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Rapid-fire pitch: digital 3PL startup Opus9 looks to automate shipping experience

For quite a while now, the trucking industry has been struggling to automate its highly commoditized operations for reducing costs incurred due to redundant human effort. Enter Opus9, a digital 3PL startup that provides automated and digital transportation services for small and medium companies to ship truckload and LTL nationwide.

“Opus9 platform is built around the mission of automation. We have built a highly efficient automated system that can process from shipper acquisition to payment, and a digital transportation execution platform which can be easily connected to this evolving digital value chain,” said Alex Ryu, founder and CEO at Opus9.

Jeff Hiller, VP of products at Opus9, touched upon how the startup’s platform automates repetitive manual tasks like broker emails, check calls, paper bills of lading and thereby streamlines workflows to provide a lights-out shipping experience. “We cover the U.S. domestic truckload and LTL markets and service our shippers using our carrier community called the 9Network,” he said.

Opus9 users can log into the platform to get an instant quote–courtesy the dynamic pricing engine–and book shipments that are then matched to the shipper network in the 9Network. “Once the shipment is picked up, users can track their shipment using GPS or ELD information on our platform. And then they get their digital bill of lading, proof of delivery, invoices to streamline their process. Lastly, they get a full end-to-end TMS for visibility and transparency,” said Hiller.

Hiller further demonstrated the process of navigating through Opus9’s platform. He took an example of a shipper in Winslow, Arizona, who wanted to ship 12 pallets to a customer in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The shipper could go about the process by hiring the services of a flatbed carrier through Opus9, based on instant quotes that are displayed by the dynamic pricing engine. The shipper can see prices based on when he would like to have it shipped–say, tomorrow or the day after.

Once the payment is made and the freight booking is confirmed, shippers would get access to Opus9’s free TMS system that helps them track the shipment, manage bookings, and even take stock of their carrier’s KPI performance, which Hiller explained would dramatically cut communication costs between shippers and carriers.

“One of the things about automation is that now everything can be automated, though on some occasion there are exceptions. We have a full exception management tool that shippers can access,” said Hiller. “They can come and see their shipments and access an exception. For example, when the pickup ETA is at risk, the shippers collaborate directly with the carriers and communicate on the platform. The theme here is transparency for the shippers on what’s going on.”

The shippers also get to use geofencing around facilities, with them being notified when the driver enters the region. This feature also prompts them to upload the POD, which once uploaded triggers payment and the collection on that side. Hiller contended that this would ultimately result in the shipper having full payment visibility. “A typical shipper has a capability of shipping three to four shipments today, and we see that we are about to do almost 20 times that amount with our product,” he said.