CloudTrucks, a virtual carrier and back-office service, has launched a new tool that helps drivers organize their workflow up to 10 days in advance.
“We noticed what drivers really needed help with was not just searching for one load and booking that load but also planning their schedule,” CEO Tobenna Arodiogbu told FreightWaves.
Founded in February, San Francisco-headquartered CloudTrucks offers a range of services for owner-operators and small trucking companies.
The idea is to take over all the business processes that owner-operators have to worry about — insurance payment, load booking, document submission — and arm them with digital tools to make their jobs easier.
A company app allows drivers to search for a load, and view details about what they will be hauling, how much it pays and CloudTrucks’ fee for service, among other details. Drivers are typically paid within 48 hours of completing the haul.
From that foundation, CloudTrucks has added a schedule optimizer, also designed to be transparent and user-friendly. Drivers click on a “run optimizer” button and answer a few questions: Where do they want to start and end, and how long do they want to be on the road. Pulling information directly from the ELD, the system calculates what is feasible.
“That’s it, the driver’s done,” Arodiogbu said. After about three to five minutes, a schedule will automatically populate and is available for booking. The schedule can also be viewed on a calendar.
A tool for newbies and veterans alike
For longtime drivers who know everything about the markets, the optimizer acts as a benchmark, Arodiogbu said. But it also helps the driver who has become independent for the first time.
“It allows them to say, ‘I don’t know that much about what is going on in the market, and CloudTrucks has a tool that will optimize everything so I can dispatch myself.’”
Some of those drivers are signing on to CloudTrucks via a partnership with Uber Freight and COOP by Ryder that helps qualifying Uber drivers break into freight. The partnership is part of a broader trend that has seen other trucking companies target the CDL-equipped rideshare driver as passenger transport gives way to package delivery in the wake of the pandemic.
Drivers without their own equipment can lease a tractor and trailer through COOP by Ryder. CloudTrucks pays the vehicle deposit.
The best-laid plans
Intended to give drivers a road map, the optimizer does run into the occasional problem. “It’s one thing to build a schedule,” Arodiogbu acknowledged. “It’s another to mess with the real world.”
So while in some cases drivers are able to instantly confirm bookings with brokers, other loads take 30 minutes or more. (In addition to its integration with Uber Freight, the company has partnered with other big-name brokers, although Arodiogbu declined to share names on the record.)
“If it’s an instant book load, then the probability that the entire schedule works is high,” he said. If it’s standard book, there is a probability that some of the loads are not available.”
The tool focuses on what’s happening on different lanes, Arodiogbu added. “That’s what’s determining the routes we’re taking the driver through, so even if something gets canceled, we should be able to find something similar.”
For now the optimizer plans 10 days ahead so that drivers are not leaving money on the table by planning too far ahead on the spot market. A future version will continue to run in the background, sending updated schedule suggestions to drivers based on their preferences, including how frequently they would like to be home.
CloudTrucks is backed by $6.1 million from Craft Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Kindred Ventures and Abstract Ventures.