Technology Demands and the Freight and Logistics Industry
Quantum leaps in technology have brought our world more change since the first days of the internet. Technology is all around us, in our hands, in our cars, in our homes and we have the ability to communicate with someone or search for something within seconds by a device that can slide into our back pockets. Even with all this technology, many of the companies in the multi-billion dollar transport industry are still operating in the 1980s. Fax machines, filing cabinets, pen and paper coupled with hours of daily telephone conversations are the norm for many trucking and freight brokerage firms as they conduct business each day.
It is no surprise that these companies are not keeping up with industry demands and are being outflanked by new, lean technology companies.
These tech companies can do the same thing cheaper, better and faster – the holy grail of business self-actualization that most experts think impossible. The trucking sector took in $650 billion in total revenue in 2013, which originally caught the eye of some of these technologists from outside the industry. These tech gurus identified vulnerabilities within the trucking industry and weaknesses to exploit.
But some very forward thinking 3PLs pivoted as they saw the technologists from outside the industry riding the tech wave that was threatening to wipe them out. It remains to be unseen if the traditional 3PLs can head off the technologist’s steadfast march toward their domination of logistics.
The 3PLs that are succeeding are the ones that are adept and have embraced the technology platform.
Some of the industry leading 3PLs created exceptional online tools that helped leverage technology in their favor before these new start-ups came in to set up shop. Now, these leading 3PLs can display available loads, negotiate rates, tender loads, track loads, collect paper work through these online systems and begin the billing process as soon as the load delivers.
The missing piece is still matching empty trucks to available loads in a more efficient way.
There is ample room for improvement in this challenge. There are hundreds of thousands of loads being shipped each day, but the process of connecting the dots is very inefficient. Companies like Uber and Lyft, who have seemingly perfected the matchmaking process in the ride-sharing community, could easily make the shift to the trucking industry. It is the same concept- Uber matches empty car seats to people needing car seats. They could easily match empty trailers to shippers needing empty trailers if 3PLs do not continue to service their shippers as efficiently as possible.
A modern day shipper needs to partner with a progressive 3PL
A modern day shipper needs to partner with a progressive 3PL that utilizes the latest technology platforms in order to run a successful, efficient logistics program. These companies have proven their worth within the logistics community by their continued exceptional service. They have also proven their resiliency by adapting to advances in technology and staving off outside start-ups trying to break new ground.