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DG&A's Transportation Consulting Blog

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The freight brokerage industry has been near and dear to my heart for many years. Earlier in my career, I had the privilege of running one of Canada’s largest 3PL operations. My current company has had the distinct pleasure of consulting with some of North America’s finest freight brokers. Periodically I like to look at the changes that are taking place in this industry. In previous years, I have published blogs (http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog/entry/technology-comes-to-the-freight-brokerage-industry-in-2016 ) on the impact on technology in the freight brokerage industry. Times have changed.

Technology is no longer a driving force in this industry. It is THE DRIVING FORCE. This year we are witnessing the application of technology to every facet of the business. This industry has been discovered by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, truckers, software, and hardware providers. Software innovations are entering the industry at a very rapid pace. This blog will feature a range of companies that are at the forefront of transforming the industry.

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Every few years I like to take a look at some of the new technology-based entrants to the freight transportation industry to see who are the “movers” and “shakers.” While Amazon dominates the headlines, there are a host of other companies doing some very interesting things in the technology space.

This blog will look at some names that surfaced in the past and some of the new players that are taking freight brokerage to a new level. While new technology is being applied to a variety of freight related tasks (i.e. calculating freight dimensions, dock appointment scheduling), this blog will examine some of the companies are actually in the business of moving freight. They are bridging the asset world with the technology world. I have selected a group of companies that have caught my attention. They are Cargomatic, uShip, Freightera, Freightquote, FreightCentre, Uship, Project44, Logistical Labs and ZRATE.

Cargomatic

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This is the fourth in a series of blogs on Technology in Transportation. The three previous articles appeared in 2013 (http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog/entry/quotemytruckloadcom-and-freightopolis-enter-the-automated-freight-brokeragefreight-portal-space, http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog/entry/innovation-and-technology-come-to-the-freight-brokerage-industry, http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog/entry/freightsnap--an-exciting-new-visual-tool-to-verify-the-density-of-ltl-freight) and featured 5 interesting companies, FreightSnap, Freightopolis, QuoteMyTruckload, BuyTruckload and Post.Bid.Ship. In this piece, I will examine two other innovative freight transportation companies, Zipments (https://www.zipments.com/) and DashHaul (https://www.dashhaul.com/) that are using technology to transform their segments of the freight industry.

Walmart, Amazon, and Google, among others, are piloting same-day delivery projects in select locations around the country that have enough density and demand to drive the value proposition. However, obstacles persist, and success is contingent on critical mass. Expedited transportation is costly, and last-mile capacity is likely to become even more constrained as e-commerce grows. Moving small volumes over short distances at high speed is a significant challenge.

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Zipments aggregates courier capacity—whether it's a truck, van, or bicycle messenger—in effect, creating capacity that didn't exist before, especially in urban areas. This New York City-based technology company has evolved into a “virtual freight broker for local and regional courier services”. The company serves four types of customers: retail, professional services, consumers, and restaurants. Many startups in the same-day delivery space are searching for capacity to provide consumers with the fastest delivery possible. That's not the case for Zipments that is focused on tapping into latent capacity. So whether it's auto part milk runs, florist delivery vans, or bicycle messengers, there's a huge nationwide fleet of available but untapped capacity. Zipments tries to work with fleet managers to help them better utilize their assets and serve other sectors.

The business is segmented both in terms of the markets it serves and the modes of transportation. Metro delivery is anything less than 10 miles, local deliveries extend out to 20 miles, suburban deliveries reach 30 to 50 miles and regional deliveries would represent going from New York City to Philadelphia or Montreal to Toronto. Zipments doesn’t do many regional deliveries yet, but as their network grows, they expect that segment to expand. There is capacity for regional deliveries; people are passing through these corridors every day.

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At the time of this writing, there is less than a week until the new US federal $75,000 financial security requirement for freight brokers and forwarders goes into effect.  By now, most everyone has the deadline of October 1st committed to memory, but many still do not understand the options available to meet the FMCSA requirement.

October 1st Deadline Stands

According to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Safety Administration), all brokers and forwarders must file new BMC-84 and BMC-85 forms confirming $75,000 financial security as of October 1, 2013.  Although the FMCSA has allowed for a “phase-in” period which has created confusion, the agency’s guidance released September 5th indicated the extension was provided solely to allow the industry to complete all necessary filings.

If proof of the $75,000 bond or trust is not filed on time, freight brokers and forwarders will receive notification from the FMCSA giving 30 days to get the bond or trust in place before revoking the broker or forwarder authority.  The fact remains that brokers and forwarders must have the $75,000 financial security in place in order to operate legally.  Even though a broker may not be penalized by the FMCSA until December 1st, their clients will not be guaranteed payment until the $75,000 financial security is in place, likely affecting their ability to continue operations.

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