AscendTMS, the provider of transportation management software that has focused on smaller players in the market, has reeled in a large one to provide load availability in the Ascend system.
Uber Freight and AscendTMS announced Thursday that loads from Uber Freight are now available through the Ascend system. The Wednesday launch of the Uber Freight integration into the AscendTMS platform is the second such deal announced by AscendTMS in the past few months. A similar deal with Convoy began in December.
Tim Higham, the CEO of AscendTMS, said in an interview with FreightWaves that the deal with Uber Freight means that eight of the 10 largest brokers are now able to display loads through the Ascend system. He did not disclose the other two but said the company is in discussions with them now.
Higham said carriers with 100 trucks or less, or shippers with transportation spend of less than $50 million, are AscendTMS’ “absolute sweet spot.” Brokerages with revenues of $50 million or less also fit in that category, he said.
Higham talked about the value of loads in the AscendTMS system by noting a math equation: The number of people in the back shop is at a ratio of about one person for every five trucks. So a fleet of 10 trucks would have an office staff of two, Higham said, “and one of those people would do nothing more than to find loads for the drivers.”
In the past, that would involve making multiple phone calls, often to learn only that a load available less than 30 minutes ago is gone. But the various arrangements that AscendTMS has with brokerage companies means that their offerings are being aggregated into Ascend and availability can be broadcast through the system before the preceding load is even delivered.
“[Users of] AscendTMS can proactively match trucks in a carrier’s fleet that are soon to be empty with the best Uber Freight load currently available, including those loads with minimal deadhead and minimal wait times for the carrier’s truck drivers,” the company said in its prepared statement regarding the alliance.
The average carrier using the Ascend system has 5.6 trucks in the fleet, Higham said. He said Uber Freight realized that companies like that “are trying to allow them to have the right tools to remain profitable.”
“A carrier with a TMS tends to be more profitable because they are more organized,” Higham added.
AscendTMS is used by approximately 10,000 fleets, Higham said.
Higham said AscendTMS has approximately 30 different load sources, including major load board providers DAT and Truckstop.com. C.H. Robinson and TQL are major brokerages that are already in the system and are now joined by Uber Freight.
In the announcement of the deal between Uber Freight and AscendTMS, the number of loads handled through the Ascend system last year was put at more than 3 million.
Given the small size of the average AscendTMS customer, it is not surprising that Higham speaks about the need to digitize that portion of the sector and not overlook them given their limited technical resources or, in some cases, their know-how.
“We talk about digital supply chains but that is not going to happen unless we bring in a majority of the supply chain,” Higham said. “It’s the small guy where the opportunities are, so I applaud Uber Freight for embracing that.”
AscendTMS boasts it is a “free” TMS and there is a stripped-down version that can be accessed at no cost. However, key features of any TMS system, like payroll management, would not be found in the free version.