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Baton’s ‘elastic trucking’ aims to eliminate wasted hours

Image: FreightWaves

It’s a fact that all drivers dread detention. Having to endure long wait times while your trailer is loaded or unloaded is arguably the most inefficient part of a trucker’s day. While the industry has benefited greatly from the latest advances in freight-tech, one San Francisco-based company provides truck drivers with an invaluable resource — giving back their time.

Andrew Berberick, co-founder of Baton, joined FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller on this episode of “Fuller Speed Ahead” to discuss how his company’s elastic model of on-demand capacity allows truckers to cover more freight. 

Full disclosure: Craig Fuller is an adviser to Baton.

Baton’s mission is to eliminate wasted time in trucking through its streamlined technology platform. Berberick broke down the industry’s three categories of waste: detention — otherwise known as ”dwell hell,” dwell in transit and inter-appointment dwell — the time in which a driver waits for their backhaul.

According to Baton, trucks wait on average two to three hours to load and unload. Drivers allocate an additional two to four hours of slack time into their transit to meet appointments on time and often wait three to six hours after completing a delivery before they can start their next load.

In order to eliminate dwell, why not just avoid these chokepoints altogether? Carriers on the Baton platform instead drop off and pick up loads through a nationwide network of drop zones. While long-haul drivers focus on their next shipment, Baton’s network of local drivers handles the final mile of delivery. This is all accomplished through its optimization software that orchestrates the movement of each trailer as it’s passed from carrier to drop zone, local driver to warehouse.

“Baton operates a tech-enabled network of drop zones that we’ve placed in and around major metropolitan areas,” Berberick said. “Large carriers operate this model in areas where they have high freight density. In fact, we’re able to expand their footprint and help grow market share. By building density with the large carriers, we can democratize the model for the smaller guys.” 

Baton’s platform provides tech-enabled pickup and delivery (P&D) information, including customer updates, tendering and document management. The system’s convex optimization algorithms match drivers and loads that will guarantee the greatest efficiency. Plus, the platform maximizes on-time deliveries by selecting the Baton location closest to the shipper and not too far off-route for the driver.

Berberick describes “elastic trucking” as giving carriers the ability to dynamically flex their capacity and their ability to move freight on short notice. 

For instance, he detailed how one of Baton’s partners — a major Walmart service provider — often found itself unavailable to receive tenders from the multinational retailer within the six-hour window when they needed to be picked up. But with Baton, the carrier can request that Baton get the load ahead of time and hold it until it’s ready for that driver. He explained that this method allows the carrier to reject significantly less freight for Walmart.

Earlier this year, Baton closed a $3.3 million seed round of funding led by investment firm 8VC as well as Prologis and SVAangel. (Both 8VC and Prologis are investors in FreightWaves.) But Berberick suggests that Baton is now beyond the incubation stage and ready to begin scaling the business as the company has grown significantly despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Los Angeles market, for instance, Baton typically handled just one to two loads per week a few months ago but has since set its sights on coordinating 75 trailer movements per day.

“Currently, the strategy is to build as much density as possible in Los Angeles and make sure that we’re delivering quality there,” Berberick said. “We’ll reopen our Atlanta operations early next year; we went live there but had to waitlist new demand. I think we’ll focus next on Chicago and then go after different major metro areas with the goal of helping people democratize and get access to this efficient model.” 

According to Baton, it plans to expand its service to Dallas, Houston, San Francisco and New York City.

Watch the full conversation with Berberick and Fuller on the latest episode of “Fuller Speed Ahead.”

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One Comment

  1. David

    Won’t this require double the number of drivers and tractors on every single load? There aren’t enough of each to go around already and there haven’t been for years. This just adds more cost to every load. No?

    Also, this could significantly slow deliveries as full trailers just sit in these drop zones looking for a spare driver and tractor.

    What is the business model here to make a profit or lower costs? It seems obvious to me that it just adds more costs and more time. What am I missing?

Comments are closed.

Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.