The Trucking Industry Catches Up to the Digital Age
With over half of adults owning a smartphone or other mobile device, the assumption is that online technology, especially mobile app technology, has permeated every aspect of our personal and commercial lives. Yet, a few areas exist where technology is still catching on. One of these laggards has been the trucking industry, which according to TruckingInfo.net employs more than 3.75 million truck drivers in North America of which one in nine (> 400,000) are owner operators.
The most obvious area where online, mobile technology is starting to play a big role is in solving truckers’ “deadhead” problem.
When an independent trucker drops off a load, he or she heads back to home base. Without a return load, however, they are stuck with the gas and maintenance bills for that trip. Long gone are the paper and pin methods of finding loads at local truck stops, but the system still relies on brokers and manual methods to a great degree to find those loads.
Because of the inherent inefficiencies of the old-style brokerage system, drivers must share up to 30% of their gross fee to find a return load via a broker. Brokers have a vested interest to keep things as they were, but the truckers with the help of new mobile app start-ups are changing the way the game is played.
For instance, Keychain Logistics makes an app already in use by 20,000 drivers that serves as an online, automated exchange for drivers and shippers to match their respective needs. For this, Keychain takes only a 6 to 12 percent cut. Other tech companies, such as Trucker Path, Inc. are branching out from route assistance apps to creating their own shipper-carrier exchanges.
Trucking is now set to take full advantage of a digital world that promises to make trips smoother, utilize previously unused cargo space, streamline regulatory paperwork and help shippers and carriers make more money.
Driver Route Assistance and More
Trucker Path, is the most popular travel planning mobile app used in the trucking industry. It displays a route map that highlights every site of note for a long-haul trucker such as rest areas, truck stops, parking sites, truck washes, Walmart stores that allow parking, hotels, restaurants and weigh stations. It runs on both Android and iOS.
It is used by more than 200,000 drivers and boasts the most up-to-date and accurate information because the database is constantly updated by the drivers themselves. Driver rely especially on weigh station open/closed status and traffic conditions to help them forecast an accurate ETA. They also know ahead of time which are the best restaurants and hotels to stay in because other truckers on the app can leave detailed reviews.
Recently, a large Chinese social media company, Renren, invested $1.5 million in Trucker Path, which they will use to develop a new social media platform for the trucking industry. This will connect all the players including brokers, shippers, carriers and the truckers themselves. The new app augments their new mobile brokerage platform that is already released in beta with over 140,000 users.
The Uber Model Applied to Trucking
Cargomatic, has developed a mobile, local-market logistics app that matches up shippers with local, short-haul carriers who have partially loaded trucks. Think of it as the defrag app on your PC or laptop that fills in the empty spaces between files. Retailers and manufacturers utilize Cargomatic to make small shipments without the expense of hiring an entire truck and truckers make money by filling up that space.
Since everything is done online via Cargomatic’s desktop and mobile apps, they eliminate the hassle of hard copy paperwork and payments are expedited between shippers and carriers. It is ideal for small truck fleets that normally ship within a 200 mile radius. It is a great way for ecommerce retailers to get their products out to distributors, retail shops and individual customers.
Keychain Logistics, is another new tech startup designed to remove the inefficiencies in matching carriers and shippers with an app that displays between 40,000 to 200,000 load opportunities a day. They not only provide the app but have a brokerage license and carry cargo insurance to enable background checks and for completing all the necessary paperwork.
They have built up an impressive brokerage marketplace that matches fleet managers and owner-operators on loads via a variety of 3rd-party online boards. Origination and destination zip codes are all that are needed for computing the price. Their brokerage fees are half to one-third of manual brokers.
Convenience, Efficiency and Tracking Apps
In 30 states, drivers use the Drivewyze app to breeze through Drivewyze-capable weigh stations. Running from an Android or iPhone device, Drivewyze exchanges data electronically with the weigh station according to the local state’s regulations. The station can verify the driver’s credentials and history, truck weight and the truck’s operating history. Assuming no red flags pop up, the driver is free to pass through the station without stopping.
Other transportation-related apps are surfacing as the trucking industry finally comes into the digital age:
- MercuryGate’s phone app tracks loads, reports, rates and captures sign-offs.
- XRS Corporation logs hours-of-service, truck speed, CSA scorecards and compiles fuel and productivity data.
- KeepTruckin provides a fleet management app that includes electronic logs, tracking information and sends out alerts if there are hours-of-service violations.
Custom Mobile Applications
Optimus Information has experience developing and testing custom mobile applications for the transportation industry. Optimus has worked with fleet management applications for GPS vehicle tracking, dispatch applications for freight management, and other custom applications.
Contact Optimus Information to learn more about our experience with transportation applications and how we can help with your next project.