McLeod users see opportunities from ELDs and ‘Amazon Effect’

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Updated Sep 19, 2017
Tom McLeod, president of McLeod Software, gives the keynote at the company’s annual user conference in Atlanta, Sept. 18Tom McLeod, president of McLeod Software, gives the keynote at the company’s annual user conference in Atlanta, Sept. 18

“Write this down,” said Lamar Quinn, general manager of R.E. Garrison, at the McLeod Software user conference in Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 18.

He has a message for the transportation industry.

“Look at who you are on September 18, 2018. Looking back, you will not recognize the company you are today. The change will be that dynamic.”

R.E. Garrison is experiencing change from the “Amazon Effect” and the next year will be transformative. The Vinemont, Ala.-based truckload carrier recently began transporting freight in double pup trailers for Amazon.

The carrier’s new e-commerce contract has a 200-mile length of haul, and drivers assigned to the run will be home every night and have the opportunity to increase pay with a pup certification.

“This could be tremendous,” he said. “This is opportunity. Thick.”

Quinn joined other fleet managers in a panel discussion at the McLeod conference. The topic was electronic logging devices, but panelists agreed that data-driven compliance has created opportunities.

For R.E. Garrison, electronic logs have shifted the company’s sales focus to freight with a length of haul of 494 miles or 1,000 miles to maximize utilization. Passing up freight in the middle ground — or at least charging extra fees to haul loads between 500 and 999 miles — is paying dividends, he said.

The integration of electronic log data with its LoadMaster transportation management system from McLeod Software has introduced a better freight planning process and created quality home time for its drivers, he said.

Navistar had its Super Truck on display in the exhibit hall at the McLeod Software event.Navistar had its Super Truck on display in the exhibit hall at the McLeod Software event.

The technology has helped to attract drivers who are looking to work for a carrier that maximizes driver pay without the hassle of paper logbooks, he said.

Panelist Jerry Harris, vice president of dedicated for Gypsum Express, agreed that ELDs are blessing in disguise. As the industry comes into compliance, “I hope to see a more level playing field,” he said.

Gypsum Express, based in Baldwinsville, N.Y., is seeing less competition for freight as more carriers are compliant.

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“Until now, shippers and brokers never had to change the parameters of their loads because they could always find someone else to do it. Maybe those scenarios will go away,” he said.

The Amazon Effect

Earlier that morning, Tom McLeod, the president of the Birmingham, Ala.-based software developer, advised attendees to choose technology that will position them to take advantage of opportunities.

McLeod has replayed the opportunistic theme in his keynotes for the last few years.

“The future is made up of things that we will decide,” he said. “Whatever we sow we will reap. There is no more immutable law of the universe than that.”

McLeod noted the impact of e-commerce and the “Amazon Effect” on freight supply chains. Fifty percent of households in the United States are now Amazon Prime members and more than 10 percent of retail sales have moved to online, he said. McLeod also cited study that predicted 20 percent of retail stores with close within five to eight years.

Parcel and less-than-truckload carriers have gained the most from e-commerce, he said, with a 5.4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of parcel freight from 2011 to 2016, and 2.7 percent CAGR for LTL freight. Truckload volumes have grown 0.6 percent during the same period.

The disruption of e-commerce on freight patterns has been a challenge for carriers, he said, but advised attendees to talk to their shipper customers and “listen to opportunities to understand things you can do differently for an advantage.”

Tom McLeod addresses industry press at the annual conference.Tom McLeod addresses industry press at the annual conference.

McLeod Software offers enterprise-wide transportation management software (TMS) for motor carriers, brokerage and logistics companies. At this year’s show, the company announced new Final Mile software capabilities for truckload carriers to manage multi-stop shipments that can include crossdocking.

Tom McLeod described new freight visibility tools in the market that are giving shippers, carriers and brokers new opportunities as the industry continues to move towards disintermediation of freight transactions.

Freight visibility tools are creating a “frictionless movement of information” that gives freight brokers more opportunities to handle freight, he said.

During his time on stage and during a press briefing, McLeod also discussed some new products and features his company is developing around freight planning, business intelligence and business process automation.

“Our goal is to put you in a position to compete and win. We want you to be the most effective companies anywhere,” he said.

A few of the announcements during the show are summarized below:

  • New integration with ALK Technologies, a Trimble Company, and other partners. The integration will add more real-time information to the freight planning and routing process. McLeod will have new predictive information for weather, traffic and parking availability for drivers.
  • New partnerships to leverage data science. McLeod is partnering with data science firms to analyze large amounts of freight rate data to predict market trends in lanes. Other partnerships will center on making predictive analytics and optimization technology more practical and scalable for widespread adoption by fleets.
  • New interfaces with equipment sensors and onboard computers will enable a Smart Tractor-as-a-client (STAAC) platform. McLeod mentioned opportunities to capture more data from vehicles.

“As we acquire more information, we will get it to where it needs to go for total management of trucks on the road,” he said. “We want to be tied into autonomous truck dispatch.”

  • New Blockchain initiatives to exchange information in the supply chain. McLeod was a charter member of the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA) and plans to develop new blockchain applications to simplify communications for its carrier and brokerage customers.

The McLeod Software users conference was held at the Georgia World Congress center in Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 17-19.