal for warehouse or facility moves, during prime shipping seasons and weekend surges, or for special shipping projects. It’s also ideal for just-in-time shipping and consistent lanes that require drop trailers. 

Private Fleets and Power Only 

It’s common for shippers to own and operate their own fleet of trucks. These companies may use their fleet drivers to transport goods via their trailers. However, it may not be the most cost-effective or efficient option. 

This is where third-party logistics companies come into play. They provide shippers with their own fleet drivers and offer power only capacity.

This option is ideal for companies that need to correct network imbalances. It’s also great for companies who are dealing with seasonal surges in volume. Additionally, this option is also excellent for pre-peak trailer positioning when integrating new trailers and for pool tear-downs post-project. 

Types of Transportable Goods

Power only trucking can transport a variety of goods and cargo. For example, it can transport flatbed trailers and refrigerated trucks. It can also transport dry vans, tankers, and shipping containers. 

Remember that you would need multiple trucks to handle specific loads. You’ll also need to consider oversized loads or loads with hazardous items.

These loads would require the use of a driver with the appropriate training and qualifications. Power only trucking relies on shippers having access to optimal information about their cargo. From there, they can share this information with prospective drivers. 

Working With a Third-Party Logistics Company 

Shippers that work with a third-party logistics company will benefit from a power-only carrier. This carrier can transport goods on short service. They can also increase and decrease capacity as needed. 

Third-party logistics companies also offer an adjustable drop capacity. This is especially helpful when switching warehouses or redistributing an equipment network.  

Since your plans may be subject to change, working with a third-party logistics company allows you to easily implement changes. You can even request a customized service that adheres to your specific budget and timeline. 

Third-party logistics companies also allow you to focus on other company tasks and resources instead of worrying about logistics.

What to Consider

When working with third-party logistics companies, you’ll need to consider key factors. This includes your company’s specific needs, distance, and technology. Let’s take a look. 

Specific Needs

Always focus on your company’s expectations when considering the shipping method you use. Keep in mind customer expectations, especially since power only trucking specializes in reliable, fast service. If your customers need fast shipments delivered on time, then power only trucking is the best option. 

Location and Distance

Power only trucking is faster and more flexible than other shipping methods. This means it’s ideal for deliveries with short turnaround drive times and one-way deliveries. 


Power only trucking features plenty of modern-day features. Collaborative dashboards can monitor these services, focusing on brokerages and services for digital freight matching. 

Trucking Solutions for All Your Needs

Power only trucking is ideal for shippers without their own fleets who are looking to increase profitability. It’s also an excellent means of keeping drivers happy with secured work. 

No matter the job size, Patriot Freight Group can get the job done. We offer continuous delivery throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Alaska for both partial and full truckloads. Request a quote today