Category: software

IoT and the Trucking Industry

IoT-and-the-Trucking-Industry

IoT, or Internet of Things, is a term used to describe a network of things―devices, appliances, and vehicles, connected using wireless networks that can be utilized and monitored using the internet.  You may not think that there’s a network of things that connect us everywhere but every day we’re more connected than the day before. “Virtual assistants” like Alexa have become hugely popular in the last few years, as has home monitoring and security systems and health monitors like FitBits.  You can buy trackers to track everything from your child or pet to an elderly person who has Alzheimer’s. You can even buy a fridge with a camera that points inside so you can connect with it while you’re at the grocery store to see if you need milk.  

IoT can be used to benefit or improve many industries, including the trucking industry.  Shippers, carriers, and drivers alike have been implementing IoT as a way to improve productivity, safety, and logistics.  

Electronic Logging Devices

ELDs are a requirement for all trucks.  They monitor a driver’s hours ensuring they’re aware and following the mandated Hours of Service and remaining in compliance with the law.  ELDs were made a requirement as a way to combat drowsy driving for the safety of drivers and anyone else sharing the road. At first, drivers weren’t happy with “Big Brother” watching their every move but  reality is that ELDs save drivers the time of filling out paper logbooks. ELDs that track speed and location can help dispatchers keep drivers on the most efficient, money-saving route. 

Geo-fencing

Geo-fencing is a “virtual fence” that triggers an automatic response when a device enters or exits a specific location.  It’s an elaborate form of GPS that gives alerts if the freight is off course which could result in lost time and efficiency.      

Smart Tags

Smart tags are sensors that can be added to the freight itself that tracks the package in their simplest form or can provide more specific data like whether the package has been opened or tampered with as well as product temperature.  This is particularly important in the food industry for perishables and the biopharmaceutical industry where medicines and other biological materials have to be kept at specific temperatures at all times. IoT allows constant monitoring of freight so that drivers and management can be alerted to any changes in temperature that might compromise the cargo.  

Fleet Management

There are many different sensors that can be used on trucks.  Engine and tire data can be used to detect a small maintenance problem before it becomes a big, expensive one.  Tire pressure being too low or too high or engine issues can trigger an alert that can avoid a blowout or breakdown.  Accelerometers, fuel sensors, tracking, and other sensors can provide vital information to allow the truck to deliver its goods safely and on time.  Sensors can provide real-time alerts to hazards or delays and can improve fuel consumption which not only saves the company money on fuel costs but it can also help reduce CO2 emissions which is good for the environment.  Better communication between shippers, carriers, and drivers allows everyone to be on the same page and with new technologies ever on the horizon, current IoT solutions are just the beginning.

Another technology used to streamline the shipping process is load boards that allow drivers to search for available loads or for shippers to search for carriers or drivers.  Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight Driver app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!      

Source:  https://www.freightwaves.com/news/2017/11/9/trucking-and-the-internet-of-things

Ransomware Hits the Trucking Industry

ransomware-hits-the-trucking-industry

Cybersecurity is vital to protect any business in today’s connected world and global economy.  We assume that hackers will attack banks, government agencies, and companies with databases of customers’ personal and credit card information.  However, one of the most common targets currently may come as a surprise―trucking companies, commonly attacked with ransomware.

Why target trucking companies?   Unlike those obvious targets of banks and retail, trucking companies often haven’t beefed up their cybersecurity.  According to Forbes, the transportation industry ranked #5 of industries at risk of a cyber-attack.  

Many attacks don’t originate in the U.S. so it makes them difficult to track.    

Ransomware 

Ransomware is malware (malicious software) that attacks a business’ computer systems and holds their data hostage, asking for money in exchange for your own data.  There are several types of ransomware:

  • Crypto malware―spreads throughout a network and can attack thousands of computers.
  • Lockers―completely lock the user out of a computer’s operating system until a ransom is paid.
  • Scareware―malware disguised as an antivirus or system-cleaning tool.  It tricks the user into thinking they’re removing malware from their computer when in reality, they’re installing it.  
  • Doxware―Malware that threatens to publish your sensitive information if you don’t pay the ransom and then restores your data when it is.
  • RaaS―Ransomware as a Service is when a hacker installs the ransomware, collects the ransom, and then will restore your data.  They do it all.

In June 2019, LTL trucking leader A. Duie Pyle was hit by a ransomware attack that disrupted their communications and shut down their website.  Chubb Financial Lines and Cosco Shipping have also been attacked in recent years. Ransomware criminals don’t just go after big trucking companies, however.  They’ve been hitting smaller companies and can peek into your finances to determine how much you can afford to pay so the amount they ask for isn’t out of your reach.  

 

Prevention

With diligence, ransomware can be prevented or its effects lessened if it does happen to you.

Use trusted security

Whether you have an IT department or you do it all yourself, make sure that you’re using a trusted security suite to protect your systems.

Keep your software up-to-date

Software companies are constantly improving the security of their products to better fight off cyber attackers.

Scrutinize your emails

Cybercriminals often try to trick you into thinking an email is from a legitimate source like Apple or Amazon claiming to be charging your account.  If you’re unsure, contact the company directly, not through a link in the email. And never open attachments unless you are certain they’re from a trusted source.

Don’t enable macros to view the contents of an email

This is a common way for malware to get in.

Use the cloud

If your system becomes infected, you can usually access earlier versions of your files from the cloud.

Back up often

Backing up your files on an external hard drive will mean if there’s an attack, the cybercriminals will have no leverage.  You can simply copy your files from your external hard drive. 

Have a security assessment

Annually assess your computer systems including tests to reveal where they may have vulnerabilities.

Make sure everyone’s trained

All staff must go through yearly cybersecurity training.  Ransomware often gets in through email attachments or when employees inadvertently visit a malicious website.  Make sure everyone knows what should and shouldn’t be accessed.  

Don’t pay the ransom

It may not be over if you do.  They may ask for more money or never release your files.  Often, companies who pay the ransom either don’t get their data back or they get it back partially or corrupted.  And because the cybercriminals were successful, they’ll continue the cycle by finding a new victim.  

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that helps drivers and carriers find loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!

 Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/05/13/list-of-the-5-most-cyber-attacked-industries/#2628f83d715e

https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-malware-ransomware-5-dos-and-donts.html

https://www.joc.com/trucking-logistics/ltl-trucking-logistics/duie-pyle/cyber-attack-hits-us-ltl-trucker-duie-pyle_20190617.html

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/trucking-industry-has-become-top-target-ransomware-attacks

Best Nationwide Cellular Data

best-nationwide-cellular-data

Cell phones aren’t just a toy for truck drivers.  Besides being an important lifeline in case of emergencies, a driver’s mobile device is a connection to family and home, and by using Skype, it can almost feel like he or she is still at home.  Downloading podcasts or music to pass the time on the road or movies to watch at night can fight the loneliness and boredom that can creep in during long periods on the road. Truck Drivers need to have a reliable connection for emergencies, looking up information, entertainment, and staying close to family.

The Big Four

Most people look to the top four cell phone companies―Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for service on the road.  If your runs take you across the country, you should choose a company that has thorough nationwide coverage.

Verizon has the best nationwide coverage even in the middle of nowhere, which is where many truckers often find themselves.  Unlimited plans* start at $70 a month which gives unlimited data, talk, and text on a 4G LTE network and go as high as $90 a month.  By paying more, you get better quality video and you’ll receive a higher throttle threshold which means higher data usage before they slow down your speeds.  For an extra $10 a month, you can upgrade to the 5G network.

In second place for coverage is AT&T.  $70 a month gets you unlimited data, talk, and text but video is only 420p.  For $80, you can get unlimited features plus 1080p video including 1 free premium channel such as HBO, Cinemax, Starz, or music channels like Amazon Music or Pandora.

T-Mobile is next because although it’s faster than AT&T, its coverage in rural areas isn’t great, especially in northern New England and many parts in the north and southwest.  Plans range from $60 a month to $85 for unlimited talk, text, and data.  Like the other carriers, the more you pay the better the quality of the video and the higher the throttle threshold and the two best T-Mobile plans include a Netflix subscription.   

Sprint has spotty rural coverage but does well in cities.  Prices range from $60 for a basic plan to $80 for a premium one.  All plans include Hulu and the highest plan includes Amazon Prime as well.  The top 2 plans can be used with 5G devices.  

Other Choices  

These are the 4 most popular carriers but there are a lot of minor carriers that are cheaper like Cricket, StraightTalk, and Boost Mobile.  These carriers can have great coverage because they buy services from the big carriers and sell them to you cheaper but you will lose download speeds during peak usage times because users of the major carriers get priority.  

Choosing the right plan is going to take some research and it’s important to understand not only what your budget is but also how much all of the fees and extras are going to cost.  When switching to a new plan, start it right before you hit the road so you can thoroughly test it out for coverage, slow speeds, dropped calls, etc. Most carriers allow you two-weeks to try out the phone/plan.

At Direct Freight Services, we make it easy for drivers to find loads or for carriers to find trucks to carry their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and mobile app. Call us today at (888)894-4198 or go to DirectFreight.com to find out more about our services.

*Unlimited plan prices are for a single line and exclude taxes, fees, and phone.

Sources:  

https://www.opensignal.com/reports/2019/01/usa/mobile-network-experience

https://www.verizonwireless.com/plans/unlimited/

https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/better-matters/#maps

https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html

https://www.att.com/plans/wireless.html

https://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phone-plans/essentials

https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map

https://www.sprint.com/en/shop/plans/unlimited-cell-phone-plan.html?INTNAV=TopNav:Shop:UnlimitedPlans

https://coverage.sprint.com/IMPACT.jsp?INTCID=LP:ALL:MAP:LP

https://www.dailywireless.org/mobile/best-cell-phone-coverage/

Rookie Freight Brokers: Find the Right Load Board

rookie-freight-brokers

These days, supply chains are more complex than ever and freight brokers are a vital piece.  They are the link between shippers and carriers and do all the planning, negotiating, and tracking to ensure smooth, on-schedule delivery.  It can be a fun, fast-paced career and lucrative for the right person who is willing to put in the work.

Becoming a freight broker requires a freight broker license, a bond, and more (which can be found here).  One of the most crucial aspects of becoming a successful freight broker is building a well-rounded list of contacts.  In the freight broker business, it’s all about the connections. The more you have, the more work you’re able to facilitate.  

A freight broker is only as good as his or her contact list.  Quality connections are what make a freight broker stand out from the crowd.  Unreliable truckers or slow-to-pay shippers are only going to bring down the business.  

Finding Leads

Finding leads isn’t difficult.  They’re all around. There’s an abundance of businesses around you that need to ship supplies or goods.

  1.  It starts with who you know.  Look at where your friends and family work.  Do they ship goods? Having a friend or relative at a potential lead is a good way to get your foot in the door.
  2. Look around you.  What businesses are there in your area that may ship goods?
  3. Get referrals.  Once you have some established clients, ask them for referrals.
  4. Look at your current loads.  Where are they being shipped?  You may be able to find companies in that city or area who have shipments coming your way.  Since you’re already shipping there, you may be able to win them over with a discounted rate and eliminate some deadhead miles at the same time.  Always be on the lookout for leads.
  5. Add a referral bonus at the end of your emails or correspondences.  What would a new customer be worth to you?  $100? $500? Be sure to include a disclaimer that the referral must lead to a paying customer. 
  6. Use the internet.  Resources like Produce Market Guide, Marketnews.usda.gov, and even the Yellow Pages are good places to look.  

When on the hunt for leads, be persistent.  Some businesses rarely ship freight and others may be hitting a slow period.  Don’t give up! Once you have clients, foster those relationships. Learn details about their business and ask about the family.  If you take the time to get to know and build a relationship with a contact, they’ll be more likely to continue giving you work and refer you to others.  

Being the New Guy (or Gal)

One obstacle of first starting out in the freight broker business is that nobody wants to work with a newbie.  You could have years of experience in the trucking industry under your belt, you’ll still be the rookie freight broker when you first start.  If you’ve only got a carrier or two in your contacts, you’ll be at a disadvantage. A freight broker needs to move fast and potential clients won’t want to wait around until you find someone reliable to ship to an area of the country where you have no drivers.  This is where a good load board comes in.

By using a load board, rookie freight brokers can build their connections quickly.   For shippers with loads to ship and carriers with drivers to drive, a load board can fill out missing coverage areas  fast. Direct Freight Services’ load board is a complete tool allowing freight brokers to build up reliable and ready to go contacts.  Direct Freight has credit reports and scores as well as information on how long it takes a shipper to pay, so you can make the right choice when building your list of reliable contacts.  Direct Freight’s easy-to-use load board allows you to find both trucks and carriers to fill your growing contacts list. Its mile calculators, fuel price data, weather information, alerts, and organizational features make it the perfect assistant for your blossoming  brokerage.  

If you’d like to see what Direct Freight Services can do for you, call (888)894-4198 or go to https://www.directfreight.com/home/ to sign up.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t check us out sooner!

 

Sources:

https://www.producemarketguide.com

https://www.marketnews.usda.gov/mnp/fv-home

https://www.yellowpages.com/

Managing Finances While On The Road

managing-finances-on-the-road

One of the biggest difficulties that drivers face when they’re on the road for extended periods is keeping on top of finances.  Drivers have to watch their spending on the road on meals and other necessities that pop up. While out on the road, bills still pile up at home that need to be paid like rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, and vehicle loan payments.

Banking at Your Fingertips

Before the internet, it was more difficult for drivers to stay on top of finances and they had to rely on finding a branch of their bank wherever the road had taken them or did their banking over the phone.  Fortunately, most banks now offer their own secure mobile apps so you can connect and view your account or do transactions from anywhere. You can do things like pay bills, transfer money, and track your balance and payments directly with your bank.

Other useful apps for drivers include:

Acorns 

Acorns makes it easy to save money for a rainy day.  Acorns can transfer money automatically from your bank account to your Acorns account so you don’t have to remember to do it.  It’s round-up feature automatically rounds up the change from every transaction and deposits it into your Acorns account for painless savings.

Mint

Mint is a popular app that allows you to track your expenses in all of your accounts―checking, savings, credit card, and investment accounts.  Mint also lets you set financial goals and shows you a path to get there through budgeting.

Concur

Concur tracks travel and business expenses and capture receipts on your phone’s camera.

Cutting Expenses

If you’re going to stick to a budget, you’ve got to cut unnecessary spending.  With a little planning ahead, you can rein in your spending and stay on track.

 Food

Food is one of the ways that drivers overspend the most.  Plan your meals ahead of time. If you buy food from a grocery store and keep it in your truck, you can save money and have healthier food options that may be missing at truck stops and fast food restaurants.  A small fridge and microwave or hot plate for the cab of your truck will help you save on food costs. If you’re going to be cooking or storing food in your cab, make sure you have cleaning supplies to keep everything sanitary and don’t forget the storage containers!

Fees

If you set up automatic payments for all your bills with your lenders, phone company, and utility companies, you can avoid accumulating fees for late payments.  However, it’s important to carefully monitor these transactions for accuracy and to also make sure you always have enough money in the account to cover your bills as overdraft fees from banks can be hefty.  

Avoid fees from traffic tickets.  Have all the right permits if you’re hauling hazmat, don’t speed, keep your truck’s weight under the limit, and make sure your elogs are always accurate.

Use free wifi whenever you can.  Unless you have unlimited data, you’re going to use up those data minutes fast and be charged fees for additional data.    

Your Truck

Don’t skip the preventative maintenance.  Tire checks, oil and other fluid changes, and general maintenance will save you from costly breakdowns and repairs. 

Stay in Shape

 Save money by keeping fit.  Obesity is a risk for drivers who spend the majority of their time sedentary behind the wheel.  By eating a healthy diet and getting regular brisk exercise, you can save a lot of money on medical bills.

Owner/Operators

Owner/operators need to track their expenses carefully.  Truck expenses include truck payments, fuel charges, repairs, and maintenance.  Keep your business and personal accounts separate by using two different bank accounts and keep a close eye on what you’re writing checks for and inspect canceled checks so you know they were processed correctly. 

Taxes

Make sure your taxes are done correctly.  Keep all documentation and receipts and go see a tax professional, preferably one that specializes in truck drivers’ taxes.  It’ll be worth it. 

 

By tracking spending, sticking to a budget and lowering expenses, you can maximize your earnings and achieve financial independence.  A career in trucking can be a lucrative one but not if you’re spending all your money on the road.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the loads that will earn you the most money. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching today!

 

Sources:

https://www.acorns.com

https://www.mint.com

https://www.concur.com/app-center/listings/550353cc99066b13221bcded

Using Electronic Logs

using-electronic-logs

Federal law now mandates the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).  Aimed at increasing efficiency and safety in the trucking industry, ELDs have been a divisive topic for truckers and carriers alike.

About ELDs

An ELD is a device that is installed in a truck’s engine to monitor its drive time.  It can be accessed with a smartphone or other mobile device as long as it meets all technical requirements found on FMCSA’s website. A portable logging device can be used but must be mounted in the cab of the vehicle in a place that is visible to the driver when he or she is behind the wheel.  The ELD records date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles and driver information.

The Rule        

Up until the ruling, drivers have been forced to fill out paper logs to accurately record their Hours of Service (HoS) to remain in compliance with the HoS rule from the FMCSA.  The HoS rule was implemented as a way to combat drowsy driving which can lead to accidents.  By mandating driving hours and hours between shifts, drivers can get the rest they need to be alert on the road.     

To ensure compliance with the HoS rule, ELDs were made mandatory for any driver who is required to fill out HOS records.  December 18, 2017-December 16, 2019 is the phased-in compliance period. After December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers who are subject to the ELD rule must be using them and be registered with FMCSA.  Short-haul drivers are not required to use ELDs.

The Controversy

Many carriers and owner/operators see ELDs as an intrusion that will do little to improve safety on the road.  A recent study (Scott, Alex & Balthrop, Andrew & W Miller, Jason. (2019). Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?) supports this claim.  The study showed that while ELDs improved drivers’ compliance with the HoS rule, there was no evidence to show that the number of accidents decreased since the ELD rule was phased in.  In fact, the study found that smaller companies who struggle to compete with bigger carriers increased incidents of speeding to avoid going over their Hours of Service limits.  

Benefits

“Big Brother” feelings aside, there are benefits to ELD devices that go beyond safety.  ELDs make compliance with HoS a more streamlined process. Nobody enjoys paperwork. The use of ELDs has been estimated to cut time spent completing paperwork by as much as 15 minutes a day.  Not only that, ELDs round up to the nearest minute, not to the nearest 15 minutes like paper logs did so errors are virtually eliminated.  Less time on paperwork means more time on the road earning money.  

A more streamlined process is helpful all around.  ELDs give a warning to drivers when they are approaching their HOS limits and they also mean quicker truck inspections.  No more sifting through paper logs―all pertinent information is easy for the officer to see and get you on your way.  

 

ELDs also improve communication and tracking. Some ELDs have GPS tracking but with only a 10-mile accuracy intended to give drivers some privacy per the FMCSA rule.

ELDs protect drivers.  They’re harder to change than paper logs.  They improve compliance with the HoS ruling which protects drivers from bosses mandating that they work more than the hours per week allowed by law, which is a real problem for many drivers.  

 Agree or disagree, compliance with the ELD rule is the law and drivers who fall under the HoS rule must have an ELD installed and registered by December 16, 2019. 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330425892_Did_the_Electronic_Logging_Device_Mandate_Reduce_Accidents

https://eldfacts.com/elds-for-truckers/

What Makes a Load “High-Quality”?

what-makes-a-load-high-quality

Not all loads are profitable.  Fuel costs, competition, and freight type can all impact the shipment rate.  If you’re not careful, you could end up in the red, the load costing more than it’s bringing in.  How do you know? How do you pick a high-quality load that’s going to be the most profitable?

The value of a load is what it pays.  However, there’s so much more to take into consideration than how much it’s going to pay.  A “high-quality load” is one that not only pays well but isn’t going to have added costs, added work, or increased risk.  By looking at the whole picture, you can better judge the quality of the load before committing to it.  

Is a Load High-Quality?

To understand the quality of the load, there are several questions that should be asked.

What is the pay? 

 Simple and straightforward.  Look at how much the load pays per mile.

Does the freight lane make sense for me?  

The freight lane is the freight going into and coming out of an area.  If it is balanced, it means there is an equal amount of freight going in and coming out.  Freight brokers will aim for a balanced freight lane because it means they’ll be able to eliminate deadhead miles and truckers should look at this too.

Is it a good rate for that particular lane?  

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Do some comparison shopping.

What is the competition like in this lane?

Load boards can tell you the number of trucks in the area.  If there is little competition, you’ll be able to negotiate a better rate.

What are fuel costs?

If fuel costs are high, there’s less profit and you’ll need to demand higher pay.

What is the load weight?

Heavier loads eat up more fuel.

Is there extra work involved?

Sometimes loads require a lot more work than anticipated.  “Tarping” is a good example of this and in fact, it’s a deal-breaker for many truckers.  Tarping is when large, heavy tarp must be placed over a load on a flatbed truck. It’s hard work, and it’s dangerous, and most truckers hate doing it.  Shippers generally understand this and will add tarp pay so make sure if you take a job that involves tarping that they pay you for the extra work. (Sometimes shipping have machines that tarp the freight on the truck for you.  Use it. It’ll make the process much quicker and easier.)

Is the load dangerous?

Even under the best circumstances, some loads are downright dangerous such as steel coils.  Steel coils are extremely heavy rolls of steel that are held on a flatbed by chains. Some truckers won’t touch them because of the danger involved with transporting them.  

How to Get Higher-Quality Loads

There are some steps that can improve your chances of obtaining higher-quality loads that will bring in higher pay and improve your business.  

Know your own operating costs.  If you don’t, you could take on a load that will cost you money or one that is worth so little it’s not worth your time.  Knowing the minimum amount that you need to make a profit will give you more negotiating power for rates. Walk away from loads that don’t offer enough.

Look at every aspect of the trip.  Things like wait-times can eat into a trucker’s profits in a big way.  These wait-times usually occur during load pickups and drop-offs. When you’re paid by the mile and you’re not moving, you’re losing money.

Consider government contracts.  Sure, it’s hard work to get them and there’s a lot of competition, but they can pay really well.

Get endorsements.  Getting specialized training and license endorsements can bring in better loads.  Whenever there is special training required, there will be fewer qualified truckers to haul the load. Examples:  

    • Liquid hauling.  Driving reefers, hauling liquids, requires added training and knowledge.  If the chemicals are hazardous such as gas or chemicals, a special hazmat certification is required.  
    • Oversized loads.  These loads also have a special license and training as well.
    • Driving specialty trucks.  Car carriers, dump trucks, mining trucks can all bring in higher pay.

Use a good load board. Load boards can help find quality loads in many ways.  They create a more balanced freight lane by cutting down on deadhead miles, find larger, established shippers who pay on time, show you the freight lanes you want to drive, and help you manage your operation.  Using a good load board can save a lot of time tracking down loads, making the whole process more efficient. After all, time is money and if you’re getting paid by the mile, you aren’t getting paid for looking for loads. 

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!

How a Product Gets From Factory to Your Doorstep

how-a-product-gets-from-factory-to-your-doorstep

In logistics, one thing is connected to the next.  You buy an item online and although it may seem like it miraculously appears on your doorstep a few days later, it actually goes through many coordinated steps to arrive there. 

A supply chain is just that―individual links that make up a long chain.  For example, you want to buy a dinosaur action figure from an online retailer who acquires them from China.  Before you’ve clicked the “add to cart” button, your dinosaur action figure has already begun its long journey.

 

Dinosaur Action Figure  Supply Chain

  1. Raw materials are sent to a manufacturing plant in China via boat, plane, train, or truck.
  2. Manufacturing plant molds plastic into the perfect dinosaur action figure.  
  3. Manufacturing plant sorts and ships dinosaur action figure to a port via truck or plane.  
  4. Shipments are loaded into shipping containers and loaded onto a ship bound for the U.S.
  5. At the U.S. port, containers are off-loaded and wait for further transportation.  
  6. Shipping container or its contents are loaded onto a truck,train or plane and sent to a warehouse.
  7. You place your online order and the dinosaur action figure is on the move again.
  8. At that warehouse, the freight is sorted and then loaded onto a truck to be sent to another warehouse.  This process could happen several times before the dinosaur action figure arrives at a retail outlet or distribution center for online orders. 
  9. Distribution center uses 3PL to deliver your dinosaur action figure to your doorstep.  Hurray!

 

Of course, this is merely an example of the way a product could get to your front door and the journey is dependant on many things such as starting point and destination, location of the retailer, and the manner in which the shipper chooses to ship their freight.  You may order directly from a foreign company that uses 3PL to get the product to you. Or you could drive to a retailer and buy a product that was flown to the U.S. instead of being shipped by boat.  

The one thing all of these supply chains have in common is that they rely on trucks to move products.  Even if boats or planes are links in the chain, trucks are used to get freight to and from them. Even when trains are used for cross-country journeys instead of long-haul trucking, trucks are still needed to get freight to and from the trains.  

Whether trucks are big rigs or 3PL vans, they will remain the backbone of every supply chain around the world.  It’s why there’s such a high demand for truck drivers with no hint of slowing anytime soon.  

If you’re a trucker who’s interested in becoming one of those important links in the supply chain, a good load board like Direct Freight Services is a great place to start.  With helpful features like a mobile app, quick pay, deadhead miles, text alerts, and turn-by-turn routing, Direct Freight will help truckers find the loads they’re looking for.  Sign up today at Directfreight.com and see how Direct Freight can start working for you!

Shippers: How Load Boards Can Help Your Business Grow

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For anyone who ships freight, a good load board is the most essential tool in the shipper’s toolbox.  It not only allows loads to be posted and seen by many available carriers, but it also has features that help organize loads, track freight, and streamline the shipping process.

What is a Load Board?

A load board is an online system that allows shippers to post loads that need to be shipped and for truckers and carriers to find them.  Essentially, load boards match people with loads to ship with people who ship loads. Good load boards have useful features that make the entire shipping process move smoothly and allow the shipper to include relevant details about the shipment. This weeds out carriers that don’t meet the shipper’s needs or requirements and streamlines the process.

How a Load Board Can Help a Company Grow  

Load boards are much more than a handy tool.  Load boards can help companies that need to ship freight grow.  Even for shippers who have a loyal list of dependable carriers, load boards can be useful for finding a new carrier in a pinch if shipments fluctuate seasonally or business grows and the shipper finds he needs more carriers.  

They are also useful if the shipper needs to send freight to a new location that the current carrier cannot accommodate.  With a load board, anywhere a shipment needs to go, there will be a carrier that can take it there.

As a shipper who doesn’t use a load board but instead works directly with a trucking company to deliver goods, life is busy.  Taking the time to shop around for better rates is probably out of the question. Load boards can be competitive and can help shippers make new connections at competitive rates.  Using a load board allows shippers to expand shipments and expand the business.

It also gives the shipper the lowdown on a carrier’s licenses and whether or not a trucker has a good driving record.  In turn, the carrier can see if the shipper is reputable and pays carriers in a timely manner.

Load boards help shippers and carriers avoid deadhead miles so money is being earned on the return trip instead of paying for an empty truck.

Often, shippers use freight brokers as a middleman to facilitate shipping and negotiating while they spend more time running the business.  Of course, this comes with added cost. Others prefer a more hands-on approach to shipping and a load board that has an extensive database and useful tools can facilitate that.  

DirectFreight.com has everything shippers should be looking for in a load board.  With its clear-cut interface, customized features like important saved documents, email and text alerts, and a convenient new app for drivers, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  It not only provides current load and truck information, but it also makes your business more organized and professional. Check it out for yourself DirectFreight.com and watch your shipping company flourish!

Are Load Boards Worth Their Cost?

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For trucking companies, it’s not just a matter of booking as many loads as possible, it’s important to book as many high-quality loads as possible.  High-quality loads come from dependable shippers who have above-average margins, and pay in a timely manner.  A good load board is a useful tool to help keep your trucks rolling, but is the monthly subscription fee worth it?

Load boards can help you:

Get Clients

Using a load board can help you gain trusted clients that you can build long-term relationships with.  This allows you to cut out the middleman and not go through a freight broker, which will increase your margins.

Diversify

A wise investor diversifies his investments to be able to weather any negative periods.  The same approach should be applied to your trucking business. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  If you get all your loads primarily from one source, you’ll be in trouble if that company has a problem.

Find a Trustworthy Broker

As part of their diversification, many companies will work directly with shippers and with freight brokers.  It’s important to find one that is reliable and will earn you money.  To learn more about how to find the right freight broker, go here.

Eliminate Deadhead Miles

If you’re going to be bringing home an empty truck, be sure to include those costs in your rates.  Better yet, line up a load for the return trip. This is where load boards are essential. It’s so easy to search your return route for loads that can be made along the way.  

Shop Around

Load boards allow you to shop around for loads that will be most beneficial to your company.  Think quality, not quantity.

Are Free Load Boards a Good Deal?

As they say, the best things in life are free.  This may be true for many things but for load boards, it is not.  Free load boards will certainly save you a monthly fee that most load boards charge.  However, most top companies prefer to post their loads on the paid sites so you won’t see the quantity or the quality that you would find on subscription load boards.  Also, some of the “free” load boards are only free for a limited time, have duplicate loads and outdated information.

 

Tips for Working with Load Boards

Know the Low

Before you reply to a post to negotiate a rate, always know your lowest possible rate that allows you to break even.  This will make negotiating a rate for a shipment much quicker and easier.

Walk on By

Don’t be afraid to say no.  If a load isn’t going to earn much and may cause more problems than it’s worth, keep walking.  Load boards make it easy to find one that will work for you.

Don’t Overbook

If you’re finding a lot of good quality loads on a load board, be careful.  If you book more than your company can handle, you’ll start missing deadlines.  This could hurt your company’s reputation for being dependable and trustworthy. It’s important for your business’s success that you make timely deliveries.

 

If you’re starting out as a carrier, a good load board is essential.  It’ll help you make contacts with which you can build direct relationships.  Once you have those connections, it’s good to continue to use the load board to fill in gaps and book deadhead miles.  

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that can help you maximize your margins with our huge database of quality loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!