The freight hauling landscape has witnessed the proliferation of technology in recent times. Most of it has been targeted at improving operations within the market itself, rather than dissecting different niches within the market and bolstering their cyclic operations – like the construction, paving, logging or waste disposal industries.
In many ways, freight haulers remain a lifeline of such industries and also the part of operations that these markets find hard to control. An overall lack of visibility and transparency into operational workings make it inconvenient for industry stakeholders to conclude work on schedule.
TruckIT, an Atlanta-based on-demand trucking marketplace, is helping connect the dots within niche spaces that require timely freight hauling services. “The problem we’re trying to solve is the shortage of trucks and getting trucks to job sites on time. Though we started out as a marketplace for dump trucks, we’ve added a lot more functionality and technology now to help manage large fleets,” said Pace Davis, CEO and co-founder of TruckIT.
The origins of TruckIT was coincidental with a problem that one of the co-founders faced in the construction company that he was running at that time. “He needed 30 trucks every day for a month when he was a general contractor in Georgia. He usually ordered 40 trucks in the place of 30, because many did not show up, and he had no idea where they were until it was too late. TruckIT started as a solution to solve this problem,” said Davis.
While working on the logistics part of the equation, TruckIT managers realized that running a profitable trucking business involved solving the backhaul problem, because an effective solution to backhaul could help carriers make more money and shippers to reduce logistics costs. Davis explained that the fleets he spoke with mentioned they run empty backhauls roughly half the time.
The idea behind TruckIT is to build tools for the trucking sector that can make people more productive across its value chain. “What differentiates us is we’re trying to automate a lot of the process and increase truck utilization by efficiently handling the data we collect,” said Davis. “For example, the industry faces a huge problem with paper tickets on the weighing scales. We have customers who have tickets worth hundreds of thousands of dollars every month, and that includes both haulers and contractors. They have to get all the tickets, reconcile and pay them off. This is something we are looking to solve.”
TruckIT has developed a patent-pending technology called ‘AirTicket’ that allows trucks to drive up on a scale, get weighed and drive off without a paper ticket. The tickets get added virtually to the trucker’s phone, making it much more efficient for the fleet because it does not have to reconcile or search for errors later on.
“Many companies are using apps to collect ticket information, but they rely on the driver to punch in the data. But we do not use an app to enter information, and that’s a big differentiator,” said Davis.
TruckIT has moved beyond providing a marketplace for hauling. Their enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering now comprises a significant portion of the business. “Many of our large customers have the need to dispatch hundreds of trucks a day. We have built user interfaces to help users more easily manage deploying and optimizing the dispatching process and truck routes. We are applying machine-learning algorithms in many cases where the system figures out the next day’s scheduling,” said Davis.
Another area of focus is to educate drivers that technology exists to assist them and make their lives easier, and not necessarily to track their movement and help the back office micromanage their day.
“People do not like change. Educating them on how technology benefits them is important for the implementation process,” said Davis. “We look at automating the industry. We want to get to a place where the hauler can demand certain rates for his truck on a daily basis, and the contractor can plan well ahead on what he needs and stick to the schedule.”