The New “Little Black Book”

Supply Chain Supply Chain 20/20 TMS Visibility

Think about it. Truck brokerages used to have these “little black books” filled with the contact names and numbers of independent drivers who were scattered throughout the country. When the brokerage needed a driver to haul a load across the U.S., it flipped through its black book and found one who was ready, willing, and able to handle the job.

Fast-forward to 2017 and the transportation environment has “come a long way baby,” as they say. There are about 7.8 million trucking companies operating on our roads with four or less trucks and most have no sales forces. While in the past these companies relied solely on brokerages to feed them their business, today the industry is turning to digital freight matching (DFM) platforms to serve as their modern-day little black books. “DFM lets shippers directly and almost immediately find drivers with capacity to transport their truckload, partial truckload, and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight on the right types of trucks on the dates and routes they need,” writes Industrial Distribution’s Andrew Kelley in Digital Freight Matching and the New Era of Freight Logistics.

“Shippers get competitive and transparent rates upfront and can track in-transit and delivery details so they always know the status of their shipments.” DFM also eliminates the protracted processes and added costs inherent in working through middlemen, Kelley notes. For drivers, DFM platforms provide “know-before-you-go” visibility upfront (i.e., insights into whether there’s a load at the drop-off to haul back).

At the most basic level, DFMs connect providers and ensure that the right entity is moving the right freight to the right place and at the right time. From a cost standpoint, DFMs replace more traditional rate negotiations and enhance visibility into those thousands of independent trucking firms. At any given time, for example, a shipper can see a truck’s location, have transparency over the associated costs, and gain insights into important points like on-time delivery.

Now here’s the best part:  By integrating DFMs with their transportation management systems (TMS), companies can access this whole new world of carriers and freight rates from a TMS that provide visibility and predictive analytics for optimal logistics decisions. I often joke that within minutes my 11-year-old daughter could begin processing shipments in Kuebix, and that the software would ensure that she’s making the right transportation decisions. That’s a pretty powerful thing, and it’s being driven by technology that streamlines processes and helps companies work much more efficiently than they ever did during the “black book” era of freight management.


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