Polaris' tech division NorthStar Digital Solutions launches FR8Focus mobile app for LTL and TL markets

FR8Focus mobile application
Polaris' technology arm NorthStar Digital Solutions launches new app for LTL and TL markets.
NorthStar Digital Solutions

A new mobile app that aims to help carriers reduce heavy administrative labor via systems automation has hit the North American market.

NorthStar Digital Solutions (NDS), the 2019 Polaris Transportation Group (PTG) spinoff software division, recently partnered with Radaro, an enterprise technology platform that streamlines less-than-truckload and freight deliveries, to create the FR8Focus app that aimed at helping carriers connect, track and manage their fleets in real-time. 

“FR8Focus is about more than a single piece of technology. It’s about flawlessly combining an assortment of technologies to solve industry-wide issues. Operations can see their entire fleet(s) on the road at a glance, communicate with drivers instantly and adjust schedules ad hoc,” NDS COO Dave Brajkovich said in a news release. “From a carrier’s customer standpoint, we have eliminated a lot of frustration. When they see real-time route flows and receive instant notifications, there is no longer a need to ask where their shipment is.”

PTG hired Brajkovich, with his experience in automating business systems, as its chief technology officer in 2018 to lead its investments in technology and drive new digital capabilities for which the company was recognized in 2020 as CCJ’s Innovator of the Year.

Winning Innovator of the Year spurred PTG to create the FR8Focus app, which is designed to provide agility and visibility while reducing time spent paper-shuffling from hours to minutes or even seconds.

And it started with PTG’s asset-based company.

“One major gap in this industry – and we learned this first hand with our asset-based company – is the tie that binds physical to virtual was missing,” Brajkovich told CCJ. “Even with many options available in the market we did not find a good fit that would solve many of our issues, so we went looking for a solid solution.”

NDS ended up purchasing the Radaro platform, which had the basic driver control applications built on the latest mobile platform. He said NDS enhanced the Radaro product by deploying backend integrations to tie in all the critical core transactional systems.

Now, the application is feature rich with the ability to use off-the-shelf edge devices like iOS and Android smart phones and tablets along with Windows operating devices like ELD tablets.

FR8Focus is designed to keep the front-end tools simple for the driver so they couple it to their daily activities with minimal efforts for the administrative requirements.

“Connecting the road to the back office” leverages the ability to receive, send and gather data and information for all internal and external supply chain partners to be informed in as real time as possible, Brajkovich said.

This is what Brajkovich says FR8Focus is geared to provide and its return on investments:

• It offers simple to use front end for the drivers receiving electronic manifests.

• Routes and schedules are pushed to the drivers.

• Drivers manage by updating order statuses as they arrive, orders management updates assessorial, additional charges, detention, etc.

• Document imaging snap-to-grid (makes taking snapshots of documents easy), proof of delivery, bill of ladings, customs invoices and more, all integrated and updated to the back end instantaneously.

• Asset route management, tracking miles, delivery and pickup times, fuel and yield management.

• Integrated systems notifications, including weather, capacity, safety and more

• Full dispatch visibility of the fleet in motion with all delivery and pickups on grid.

• Full customer visibility for live tracking by order with early arrival and changes notifications.

NDS worked with PTG to gain insights into these transportation pain points to refine the application. NDS now offers these tools to external markets.

“Our main goal was to bring our drivers and assets visibility and communications to the backend to minimize heavy administrative labor that could be managed via systems automation from the road to the back office,” Brajkovich said.

It significantly lessens carrier overhead, eliminating all manual labor previously required to handle documentation.

PODs are scanned by the drivers and uploaded instantly to backend TMS systems to provide next-minute customer invoicing. Customs documentation is uploaded immediately to expedite shipment release and border crossing, backed by document capture resolution that mitigates errors.

“Our solution was developed with the carrier, the customer and the driver in mind, resulting in truly intuitive systems where workflows anticipate each step,” Joe Thull, Radaro’s head of North America said in the news release. “FR8Focus complements existing tech stacks to allow for efficient integration and avoid the headache of replacing systems essential to running their business.”

Brajkovich said FR8Focus can help carriers improve their bottom lines.

According to its use case, PTG experienced a $25,000 monthly revenue increase using the app. It also resulted in a 100% decrease in missed invoices due to lost/incomplete paperwork, a 95% decrease in QA audits, a 75% decrease in document handling, a 50% decrease in customer disputes due to real-time invoicing, a 40% acceleration of AR payment cycles (from weeks to days) and 90% straight-through automation of invoicing.

Brajkovich said integration is quick, too. FR8Focus can be integrated into a small fleet or trial portion of a larger fleet within a couple of days.