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Category Archives: Brokers

March 18, 2019

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Avoid getting stiffed: New flag on brokers with bonds pending cancellation can be effective recon tool

In early November, FMCSA stood up what amounts to a new flag on brokers/forwarders and motor carriers whose surety bonds/insurance have been marked  for cancellation by the provider.

This example of a new surety notice of pending cancellation is in the FMCSA’s Licensing and Insurance public-facing page for a broker who notified its surety provider, Transport Financial Services, it was voluntarily ceasing business at the end of the year, says TFS President Marold Studesville. Brokers whose bonds have been cancelled after a run-up in claims, too, will be thus flagged, partially sealing a loophole that allowed dishonest brokers to conduct business with no intent to pay even as they went under — or were formed with no intent to pay to begin with.

“The goal is to help the public who does business with these regulated entities know that an insurance company or financial institution that made the initial filing has submitted a pending cancellation of the entity’s policy in our system,” say reps from FMCSA’s Licensing and Insurance division. “The notice will remain in place until either the effective date of the updated filing has occurred, or that the authority has been revoked, due to the failure to comply with the insurance requirements.”

Read the complete article here.

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Highway robbery: Combating dishonest brokers

Small fleet owner Scott Jordan once had something of a maxim he’d repeat about his business dealings. “In all the years I’ve been in business,” around seven years as an independent, he’d say, “I’ve never been screwed over by the broker or shipper, only the trucker.”

 

Last year, that changed in a big way on a load that Jordan booked for one of his owner-operators. Working with a sizable broker, he was led to believe the freight was something of a need-it-now item. Complications ensued, appointments for delivery were rescheduled repeatedly, and rate confirmations were updated to reflect the changes. After reaching an agreement to store the load for about a week, it turned into a $3,800 load, well over the initial rate.

Written by Todd Dills originally published here. Read the rest of the article.

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HaulFox, FourKites Partner to Enhance Visibility for Freight Brokers

HaulFox, a provider of transportation management software for freight brokers, has partnered with freight-tracking technology provider FourKites to enhance supply chain visibility, the companies said in a joint announcement.

FourKites’ technology collects shipping location and status information in real time from more than 60 onboard GPS systems, electronic logging devices, trailer tracking devices and driver cell phones.

Using that technology, HaulFox customers gain access to accurate shipment locations and estimated time of arrival, including predictive weather and traffic impact on delivery times, every 15 minutes.

“Hours-old visibility updates were acceptable in the past, but now shippers expect their freight brokers to know where an 80,000-pound truck hauling $100,000 worth of cargo is at any given time,” said Jonathan Drouin, HaulFox founder and chief operating officer.

“FourKites and HaulFox share a unique view on supply chain automation and the enormous amount of efficiency it can provide for customers,” said Matt Elenjickal, CEO and founder of FourKites. “Integrated together, the platform takes the guesswork out of tracking valuable shipments across the country.”

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Convoy, Uber Accelerate Push to Match Carriers With Loads Via Mobile Apps

The push to automate freight brokering is gaining momentum with technology startup Convoy raising $62 million to accelerate its growth plans and Uber Freight adding features and expanding into new markets since its May launch.

These digital freight brokers offer mobile applications that match carriers with loads, automate manual processes and provide upfront pricing and speedy payment.

Other firms that are connecting carriers with available freight through smartphone apps include Transfix, TruckerPath’s Truckloads app, Cargomatic, Overhaul and LaneHoney.

Convoy’s new round of financing, led by startup accelerator Y Combinator, will enable the company to continue expanding its services.

Convoy will invest those funds in building a “national automated network of trucks and trucking companies,” CEO Dan Lewis told Transport Topics.

That expanded network will allow Convoy “to improve efficiency across the country and really start to lower the cost structure of the industry while also improving service levels,” he said.

At the same time, Convoy will continue to invest in its technology by hiring more workers with data science and engineering backgrounds.

The Seattle-based company currently has 120 employees and plans to “grow that significantly over the next couple of years,” Lewis said.


Convoy founders Grant Goodale and Dan Lewis, courtesy of Convoy

Since its launch in 2015, Convoy has been focused on automating various aspects of freight transactions, including pricing and load matching — in other words, “finding the right truck and the right driver for the right job at the right time at the right price,” he said.

Uber Freight is working to solve that same problem.

Uber Freight has updated its platform to provide personalized load matching designed to make it easier for drivers to find the types of freight they like to haul.

The app now automatically learns drivers’ preferences based on their past loads, location, home base, length of haul and other factors, the company said. When a new load that matches these preferences becomes available, the app pushes a notification to the driver.

“We are continuing to evolve the product and we are releasing a series of features to help get the right load to the right driver,” said Uber Freight Director Bill Driegert.

“The app is scraping all the loads that are in our system and pinpointing the ones that are the best suited to each driver at any given time,” added Eric Berdinis, Uber Freight’s senior product manager.

Berdinis described the update as “the first step in a longer journey.” As Uber continues to refine the technology and learn more about driver preferences, the goal is to reach a point where the load notifications sent to drivers are “a perfect match every time,” he said.

Uber Freight also is expanding its focus beyond its initial launch market in Texas.

While shippers and carriers already are using the app to move freight throughout the country, Uber is now working to increase the amount of loads available on the platform in major metro areas in California, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Chicago and the Midwest.

“By focusing on these particular regions, we’re trying to drive density in targeted areas and also getting more and more drivers onto the application in those areas,” Driegert said.

While most of Uber Freight’s loads today are still in Texas, drivers can expect to see a greater number of loads available on the app in these new markets in the coming months, the company said.

It declined to say how many loads have been moved via the platform or how many drivers are currently using the app.

Uber Freight is a unit of ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc.

In addition to Y Combinator, Convoy’s financing round also included Cascade Investment, the private investment company controlled by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, as well as Mosaic Ventures and Barry Diller.

Anu Hariharan and Ali Rowghani, partners in Y Combinator’s Continuity growth fund, joined the Convoy board of directors.

“By improving trucking, Convoy is improving the foundation of our economy,” Hariharan said. “This service allows shippers to transform their supply chains at the same time that it allows carriers to grow their businesses more quickly, on their own terms. In 10 years, we’ll be astonished that this was ever done another way.”

Convoy said its customers include more than 300 shippers of various sizes, including Fortune 500 companies such as Unilever and Anheuser-Busch.

“A lot of them want to make a bet on the future because they’re excited about innovation and trying new things and learning how to improve their businesses,” Lewis said. “We want to be that bet.”

About 10,000 trucking companies are participating in Convoy’s freight network, the company said.

“We’re doing thousands of jobs per week now,” Lewis added.

Prior to its latest round of funding, Convoy had previously raised almost $20 million, he said.

Other Convoy investors include Reid Hoffman and Simon Rothman of Greylock Partners, Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos via Bezos Expeditions, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Code.org founders Hadi and Ali Partovi, former Starbucks President Howard Behar and the founders and CEOs of Expedia, eBay, Instagram and DropBox.

Even as digital freight brokers such as Convoy and Uber Freight push to expand their networks, Convoy’s Lewis said his company is competing primarily with asset-based carriers and traditional freight brokers, at least for now.

“That’s the majority of who we bump into when we do business,” he said, adding that there hasn’t yet been a lot of overlap between the digital freight companies given the size of the transportation industry.

That will change, however, if these companies successfully realize their growth plans.

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The Pros and Cons of Shipping a Car or Truck

Women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, accesories, shoes, jewellery and more are in the Fashion Zone .

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Latest ‘uber for trucking’ launches app — this time, it’s from Uber itself

“Uber for trucking,” long considered a freight-matching unicorn, has come to a kind of fruition, with the ride-sharing giant today unveiling its brokerage’s Uber Freight matching app aimed at the owner-operator market with a focus on dry van and reefer loads.

The unveiling comes as one of the company’s other initiatives, its autonomous vehicle development subsidiary Otto, is embroiled in a lawsuit with Google, who claims Uber and Otto stole trade secrets related to autonomous truck tech.

Uber Freight Senior Product Manager Eric Berdinis says the company leaned on its expertise in matching supply and demand and building pricing algorithms in the passenger market, transforming that process into matching freight with owner-operators and small fleets.

“We’re technically a brokerage,” Berdinis says, “and we do that so we can take ownership of the freight and pay our drivers and carriers quickly.”

That aspect, Berdinis says, is what Uber Freight believes will differentiate the company from similar services already in the marketplace.

“We value [prompt payment for delivery] as one of our big promises to our app users,” he says. “Regardless of when the shipper pays us, we’ll pay out for any load that is taken out on our app within a couple days, no questions asked.”

Launched in Beta mode last year, Uber Freight partnered mostly with Texas-based owner-operators/small fleets to refine the platform ahead of Thursday’s public debut.

Caty, Texas-based Minnie Gilmore, owner-operator with her husband, Edwin, of Gilmore and Long Enterprises, came to Uber Freight via load boards she commonly utilized to book loads to fill their 2012 Freightliner Cascadia and dry van. They got a call from an Uber Freight sales rep early on, then “saw a load on a board and it turned out it was an Uber load,” Minnie Gilmore says.

Since, she and Edwin have relied on the Uber Freight app for a lot of their loads outbound from the Houston area, utilizing other brokers or load boards to get back. (Minnie says they stay mostly regional – venturing into Arkansas, Louisiana, and occasionally Memphis, where the couple lived until 2013.)

Interest from carriers “has been overwhelming,” Berdinis says. “The challenge has been scaling out to meet the demand” with freight. Owner-operators and fleets nationwide interested in matching with loads through Uber Freight can now start the process of signing up with the brokerage via this link.

“We are a registered broker so we do go through the normal vetting process,” Uber Freight Director Bill Driegert says. Uber Freight will not work with Conditional or Unsatisfactory-rated carriers. Others, once approved, will be able to see available truckload dry van and reefer loads, paired with non-negotiable fixed rates to the truck. However, Driegert adds feedback from beta users could warrant the company considering rate flexibility and in-app negotiation tools later, as have been utilized by a variety of other brokers in the tech-enabled “uber for trucking” space to date

Gilmore, who works the phones at the home base in Caty while her husband operates the truck, says in-Texas freight is somewhat plentiful, at least in their area. Gilmore and Long relies on the app today for most of Edwin’s outbound hauls, and Minnie Gilmore appreciates the quick book-now options in-app, which cut out most needs for a phone call. It’s taken a bit of the home-dispatch burden off of her shoulders, as Edwin’s better able to do a lot of it on the road. Constant check calls, too, are eliminated under loads booked through the app, as progress on the load is automatically tracked. 

Minnie Gilmore adds that rates delivered by the company’s pricing algorithm, thus far, seem to be “a little better” on average than what she’s been seeing from brokers working the load boards.

Uber Freight inks contract rates with its shippers but delivers more dynamic, market-based pricing to carriers, Driegert says, based on proprietary algorithms developed in part by the company specialist who led development of the surge-pricing methodology in Uber’s passenger vehicle service.

With launch today, the app enables searches for nearby loads based on a user’s current location, and likewise in origin/destination pairs, making some modicum of advance load planning possible. Berdinis says that more sophisticated planning features will emerge as the inevitable result of taking user feedback into account.

The primary limiting factor, at least as of now, Minnie Gilmore says, has been freight availability outside of Texas, something Berdinis suggests is changing with shipper interest around the nation.

In some ways, Uber Freight’s betting on the owner-operator base to answer the chicken-egg question of any freight-matching platform – which comes first, the freight or the driver?

“One of the tenants of building out Uber Freight is making drivers’ lives easier and helping them grow their business,” Berdinis says. “Our users are everything.”

“Our goal is to keep any of our users completely running and completely utilized,” Driegert adds.

If freight was plentiful enough in the network, via the app, to keep the Gilmore and Long van loaded all the time, would they use it exclusively? Yes, Minnie Gilmore says, believing “it’s always easier if you stick with one broker rather than having to be all over the load boards. Right now, they don’t have the freight to do it, but if they did, we would.”

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YOUR SHOPPING BAG