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Loadsmart loads up $19 million funding for drayage app

Port Newark Container Terminal (Photo: PNCT)

Loadsmart is looking to jump into the port trucking market with a new freight matching app that has the endorsement of two big players in ocean shipping. 

The New York-based company said Maersk and terminals operator Ports America are providing a $19 million investment aimed at expanding the new app beyond its beta testing phase.

Maersk was a previous investor in Loadsmart’s first venture funding round, which netted $21.6 million in October 2018.

Chief Executive Ricardo Salgado said Loadsmart planned to roll out the app in about 18 months after that initial investment. The new investment means it will be able to speed development and marketing of the new app.    

“We want investors that add value beyond capital,” said Ricardo Salgado, chief executive of Loadsmart. The app “was not part of our budget initially. But with our strategic partners including the largest shipping company in the world and the largest U.S. ports operators, we were able to accelerate from 18 months to six months.”  

The app uses routing and pricing algorithms to match carriers with container moves. The app uses preferred routes and hours-of-service limits, along with factoring in terminal appointments and wait times, to match containers with truckers. 

One key to the matching platform is the ability to tie into terminal operating systems, which allows the Loadsmart platform to determine where a container is in a stack and even vessel information.   

“When a truck arrives at a port, the driver might say they want a specific box, even if it’s located at the bottom of the pile,” Salgado said. “We run an algorithm to determine which container is the most relevant for the truck driver.”

Thanks to the investment from Ports America, Loadsmart has been able to access terminal data from the Ports America-owned Port Newark Container Terminal. Salgado said other terminals in the New York-New Jersey port complex, where the app is being beta tested, have not yet shared operational data with Loadsmart. But he said the push from shippers, as well as from the world’s largest container ship company, could prod more terminals to open their operational data to Loadsmart.  

A number of entrants, including DrayNow, NEXT Trucking, and Opus9, have entered the drayage truck industry looking to apply technology to the process of picking up a container at a port or rail ramp. 

Salgado said Loadsmart’s traction with shippers in the long-haul trucking gives it entree into their drayage needs. Loadsmart’s over-the-road freight matching platform is used by shippers that account for about one-third of U.S. imports, Salgado said. 

“There is a lot of overlap that we can bring from the over-the-road side of the business,” Salgado said. “If you can do end-to-end shipments, it becomes easier to cross-sell.”

This article has been amended to reflect that this is Ports America’s first investment in Loadsmart.