The same principle that drives the popularity of Uber and Lyft also is driving the rise of on-demand trucking for commercial transport. Technology, which already has revolutionized the service industry, is set to change the way fleets interact with clients.
In short, commercial fleet services are becoming ‘Uberized.” In the commercial fleet industry, that means creation of an on-demand trucking system where a customer who needs items shipped can post their request in a digital system and nearby drivers can bid for the job online in real time.
Cutting Out the Middleman
Essentially, on-demand shipping cuts out the middleman. Brokers are currently central to the transportation industry, connecting clients with drivers. In an on-demand environment, clients who need a driver could go to an internet platform and post their request. Drivers can then respond directly in real-time, no middleman needed.
While there are challenges to overcome, it’s an approach that is picking up steam. Jim Monkmeyer, transportation president for DHL Supply Chain North America, told Supply and Demand Chain Executive that on-demand trucking continues to become more popular.
“Thanks to developments in technology, there is an opportunity to match drivers, equipment and capacity in the market to loads much more efficiently,” he said. “The efficiency is not just in terms of speed, with shippers able to access quotes much more quickly, while drivers are able to secure loads almost in real-time. There is also significant potential for better overall utilization of capacity in the market, which in turn brings benefits in terms of cost-savings and even reduced emissions.”
The evolution in technology has led to more sophisticated systems that make it easier for clients and drivers to connect and smooth out issues with pricing and capacity options.
Benefits and Challenges of On-Demand Trucking
Overhaul, Convoy, Uber Freight, Loadsmart and Flexport are some of the most prominent of the emerging, on-demand trucking platforms. But this area of the transport industry still faces many challenges, even as it also offers many benefits.
The benefits of on-demand trucking extend to clients, fleets and individual drivers. They include the ability to lower expenses, prevent trucks from moving when empty, better use of containers, automating the process and reducing administrative tasks. Drivers also stand to earn more money, cut down on the number of empty hauls and get paid faster.
Challenges include many of the issues experienced by the shipping client. With brokers, they know who they are dealing with. But with individual drivers, they may not know their driving history, whether they have the correct insurance, if they meet all Department of Transportation regulations and whether they have been properly vetted. Still, it’s a movement that may disrupt how the commercial fleet operates. With the chance it offers to cut costs and allow drivers to maximize their business, on-demand trucking is expected to expand in the coming years.