Matching freight in tough times

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Updated Jan 13, 2010

Filling trucks won’t be easy, but help is available


By all indications, we are in the worst economic recession since at least the early 1980s, and freight volumes are reflecting the pain. One indicator of this trend is the truckload spot market. Since last fall, the number of load postings has dropped precipitously, according to freight matching company TransCore.

Year-over-year freight postings on TransCore’s 3sixty Freight Match service powered by DAT are down by 49 percent, says David Schrader, senior vice president of freight matching services. Demand indexes published by other large load boards show similar results.
Because load volumes may not rebound for some time, carriers that search for freight online will have to become faster and more efficient in how they find and negotiate for the loads that are available.

Companies that host online load boards and freight matching services continue to increase the speed and efficiency for users of their systems. Some of the latest Web-based communication tools make it possible to match loads and equipment without using a Web browser.

“We want to provide customers access to our marketplace any way they want to access it,” Schrader says.

An increasingly popular way to access TransCore’s marketplace is through a product called Connexion, which was released in September 2007. The product uses XML-based Web services that allow customers to use a real-time interface between their native software applications and 3sixty Freight Match. Examples of native software applications include dispatch and transportation management systems, or even Excel spreadsheets.

“A Web service allows an absolute real-time connection between our servers and theirs,” Schrader says. More than 200 companies today use Web services to integrate with TransCore in real time to post trucks and loads, as well as to find matches, he says.

TransCore also continues to promote its Skype voiceover-IP technology. When a load match is found, a carrier can call a broker directly with a click of a mouse while logged into 3sixty Freight Match. When users receive incoming calls, the Skype integration can pull up information about who is calling, such as a credit score, to help users determine which calls to answer to operate more efficiently, Schrader says.

To help facilitate faster and more profitable transactions for carriers, Internet Truckstop – which has about 3 million subscribers – offers a service called FuelDesk that carriers can use to identify current rates and fuel prices in any lane.

Carriers also can post trucks to the Internet Truckstop directly from their native software. In addition, the company offers an inexpensive Web-based management program for carriers and brokers called ITS Dispatch that lets users post trucks and loads directly to its load board and freight matching system, says Leigh Foxall, director of marketing.

About half of the load postings to Getloaded.com – which is owned by Roper Industries, the same company that owns TransCore – arrive through integration with a broker’s or shipper’s native software, says Bryan Jones, president. A smaller amount of Getloaded’s carrier customers post trucks through integration, he says.

The company offers several options for carriers that wish to post trucks more efficiently. For example, Getloaded can use “screen-scraping” technology to pull information on loads or trucks that carriers post to their own websites, and then enter it into its own system. In addition to real-time integration, carriers can set up alerts to notify them immediately when load matches are found based on their criteria, Jones says.

A new feature from Getloaded allows carriers to see the competition in any lane when they do a load search. The company also recently added a rate index so carriers can monitor the current rates in each lane to negotiate faster and more equitably with brokers and shippers, Jones says.

Freight volumes may be in a slump for the foreseeable future, but in the meantime, technology at least can help speed the process of identifying and securing loads the moment they become available.



In Brief

PeopleNet
(www.peoplenetonline.com), a provider of onboard communications and fleet management solutions, has partnered with Iridium to offer satellite communications as an option alongside its cellular wireless network.

Bendix Commercial Vehicle
Systems (www.bendix.com) signed a definitive agreement to acquire the VORAD (Vehicle On-board Radar) system from Eaton Corp. Bendix says VORAD will complement its stability control and adaptive cruise offerings. Eaton’s Roadranger marketing organization will market and support VORAD in North America.

TransCore
(www.transcore.com) announced that its Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) handheld reader received Transportation Security Administration authorization for use in security clearance of personnel accessing ports as part of the TWIC program.

GE Capital Solutions
(www.gecapsol.com) is expanding its telematics offering to Canada. Rolled out in the United States in 2006, the offering is designed to give companies with fleets of vehicles more insight into how their assets are performing.

Air-Weigh
(www.air-weigh.com)has obtained ISO 9001:2000 certification. The company designs and manufactures onboard weighing and brake monitoring systems.

Comdata Corp.
(www.comdata.com) was selected by Donlen Corp., a fleet management company, as its preferred fleet card provider.