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LogisticsNewsStartupsSupply ChainsTechnologyTruckingVisibility Tech

FreightRoll digitalizes paper documents to reduce operational inefficiencies

Though the transport industry is one of the primary movers of the economy, it suffers from costly inefficiencies arising from the lack of technology penetration.

Freight operations have had a long-standing dependence on paper documents, making comprehensive digitalization challenging and costing the transport industry $420 billion every year out of $7 trillion spent globally on the industry.

FreightRoll, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based startup, is a digital trade documentation and tracking platform that enables companies to phase out paper documents needed for freight operations and jump onto the digitalization bandwagon.

“When you order a package from Amazon, you have the delivery guy show up at your door, and you sign for the package on a tablet. The same process exists in trucking, but it is all paper-based. Our platform digitalizes that whole signage process from beginning to end,” Jake Koppinger, the CEO and founder of FreightRoll, told FreightWaves.

When it was founded, FreightRoll was essentially a digital freight brokerage. But discussions with fellow brokers helped Koppinger understand that all stakeholders in the industry struggled with mounting paperwork, leading to massive waste of resources and man hours. This led FreightRoll to pivot to the digital trade documentation company it is today.

Koppinger explained that this problem is not going to be solved by companies that sell TMS or ERP solutions. “If you consider our competition, you could say DocuSign is one, as it offers contract digitalization, but it is not a transportation-specific solution,” he said. “We offer a lot more in the way of an actual workflow as we offer end-to-end digitalization.”

Instead of carrying paper contracts on the road, drivers can now use an app. “Since this is a mobile-based solution, we’re able to track freight from point A to point B. Though there are a number of companies that do that — like FourKites and project44 — they focus on full freight visibility, while we focus exclusively on digital documentation,” Koppinger said.

Removing the waste surrounding physical documents helps FreightRoll clients save upwards of $20 per transaction, according to the company. Koppinger contended that for a company selling enterprise software solutions, the bottom line was return on investment for the customer. “You are selling cost savings relative to the cost of the product,” he said.

Most of FreightRoll’s clients are involved in manufacturing — like automakers or FMCG — rather than logistics companies themselves. To sell their solution to such companies, FreightRoll had to provide a platform that simplifies the transportation process while also creating sizable savings.

Several companies in the manufacturing line have a certain portion of their headcount entirely focused on printing and scanning documents. Some outsource this task, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. FreightRoll targets exactly that inefficiency.

“Our product provides workers with a searchable, easy interface that helps them identify what needs to be loaded onto a truck and get signatures on the application, as opposed to getting it on a physical piece of paper,” Koppinger said. “Beyond the hard and soft costs, there is traceability right from the place of origin of the commodity all the way up the supply chain through the various modes of transportation until it reaches the destination.”

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Vishnu Rajamanickam

Vishnu predominantly covers technology stories from within the logistics and transportation space. He connects with key stakeholders within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he talks to plants, searches for cheap flights, and writes poetry under the sun.

3 Comments

  1. Other solutions already do this on a large scale, like AscendTMS between shippers, carriers and brokers,and Truckstops new book it now API’s and platforms that let huge segments of the market connect together through different systems.

    We don’t want MORE apps for drivers. We want the existing TMS system we use every day to just talk to the other TMS system being used by those we do business with lol.

    1. Question – in your above example, does the driver still have a physical BOL he/she signs at the shipper and turns over to the receiver for OS&D purposes? They’d almost have to – no matter the level of integration within TMS/WMS on the shipper/broker end.

      I think that’s what they’re really going after – it’s impossible to lose the BOL’s then as well. Combined with blockchain for transparency – an app for driver/shipper/receiver to e-sign would speed things up, reduce cost and be a better environmental fit.

  2. Thanks, I appreciate the comments.

    Drew, you are correct.

    Dave, indeed, the world would be a more efficient place if systems could just talk to each other and there were no physical requirements, but unfortunately there are legal requirements around the documentation that truckers are required to carry while in transit. That process has been paper-based forever and we aim to make that digital. I wouldn’t think of it as another “trucker app.” As a trucker, I would think of it as an extension your customer’s ERP/TMS that reduces costs for them, gets you paid faster (due to immediate POD availability), increases transparency (through app-based tracking and geofenced in/out times) and makes everybody more environmentally-friendly.

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