This article was first published in the Journal of Courier (https://www.joc.com/) here:
US less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier Roadrunner last week released an improved mobile application that allows owner-operators in its long-haul metro-to-metro network to assign themselves available loads, highlighting a larger ongoing technology transformation at the company.
The Haul Now app is a carrier interface that touches new operational systems Roadrunner has put in place over the last two years to better reflect driver and shipper behavior and preferences, Roadrunner’s Head of Technology, Operations and Linehaul Tomasz Jamroz told the Journal of Commerce Thursday.
“The app is not the big thing,” Jamroz said. “It’s that it’s integrated with all the other operational systems we have put in place.”
The app is designed to help drivers streamline the process of finding and booking LTL loads, but it’s meant to be more than just a transactional tool. Data from the app will be mingled with data Roadrunner collects from external sources, such as electronic logging devices (ELDs), trailer tracking vendors, and GPS locations from visibility provider project44.
The app allows drivers to “choose loads, plan consecutive trips, update status, check settlements, review routes and loads, contact terminal dispatchers, receive important reminders in real time, and reach out for help, if necessary,” Roadrunner said in a statement.
“We can’t have a driver assign himself to a load, but my dispatcher doesn’t know that’s happened,” Jamroz said. “That’s a problem. The app is the tip of the iceberg that sits on the architecture we’ve developed the last two years.”
Roadrunner has been piloting the app over the past few months within its network of drivers and will initially roll it out to about 400 Roadrunner drivers, of which about 20 percent had already started using it as of Thursday. Jamroz said he expects more than 90 percent to be using the app regularly by the end of January. A second phase of the app will be available to outside drivers at some point in 2023.
“If you look at the market, there are a lot of 3PLs (third-party logistics providers) that try to do this, but they’re more focused on being the link between the customer and the transportation company and making money in the middle,” Jamroz said. “And very little is focused on the driver.”
Roadrunner believes the app will offer a better experience for its owner-operators, allowing drivers to find available loads at their desired terminal, book consecutive loads, and filter by the number of miles they want to drive, helping them to manage hours of service compliance. Avoiding the middle layer of a 3PL also allows the LTL provider to offer savings to its shipper customers, Jamroz added. The app also lets Roadrunner use its operational data to help refine the decision making behind load acceptance, which has positive knock-on effects for the driver and customer.
“This gives us chance to assign drivers to loads that they’re best placed for,” he said. “That lets us make sure we’re hitting on-time expectations. You don’t want to assign a load to a driver that he has no chance of picking up. It’s a kind of a mechanism to show them what’s really available to them. If you’re a single driver, you’re not going to see the loads available for teams.”