Trailer usage rate: the performance and profit indicator for truck fleets.

The trailer usage rate is the a performance indicator specific to trailer management. It is defined as the time the trailer is on the road compared with its potential usage time.

Example: in a company that works 5 days a week, a trailer’s potential is 5x24h=120 hours,
if the company delivers from 8 am to 5 pm and is on the road for 6 ½ hours, the actual usage rate is 6.5×5/120 = 27% time generating income.


The semi-trailer is known for being cheap, especially because its service life is much longer than the book and tax depreciations. It is therefore often less well regarded than the tractor unit, but it is still a resource that needs to be managed and maintained. It has an associated cost and, more importantly, a large amount of risks and sources of poor productivity. Most haulage indicators are productivity ratios for drivers and tractor units: Turnover per km, cubic metreage, tonnes, collection/delivery points per driver/tractor, etc. The semi-trailer usage rate only takes into account the semi-trailers’ activity.


remorque - enTaking up the semi-trailer usage rate means looking at productivity in another way to find new sources of savings and profits.
When properly monitored and analysed, the semi-trailer usage rate enables you to:

  • Ensure that the size of your semi-trailer fleet is right and that it is well distributed across a given area.
  • Understand the differences in performance between two semi-trailer or groups of semi-trailers, to identify activities that use too many resources for example.
  • Precisely adapt to seasonal activities.
  • Monitor subcontracted activities.
  • OInvest just enough



While the semi-trailer usage rate equals the tractor unit usage rate for businesses where the trailer to tractor ratio is 1:1, it is very useful for logistics, courier services, express deliveries, transportation of pallets, and any professions that use cross-docking, where the ratio can easily be over 3:1. It is also applicable for any companies that use subcontracted tractor units.

For example: How can we improve the 27% usage rate from our previous example? Why is the trailer only on the road for 6 ½ hours out of 9 working hours? Are there any unnecessary waiting times?  Improving rotations would enable the haulier to increase to 7 hours of use a day, i.e. a usage rate of 29%.