OnTruck creates easy access to the on-demand freight market

 ( Source: Shutterstock )

(Source: Shutterstock)

Logistics processes in the freight industry are usually riddled with complexities in the marketplace as shippers and carriers share a love-hate relationship. OnTruck, a Spanish-based company, is changing the equation by creating a logistics platform that provides instant price quotes to shippers for delivering shipments in the preferred time interval.

These quotes are then made available to carriers through a smartphone application where they can choose to accept or reject a job. If they take up a job and deliver a shipment, they can use the application throughout the process to check-in at various points on the road and also to receive payments at the end of it.

“OnTruck is an on-demand logistics platform that uses technology to connect shippers and carriers, quickly and easily,” says David Jennison, the Managing Director of OnTruck’s UK division. “What makes us really good is that we give shippers great transparency, visibility, and trust. Pricing is instant across multiple truck specifications, be it a van or a rigid vehicle. We often have the possibility to book exact pickup slots as well, so shippers can schedule a pickup at 9 AM and drop off at 6 PM for example, rather than leaving that open-ended.”

OnTruck provides the possibility of shipment tracing throughout the journey, with carriers sending out notifications at every contact point. Similarly, on the carrier side, both truck drivers and fleet managers who are connected via the OnTruck app are free to accept shipments that fit their schedules. “This gives carriers instant visibility on the shipment, allowing them to see the pickup and drop off points, the weight and dimension specifications of the load, and the price - helping them to decide on whether to accept the load or not,” explains Jennison.

By using OnTruck, carriers also get to improve process efficiency, with higher utilization of their assets and getting paid much faster. They can also have the space to raise invoices, negotiate payment terms on an individual shipment basis.

“Drivers have been getting a raw deal historically in the UK. They have to pay for access to exchange sites and usually have to bid for their services. They have been doing a difficult job without much support,” adds Jennison. “OnTruck changes all that by giving them a set price and also provides help with UK based customer service personnel who are logistics specialists and are available via in-app messaging and on call. We want to make both carriers and shippers successful, and we put both of their needs at the forefront.”

The company religiously follows the lean methodology for scaling the startup. Initially, OnTruck started out with a message based MVP, using a third party messenger service to push shipments to carriers and fulfill loads. Slowly it graduated to building the present app which allows carriers to receive job notifications on their phone. “We’ve also started sending out routes for partial or full day’s work. This is important because instead of just getting single day jobs, the carriers are now able to get full days or partial days committed work. This helps them get more work and have better visibility on daily earnings through OnTruck,” explains Jennison.

Logistics forms a huge chunk of the UK economy at 10% of its GDP. But then, the market is highly fragmented on both the supply and demand side, as the industry is yet to see the disruptive benefits that arise out of technology. “Roughly 30 to 40% of all freight miles in the UK are done empty. The low efficiency and under optimization of the national fleet and the manual business practices widely used across the industry makes this a sizeable opportunity for economic improvement,” contends Jennison.

“OnTruck directly addresses this problem and also looks at the environmental angle to it. The transport sector is a big contributor to CO2 emissions and produces 25% of the total  CO2 emissions in the UK, with the transport sector generating 70% of that. So the increase in efficiency that we achieve could be a strong environmental benefit by alleviating congestion in cities and its roads.”

The USP of OnTruck currently lies in moving ambient palletized goods in the UK mainland - goods that are not temperature bound and delivered on a pallet. Though the immediate focus of the company is to invest more in that space, it is also mulling on expanding to adjacent segments like temperature controlled goods and hazardous material transport in the future. “2018 is going to be a huge year for OnTruck in the UK,” concludes Jennison. “It is going to be a lot of work, but we are getting there with great traction so far.”

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Vishnu Rajamanickam, staff writer

Vishnu is an engineer by education, with a couple of years experience in the construction industry. But he has long since moved on to work in different domains as an entrepreneur, copywriter and most importantly, as a journalist. He has also consulted for various travel, technology, and fashion brands as a content strategist and has considerable experience with covering tech startups, having interviewed dozens of CxOs over the course of his career as a technology journalist.