The logistics industry has been bombarded with years of overdue technological advancement ever since the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate went into effect in December 2017. Suddenly, drivers and carriers who had been using paper logs for decades had to install the devices in their trucks and learn how they work.
Technological advancement in the space has only increased since that pivotal moment, and brokerages have not been exempt from the pressure to keep up.
"Shippers are pushing brokers to become more efficient, especially given the fact that all last year rates were high," Trucker Tools CEO Prasad Gollapalli said. "If you look at the companies that have grown really well, those brokers that have updated technology are able to grow much better."
He explained that brokers who use the most updated and efficient technology are able to serve more customers, leading to improved scale.
"Technology plays a very important role in the growth of the brokerage because there are a lot of repeat tasks that technology can automate,"Gollapalli said. "Where humans take forever to make decisions, technology can make them instantly. When you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of data points, technology can do a much better job than humans sitting and trying to do it manually."
The freight industry saw a record year in 2018, and Gollapalli suggested brokers invest in their technology while the tides are still high so they are not left scrambling to catch up during the next downturn.
"This is the perfect time for brokers to update their technology because when the market is growing, it provides an opportunity for companies to try new things," he said. "When the tide comes down, the brokers that are not efficient get pushed out of the market. If companies wait until the tide comes down and try to react, it becomes very difficult."
New York-based Leonard's Express is one company that is taking the initiative to get its tech up to date. The family-owned asset- and non-asset freight and logistics provider has partnered with Trucker Tools to improve productivity and stay ahead of the game.
"We are just trying to get up-to-date with technology. We want to be better partners to our carriers," Leonard's Express Vice President of Logistics Troy Wiitanen said. "When I started in this business 20 years ago, I was given a notebook and a list of carriers. At that point, my job and responsibility was to go build my own capacity network. With a technology piece such as Trucker Tools, we have the ability to create our own capacity within that tool to help us become more efficient."
Leonard's Express will utilize Trucker Tools' Smart Capacity and Load Track softwares in order to manage capacity better and gain more visibility into the movement of its freight. The company will also be able to communicate with carriers better than before.
"The business has changed, and the nature of communication has changed. People are a lot more comfortable today using technology to communicate," Wiitanen said. "You still have to go out and build relationships with your carrier partner, but certainly from the standpoint of how efficiently you can interact with them, the Trucker Tools application is allowing us to do that more swiftly."
That gained efficiency is important because time is everything when it comes to moving freight.
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