At IMC, lightweight equipment is helping it lower shipper costs to better compete in drayage.

Fleet uses lighter weight trucks to increase payload capacity

March 11, 2024
At IMC, lightweight equipment is helping lower shipper costs to better compete in drayage.

Equipment weight matters in all trucking operations, but perhaps none more so than in the highly competitive container drayage market. That’s one reason IMC Logistics is investing significantly in its lightweight fleet. 

“With lightweight trucks, we’re able to provide drayage services to clients who would otherwise incur multiple cargo touchpoints, transloading, and delayed deliveries,” Will Connell, regional president of IMC, Gulf Region, said. “For overweight containers, our option is less expensive and more efficient.”  

IMC Logistics is a marine drayage provider that operates trucks and container chassis through an integrated nationwide network of smart depots to move cargo to and from all major rails and ports. Gulf Region serves customers at ports in Houston, New Orleans, and Mobile, Alabama, and from railheads in El Paso and Laredo. 

More than $3.5 million was invested in new equipment by IMC in the Gulf Region. Recently, the company took delivery of 20 International LT625 tractors to facilitate its heavy haul drayage services expansion in the Houston market. 

“Our new lightweight Internationals weigh 16,000 lb. on average,” John May, VP of business development at IMC, said. “That’s about 3,000 lb. lighter than a typical semi-truck in our fleet, and combined with a lightweight chassis, it means we can haul payloads up to 55,000 lb.” 

Specs for the Internationals shave weight with a smaller Navistar A26 engine that cuts 1,100 lb. Other weight savings come from a single 80-gallon fuel tank, wide-base single tires on aluminum wheels, disc brakes, and an under-cab exhaust system. 

“Despite their lighter weight, these trucks can handle higher payloads and pull containers of all sizes,” May said. “And while their fuel usage is comparable to heavier models, even with the single tank, our drivers can make shuttle runs at night without needing fuel between our facilities.” 

See also: IMC opens drayage yard in Louisville

IMC also fields five lightweight International sleeper models. While the sleepers weigh 700 lb. more than the day cabs, in certain scenarios, they can handle longer-haul shipments up to 54,000 lb. with permits and lightweight chassis. 

The IMC Houston fleet also includes new day cab pusher trucks.

“They weigh 500 lb. more than our lightweight models because they carry an extra axle,” May explained. “They’re equipped to haul 40- and 20-foot containers that are loaded ‘nose-heavy’ with payload weights up to 47,000 lb. using a standard chassis.” 

Among the 269 trucks in IMC’s Gulf Region, 40 are company trucks, including 25 Internationals and 15 Mack day cabs. The trucks are kept running efficiently by company shops in larger locations and partnerships with International and Mack dealerships at smaller drayage facilities. In the event of a breakdown, the company has rental agreements with OEM dealers and Penske Truck Leasing

“Scheduling maintenance can be a juggling act in a drayage operation,” May said, “but we’ve been successful by arranging service on weekends and by using mobile PM services to handle our needs on-site.” 

“We pay close attention to our equipment’s performance because unplanned downtime severely impacts our operation,” May continued. “For the past nine months, IMC fleets nationwide have been using TMT Fleet Maintenance software to manage maintenance and for performance and cost tracking. The data also lets us see trends and common issues that we can address.” 

Overall, the IMC fleet gets positive reviews from drivers, according to Connell.

“Late model, newer equipment helps retain drivers, and so do our pay and benefits packages,” he said. “Additionally, our day and night shift drivers are home daily, and sleeper drivers are usually only out overnight two times a week. We also promote a team culture, so everyone is invested in understanding our challenges and working together to find best practices.” 

According to Connell, IMC’s approach to drivers reduces turnover and keeps the fleet on track to have 60 company drivers for its 40 company trucks. For slip seat operations and facilities that operate seven days a week, more drivers than trucks are needed.  

“Combined, our success with drivers and our equipment—and especially our new lightweight trucks—means we can save our customers money by handling heavier containers without transloading delays and extra cargo handling,” Connell said. “That is also what makes us a better competitor for freight in our market.” 

About the Author

Seth Skydel

Seth Skydel, a veteran industry editor, has more than 36 years of experience at fleet management, trucking, and transportation and logistics publications. Today, in editorial and marketing roles, he writes about fleet, service and transportation management, vehicle and information technology, and industry trends and issues. 

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