The logistics industry has always been colored by both seasonal volume shifts and whiplash capacity changes due to natural disasters and trade squabbles. Still, the coronavirus pandemic caught the world off guard, and it has ratcheted up the pressure on 3PLs and brokers to quickly adapt and employ new technologies as shippers demand even faster responses and more accurate information.
Demands for real-time information and constant visibility are more frequent and complex than ever before. To answer this call, new all-digital platforms are emerging and driving a wedge between brokers and their traditional customers, the beneficial owner of the freight. At the same time, carriers are demanding an ever more seamless, automated and convenient experience in how they work with brokers, book loads, comply with tracking requests and plan future loads.
Prasad Gollapalli, founder and CEO of Trucker Tools, is watching brokers and 3PLs brave a pandemic while pushing the strategic technology envelope to compete and survive in today's and tomorrow's markets. He encourages them to keep focused and stay the course.
"Don't let the current situation overwhelm you. As an industry we are still in a state of shock, and we are not sure when we'll see a return to normal, if at all. Stay focused on the business, keeping employees safe and consistent with customers," Gollapalli said. "The tough times will pass. You must continue to invest in and improve your technology resources because that will set your business up to thrive and grow when the market turns. At the same time, continuing to support your carriers will ensure they're there for you when you need them."
Several brokers, including Kingsgate and Leonard's Express, have partnered with Trucker Tools in order to continue revolutionizing their technological offerings. These companies are working to increase carrier tracking compliance and provide better visibility to shippers during the pandemic. Trucker Tools' Smart Capacity tool facilitates that by providing brokers with real-time data and facilitates load tracking from beginning to end. It works in conjunction with the Trucker Tools driver app.
Integrating tracking into the Trucker Tools driver app has proven to be the key to success when it comes to compliance. That is because the app–which has been downloaded by nearly 900,000 drivers–does more than just facilitate tracking. It provides drivers with useful information like parking and rest stop availability, truck stop hours and diesel prices.
The driver app also allows drivers to ensure they are not being tracked when they are not carrying a load, a popular point of contention between drivers and brokers.
"Drivers don't want ‘big brother' looking over their shoulder all the time, but they do understand that when they have a load the shipper wants to see where it is. They get that. What they hate is tech that tracks them all the time," Gollapalli said. "It is best to provide a solution where they have control and can set it so they're tracked only when they have a load."
The sense of control and various insights provided by the Trucker Tools driver app have become even more important to drivers since the coronavirus pandemic has prompted some truck stops to alter their hours or cut dining and shower services altogether. Providing drivers with up-to-date information that affects their lives signals to both individual drivers and carrier partners that a company values the relationship. This is more important than ever now.
"Brokers who help their carriers stay afloat now will have their loyalty when things turn around – and capacity gets tight. Even with all the emphasis on and benefit from today's technologies, it is still a relationship business," Gollapalli said. "People want to work with people they like. Carriers will stay with brokers who show they care and have their back."