MW18: UberFreight willing to share equipment with partners, rivals, executive says

From left to right: Eric Berdinis. Uber Freight; William O’Donnell, Prologis Ventures; Kristi Montgomery, Kenco Innovation Lab; George Abernathy, FreightWaves

A top executive at Uber Freight made a strong call earlier this week for cooperation among players in the freight ecosystem, saying Uber Technologies Inc.’s brokerage unit is willing to share equipment with partners and prospective rivals in an effort to improve efficiency and service quality.

Speaking on the second day of MarketWaves18 in Grapevine, Texas, Eric Berdinis, senior product manager for Uber Freight, said the problems facing the trucking industry cannot be “solved without co-operation” among multiple players. Berdinis’ call was part of a broad statement of collaboration from the other two panelists: Kristi Montgomery, vice president of innovation, research & development at Kenco Innovation Lab, and William O’Donnell, managing director of Prologis Ventures, part of the huge industrial-property developer.

Montgomery said companies in the trucking and warehousing sectors remain too focused on competing with each other and not enough on how they can forge collaborative initiatives. 

Berdinis’ comments came less than a month after Uber Freight introduced “Powerloop,” a drop-and-hook program designed to make drivers more efficient and productive. Since Uber Freight launched in 2017, one of its priorities has been to provide good freight to drivers so they can maximize equipment utilization while making it easier to achieve the work-life balance that eludes many long-haul drivers.

The talk of extending collaboration to the warehouse environment may also need to include a conversation about how Americans’ buying habits may affect the mix of goods that get hauled to and from these facilities. In a prior session, Jon Birger, author of the best-selling book “Date-onomics,” which analyzed dating trends in the U.S., said that for the first time in American history, this generation of increasingly educated and affluent women is likely to out-earn men. In addition, more people, especially women, are staying single, while an increasing number of couples are delaying having children, Birger said. 

These socio-economic trends will have a profound affect on buying patterns and, by extension, what gets shipped.For example, single people spend 28 percent more on apparel than married folks, Birger said. Direct-to-consumer shipments of wine have climbed 17 percent in the past 12 months, he added. 

Still, business in general operates under the mis-perception that the future will be male-oriented, Birger said.

The so-called college gender gap continues to widen, with more white collar women entering the work force, Birger said. At the same time, the adult male population is becoming more blue-collar, he added. At schools such as the University of Georgia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, women make up 60 percent of the schools’ populations, he noted.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.