ELDs should bring additional capacity by way of “Uber”-like load apps.
A recurring meme in the transportation industry over the past year has been the “uberization of trucking.” Based on Uber’s success of matching passengers with private car service, some in the logistics and transportation industry envisioned a way to use mobile apps to match unassigned shipments with existing empty loads. Why is this important? Empty loads create a substantial cost for carriers. This is especially true for smaller companies, those with fewer than twenty trucks, which make up about one-third of industry capacity. Being able to optimize that capacity will prove beneficial not only for the carriers who will reduce the problem of empty loads. It will also help those shippers looking to find capacity that meets their financial and time needs.
This capacity optimization is aided, to a certain degree, through the use of ELDs. Along with making drivers safe and federally compliant, ELDs will also give carriers more visibility into where their trucks are at any given time. And since the ELD mandate will allow carriers to see where there trucks are, that makes it possible for those carriers to search for customers looking for a “ride” in the area. This may be one of the unintended yet happy consequences of the ELD mandate.
Yet many of those smaller fleets noted above don’t currently have ELDs installed. That potentially translates into a large amount of untapped capacity these companies possess as a whole. This will all change when the mandate gets full compliance. The knowledge gained through ELDs, along with programs or apps that operate on a platform similar to Uber will open up capacity and prevent smaller companies who feel the impact of empty miles to a greater degree than their larger competitors.
But, as with everything else when it comes to smaller companies, the cost of technology can impact the timeframe where that technology is implemented. However, with more users in the market using ELDs, this could result in cheaper or free apps or programs brought to market. These apps will enable companies looking for capacity to sign up for available loads posted by carriers. Currently there are a multitude of apps and programs that shippers and carriers can sign up for and use to gain greater utilization out of their empty miles.