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3. Mobile apps

Carriers that use LoadSmart are required to have tracking capabilities. One option is to use a mobile app.

Carriers that use Loadsmart are required to have tracking capabilities. One option is to use a mobile app.

With 90 percent of motor carriers operating less than six trucks, mobile apps give brokers and shippers a way to automate communications with owner operators and small fleets.

A number of technology companies with brokerage authority have mobile apps that carriers use to accept loads and provide shipment status, among other functions. These apps can also be used by fleet managers to message drivers and capture proof-of-delivery documents for billing.

Transfix, which describes itself as an on-demand freight logistics marketplace and trucking mobile applications company, has such an app for over-the-road (OTR) drivers. Transfix, which has brokerage authority, presents loads to carriers based on the real-time location of their equipment and load preferences.

The mobile app works in conjunction with its load management system to automate the tracking and payment process. The mobile app’s trip planner generates top route options after drivers input their starting point and destination. Each route option displays corresponding real-time data from truckstops, rest areas, weigh stations and more.

Truckstop.com and DAT Solutions, the two largest online load boards and freight matching services, have mobile apps to speed up the search functions.

The free DAT Trucker Services app gives drivers a way to provide real-time location of capacity to brokers when posting available equipment, and automate load searches for freight within their vicinity, says Greg Sikes, vice-president of product management for DAT Solutions.

For 2016, Truckstop.com will be focused on expanding the connectivity options for its online freight matching community of brokers and carriers, says Thayne Boren, general manager of uDrove, which is a business and compliance management tool offered by Truckstop.com.

“Load tracking and telematics have been a separate entity, but we want to take all of those features and bring into one marketplace to have them work in a more synergistic manner,” he says.

1. Online community

Online load boards have traditionally not handled functions that come after rates are negotiated such as freight tracking and billing. Some new online services can manage transactions end to end.

2. Instant rate visibility

In many ways, trucking is becoming more like the travel industry by sharing instant pricing information.

4. Instant booking

A mobile app called Uber gives passengers instant rates between any local origin and destination and connects them to drivers to make a pickup within minutes. How could booking a truckload shipment ever been this easy?

5. Carrier retention

To help attract and retain good carriers, several companies now offer free, online fleet management systems for fleets to dispatch their equipment and drivers.

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Aaron Huff is the Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Huff’s career in the transportation industry began at a family-owned trucking company and expanded to CCJ, where for the past 14 years he has specialized in covering business and technology for online and print readers and speaking at industry events. A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, Huff holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama.