At any given point in time, trucks numbering in the tens of thousands go about their business, hauling freight across the country's roads. In that vein, there are a lot of startups that are looking to provide track and trace solutions to 3PLs and brokerage firms for accurately determining a truck's location at a specific time. Most of these solutions in the market rely on internet connectivity, and many work through applications that are installed in the smartphones of truck drivers.
The difficulty though, lies in the adoption rates of such applications by truckers and also their inclination to use such a solution. Enter Loadtap, a Silicon Valley startup that comes in with a track and trace solution that is 5-10 times cheaper than some of the others on the market and which works without installing any application on a driver’s cell phones.
“Imagine if your teams could manage and cover 10 times higher load volume. This is possible with more automation in their workflow. At Loadtap, we are looking to automate the operations of 3PLs and freight brokerage firms,” says Paramvir Sandhu, the CEO, and co-founder of Loadtap. “To do that, we first need to make real-time load tracking very affordable so that all loads can be tracked, not just high value or time critical ones. And the tracking needs to be app-less, meaning no apps required by drivers, and it needs to work on all phones including flip phones.”
Sandhu draws inspiration from his familial ties to the trucking industry. “I have been around trucking my whole life, with my uncles and cousins owning trucking companies,” he says. “I wanted to bring technology into the business. Even when we had our own trucking business, we tried to automate our processes as much as possible using technology. We saw first hand the presence of a big gap in the industry where we could help 3PLs and brokers.”
In his previous trucking company, Sandhu had his customers constantly calling him up to inquire about the shipment location, driver details, and if the company had trucks available in a certain area. “We sometimes missed out on opportunities, and even potential business, just because our broker customers didn’t know where our trucks were,” says Sandhu.
Being a Silicon Valley startup, Loadtap has stitched together a strong engineering team. The startup focuses on making the operations of 3PLs and brokers multi-fold efficient, by creating insights from the data that they gather every day - using machine learning models.
To an extent, the solution that Loadtap has developed already exists in the market in a primitive form, which the startup hopes to revitalize using cutting edge technology. “We believe track and trace technologies should not break the bank, should be frictionless to use for drivers, and powerful enough to scale. We are providing an extremely cost-effective, app-less track and trace technology, similar to those solutions on the market, but we are applying machine learning on top of it to provide feedback to our customers with more actionable data that goes beyond manage by exception,” explains Sandhu.
“We also are looking at other areas of operations that we can automate with our ChatBot dispatcher; imagine if your TMS can automatically communicate back and forth with drivers and dispatchers to relay key information such as pick-up and delivery addresses, pick-up numbers, collect signed PODs, and even answer questions. We believe in not only manage by exception, but also exception prevention.”
Another detail that sets Loadtap apart is its inclination to offer white label offerings. A lot of track and trace solutions in the market are branded. Customers who prefer their own brand were frustrated with this, because the white label either was non-existent or it came with a lot of upfront costs. In contrast, Loadtap provides open APIs that can be integrated with an existing company TMS, thus making its solution both agile and flexible. Loadtap is also integrated with MercuryGate, one of the leading TMS on the market.
But Rome was not built in a day. Like most of the startups out there, Loadtap decided to build an app for the track and trace solution. “But we learned that driver adoption is very difficult with an app. There also are a lot of app-based tracking solutions out there,” adds Sandhu. “We ended up switching to the app-less technology based on feedback from drivers and trucking companies. The technology is frictionless with the drivers replying through a text message to get permission and also while opting-in for further tracking.”
Loadtap worked with over 50 customers to figure out the solutions that have a potential to succeed. Through the process, the startup realized that the biggest challenge to scaling up was about convincing the larger customers to integrate Loadtap with their TMS platforms. “We have already begun the process of integrating third-party TMS platforms. We are live and running in MercuryGate, which we are very excited about,” says Sandhu. “Any company that has its own TMS can integrate with Loadtap through standard REST APIs which makes the process very simple.”
Loadtap is looking to target the North American market of 3PLs and brokers. Having been backed by investments from the Silicon Valley, and with a technology that relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence, the startup is sure to create ripples in the market this year.
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