How To Know What’s Missing From Your Logistics Technology Stack

(Even if you think of yourself as a tech-enabled shipper)

Here’s how every shipper can get more from logistics technology and build a complete platform to transform its transportation operations.

The value and importance of logistics technology for every company that ships anything is not up for debate anymore. So, even while some lagging companies may be slow to adopt automation or use technology to improve how their logistics department operates, smart shippers understand they need technology, like a TMS.

But what many companies don’t realize, sometimes even more progressive ones, is that a TMS is not always a complete solution by itself. Yes, a TMS performs many important tasks and is a cornerstone technology to better shipping execution, but it’s not the only part of a complete logistics technology stack.

Getting the most from a TMS requires connections outside the system to access the information that drives and makes it all it can be for users. With a TMS as the starting point, shippers can add pieces to create their own best combination of logistics applications and shipping-related data-sources.

The Most Important Step Towards a Complete LogTech Stack

When considering technology, most shippers’ priority is to connect their TMS to a source for rates, capacity, and tracking information. All are now easily integrated into modern TMS systems, primarily with pre-built APIs and EDI connectivity.

The reason most technology stacks take shape this way is because while a good TMS platform is a powerful tool, it’s only as good as the data available to it. A TMS can’t fix bad rates and routing decisions by users. It also can’t make up for non-existent or delayed tracking information missing from carriers. The good news is these are exactly the problems specialized logistics technologies solve. And together with a TMS, fill in the missing parts of any shippers’ technology needs.

Saying the only benefits of building on a TMS are lower rates (which many do) is selling the idea of what logistics technology can be short. The right integrated solutions can provide a TMS (and the shippers who count on them) advantages, including:

  • Qualified and pre-vetted carriers based on known needs and shipping patterns
  • Transparency into appropriate rates and transit-time options for all shipping modes
  • Faster access to capacity for difficult to cover loads
  • More in-depth and accurate data enabling strategic and data-driven decision making
  • Real-time track and trace
  • Better inventory visibility

Most shippers will see several advantages on this list as areas they’d like to improve within their logistics operation. Fortunately, each is also probably more attainable with technology than they realize.

Logistics Technology Is Easier Than You’d Think

Technology implementations have a bad reputation for being expensive and difficult to start using. This perception is a hold-over from the past when connecting systems and sharing data was hard. Modern platforms are built with the expectation that they need to be simple to start using and share data with other systems freely (most often through pre-built APIs.) There is also much more emphasis placed on the user experience with technology today, so training and operating costs are much lower.

The point is that using foundational technology like a TMS and building on it is the minimum you should be doing now. A well-planned technology stack is not difficult, nor is it expensive. And, having only basic logistics technology is not a way to be better than competitors; it’s a way to merely keep up. 

However, smart and progressive companies are aware of the benefits of combining exceptional logistics technologies can provide.

Interested in building on your TMS to improve your logistics tech stack? Download our eBook How To Level-Up Your Logistics Tech Stack (Without Heavy-Lifting) for everything you need to know.

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[NEWS] Loadsmart Announces Multimode Expansion to Less-Than-Truckload and Rail

Leading Digital Broker Offers Industry-First Mode Optimization Across Full Truckload, Less Than Truckload, Partial, Rail and Drayage

NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2020—Loadsmart, a leading digital freight technology company, today announced the expansion of its Multimodal Services to include less than truckload (LTL) and rail. The first digital freight broker to offer truly multimodal solutions, Loadsmart now enables customers to book shipments in North America across all major transportation modes, building on existing capabilities for full truckload (FTL), port drayage and transload.  

“Loadsmart is now a one-stop-shop logistics solution for domestic freight,” said Felipe Capella, Loadsmart co-founder and president. “We want shippers to focus on their core business instead of having to select and manage multiple providers to solve their many logistics needs.”

In addition to giving shippers more choices, Loadsmart now offers mode optimization services, identifying opportunities to secure lower rates and more reliable capacity by selecting the best mode for each load in real time. The company has already begun offering expanded Multimodal Services to a select number of customers, and has seen rapid adoption. Through mode optimization, Loadsmart is actively helping shippers move loads originally planned as FTL via partial, LTL or rail, reducing cost by as much as 24%.

Loadsmart was the first to introduce FTL instant pricing and booking in 2015, executed the market’s first server-to-server autonomous truckload booking via API integrations to TMS in 2016, and offered the first digital drayage and transload services in 2019. In Q2 2020, the company added more customers via direct integration with the shipper’s TMS than in all of 2019, and this trend accelerated further in Q3 2020. These vital TMS integrations allow rates, tenders, tracking and invoicing to flow automatically between Loadsmart and the customer, delivering unmatched visibility to the shipments.

“Having invested in digital infrastructure by partnering with companies like Oracle, BluJay, MercuryGate and Blue Yonder, we’re now building on this foundation by offering a broader range of logistics services across LTL, partial and rail,” added Capella. “Looking ahead to 2021, we will be adding these services to existing TMS integrations.”

“Mode optimization is a critical component to the supply chain strategy, unlocking cost savings and reducing waste caused by suboptimal decision making,” said Jim Nicholson, vice president of operations at Loadsmart. “Loadsmart leverages data, integrations and algorithms to provide a best-in-class solution, allowing our customers to streamline the transportation of their goods.”

All shippers will be able to book FTL, LTL and drayage moves directly on For rail bookings, companies can work directly with Loadsmart’s account management team.

About Loadsmart

Transforming the future of freight, Loadsmart leverages artificial intelligence, machine learning and strategic partnerships to automate how freight is priced, booked and shipped. Pairing advanced technologies with deep-seated industry expertise, Loadsmart fuels growth, simplifies operational complexity and bolsters efficiency for carriers and shippers alike. For more information, please visit:

[WEBINAR] The First Steps Toward Digital Transformation In Freight

With a tumultuous year nearly behind us, heading into 2021, transportation leaders are asking, “how can we be more prepared next year, and where should we invest resources?” 

Transportation is becoming increasingly efficient as shippers embrace digital transformation and integrate systems and processes.  

By taking an agile approach toward adopting freight technology, shippers eliminate operational inefficiency and avoid costly pitfalls – even in extraordinarily strained markets.

In this webinar, learn how to:

  • Eliminate overpaying for freight by building upon your TMS
  • Customize routing guides to mitigate high tender rejection – recently hovering over 25% nationally
  • Automate better and more profitable business decisions

[WEBINAR] How to Thrive During the Holiday Capacity Crunch

When one capacity crunch ends, another is on the horizon. With the holidays fast approaching, all shippers must prepare for tight capacity.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier to move with the market instead of against it. As 2020 has shown, preparing to do so is imperative.

Shippers are wiring up supply to programmatically meet demand by building on and optimizing the technology they already have, and what they’re finding is that these improvements are critical for thriving in peak seasons.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:
• How to enhance your TMS for increased efficiency
• The most effective ways to avoid common pitfalls during peak seasons
• How to turn the capacity crunch into a cost-saving opportunity

On Demand Webinar:

[WEBINAR] What To Do When Your Routing Guide Falls Apart

With the dramatic market swings of 2020, it’s no surprise that shippers have recently seen +25% tender rejections from their primary carriers.

Because shippers’ routing guides mostly reflect a market’s past, the static rates within them become less dependable as they age and as the market changes.

The freight market is evolving, and shippers must adapt their routing to be dynamic, adaptable, and prepared to weather any market.

You’ll learn:

• What to do when your routing guide falls apart
• How to prepare for and thrive in any market
• How to automate greater efficiency and less expense in freight moves

On Demand Webinar:

The Agile Way to Adopt Freight Technology

It’s 2020 — self-driving trucks exist, more powerful rockets are launching into space, and companies of all sizes are digitizing the analog aspects of their businesses.

The transportation sector is no different. API calls are quickly replacing phone calls, and algorithms are automating what was previously manual. The march toward a technology-driven supply chain isn’t new, but for transportation departments in many companies, it’s only just begun. 

With an agile approach, the goal is to test technology quickly and evaluate its effectiveness iteratively rather than creating a committee and launching an RFP process. This is especially relevant for light-weight technologies that don’t require drastic process changes, contracts, and down payments the size of mortgages. However, it doesn’t mean skipping careful consideration.

So, where should transportation teams who are looking to upgrade their technology stack begin? 

Find the Gaps

There is no decent manager in history that hasn’t offered praise for increasing productivity and decreasing costs. Don’t wait for the ask; just map it out.

Where are you and your team spending the most time day-to-day? Which tasks are being repeated frequently that can be automated? Which operating expenses can be decreased or eliminated? What work would the team rather not be doing?

Once you’ve made your list of gaps, rank them within a weighted scale that includes the most important success factors. This could consist of your expectations for:

  • Time saved
  • Cost recouped
  • Revenue increased
  • Time to value
  • Ease of use
  • Ease of implementation

Forecasting expectations are never perfect, but the output of this will serve as your blueprint for success. 

Plan the ROI 

The quickest way to get the green light for exploring new technology is to rank the gaps you’ve identified by their cost burden and plan the ROI. This can be done easily with a little common sense. 

In transportation, common pitfalls that are easy-to-address are staff costs for repetitive tasks.

A few examples:

  • Freight Rate Discovery
    Formula: Loads Per Day * Staff Cost to Book Load = Daily Rate Discovery Cost

  • Tracking and Rescheduling a Load
    Formula: Cost to Monitor Loads + Cost to Reschedule Loads = Daily Cost of Time to Track and Reschedule

  • Re-booking Freight Loads Given Back
    Formula: (Loads Per Day Given Back * Cost of Rate Discovery Per Load) + (Premium Uplift) = Daily Rate Discovery Cost for Loads Given Back

Quick math using these formulas and assuming 200 loads per week, 262 business days per year, $25 per hour staff costs, and a 15% premium uplift with $1,000 COH estimate that this shipper spends $191,260.00 annually for these automatable and avoidable tasks. With a $0 Loadsmart TMS integration, for example, these overhead costs can be significantly reduced or eliminated.

Where your gaps are widest, the technology will likely pay for itself. 

Dig into the Technology… and the Company

Now that you’ve gotten everyone on board by pointing out the addressable efficiency gains by automating repetitive but critical daily tasks, the challenge is to choose the best technology and company for tackling them.

What’s unique with supply chain technology companies is that their merits go far beyond their products. Today, technology alone doesn’t move freight over oceans, out of ports, onto roads, and to final destinations. Instead, this is achieved with a combination of companies, technologies, people, and partnerships. 

A handful of questions you may ask about the vendors:

  1. Which companies do they compete with, and how do they compare?
  2. How successful are they? Are they starting or scaling up, and are they likely to be around in 5 years?
  3. How’s the customer service? 
  4. What’s their vision? What other problems can they address now and in the future?
  5. Are they partnered with companies I want to work with?
  6. Is this an ethical company?

For a proper evaluation, it’s always worth reading what analysts are saying. If you don’t have access to it, ask the vendors. 

Read More »

Loadsmart CEO on untapped power of sourcing algorithms

Loadsmart CEO Ricardo Salgado attended the Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference hosted by JOC. Check out the interview from the event and hear the origins of Loadsmart and the fundamentals of the algorithms that power the automated pricing, booking, and shipment of freight.

Here’s the transcript:

(00:20) AB: I’m Alessandra Barrett, Senior Content Editor for JOC and I’m in our 2019 TPM Conference with Ricardo Salgado, CEO of Loadsmart. Great to have you here.

(00:30) RS: Thank you for having me.

(00:31) AB: With the recent spot market fluctuations, everyone is probably looking for something a little more predictable. What inspired you to create Loadsmart?

(00:43) RS: I actually started very young. My parents owned a paper company and during my internships there I would go out there and realize that in this industry, how we moved goods was highly inefficient. We were in the middle of this technology revolution and as an engineer, I looked mathematically from an engineering perspective and a process perspective with the latest technology, I realized there has to be a better, more efficient and socially responsible way to move goods from point A to point B.

(01:17) RS: As I started going to college and work, I realized there are massive investments in data infrastructure, for example 5G, but the truck drivers today, instead of 25% having a smartphone, now 95% of them have a smartphone. So as you started seeing more connectivity and you can hold them accountable and part of this sharing economy and dual rating systems, I realized there’s definitely an opportunity where you can put it all together and all of a sudden it’s an industry that’s huge, fragmented, lacked technology… and it all just came together at the right time.

(01:55) AB: Loadsmart uses AI for truck brokerage. Can you walk me through how the AI is applied?

(02:03) RS: Absolutely. Our core technology does two things. Number one is we provide instant pricing and booking capabilities nationwide. So at any point in time, just like you book a flight on Expedia, you can say, “I need a truckload from New York to Los Angeles,” click a button and get a price immediately. Now, New York to Los Angeles is a highly trafficked route because they are metropolitan areas. But if I go South Dakota to Maine, there’s not a lot of volume there. To generate that rate, we estimate it programmatically based on roughly 385 different factors. Our AI and data science learns every single time we render a price and iterates through it. Think about each one of these features as a different knob. If we render a price and it’s accepted or not, then it gives us feedback and our learner models kick in and start adjusting. It asks, “what if we had shifted this one or the other one? Would it be more accurate versus where we actually sourced that truckload from our partner network.” So, that’s one element.

(03:09) AB: Oh, I see.

(03:09) RS: The other element is identifying — it’s our sourcing algorithms. Our sourcing algorithms, which is on our supply side, is identifying the ideal carrier or trucking partner within our network or outside of our network. It’s asking itself which is the best carrier at that point in time. Which one is moving in the right direction with the right driver for the right rate in that same time, etc. So those sourcing algorithms also start learning from that carrier base, powered by AI and data science, asking “Did this one work? Did it render correctly? Was it accepted?” It starts learning, and ultimately it starts optimizing both sides of where we sit in the middle.

(03:50) AB: Well, thanks for taking time to sit down with me today.

(03:52) RS: Thank you, Alessandra.

(03:54) AB: I’ve been speaking with Ricardo Salgado, CEO of Loadsmart.

The Shipper/Carrier dynamic at #TPM2019

Navigating challenges between shippers and carriers is (finally) becoming less arduous


The Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference in Long Beach, CA, hosted by JOC, is a must-attend event for supply chain leaders from every corner of the market. 

This conference, more than any other, is the time of year where shippers and carriers take a hard look at the most important short-term challenges and discuss longer-term macro trends. Hot topics of 2019 included the IMO 2020 Sulfur Cap, the North American capacity crunch, the US-China trade war, technology innovation, and how market conditions are impacting rates. Here, we’ll discuss the last two – and the promising outlook on integrating both technologies and stakeholders.

Historically, there’s always been tension between shippers and carriers, as they naturally view the same macro challenges through different lenses. And while market conditions will only continue to add pressure, the reality is that shippers and carriers share the same unique set of problems. And that, according to Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero, means both sides of the supply chain need to collaborate better. SupplyChainDive quoted;

“It’s a historic issue, the shipper and carrier dynamics.” – Port of Long Beach Executive Director, Mario Cordero

At TPM, we found that shippers and carriers alike are increasingly willing to embrace technology in order to better collaborate and improve service – a marked change from even five years ago. 

For shippers, Ai powered pricing algorithms and TMS integrations now enable them to quote and book truckload shipments in seconds without ever having to leave their native system, eliminating the time consuming back and forth over phone and email. For carriers, these same technologies have made it dramatically easier to find relevant loads and minimize empty miles, all while reducing paperwork.

These technologies are quickly headed in the direction of intermodal automation, as companies like Maersk look to offer their customers end-to-end solutions across modes. And according to Maersk CEO Søren Skou, the timing could not be better. 

JOC reported notable comments from Skou’s talk and pointed out that while 40-45% of Maersk’s business is coming from freight forwarders, Skou warned forwarders ignoring the wave of automation;

“If the only thing they provide is a booking service with a carrier, then it is going to be a hard place to be.” – Maersk CEO, Søren Skou

Did you attend TPM 2019? If so, what stood out to you?