September 8, 2015 8:40 AM, EDT

FourKites Introduces Free Load-Tracking Service for Small, Midsize Brokers

Transportation technology supplier FourKites Inc. has introduced CarrierLink, a load-tracking service for freight brokers that monitors a shipment’s location via a mobile application on drivers’ smartphones.

FourKites is offering CarrierLink free to small and midsize freight brokers tracking up to 2,500 truckloads per month. Beyond that level, per-load charges will apply, the Chicago-based company said.

“Empowering small brokers with tracking and logistics tools normally only afforded by large firms is going to allow the entire industry to become more competitive,” CEO Matt Elenjickal said in the announcement.

However, FourKites remains embroiled in a patent dispute with MacroPoint, which has filed a lawsuit claiming that FourKites has infringed on five of its U.S. patents. Like FourKites, Cleveland-based MacroPoint provides a load-tracking service using drivers’ mobile phones and in-cab communications systems. FourKites is seeking dismissal of the suit. A court hearing is expected in the spring of 2016.

FourKites said CarrierLink can provide brokers with automatic alerts for key events, such as when a load is within 5 miles of the delivery point. That information can help customers ensure that an unloading crew is ready to meet an inbound truck, thus shortening the carrier’s wait time, the company said.

The mobile app is available now for Android smartphones, and a version for Apple iPhones is in the works, FourKites said.

Brokers can implement CarrierLink through FourKites’ website. FourKites will then notify drivers of the load assignment and start tracking every 15 minutes until the load is delivered.

In addition to CarrierLink, FourKites provides a cross-platform tracking service that can aggregate data from more than 30 trucking technology suppliers, such as Omnitracs and PeopleNet. This data service is not included in the free CarrierLink initiative.