DFMDC has been working on the problem of “Phantom Data” or “Ghost Loads” in the spot marketplace. Phantom Data occurs when a shipper or broker puts load postings out with multiple intermediaries: digital freight management (DFM) systems, traditional brokers, and carriers. Some of them will (possibly unbeknownst to the shipper) be reposted as load notices in yet more places. The result is many postings of the same load. When the load is ultimately booked, some of those postings will remain visible. Indeed, it may be very hard to find them even if the shipper or broker wants to be diligent. The now-spurious postings waste everyone’s time and patience: carriers, brokers, and shippers.
These concerns motivated DFMDC to establish a cloud-based system to help industry participants report bookings, safely notify interested digital boards and enable them to promptly clean up the junk.
But can’t be done.
It’s not that DFMDC isn’t up to it. I’m asserting that current industry practices make cleanup impossible. There is no industry-standard way to unambiguously identify the loads that are posted to the various marketplaces … at least until after the negotiation phase is over and the load is booked.
The problem could easily be solved with an industry-wide ID system as follows:
- A standard-form, unique ID that shippers can self-generate and apply to intended loads prior to negotiations between shippers and brokers/carriers. This doesn’t have to be a meaningful label … just a random label that no one else will ever use.
- A commitment to send the ID to the intended recipient when it is created … so the recipient will know it when it comes, regardless of the intermediary arrangements.
- A repository to record it for posterity to know the IDs that were legitimately created.
If an ID system like this existed, DFMDC’s cloud system could easily clean up Phantom Data. Beyond that, an early-stage ID system could energize and leverage a whole new class of trucking digitization and automation.
Unfortunately, while simple, it’s a big challenge to implement for an industry that is competitive and suspicious of other firms’ motives. To that end, we have assembled a concept for an ID and implementation roadmap and documented it in this Paper.
If the idea of being able to unambiguously identify every load seems like a good idea … or not … please add your voice to firstname.lastname@example.org.