Digital Freight Matching & Freight Brokerage Automation Panel, Wednesday, October 12, 2022

By Robb Porter, EVP, Managed Transportation, Loadsmart


Last week I had the opportunity to participate on an esteemed panel of industry leaders to speak at the 3PL Value Creation Summit hosted by Armstrong & Associates, Inc. in our HQ home of Chicago.

It was a conversation focused on how digitalization and automation are driving rapid change in freight brokerage. I discussed the ways Loadsmart has evolved to digitize the logistics industry, how we’re building solutions for our customers to accelerate that process, and where we see the industry moving over the next 10 to 15 years. 

During the panel led by Evan Armstrong, President & CEO, Armstrong & Associates, alongside industry leaders Kary Jablonski, CEO Trucker Tools, Mirna Kusalovic, Sr. Director Product Management XPO Logistics and Scott Sandager, Chief of Staff Arrive Logistics, I hit on three key takeaways:

We’ve seen significant adoption of automation over the last two to five years.

At Loadsmart, our mission is to move more with less; this means automating as much as possible from rate discovery to payments while recognizing that full automation is not possible–you will always need a human touch to cover exceptions. That being said, we are seeing significant adoption in several areas of our business.

Five years ago we began automating the pricing and booking processes while at the forefront of API/TMS integrations (integrated with Top5 players), and today over 80% of our spot bookings are automated.

We have also developed an internal tracking engine that allows us to handle our diverse carrier network (consisting of over 50k carriers, from owner operators to large private fleets) which consolidates tracking information from several different sources, and provides tracking for a given truck at a given time. This ensures that we have automated visibility in nearly 65% of our shipments today.

Over the past two years, we’ve taken a stab at automating the process of finding carriers to move our loads, and today we have nearly 35% of them booked by carriers directly through one of our channels. And finally, last year we acquired Opendock, the most prominent dock scheduling solution in the market, to enter another arena (the warehouse) where goods and carriers meet. This opens a new range of efficiency opportunities, from automated dock scheduling based on transit data to planning and optimization based on inventory data and real time capacity.

Tech is most effectively developed when it’s built to meet customers where they are.

Over the past two years we’ve evolved our proprietary load board and mobile app from a place for carriers to search for loads to a platform where they can optimize their capacity utilization, receive real-time load recommendations, have direct access to shipper loads and long-term contract opportunities, and benefit from low rate QuickPay and other offers like partner Fuel Cards. 

Last year, our Truck Management System for carriers where they not only have access to all the tools mentioned above, but can also manage their operations, from dispatching, to driver and fleet management, and invoicing and reporting. We currently have 3,000 trucks actively managing their business on the platform and getting access not only to Loadsmart loads, but also to other integrated brokers through our integrations with DAT and Newtrul.

Digital Freight Matching is in its infancy.

Even with some of the traction we are seeing in automation and solutions, we’re only in the 2nd chapter of a 10 chapter book. While data continues to remain a hot industry topic, the trend towards centralizing and consolidating available data within a vertically integrated tech stack that touches all decision making and value stream processes will drive better and more predictable freight matching that can be as agile as the market demands. 

Also, while Digital Freight Matching is primarily only relevant for live/live TL shipments today, we see it expanding to other modes and capacity types (i.e. drop capacity) to increase shipper flexibility and scalability 

Robb is responsible for Shipper Solutions including digital products and Managed Transportation Services at Loadsmart, to learn more click here.