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FreightTech 25: The 360 app takes old-line J.B. Hunt toward the top of the disruptors list

The impact on technology created by J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT)–#5 in the FreightWaves Freight.Tech 25–was summed up perfectly by Goldman Sachs earlier this year in a report on digital disruption and “Commoditizing Logistics,” the title of its report.

J.B. Hunt 360, the report said, is “quite possibly the most successful digital freight matching app on the market from a revenue standpoint.” But matching apps are far from rare; as Demo Day at Marketwaves18 in Dallas two weeks ago showed, they are a key focus of a tech-savvy field that has plenty of people playing in it.

Yet it is an old-line company that conventional wisdom would hold as the ones who need to be dragged screaming and kicking into the modern world that has clearly been one of the leaders in disrupting the old ways of doing business. The Goldman report summed up what the tool does: “The JBHT 360 app allows users to search for loads by pickup or delivery date, location, and equipment type. The app allows users to offer the price they would like to receive on a load, and if approved, they can accept the load directly through the JBHT 360 app. The app also has more features than many of the TL-based disruptors, as it allows users to book LTL, multi-stop shipments as well as traditional, specialized, or expedited services.”

Another aspect of the 360 tool, Goldman said, is that it provides “deeper levels of transparency into the results of the business, which is in contrast to the majority of companies which keep most of the data private.”

And it was that aspect of JBHT 360, among others, that was discussed in early October on the Road Dog Trucker show on Sirius XM with Shelley Simpson, Hunt’s chief commercial officer and an executive vice president, and Craig Harper, COO of the company, who talked about 360.

For example, Simpson said the data being collected by JBHT 360 is providing drivers with knowledge in advance of how long it will take to load or unload a shipment. The real-time information that is flowing through the app from other drivers at that facility–what Simpson called a form of “crowdsourcing”–will provide that base of knowledge. “You don’t have to guess anymore,” Simpson said. “The drivers will know and will be able to plan their day better.”

In some ways, such an app to shippers with poorly-run facilities is like sunlight to Dracula. An upgrade to the app coming by the end of the year will tell them the unloading experience of the last 10 drivers in real time, and the app also provides information on “what drivers think of the facility,” Simpson told the radio program. It’s going to be tough to be considered a shipper of choice if the reviews coming through JBHT 360 are universally poor.

Another aspect of 360 is its impact on Quick Pay. According to J.B. Hunt’s webpage on its payment programs, QuickPay gets money to a driver faster, but at the price of a 1.5% fee. But if that load was booked using the 360 app, the fee is waived. That is a major shot across the bow of factoring programs.

It’s that sort of groundbreaking technology from an old-line name that put J.B. Hunt in the top 5 of the Freight.Tech 25.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.
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