Many of the inefficiencies that ail the freight hauling industry find their roots within the market’s prevailing opacity; a majority of the interactions between freight brokers and carriers never get recorded – digitally or otherwise. This disconnect in information makes it a tiresome process, with freight brokers needing to rely on tribal knowledge and inadequate load boards to book capacity.
Digital freight marketplaces have sprung up in recent years, promising to push for greater visibility into the space, and helping to streamline the freight matching process via the cloud. Cargo Chief, a logistics technology provider, is one among the many startups in the space, but unlike its market competitors, the company has evolved into its current state from its former state as a freight brokerage.
Cargo Chief was founded as a tech-enabled freight brokerage based in the Silicon Valley. The company was successful, processing tens of thousands of loads for hundreds of shippers. However, after a while, the company was approached by several freight brokers who were interested in franchising Cargo Chief’s technology, because they believed it was the best in the business for finding truckload capacity.
Russell Jones, the CEO and co-founder of Cargo Chief, explained that this led to the company changing its scope and gravitating to the sale of technology to freight brokers to help them buy truckload capacity. Recently, the company unveiled its Booking Assistant – a bot that gets carrier offers, counter-bids on loads, and autonomously books loads on consent.
Shippers or brokers specify the loads that need to be hauled to the Booking Assistant, which will take in the requirement and forward it to a curated subset of qualified trucks based on their geographic proximity to the load. The carriers in the pool can then accept the load offer or provide a counter-bid. At the end of this negotiation process, the shipper will be left with a select few options that are tailored exclusively for its load.
Cargo Chief is now actively partnering with several transportation management systems (TMS), and integrating its solution into the existing platforms. “Modern TMS players like AscendTMS are taking advantage of this. They are using API technology to submit transactions and so when someone else prices that load a minute later, they can see up-to-the-minute pricing,” said Jones.
Tim Higham, president and CEO of InMotion Global, the company that provides AscendTMS, spoke positively about the benefits its TMS draws from Cargo Chief. Ascend targets 80 percent of the market that is usually ignored – the smaller fleets that run less than 10 trucks on average. The idea behind Ascend is to equip the smaller fleets with technology that can help them scale their operations and compete against their bigger rivals in the market.
“Ascend is unique as it is truly cloud-based. You can get an account in less than 30 seconds and get a full enterprise TMS completely free to try for the first 30 days. We target the smaller fleets, because they are quite challenged when it comes to technology, and usually don’t have the resources to recruit and maintain an IT department,” said Higham.
“What we’ve done is to democratize technology. We integrated with Cargo Chief’s Booking Assistant because it has managed to take the very laborious and expensive task of truck capacity search and negotiation and automated the process,” he continued. “Companies hire two or three people just to be on the phone all day, trying to find if they have a truck available and negotiate rates if there’s one. Automating this process allows our users to essentially replace human labor with technology.”