It is well known that desperation breeds innovation, and many across the logistics industry have certainly found themselves desperate for capacity this year. In the past, the complexities of full-truckload automation have inspired many companies to focus their efforts elsewhere. This all changed during 2021.
API integrations with carriers have allowed for full-scale automation on the less-than-truckload side for years. Automation has been much trickier on the full-truckload side. While the majority of LTL shipments are moved by a few large trucking companies with sophisticated technological capabilities, the majority of full-truckload shipments are moved by small carriers and owner-operators who may not have access to the same, often expensive, tools.
During a year full of record rates and constant capacity constraints, innovative companies across the logistics space have begun to tackle truckload automation, hurdles and all.
“One of the cool things about being on the software side of logistics is that you get to see some of the innovations that are happening during the difficult times we are seeing now,” Sean McGillicuddy, Tai Software’s vice president of sales, said. “With capacity constraints, we are starting to see some really cool capacity tools that help brokers start to automate on the full-truckload side.”
A lot of new automation happening in truckload revolves around broker outreach. While it is not possible for brokers to automate each carrier’s or owner-operator’s response to their outreach, simply being able to automatically offer the right loads to the right carriers seriously cuts down on the manual labor involved in moving each load, saving time and money.
Smart automation requires smart algorithms. Tai customers are able to rate carriers by preference and track compliance. These tools help shippers determine their top carriers. In turn, automation tools can use all available data within the system to reach out to preferred carriers that are best suited for the shipment in question.
“If you can automate outreach to your top carriers, that is going to help deepen those relationships,” McGillicuddy said. “It allows you to give them the first shot on the loads they want on the lanes they want.”
Brokers know relationships with both carriers and customers are paramount. The introduction of automation tools does not change that, making it critical that these tools are designed to operate in a manner that supports relationships, not distracts from them. These tools should use relevant, up-to-date data to enhance the experience of a shipper’s preferred partners, not send cold emails to a huge database of carriers.