Land O’Lakes is a large shipper, and like most shippers its size, moving volumes of freight across the country requires a complex shipping solution. A combination of dedicated freight operations, a private fleet and over-the-road contract providers work together to solve this maze of shipping. But that doesn’t mean the company is satisfied.
Continually looking for opportunities to improve its operations, Land O’Lakes sought solutions to improve service within its contracted operations, which usually ran through third-party logistics (3PL) providers. That meant each Land O’Lakes load could touch “3 or 4 human beings” before being delivered, explains Nick Najjar, senior manager of the transportation department.
Looking specifically at a lane in Texas (Nacogdoches to Ft. Worth) along which the company was moving Purina feed for horses and cattle, Land O’Lakes contracted with Uber Freight in search of a technological solution.
“The proposal from Uber was to speed that up,” Najjar says, adding that the promise was for a “better method of assigning capacity.”
The pilot launched just over a year ago used Uber Freight’s app and with great success.
“[When Uber Freight started] they were focused on Texas,” Najjar says of Uber. “And we have 6 plants in Texas and Oklahoma. We had a good density of freight.”
Land O’Lakes posts loads to the app and carriers and drivers are able to accept the load through that app. Drivers can see complete load details and set custom preferences, current and desired locations, and available equipment to help the app’s matching algorithms identify potential load options.
Yone Dewberry, chief supply chain officer for Land O’Lakes, says the company is now running that entire lane with loads on Uber Freight’s app.
“Like any good organization...you look for partners that help you innovate,” Dewberry notes. “We wanted to find a partner that could take us down that technology path.”
Najjar says that Uber Freight has led to better carrier assignment and improved load matching.
“They did a very good job showing us how their app could do a better job for drivers and getting them paid faster,” he says. “Loads are being picked up very quickly. I think our app acceptance is over 80% [overall] and in the [Nacogdoches to Ft. Worth] lane it’s actually over 90%.”
Land O’Lakes is now posting loads to the Uber Freight app on lanes in Florida and the Northeast with more to come.
The value the Uber Freight app provides to Land O’Lakes goes beyond simply eliminating 3PL charges. It has also led to more time for transportation managers, who are not making calls trying to locate carriers to move loads.
“We’re able to focus more on exception management,” Najjar says, “and we’re able to focus more of our time on value-add activities.”
A perfect example of this additional value came on a recent Saturday when a transportation provider cancelled a planned pickup. Normally, a weekend cancellation could result in a delay of several days as Land O’Lakes or the 3PL try to reach another provider during off-hours. In this case, the company simply reposted the load in the Uber Freight app and within minutes another carrier chose the load, ensuring an on-time delivery.
One of the things that Najjar likes is the transparency the app provides. The carrier knows all the necessary details and Land O’Lakes has more control over its loads than when they are outsourced to a 3PL. And there is lower cost as a result.
“Two, three, four years down the road, this could very much be the way the entire industry needs to operate in order to compete,” Najjar says. “And we think that Uber Freight really is at the front of the curve in terms of solving the technology piece.”
Uber Freight is now available nationwide and companies like Land O’Lakes are starting to see value in the network of carriers being built by Uber.
“We expect this to be a longer-term partnership,” Newberry says. “We started slow, but we hope this becomes a significant part of the industry.”