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iTECH: The Best Lane Boosts the Bottom Line

Technology Helps Carriers Determine Which Routes Will Maximize Their Profits

By Mindy Long, Contributing Writer

This article appears in the Aug./Sept. 2011 issue of iTECH, published in the Aug. 1 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Trucking companies are finding that not all freight lanes are created equal financially. So, many of them are turning to software products — packages that include everything from mapping technology to detailed cost analysis — to help them choose the routes that will most boost their bottom lines.

Take Mark Stein, director of operations for Central Freight Lines, for instance. He said that for the Waco, Texas-based less-than-truckload carrier, which ranks No. 92 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire fleets, the type of shipments and strong terminal-to-terminal combinations factor heavily into what makes a strong lane. So does balance within the network.

“Adding additional freight in a specific lane may be profitable, but if it places your network out of balance, you can increase your cost on all freight in that lane,” Stein said. “In converse, adding something that may not seem profitable may balance it out and make everything profitable.”

The technology draws on everything from a fleet’s historical data to its specific customer information and allows carriers to find statistics on revenue and expense per lane, per customer and even by load type or day of the week.

The software packages build on route optimization functionality not only to identify the most efficient path to a delivery but also to provide programs powered by complex algorithms that draw on mountains of data — such as profit and loss statements, dispatch reports, driver dwell times and equipment expenses.

The technology then crunches the numbers and produces detailed reports that allow carriers to drill down to specifics and help them price their loads, eliminate hiccups and find the right balance for their networks.

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