The freight industry is the backbone of the US, and yet it’s been decades since its last makeover. And while the industry has adopted digital practices in an effort to facilitate a digital supply chain, there are many ways in which the technology available isn’t being leveraged as well as it could be. In the last decade or so, we’ve witnessed the growth of DFNs, Digital Freight Networks. And for good reason, these networks offer access to much-needed transportation capacity in a more automated way. Unfortunately, most of these solutions focus on short-term wins by identifying point-to-point opportunities versus the creation of overall network efficiency. So, what are key ways in which the right Digital Freight Network can reduce volatility and why should Shippers and Carriers pay attention?
1: Network building
At the moment, most DFNs are focused on creating primarily transactional partnerships. And while working together is an excellent start to solving freight inefficiency, it’s not nearly enough to address the thousands of empty miles the industry deals with on an ongoing basis. We need to work together relationally. To make real change, technology needs to work for us by creating reliable relationships between hundreds of carriers and shippers, creating a network of collaborators with shared goals. We’ve seen how far fleeting partnerships will get us, and now we need to push way beyond that into network-building.
SemiCab is focused on building the ultimate efficient trucking network. We do this with our unique technology that enables us to take a holistic view of what’s happening on the road in real-time and continuously orchestrates opportunities for shippers and carriers to work together; not just one-off shippers and carriers transactions in the network.
2: Guaranteed capacity
Capacity is one of the freight industry’s most enigmatic qualities. Capacity shortages lead to delays, delays lead to higher costs, and higher costs are one of the many ways the freight industry is inefficient. And the reason for fluctuating capacity can be one of many, whether it’s a backed-up facility, changing demand, or market cycle shifts, which means it’s difficult to predict. The right technology can help alleviate these concerns altogether.
In fact, at SemiCab, we use our robust network of shippers and carriers to provide guaranteed capacity. We look across scores of shippers together in order to identify efficiencies across their networks, with the larger ones providing core demand and capacity. Smaller shippers help balance the network to generate even larger efficiencies. We use API-based technology to gain insight into the demand and supply provided by the community. And then machine learning creates predictive algorithms to help us find the optimal shipper and carrier relationships on recurring lanes while comparing service and pricing options. Again, this continuous matching is done across the entire network of shippers and carriers on the platform, not just individual load and lane pairs.
3: 100% Tender acceptance
For many in the freight industry, 100% tender acceptance sounds like an unattainable goal. Because of the fragmented nature of the industry, capacity and service levels are inconsistent. Shippers put a lot of effort into getting multiple bids from carriers to try and find the best deal possible, and in the end, they are still not guaranteed coverage. It’s an untenable, creaky model.
We know that with a functioning digital freight network model, you can achieve 100% tender acceptance. We’re doing that right now, actually. Because of SemiCab’s growing network of shippers and carriers, we’re able to help shippers save 10-15 percent off market rates while enabling 100% tender acceptance and 99% on-time pickup/delivery. This is all because of the proprietary optimizer technology that’s been designed with this goal in mind.
4: Freight access for all
The majority of trucking companies in the US have fewer than six trucks, and thousands of drivers on the road are owner-operators of their own rigs. And while they constitute the majority of carriers out there, they face the most challenges: lack of accessibility to consistent freight, unfair payment practices, and the inability to access drop and hook freight, to name a few. But technology can be a great unifier when utilized correctly.
Generally speaking, smaller carriers have a hard time connecting with bigger shippers, which means they have less access to more profitable loads. Not with SemiCab. As a digital freight concierge, we connect hundreds of thousands of carriers and shippers of all sizes based on their needs, creating a reliable network between them all. This means carriers and shippers in our network have the same opportunities, expanding the network to all players, big or small.
5: Use the data we have
We live in an era where data is being gathered constantly, and yet in the freight industry, much of that data seems to go unused. Gathering insights into tender practices, facility operations, driver feedback, and much more can offer us a different lens through which to view the industry, enabling us to make changes that address the entire ecosystem, not just one of the many facets of the operation. Now that technology has the ability to gather all kinds of data, it’s time we start using it.
That’s what semicab has been doing since day 1. We leverage and consolidate transportation demand and supply data to create network-wide aggregated views across enterprises. This is enabled through real-time API-based integration with industry-leading TMS systems, allowing effortless participation for everyone on their own terms.
Then, we use our proprietary technology to create visibility beyond the TMS planning horizon by modeling predicted demand and supply across the network. With this data in hand, we create attractive one-way load capacity for all shippers via other shippers or carriers in the network or provide one-way load capacity to other shippers to help them better utilize their own private and/or dedicated fleets.
6: Empty mile eliminator
Sick and tired of hearing about empty miles? So are we, and yet, even with all the technology we have at our fingertips, the industry still struggles with it. When looking at traditional DFNs, it’s clear that they were designed to bring demand (shippers) and supply (carriers/drivers) together in a more accessible way through the use of technology. They automate certain aspects of load searching which allows users to save time, however, the need to chase demand through dynamic pricing is still very much present, as is a lack of flexibility and transparency. We know that building more efficient loads can reduce empty miles, but pairing two shippers together to bundle individual loads just isn’t enough. What we need is an entire network built around the same shared goal to eliminate empty miles as a whole.
As the call for improved sustainability measures reverberates across every company, the sound is deafening in the freight industry. Eliminating empty miles isn’t just a worthwhile goal, it’s our responsibility. This is why collaboration between all players in the freight space is required, so the entire network can be working toward the same sustainability goals, not just the lucky few who are able to.
The SemiCab platform enables improved sustainability measures. Shippers with both private and dedicated fleets on the SemiCab platform can market their available capacity to other shippers. This is how one shipper with a dedicated or private fleet can get paid for previously unused capacity, and another shipper can find affordable and reliable capacity that’s not available anywhere else. Carriers benefit from the SemiCab platform by engaging in a dedicated capacity arrangement. With this type of engagement, SemiCab arranges for the dedicated capacity to carry out operations for a chosen set of lanes being managed for one of the shippers on the SemiCab platform. SemiCab takes care of all the relationship building and management, allowing carriers and shippers alike to continue running their operations without having to change a thing. Using technology, SemiCab is able to orchestrate collaboration between all members on the platform, bringing equitable practices into the freight space.
The way forward
The good news is that SemiCab has the technology needed to foster seamless collaboration, eliminate empty miles, and reduce freight volatility in one fell swoop. By making use of data to build a network that creates capacity, we’re able to achieve 100% tender acceptance rates while eliminating empty miles. To learn more about how you can benefit from digital freight, give us a shout! We’ve got answers to all your burning questions.