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NewsTechnologyTruckload

Choptank and Syfan: Trucker Tools improved visibility at an affordable cost

Two large freight brokerages reported that the implementation of Trucker Tools across their carrier networks improved visibility accuracy and reduced the number of check calls made by brokers at a reasonable price. 

Choptank Transport and Syfan Logistics said they achieved high levels of carrier visibility compliance and were able to acquire accurate location data by using Trucker Tools, a smartphone app that tracks drivers’ locations for freight brokerages.

Previous generations of “app-less” visibility technology used data from phone carriers that generated rough triangulations of a telephone’s location based on cell tower pings. Phone carriers have essentially stopped selling that kind of location data, so now smartphone-based visibility solutions use the device’s native GPS capabilities to source location data.

Other visibility solutions are built around electronic logging devices (ELDs), but hardware ELDs are mostly used by large fleets, not the kind of carriers typically called upon by freight brokers. 

The success of smartphone app-based visibility solutions are dependent on drivers’ propensity to download the app and keep it on their phones. For that reason, single-function apps are less popular with drivers, and apps that offer more features are more popular. In addition to tracking drivers’ locations, Trucker Tools offers truck drivers information about fuel prices, weigh scales, rest areas, optimal routes, weather and traffic conditions. 

“When you look at visibility, it’s table stakes for all the brokers,” said Prasad Gollapalli, founder and chief executive officer at Trucker Tools. “Two or three years back, shippers were happy if they got visibility from the brokers – that used to be the differentiator. Today, the majority of the big shippers require visibility, and that’s why it’s become such an important thing.”

Diana Bullington, information technology director at Syfan Logistics, said that customers’ visibility requirements created a lot of work for freight brokers. In the past, brokerages like Syfan made customer service and visibility commitments, and then worked to fulfill them with a combination of technology, telephone calls and emails. Switching to Trucker Tools, she said, improved the accuracy of the location data, reduced Syfan’s cost, and eliminated 30% of the check calls Syfan’s brokers made to carriers.

Bullington said that Syfan now requires all of its carriers to use some kind of tracking technology, and charges them a communication fee if they do not comply. Still, carriers seem to prefer Trucker Tools to other visibility solutions because the mobile app offers more features and adds value to the driver experience.

Syfan uses Trucker Tools not only for visibility, but also to manage the flow of documentation like proof of delivery and bills of lading, which drivers can photograph with their phones and upload to the broker with the Trucker Tools app.

Trucker Tools’ customer support was also well above the level Syfan was accustomed to, Bullington said. If a driver has an issue with the app, Trucker Tools calls them directly to get the problem sorted out. 

When Trucker Tools was making its initial pitch to Syfan, Bullington said, it came in at a lower price point than Syfan’s existing visibility provider and had more accurate location data. 

The way that Trucker Tools presented its Smart Capacity feature, which assists brokerages in load-matching by showing them available carriers and enabling direct offers, was another important selling point.

 Bullington said that Syfan was concerned about sharing too much with carriers – brokers worry about being disintermediated by a crafty carrier that might contact the shipper directly and offer to undercut what the brokerage is charging. Trucker Tools was able to build a solution for Syfan that hid certain attributes of a load to protect Syfan’s customer relationships, Bullington said. Once those hurdles were overcome, Smart Capacity became an important tool for Syfan’s brokers, allowing them to source capacity more efficiently.

“We cover more freight because we can see the capacity in Smart Capacity,” Bullington said.

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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.

4 Comments

  1. So Syfan makes sure they make a bigger paycheck by making sure the customer doesn’t know how much they are profiting compaired to what others charge from new software. Somebody’s gotta pay for that expensive remodel and large screen TVs in every room.

  2. John we got Smart Capacity in our AscendTMS last week and it works well and the price can’t be beat. It think its all about making everyone more efficient.

  3. Trucker Tools, that app is a joke. I’m an O/O and I’ve done numerous Choptank loads. My last load was new and using that, pathetic, wasn’t tracking still called the broker much simpler. Want a good app that works I’d say Macropoint or Navisphere. Really at nearly 60, 13 years in this industry, 12 as O/O with same reliable truck. I don’t need a babysitter or my hand held. I call when close to or at customer for pu, when loaded and leaving with good real world eta, when I arrive, and when unloaded. If any snags or problems then to, though it’s rare. That’s what real business people who partner to service customers for profit do. I don’t need a fucking app for that, with more big brother crap hogging resources on my phone.

  4. Man!! We are so fucking dumb as a box of rocks!! As owner operator we are letting brokers take advantage but yet choptank can pay huge amount of money for a tracking app just to pay us a $600 load and to track us to make sure that it is delivered. Man we need to grow the fuck up!! Damn these lying ass brokers if I had some way I would shut them all fuck down.. But in the Headlines it states they pay a lot of money for a Trucker Tool app for tracking.

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