Flatbed freight historically is hard to manage as it combines a number of supply chain imbalances including uncertain origins and destinations, inconsistent city and state regulations, driver-touch requests and accessorial requirements. Training and developing employees to handle these shipments takes time, adding to the overall complexity of matching these loads to the right carrier.
While many large brokerages shy away from these risky shipments, ZMac Transportation Inc. specializes in them, including moving oversized and overweight products that could not ship without flatbed trailers.
The specialized freight company has taken on the challenge of creating cutting-edge technology to help brokers and shippers handle these shipments with ease, while continuing to acquire brokerages, like the recent acquisition of Mid-Pacific Transportation.
In an interview with FreightWaves, Matt Ziegler, president and CEO of ZMac, explained his passion for defragmenting this piece of the transportation industry, even if it made his competitors better.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Ziegler said. “If brokerages can access our knowledge to make better capacity decisions, then we can start eliminating the headaches that come from moving oversized freight.”
Ziegler and his team have stood by that sentiment and created two technology platforms that can facilitate the needs of open-deck freight, ZRATE and ZMATCH.
ZRATE is a subscription-based tool that allows customers to access instant, accurate and user-friendly quotes so sales representatives can confidently pass them to shippers. ZMATCH takes this technology a step further by offering up detailed cost descriptions along with real-time capacity matching capabilities.
In oversized freight, the quoting process takes multiple phone calls, dimension confirmation, permit cost research and coordinating unloading processes. In each of these steps, costs will incur. Sales representatives can use these tools for better understanding of what quotes should be passed on to their customer, without the overhead costs of multiple carrier sales representatives doing the same work.
“We realized that specialized freight needs three carrier representatives for every sales representative,” said Ziegler as he explained the necessity of adding technology into the process. “Our system allows us to operate with one carrier representative for three customer sales representatives.”
ZMac’s platforms offer more than just technology, they come with years of experience and expertise from his team. Customers are taught the details of specialized freight, including holiday and evening transit laws, and what types of trailers can be used on shipments to open up capacity.
“There are a number of trailer types that can handle open-deck shipments,” explained Ziegler. “Some customers think oversized and only request one trailer, when in reality there are multiple trailer types that could handle that shipment.”
ZMATCH offers the ability to see what trailer types can take specialized shipments, opening up customers’ capacity and keeping costs down. The tool also highlights any events that could slow transit, including holiday restrictions, so delivery deadlines are made without issues.
This information is important as flatbed freight tends to consist of seasonal goods and can cause swings of tightened capacity throughout the year. Add winter weather and Department of Transportation safety checks, events that drivers avoid by simply staying home, and shippers and brokers are often left bewildered by rate fluctuations.
Ziegler is excited to continue acquiring capacity to open up more trailer options for the customers on ZMATCH. He explained ZMac would only acquire companies that lived its mission statement.
“We acquired Mid-Pacific because they uphold our mission statement: ‘unwavering accountability, impeccable customer service and progressive innovation,’” Ziegler said. “We have been able to scale effectively because we focus on these traits.”