Butter in tow, Plus.ai completes cross-country commercial freight run

The self-driving truck startup hauled tubs of Land O’Lakes butter from Tulare, California, to Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

Butter in tow, Plus.ai completes cross-country commercial freight run

Linda Baker, Staff Writer 
2019 12 10

Hauling tubs of Land O’Lakes butter, Plus.ai has completed what the autonomous trucking company claims is the first cross-country Level 4 commercial pilot.

The trip took place the week before Thanksgiving, Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder of Plus.ai, said in an email to FreightWaves.

“There were zero disengagements,” Kerrigan said. “Beyond federally mandated breaks and refueling, our autonomous truck was running consistently on autonomous mode.”

A safety driver was behind the wheel at all times for the 2,800- mile  hub-to-hub stretch, which extended from Tulare, California, to Quakertown, Pennsylvania. The trip lasted less than three days, traversing Interstate 15 and Interstate 70 and passing through varied terrain and weather conditions.

The Land O’Lakes haul demonstrates the “safety, efficiency and maturity of our autonomous trucks,” Kerrigan said in a news release about the trip posted on Dec. 10. Those trucks are already delivering freight for other partners several days a week, he added, and continued advances will make it possible for similar cross-country trips to become the norm in the future.

End-of-year shipments are a busy time for Land O’Lakes, said Yone Dewberry, the company’s chief supply chain officer, in the release. “To be able to address this peak demand with a fuel- and cost-effective freight transport solution will be tremendously valuable to our business.”

The vehicle carrying the Land O’Lakes shipment was equipped with Plus.ai’s advanced autonomous driving system, which utilizes multimodal sensor fusion, deep learning visual algorithms and simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technologies.

The truck navigated driving day and night, across the Rockies, road construction, miles-long tunnels, elevations over 11,000 feet, and along rainy and snowy roads.

Founded in 2016 by a group of Stanford classmates, Plus.ai is one of a handful of trucking startups seeking to automate the long-haul. The company has operations in California and China and has been testing vehicles in both countries.

Plus.ai’s cross-country haul comes a few months after the company announced a joint venture with FAW Jiefang, China’s largest truck manufacturer, to develop self-driving big rigs for the world’s most populous country.

The new venture is launching its first product, the FAW J7 Level Two truck, with plans to bring a full Level Four heavy-duty truck to market in three to five years.

In addition to its business relationship with FAW, Plus.ai claims as a partner Softbank- and Google-backed FullTruck Alliance, a Chinese freight-matching platform that controls 80% of the country’s trucking market.


Electronic OSOW Permits and Their Allowances

Electronic Copies of Permits Accepted in 29 States

Electronic OSOW Permits and Their Allowances

Are you still paying $1-$2 per page to print your permits at a truck stop? Save time and money by using electronic copies of your OS/OW permits where accepted! Many states are now allowing drivers to carry an electronic copy of their OS/OW permits. This not only brings convenience to the driver of not having to stop to print their permits, but allows the dispatcher to send directly to the drivers email. As more and more states move into the convenience of technology, there are still a few who require the paper permit with your signature to be considered a valid permit. One other thing to note, if you plan to use your cell phone or tablet in an area where you usually don’t get reliable coverage from your provider, OSOW recommends that you download the permit file from your email and save it to your device, this will prevent you from not being able to provide proof of a permit if requested from a DOT officer. As states are always changing their requirements and allowance, please check back with the OSOW Blog in order to keep up to date on this subject!

AL — Paper permit only.
AK — Electronic permit allowed.
AZ — Must have paper copy with driver’s signature.
AR — Electronic permits allowed, screen must be 7” or larger.
CA — Electronic permits from (RCATZ/STARS2 only) and any required accompaniments are allowed.
CO — Electronic permit allowed.
CT — Electronic permit allowed.

DE — Paper permit only.
FL — Single trip permits can be electronic, annuals must be in paper form.
GA — Electronic permits allowed for single trips.
HI – Paper permit only.
ID – Electronic permits allowed for OS/OW, not for trip and fuel as of now. 
IL — Paper permits are required when state police escorts are required, all others may use electronic copies.
IN — Paper permits are required when state police escorts are required, all others may use electronic copies.
IA — Electronic permit allowed.
KS — Some highway patrol officers will accept electronic copies, however OSOW recommends using a paper copy as per KS State Law.
KY — Electronic permit allowed.
LA — Electronic permit allowed.

ME — Paper permit only.
MD — Electronic permit allowed.
DC — Electronic permit allowed.

MA — Paper permit only.
MI — Paper permit only, other then power unit construction equipment extender permit.
MN – Electronic permit allowed. Can have provisions as an electronic copy as well.
MS — Electronic permit allowed.
MO — Electronic permit allowed.
MT —  Electronic permit allowed.
NE —  Electronic permit allowed.

NV — Paper permit only.
NH — Electronic permit allowed.
NJ — Paper permit only.
NM — Electronic permit allowed.
NY — Electronic permit allowed.

NY THRU — Paper permit only.
NC — Electronic permit allowed.
ND — Electronic permit allowed.

OH — Paper permit only.
OK — Paper permit only.
OR — Electronic permit allowed.
PA — Paper permit only.
RI — Paper permit only.
SC — Paper permit only.
SD — Paper permit only.
TN — Electronic permit allowed.
TX — Up to law enforcement’s discretion, paper copy is still recommended.
UT – Electronic permit allowed.
VT — Electronic permit allowed.
VA — Electronic permit allowed.

WA — Paper permit only.
WV — Electronic permit allowed.
WI — Paper permit only.
WY — Paper permit only.

Truckstop.com’s new platform benefits both carriers and brokerages

Chief Relationship Officer Brent Hutto explains the importance of embracing the freight industry’s digital evolution.

Truckstop.com’s new platform benefits both carriers and brokerages

Jack Glenn 
2019 12 09

With advances in technology and new entrants into the freight marketplace, Truckstop.com restructured to both navigate and help usher in the digital movement of freight.

Talking with FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller on the FreightWavesTV show “Fuller Speed Ahead,” Truckstop.com Chief Relationship Officer Brent Hutto explained how a range of businesses can benefit from the company’s new digital freight-matching marketplace.

Truckstop.com markets itself as “the #1 load board for growing your business.” The company provides logistics solutions for transportation professionals, including load planning, transportation management, real-time rates and negotiation tools, as well as a credit reporting entity — the largest in the industry, according to Truckstop.com — that helps industry experts find trusted freight partners.

The “Nasdaq of Freight,” as Fuller described the company, recently celebrated the release of Book It Now. Available on the Truckstop Mobile app, Book It Now enables freight brokers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) of all sizes to add instant load board functionality to their business, according to their website.

Carriers are able to see the rate, pickup and drop-off information, as well as broker information all before booking a load, according to Truckstop.com. Once carriers are added to a broker’s preferred carrier list, their Book It Now loads will be seen on the Truckstop Mobile.

While Truckstop.com celebrates its expanded offerings, Hutto explained that Truckstop.com has no desire to become a freight brokerage itself. Doing so would alienate 10,000 of its brokerage customers, according to Hutto.

Hutto explained that although many private marketplaces have created their own innovative technologies, this siloing of data hasn’t helped the overall market. Truckstop.com’s goal is to provide a platform that works for all players in the freight-matching marketplace, including brokerages and asset carriers alike.

“It’s always been our mantra as a company to help every business succeed no matter their size,” Hutto said. “We develop technology that allows them to be able to digitally match freight, to automate the things that need to be automated.”

Hutto said Truckstop.com wants to be the data connection in the middle of the marketplace where many parties can digitally connect and be able to move freight openly within the system.

But he explained that technology is only as useful as how well you leverage it and said that looking at industry data is probably the most important advice he has to grow your business. “You can adopt all the technology and buy all the data you want, but if you’re not building it into your business, then you’re not getting its advantages,” Hutto said.

More freight is handled by brokers than ever before, according to Hutto. Twenty years ago, only 4% of freight in the market was brokered. Today, that number has jumped to 25-30%. With more freight in brokerage than ever before, the ability to forecast market trends has never been more important.

And while market capacity has stayed relatively stable for the past 20 years, Hutto argued that many other factors remain variable in the marketplace. He believes fully utilizing Truckstop.com’s market-forecasting tools will protect businesses from the harsh effects market downturns can have on unsuspecting companies.

“If you can anticipate a downturn, you can adjust for it,” Hutto said. “If you don’t anticipate it, then the markets are going to be harder.”

Understanding how to integrate products into your business that can help create efficiency is what Hutto stressed that all in the marketplace should focus on.

“How are you going to adjust to this industry as it digitally changes?” Hutto said. “It’s going to change.”


Trucking industry reacts to Celadon bankruptcy news

As it was previously reported, Indianapolis-based Celadon Group is expected to file for the largest truckload carrier bankruptcy in history next week. Over the weekend, the news quickly spread throughout the industry. Initial reactions of shock and grief were followed by unofficial accounts of fuel cards being shut off and calls going unanswered, as well […]

Trucking industry reacts to Celadon bankruptcy news

Rob CDLLife 2019 12 08

As it was previously reported, Indianapolis-based Celadon Group is expected to file for the largest truckload carrier bankruptcy in history next week.

Over the weekend, the news quickly spread throughout the industry. Initial reactions of shock and grief were followed by unofficial accounts of fuel cards being shut off and calls going unanswered, as well as companies and drivers stepping up to help those in need.

Here’s a look at how the trucking industry reacted after the story broke.

Unofficial reports of fuel cards being turned off and calls going unanswered quickly spread through social media.

In response, members of online trucking communities, including users of the CDLLife App, offered to help drivers in need.

Many trucking companies also offered to help affected drivers.

If you have been affected by the Celadon news and wish to share your story, please contact info@cdlife.com.

Trucking industry reacts to Celadon bankruptcy news

Today’s Pickup: Seattle-based Shipium lands $2M seed round – FreightWaves

Plus: Uber U.S. safety tally: 3,000 people sexually assaulted, nine murdered while taking Uber rides in 2018.

Today’s Pickup: Seattle-based Shipium lands $2M seed round – FreightWaves

2019 12 07

Good day,

Seattle-based logistics startup  Shipium raised a $2 million seed round led by PSL Ventures, the venture arm of Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs, GeekWire reported.

Founded by two ex-Amazon employees, one of whom also worked at Zulily, the startup is working on pilots in the direct-to-consumer fashion apparel segment. Another potential customer is a large consumer electronics company.

Shipium’s mission, according to its website, is to make two-day shipping available to all retailers.

The startup joins a growing number of logistics companies in Seattle, including Flexe, and, of course, Convoy.

Did you know?

Since the imposition of U.S. tariffs on crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cell imports in 2018, 62,000 Americans have either lost their jobs or were never hired.

Source:  Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), via FreightWaves


“I’ve got five weeks to make my annual salary.”

Greg Smith, owner of Molalla Christmas Tree Farms in Molalla, Oregon, via FreightWaves

In other news

Waymo robotaxi app hits the App Store

One year after launching its Waymo One self-driving car service in the Phoenix area, the company is launching an app on iOS. (TechCrunch)

Cars and solar power systems Tesla’s ‘two biggest priorities’

An internal email Elon Musk sent to Tesla employees identifies car and solar power system sales as the startup’s two biggest year-end priorities. (Electrek)

California Air Resources Board officially limits rebates on electric cars in California

The Board cut rebates for cars that cost more than $60,000, removed plug-in hybrids with a low range and now allows only one rebate per person in their lifetime. (CaliforniaGlobe)

Ballard Power Systems  announces a purchase order from Van Hool, a bus OEM headquartered in Belgium

The 20 fuel cell modules will power buses in Groningen, the Netherlands. (PRNewswire)

Final thoughts,

Uber has released a wide-ranging safety report stating that more than 3,045 people were sexually assaulted while on Uber rides in the U.S. last year and nine were murdered, the New York Times reported. In almost half the sexual assault cases, the passenger, not the driver, was the perpetrator. Uber provided 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year, the company said.

Hammer down, everyone!


BuildDirect opens its freight-shipping platform – TechCrunch

BuildDirect has developed a name for itself as an online store for home improvement products. One issue with selling these products online is that you also must build a logistics backend that allows you to ship heavy items to the customer. BuildDirect did just that.

BuildDirect opens its freight-shipping platform – TechCrunch

2019 12 07

BuildDirect opens its freight-shipping platform

Over the last few years, BuildDirect developed a name for itself as an online store for home improvement products (think flooring and roofing materials, bathtubs, etc.). One issue with selling those kinds of products online is that you also have to build a logistics backend that allows you to ship these heavy items to the customer. BuildDirect did just that for its network of sellers on its one-year-old marketplace and today it is opening this shipping network to anybody who has to ship heavy goods across North America.

BuildDirect Gateway, as the new service is called, builds upon the company’s experience in working with its sellers to get products to its 40 warehouses and to customers. As the company’s VP of Marketing Joe Thompson (who was previously a GM at Amazon) told me, the company always had plans to open its shipping service beyond its own seller network. Its sellers, though, started asking the company about tapping into its supply chain network earlier than the company anticipated, so for the last few months, the company focused on testing this new service, and it’s now opening it almost a year earlier than originally planned.


“We want to create a smarter, simpler home improvement industry,” he said. “We always know that supply chain is a key part of it. We knew we wanted to open it up eventually.”

Gateway promises that it can shave hundreds of dollars off the usual cost of shipping a heavy item across the country. By tapping into its network, a seller could ship a 1,500-pound load across the country for just $200, for example. The company promises that its delivery costs will allow vendors to save up to 30 percent on their shipping costs. Thompson tells me that the company is able to do this by having those items effectively piggyback on existing trips it would have scheduled for its sellers anyway.

BuildDirect will also offer GateWay users access to its ocean freight service, which includes working with ocean service providers and ports to ensure goods move through customs effectively.

While the service is open to all vendors — no matter whether they sell their goods on BuildDirect or not — Thompson expects that many will want to tap into the company’s pool of potential buyers. So while Gateway won’t necessarily benefit the BuildDirect marketplace directly, customers will likely notice an increase in available products, and maybe even cheaper and faster delivery, thanks to the company’s ability to run its logistics network more efficiently now.



Transportation Insight acquires LTL broker FreightPros

Transportation Insight pushes into LTL brokerage with acquisition of FreightPros

Transportation Insight acquires LTL broker FreightPros

Mark Solomon 
2019 12 06

Logistics provider Transportation Insight (TI) said Dec. 6 that it acquired less-than-truckload (LTL) broker Meridian Logistics LLC, which does business as FreightPros, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition expands privately held TI’s LTL brokerage offerings. It operates a truckload brokerage unit through its December 2018 acquisition of Nolan Transportation Group, which also performs some LTL brokerage. FreightPros, by contrast, focuses exclusively on LTL brokerage.

A non-asset-based provider, TI holds itself out as a logistics handyman of sorts, performing a broad range of functions — supported by a solid IT platform — to improve customers’ supply chains. TI operates across all modes. 

The acquisition is TI’s fourth.


Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Riding a wave of innovations, the digital freight services startup ranked No. 3 on the FreightTech 25 list of most disruptive companies.

Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Linda Baker, Staff Writer: FreightWaves

Riding a wave of recent innovations, digital freight network powerhouse Convoy moved up a notch on this year’s FreightTech 25, edging out Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) to occupy the No. 3 slot on FreightWaves’ list of most disruptive companies.

Ziad Ismail, the company’s chief product officer, said 2019 has been an especially fruitful year for Convoy, which netted $400 million in a Series D round announced Nov. 13.

“Over the past year in particular, we’ve really accelerated both the rates and impact of the innovation,” he said. “There have been multiple big breakthroughs we’ve been working on for several years.”

Ismail credited the Seattle-based company’s innovation model, rooted in small teams that  operate autonomously, with enabling Convoy to crack some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.

He cited as an example its Automated Reloads product, a feature that corrects what Ismail described as the “terrible problem” of empty miles, in which trucks drive with empty trailers.

Launched in June, Automatic Reloads prepackages a collection of loads that take into consideration criteria such as the carriers’ lane preferences, driver hours of service availability and facility wait times.

The platform reduces empty miles by 45% for many drivers, according to Ismail. “That’s something we worked on for multiple years to get right,” he said.

In February, Convoy solved another problem it had been working on for several years: automatically matching 95% of loads with no human intervention.

Convoy Go, also unveiled in 2019, scaled up a two-year-old pilot project. The program utilizes a Convoy trailer pool and allows owner-operators and small fleets to take advantage of power-only loads, maximizing truckers’ driving time and leading to more loads and higher revenue.

Coming in 2020

Asked about the next round of innovations, Ismail hinted at even bigger breakthroughs to be rolled out in the next three to six months.

Declining to reveal specifics, he said the new products will push further on empty miles and reducing waiting time for drivers.

“The problem space is going to be quite consistent for us: driving down waste in the industry. That is our North Star. That is what we measure all our innovation against.”

Solving the waste conundrum addresses the trucking industry’s huge environmental challenges, Ismail said, while also yielding an attractive business model.

Companies named to the 2020 FreightTech 25 were judged by an external panel of industry experts, with voting conducted and overseen by accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM).

Each member of the panel ranked their top 25 companies on a 1- to 25-point basis. The companies generating the most points make up the FreightTech 25.

Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Heavy snow to slam Mountain West for two days

Up to a foot of snowfall coming to the Sierra Nevada, Rockies the next two days. Delays in freight movement possible.

Heavy snow to slam Mountain West for two days

Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist FreightWaves 2019 12 04

A Pacific storm that is crashing into the western U.S. will produce heavy snowfall from the mountains of eastern California to the Rockies the rest of today, Dec. 4, through tomorrow. Meanwhile, portions of the northeastern U.S. will get their share of lake effect snow showers.

SONAR Critical Events: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, 9 a.m. EST

The outlook is for anywhere from 5 to 18 inches of accumulation in the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada of eastern California, from Kings Canyon southward to Lake Isabella. The eastern Sierra slopes, as well as the White Mountains adjacent to southwestern Nevada, could see 4 to 8 inches; 3 to 7 inches will slow down drivers over mountain passes on I-80. Twelve inches or more of snowfall are possible on the Sierra Crest.

In southern Nevada, 5 to 12 inches will pile up to the north and west of Las Vegas in the Sheep Range and Spring mountains, particularly the higher elevations of Kyle and Lee canyons. Rain may mix with snow in some spots, leading to slushy, icy roads. This will mainly affect state routes in the area.

Overnight and Thursday, Dec. 5, snow will then head to Utah, including the Salt Lake City area, as well as the Rockies of western Colorado and northern New Mexico. The highest elevations will pick up six to twelve inches.

Freight brokers should jump on the spot boards and search for loads headed east out of the Salt Lake City market. Based on the latest SONAR data from FreightWaves, updated this morning, Dec. 4, dry van spot market rates are trending up. Spot market rates for reefers — refrigerated/temperature-controlled trailers — are elevated well above contracted rates. Beware of the storm moving in from the west and bump your bids up as capacity will become an issue. Check to see if freight that loads tomorrow, Dec. 5, can load early to avoid the delays from the snowstorm.

Meanwhile, the same storm may flood portions of southern California with torrential rainfall. Some parts of the San Diego and Los Angeles metropolitan areas could get drenched with 2 to 4 inches of rain, leading to potential flash flooding, mudslides, debris flows and roadblocks. The rainfall may be intense enough to reduce visibility at times.

Other areas of snowfall today, Dec. 4

Bursts of lake-effect snow will fly from Michigan to upstate New York. Most of the snow will pile up near Buffalo, Watertown, Erie and Cleveland. Gusts up to 35 mph may produce blowing and occasional whiteout conditions on sections of I-81 and I-90.

SONAR Critical Events: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, 9 a.m. EST

Look for heavy snowfall in the mountains of West Virginia too. Totals of 3 to 6 inches of snow are likely from just east of Morgantown southward to Elkins and Snowshoe. Gusty winds will produce blowing snow and reduced visibility at times on I-64.

Additional notes

The nor’easter has left New England after dumping 2 to 3 feet of snow in some areas over the past two days. Commercial vehicle restrictions, reduced speed limits and airport ground delays stymied freight flows during the storm.


According to SONAR, outbound tender volumes (SONAR Ticker: OTVI) in the region are showing signs of a slow start to gear back up this week after the normal post-Thanksgiving sluggishness compounded by the effects of the nor’easter. Regardless, capacity in the Massachusetts and Maine markets is loose, with outbound tender rejections at 2.47% and 3.23%, respectively. However, capacity in New Hampshire is tight, with outbound tender rejections at 12.61% today, Dec. 4. Tender rejections (SONAR Ticker: OTRI) represent the percentage of electronically offered loads that carriers turn away on the contract market in favor of better rates on the spot market. If any shipments have been delayed this week, shippers think about cutting their tender lead times to get carriers in their shipping doors quicker.

Contributions made by FreightWaves Market Experts Donny Gilbert and Scott Adkins.


Loadboard aims to disrupt US trucking’s third-party disruptors

Loadboard aims to disrupt US trucking’s third-party disruptorshttps://www.joc.com/sites/default/files/field_feature_image/trucks-loading-multiple-us-fit.jpgWilliam B. Cassidy, Senior Editorwww.joc.com2019 11 21

Trucks being loaded.

In a big leap, Kane said MyRiteLoad.com is shooting to have 165,000 trucks on board by April 15. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

The problem with the myriad companies vying for the title of “disruptor” in the truck freight market is they’re not disruptive enough, according to Matthew Kane. “The problem is, they’re still brokers,” said Kane, speaking of companies such as Uber Freight and Convoy in particular. They may offer new and innovative third-party services, but they’re still third parties.

Kane wants to build something different: a marketplace directly connecting shippers with trucking companies and owner-operators without an intermediary that arranges transportation. He’s been working on MyRiteLoad.com for several years and believes new or pending agreements with insurance and factoring companies will bring new truckers to the service.

Kane calls it ‘a fix, rather than disruption’

“We directly connect shipping manufacturing companies to screened qualified drivers,” Kane said. What myriteload.com doesn’t do is broker freight. “We’ve been called disruptive, but I’d prefer to categorize what we do as a fix, rather than disruption. We have built something that is quite unique, a real shipper-to-carrier loadboard.” A loadboard, he said, without brokers.

“The reason shippers use a freight broker or 3PL [third-party logistics provider] is the task of managing all those relationships” with carriers, Kane said. “We’re going to offer shippers that service, but we’ll give it to them for free. They can post freight on our board and connect and contract with the carrier themselves. We take out the over-complication,” along with an accumulated layer of costs, he said.

Technological disruption once was heralded as a way to eliminate middlemen, but that’s proven a difficult task. The internet was supposed to connect consumers and producers directly, for example. Instead, we have Amazon, the ultimate retail “middleman.” Likewise, technology hasn’t eliminated brokerage but allowed brokers to offer more services to shippers.

But it’s also offered an opening for Kane, who has been pursuing his goal of connecting shippers and truckers since 2011. His biggest challenge is one familiar to brokerages: gaining scale. “Right now we’ve got about 120 shippers and about 3,400 to 3,600 drivers,” Kane said. He thinks that number will rise with new insurance and factoring agreements.

Getting enough drivers on board has been a problem. The company stopped taking freight at one point and “relaunched” itself in 2017. The agreement with OTR Capital and another factoring company could bring thousands more drivers and companies to MyRiteLoad, he said.

MyRiteLoad.com goal: 165,000 trucks by April 15

In a big leap, Kane said MyRiteLoad is shooting to have 165,000 trucks on board by April 15. The system is free for shippers to use, but drivers or trucking companies pay an $18 sign-up fee and $18 per assigned load. Truckers can also sign up for free and pay $27 per load. MyRiteLoad runs credit checks on shippers and checks driver qualifications.

The latest iteration of MyRiteLoad was introduced last year, along with Android and iPhone apps used by truckers and fleet dispatchers to find and assign loads. For shippers, the service includes shipment tracking and geofencing. Kane plans to add additional data-based services. “We’re giving the shipper tools to be more proficient to help reduce loading times,” Kane said.

Kane and MyRiteLoad differ from many competitors. They’re based in Philadelphia, not Silicon Valley. Kane previously published an automotive circular. He’s neither a techie nor a trucker by trade. His venture isn’t underwritten by venture capital. He is an entrepreneur, however, and after selling his publishing business he found himself looking for a new opportunity.

Meeting several truck drivers at an event in Washington, DC, several years ago sparked his interest. “One of my brothers is an over-the-road driver, and I remember hearing about problems with brokers and detention times at shippers,” he said. “I came back from that event and decided I wanted to find out more.” His research method involved a lot of time on the road.

“I went on a tour,” he said. “I drove around the country for eight and a half months and got perspective from a lot of drivers — reefers, flatbed, dry box guys, tankers — I talked to them all. It was like getting a master’s degree in eight months. I talked to shippers as well. I would pull into industrial parks and jump up on the docks, asking questions. I got perspective from both sides.”

The answers Kane received left him convinced shippers and truckers would be better off without brokers between them. Not that he thinks brokers are “bad,” but “they complicate the system,” he said. “We came up with a system that allows the shippers and carriers to bypass the rings of fire in the middle and communicate and contract directly. It really is just plain common sense.”

Direct access to a new source of capacity

There are plenty of 3PL companies, and carriers and shippers, that would vehemently disagree, but there are also shippers who would welcome and benefit from direct access to a new source of capacity. That’s what’s driving interest in digital marketplaces of all types for truckers and shippers, whether they are brokerages or include 3PLs or not.

Kane insists there are significant savings for shippers, and gains for truckers, in connecting directly through his system. “A broker will charge a shipper $2,000 for a load, and pay the trucker $1,600. Why not pay the trucker $1,900 directly and save $100 on the load?” he asked. When you save $100 on 1,000 loads on a weekly basis, that’s $100,000 a week.”

Increasingly, however, shippers are looking for more than transactional cost savings. Kane acknowledges that and is planning to add services to the marketplace, including more-sophisticated shipment monitoring, such as telematics. “I want to increase those value-adds,” he said. “I’ve got another two dozen pieces of the puzzle that I want to add to the system.”

Contact William B. Cassidy at bill.cassidy@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @willbcassidy.