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June 27, 2019 9:00 AM, EDT

Convoy Creates Method for Drivers to Book Multiple Loads at Once

Convoy booth at MATS Convoy booth at MATS by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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Digital freight broker Convoy announced Automated Reloads, an app-based program that allows drivers to book multiple loads of freight at one time.

The move comes as the industry is paying greater attention to creating backhauls and reducing empty miles as a means of increasing efficiency, experts said.

With Automated Reloads, Convoy algorithmically evaluates and continuously optimizes how loads can be grouped in real time, all without human intervention, according to the Seattle-based company. Convoy’s algorithms customize live as well as drop-and-hook packages in real time for each carrier. Carriers can bid their rates or instantly accept these preplanned combinations of loads as a single job.

“One of the greatest benefits to Automated Reloads — and other Convoy programs, such as Convoy Go — is that it reduces the effort required by smaller carriers and owner-operators to haul loads from major shippers who have primarily worked with much larger asset-based carriers,” Arpan Sinha, Convoy’s head of product for matching, told Transport Topics.

Convoy Go, introduced in April, allows any carrier or owner-operator in the United States to start hauling preloaded trailers and to operate at the same level as large asset-based carriers, according to a company news release.

Sinha said the loads available through the latest program are predominantly dry van and reefer freight. “Convoy algorithmically packages Automated Reloads based on several factors including carriers’ lane preferences, hours of service, driver locations, along with wait times at facilities.”

As for shippers, he noted many have environmental and sustainability goals. “Our more efficient approach helps them in this regard.”

The cost of fuel and other expenses make deadheading a losing proposition, Convoy noted in a release. So reaching out to multiple brokers becomes a necessity for most carriers. However, working across multiple brokers means trucks are not guaranteed to be full until bids on each load are individually confirmed.

The American Transportation Research Institute estimated more than 20% of driven miles are classified as nonrevenue.

“Traditionally, brokers or dispatchers pair shipments that are obvious to spot. But they missed out on a large part of the opportunity,” Convoy Chief Product Officer Ziad Ismail said in a release. “Given the complexity and speed of the freight market, a real-time algorithmic optimization is ideally set up to minimize empty miles and help carriers.”

The nationwide launch of Convoy’s latest product June 27 followed extensive testing of Automated Reloads in several markets.

Lanehub

In related news, Lanehub, a provider of freight lane-matching services, said in June it will soon begin providing financial incentives to shippers that help their contract carriers find backhaul opportunities with other shippers in its collaborative freight network.

Its benefit-sharing program is designed to encourage shippers to work together and share their carriers in a complementary way that reduces empty miles and maximizes freight-hauling capacity.

Lanehub’s software analyzes the compatibility among potential business partners and aims to facilitate long-term relationships between shippers and carriers, as opposed to a load-matching service for spot freight, according to the Green Bay, Wis.-based company.

Meanwhile, CB Insights, a New York City research firm, estimated funding for trucking technology reached a record in 2018, with $3.6 billion invested across 78 deals.

In addition, Salt Lake City-based England Logistics announced June 27 it is using Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity platform for predictive freight-matching, automated load visibility and providing reloads to its carriers. It is leveraging the Trucker Tools Mobile Driver app, which is integrated with the platform, to engage “micro” carriers, typically those with 10 trucks or less, and owner-operators to build capacity in their network.

Reporters Seth Clevenger and Jim Stinson contributed to this story.