Roughly two decades ago, advancements in IT allowed for major increases in efficiencies that resulted in a global revolution for shipping. Now, the shipping industry is experiencing another technological shift as new resources, like smartphone apps, are disrupting the status quo.
Many apps focus on improving work conditions for drivers. For example, TruckerPath helps drivers locate the nearest open DAT weigh stations in all 50 states among a handful of other features. Fuelbook lets truckers compare diesel prices at over 6,600 truck stops across the United States and Canada. And Cam Scanner enables truck drivers to use the cameras on their smartphones to scan their paperwork, store it in the cloud, and fax or email it if need be. These are just a few of the apps for truckers that are available.
The great thing about these apps is that they not only make life easier for truckers, but also have cascading benefits for trucking companies. For instance, if a trucker is able to upload scanned copies of paperwork in the cloud, the trucking company can benefit from being able to send and receive important documents faster as well as possibly being better organized. But none of these apps are making as broad of an impact as Cargomatic.
Founded in 2013 by Brett Parker and Jonathan Kessler, Cargomatic is an app that connects shippers with carrier companies that have available space in trucks shipping from the shipper’s location to the shipper’s destination. Cargomatic was adapted from the concept of another app that had a big impact on many cities’ taxi markets.
In 2010, developers Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp released an app called Uber, which allows anyone to find a ride without having to wait for a taxi. The app uses a phone’s GPS to find the nearest available Uber driver. Uber made a huge negative impact on the taxi industry in major U.S. and European cities like San Francisco and London. Instead of having to call a dispatch company or try one’s luck at hailing a cab on the street, users can contact drivers directly. Many people also find the Uber experience more convenient because all payment is electronic; users don’t have to worry about making sure they have enough cash to pay their drivers.
Cargomatic has adapted Uber’s concept for the trucking industry. Those needing to ship goods can use Cargomatic to find nearby trucks with available space that are heading to the same destination. The results are that:
- Shippers are able to ship on an on-demand basis,
- Those requesting the shipments can benefit from potentially earlier delivery dates,
- Truck drivers can increase their payloads and revenues and decrease empty miles,
- Other motorists are happy because consolidated shipments means fewer trucks on the road, which means reduced congestion, and
- The environment benefits from fewer emissions.
Similarly to Uber, payment is also electronic and immediate.
Because Cargomatic reduces the number of trucks that are needed, it subsequently reduces the number of drivers need as well. Everyone in the trucking industry is aware of this country’s acute driver shortage. This practice of mobile freight brokering could be a step toward relieving some of this shortage.
Furthermore, Cargomatic has become a huge help to small and independent fleets, making it easier for the little guys to compete with the big guys. According to the American Trucking Association, these types of fleets comprise 90 percent of U.S. trucking. Cargomatic makes it less of a hassle for these fleets to find available trucks to ship locally or regionally.
A study by Frost & Sullivan predicts that mobile freight brokering will be responsible for generating $26.4 billion in revenue for all truck freight. As smartphone and other technologies evolve and influence how companies ship materials, it will be interesting to see if mobile freight brokering does indeed drive this current technological shipping revolution.