From a technology perspective, there’s so much happening in the world of trucking and transportation, currently and in the very near future. In fact, within the next few years, we will start to see major tech developments in specific areas, including:
Robotic process automation
Artificial intelligence (AI) decision-making, algorithms, and analytics
While these upcoming advancements in technology can have a huge impact on the trucking industry in the future, there are some technologies and systems that are revolutionizing the way that owner-operators and small carriers find loads today.
For decades now, the logistics industry has relied on many of the same methodologies and tools across supply chains without much in the way of new processes. With a few notable exceptions, much of this system has remained the same, with pen-and-paper analog solutions.
But the multi-trillion-dollar logistics industry is currently resting on the shoulders of outdated processes. The freight industry has many, many moving parts, and finding freight is no exception. While some processes have been tested by time and will hold their place, others are quickly becoming outdated in an industry that calls for precise efficiency.
Then and Now: All About Digital Load Boards
Load boards, also referred to as freight boards, are where owner-operators, small carriers, shippers, and freight brokers post and search for freight. It’s a lot like a digital bulletin board, with all kinds of job postings available for the taking.
As you likely already know, for owner-operators and carriers, digital load boards are helpful when searching for loads in different locations and discovering where deliveries need to go. Owner-operators, carriers, dispatchers, and brokers all log onto load boards to communicate with each other, negotiate prices, and discover the status of a particular job.
Before digital load boards, which act as an online matching system, load boards worked just like bulletin boards that would hang from a dispatcher’s wall with a list of loads and drivers’ names. But with more and more people choosing to act as owner-operators or small carriers, this system would leave out many people looking to find freight.
Today, online technology has become very popular in the freight hauling industry, and there are seemingly countless load boards and online freight matching systems available. Some are free for owner-operators and small carriers, and others require a monthly payment to access load postings and negotiate with shippers and freight brokers.
Thanks to load boards, owner-operators and small carriers can limit downtime, save money, and quickly set agreements with brokers and shippers. Many companies post loads on these boards, making it easier than ever for independent carriers to find freight.
But just because this system is better than it was doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.
A Brighter Future: Machine Learning
What is one of the biggest problems with the current load board system? You’re tied to a computer screen or a phone all day, hoping to find loads that fit your capabilities and location needs. This means scrolling load boards for hours and hours, working to negotiate with shippers and brokers, and sometimes they promise one price and insist on a worse rate later. And other times, despite the hours you have put in, you do not end up securing the loads you’ve found.
Finding freight is only a small fraction of the responsibilities a carrier has to worry about.
Xpress Technologies (XT) has taken the perks and accessibility of load boards and added significant improvements all through the power of machine learning.
Machine learning uses artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms to identify patterns in massive amounts of data and predicts specific outcomes. This technology powers a lot of the services we commonly use today. And just like machine learning-based algorithms start to recommend your next favorite show on Netflix or songs you’re sure to love on Spotify, Xpress Technologies uses the same technology to suggest routes and loads based on your preferences and capabilities.
The more you use Xpress Technologies to find freight, the more personalized your recommendations become. Unlike other load boards where you have to sift through hundreds or even thousands of postings for a load that’s suited to your needs and locations, we recommend the best loads for you so you can find and book freight faster than ever.
In the same way that digital load boards once reimagined how loads are arranged, Xpress Technologies has revolutionized this process as the only machine learning-powered freight platform that’s so much more than just a load board.
Independent carriers love this solution because it’s far more efficient, offers dedicated lane opportunities, and maximizes their profits.
The Specs: What a Machine Learning Freight Platform Can Do
The Xpress Technologies freight platform helps carriers and owner-operators manage their business more effectively than ever before, all from one app-based system. As an enhancement to this cutting edge platform, carriers can opt into the Xpress Technologies Electronic Logging Device (ELD) to stay compliant and further improve load recommendations.
The Xpress Technologies ELD comes with no monthly costs or fees and includes a robust suite of features that are simple to use at each stage of freight hauling, from searching the smart load distribution platform to getting personalized recommendations for freight based on your preferences and much more, including:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliance tools
Hours of service tracking and duty status options
Tracking of hours of service violations
International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) compliance tools
Driver vehicle inspection reports
Fuel receipt tracking
With the Xpress Technologies ELD, you stay compliant with Hours of Service regulations and get load recommendations that improve every time you book a load, with no hassle to set up or access the array of features.
Xpress Technologies makes it easier to find and book high quality loads almost instantly.
Traditionally, carriers, and owner-operators have had to bid on loads, communicate with shippers and brokers, and set agreements through somewhat limited channels like phone or email. Carriers may wait hours for a call or a confirmation email, which wastes time, resources, and in the long run, money.
But with Xpress Technologies loads can be booked in real-time within the app itself, without juggling multiple apps or constantly checking emails.
Improved load recommendations
With these easy-to-use tools at your fingertips, everything you need as a carrier or owner-operator is all in one place; it’s a one-stop-shop for both finding freight and managing it.
What truly sets this platform apart is the machine learning solutions for transportation networks. While some load boards are expanding their features and functionalities, none of these simpler boards offer the same kind of intuitive freight suggestions based on previous data and past successes like the Xpress Technologies platform.
Still Room for Traditional Brokers in 2021 and Beyond
Yes, there is a movement towards machine learning, data-based algorithms, and other unified, technology-based freight management solutions. But this can never replace the role of traditional brokers who specialize in personalization. There’s still room for traditional brokers, even in a world of machine learning and digital load platforms, apps, and smart devices that manage most aspects of each freight load.
XT brokers use our proprietary machine learning-powered software to find freight in a fraction of the time it would take other brokers who rely solely on phone calls and emails. With our proprietary software, XT brokers are able to provide world-class customer service and connect with an expansive network of shippers. In short, XT brokers use our load platform to do what they do best, better and faster.
After all, as shared in FreightWaves, “technology rarely eliminates the need for human capital. It more often increases the efficiency of it. Looking at the U.S. economy over the past 30 years is a perfect example of this. Technology has improved vastly, and jobs have increased.” Yet, many times, brokers act as much needed human intermediaries to locate capacity and manage countless other aspects of each haul.
In this way, a digital load platform like Xpress Technologies still supports the work of traditional brokers and the dispatchers and owner-operators they collaborate with. It pairs the necessary interaction with real-time bidding, guaranteed capacity, and a fully-connected marketplace enhanced by optimal transport and machine learning. Not to mention automation that connects shippers and small carriers.
Even with the most cutting-edge technology solutions in place, no automation, machine learning algorithms, or innovative web or mobile apps can fully replace the need for human interaction. At Xpress Technologies we recognize the need for human interaction, which is why we pride ourselves on providing outstanding customer service. We provide our brokers with cutting edge technology so they can support our carriers to the best of their ability – whether it’s over the phone, online, or through our proprietary app. Carriers don’t need to worry about missing out on the benefits of traditional brokers and their freight opportunities; all of this is still possible and very much supported by our solutions.
The Future of Freight Means Innovation and Change
It’s no secret that the adoption of new technologies is happening faster than ever in every industry. For far too long, the freight industry has relied on antiquated solutions, but with new advancements in technology and machine learning-supported systems in place, carriers, owner-operators and dispatchers alike can hold the future of freight in their hands, all from their mobile phone.
We’ve seen over this past year that digital acceleration will only continue to grow at an exponential rate. For example, One McKinsey survey found that after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, respondents were three times more likely to say that an impressive 80 percent of their customer interactions would happen digitally. While some may view this with apprehension, it’s wise to remember that these kinds of tools will only make it easier to find qualified freight, get competitive rates, and manage freight from end to end in record time.
At Xpress Technologies, we leverage over 35 years of industry experience to innovate cutting-edge freight management solutions. We’re shaking things up with intuitive software that adjusts itself to your needs and preferences and guides you along every step of the process.
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