Digital freight brokers have made it easier to move loads through an online marketplace, but the process is still cumbersome.
“Load boards have helped to get us where we are today, but a lot of inefficiencies are because of the way they are structured. Everyone throws everything into one pile and tries to find each other,” Prasad Gollapalli, CEO and founder of Trucker Tools, told FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller on the FreightWavesTV show, “Fuller Speed Ahead.”
Gollapalli described load boards as “reactive” and still operating on a “brick-and-mortar” basis. “They are waiting for people to find each other every single day,” he said. Gollapalli points to the inefficiency among brokers and carriers who’ve continually done business with each other having to meet again and again on the same load board for their next shipment.
With the emergence of a wide variety of digital freight matching platforms, individual brokers may find it difficult to form lasting relationships with carriers. According to Gollapalli, the biggest problems facing freight brokers today are visibility and the rise of “one-load wonders”: carriers who jump from one broker to another looking for their next load.
“These problems add to the cost of covering a load for a broker,” Gollapalli said. “That’s primarily the metric that we look at: What is the cost of carrying your load as a broker today, and what can we do to reduce that?”
Gollapalli quoted a guest from a previous “Fuller Speed Ahead” who stated that of the estimated 285,000 interstate carriers in the U.S., around 80% own five trucks or fewer. Small carriers are the ones largely participating in these freight “one-night stands.”
Gollapalli sees great value in the small carrier market segment, as combined it transports the majority of U.S. freight. He also notes that owner-operators act as “shock absorbers,” entering the space when the freight markets peak.
“Because they are so small, they are not on one unified platform,” Gollapalli said. “All the inefficiencies that we see today are because of that. A small carrier has no affinity to be with you, as a broker, for a long time. Today they’re with you, tomorrow they go to another. They’re jumping around.”
Gollapalli’s goal is to unify these carriers as well as brokers and 3PLs on Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity platform.
Trucker Tools provides shipment visibility, carrier capacity management, and predictive freight-matching solutions. Its Smart Capacity platform uses real-time data to match freight by predicting truckload availability days in advance.
According to Gollapalli, Trucker Tools has over 130,000 small carriers on its freight matching platform, which totals around 800,000 truckers. He explained that a unified platform provides visibility to track freight movements in real-time as well as the ability to match available loads with available trucks.
“We’re still using the word ‘matching,’ but where we are going is putting the owners back on the carrier to pick the freight that they want,” Gollapalli said.
The newest tool available on the Smart Capacity platform is the Book It Now feature, a fully automated platform to cover loads. From the convenience of a smartphone, drivers and dispatchers on the platform can review available loads from participating brokers that match available capacity and are in their preferred lanes, according to Trucker Tools.
The free mobile app has been downloaded over 500,000 times, according to Trucker Tools. Its intuitive features include real-time fuel prices, truck-specific routing and fuel optimizer, weigh scales, rest area and truck wash locator, weather and traffic information, and much more. Also included is Load Track, which connects freight brokers with carriers and drivers, eliminating manual check calls.
“The driver isn’t getting calls from the broker at all hours of the day,” Gallapalli said in a recent press release. “The app ‘learns’ the trucker’s preferences and presents loads and reloads aligned with their specific profile and where they want to go next. They can leverage one digital tool to book in an automated way with many brokers, benefiting from a streamlined process that’s simple, fast and accurate.”