The rise of logistics startups in the freight industry over this decade has been nothing short of game-changing – both in increasing operational efficiency and also in easing the way business is done. Industry front-runners comprising the who’s who in the logistics space are jumping on the technology bandwagon as they see vast dividends in adopting certain processes, helping them grow their business faster.
Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is launching a digital platform for its contracted freight carriers to match them with the company’s spot loads. The software application is developed and customized for its usage by Loadsmart, a company that provides digital on-demand truckload shipping.
FreightWaves caught up with Lori Heino-Royer, the director of business innovation at DTNA, to discuss this move in detail. “Before this platform, we used the methodology that was traditionally used in the industry. It was about picking up the phone, calling carriers to tell them about the load and that it needs to be moved from here to there,” says Heino-Royer. “We were looking for a way to serve our contracted carriers better – the people with whom we already do business with – and also to improve the overall process of how we communicate information.”
Before working with Loadsmart, DTNA had spent time scouting the industry to analyze all the players in the market and their various product offerings. “We were looking for a company that matched the ideals that Daimler has. A lot of the digital freight brokers have a niche. They are regional, looking for heavy or odd loads. They all have a little something that is different in what they are going after,” explains Heino-Royer. “It was a matter of finding the right fit, as far as what they were trying to accomplish in their business, as well as matching ideology to that of Daimler’s.”
Heino-Royer stresses that the company is always looking for ways to work with the customers and carriers better. DTNA being an OEM manufacturer is in a unique situation, where it is both the customer and the equipment provider. “We play two roles with many customers. They buy our trucks and then move freight for us. It is an interesting place for us to be and so what we were looking for is a methodology, through which the platform that we created gives our contracted carriers first access to our spot business,” she adds.
Contracted carriers understand how shipping works in DTNA which helps the company’s cause, as they need not spend time in explaining processes within its facilities. The drivers are also familiar with the routes, and there exists a lot of synergy for connecting them to more of DTNA’s businesses.
The pilot run of the digital platform was a resounding success, albeit done with a small subset of DTNA, which showed drastic improvements in the time taken to process spot shipments. “The pilot program was a multi-faceted one. We followed an intense project management methodology, where we broke it up into smaller phases and started by putting a portion of our spot business on the platform,” notes Heino-Royer.
“It was a test to see what happens and to make fixes in an agile environment as we move forward. Previously it was about several phone calls and many hours before we had a load that we knew would be covered. In the new scenario, we send out information, and the carriers have access to it instantly which has significantly reduced process times.”
The digitalization also helps carriers get paid faster, with them receiving payments in two days, a process which used to take a month before. Heino-Royer concludes by saying that their next step is to take this approach forward across its business in North America, all the while improving its relationship with its customer base by adopting new technological innovations in the market.