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Maximizing Load Bookings with Freight Transport Automation

Governments are keen on introducing high capacity vehicles (HCV) to limit traffic congestion and reduce carbon footprints through freight transportation. But, truckers struggle with finding their next load on the backhaul and, of course, want to clear payments as fast as possible.

E-commerce has brought about a 5% increase in urban shipment demand. But, the situation is- retailers complain of goods not reaching the customer in time because of trucker shortage. And transporters claim- they suffer significant losses due to deadhead miles. Ironically, the load trucks are rolling, but without loads or lesser goads than their capacity, which leads to the transporter’s loss.

This article highlights how freight automation can maximize load bookings to bring a favourable impact on the transportation and logistics industry.

Logistics & Transport Service Challenges

The traditional shipping process involves contacting third party brokers and vetting the shipper manually. Despite being at the core of the supply chain, transportation services lack innovations to improve operational efficiency. The following are some crucial challenges that the logistics industry faces, even today!

Deadhead Miles

The trucks operating without load contribute to dead miles. Dead miles can occur when a carrier travels from location A to location B to pick items or it returns empty from location C to location A after dispatching the load.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) survey report 2017, it costs $66.65 per hour to operate a truck

Traditionally, small trucking companies call freight brokers, who in turn call up warehouses to find if there’s freight ready for hauling. Unfortunately, about 15%-25% of the time, truckers end up carrying zero freight.

Therefore, deadhead miles certainly bring a huge loss, especially because freight services generally operate interstate. 

Lack of Price Transparency

The transportation sector has been struggling with inflexible prices and backhaul charges. Fleet operators often demand deadhead miles charges for the shipment. Thus, irrespective of cargo capacity (or the volume to it’s full), the operator can charge sellers any amount.

Trucker Shortage

Trucking companies have reported truck driver shortage as their top industry issue in 2017-18. The American Trucking Associations state- the industry needs to recruit and train 898,000 new truckers by 2026. 

Manual Booking

On average, a logistics company may waste 4000 to 6000+ hours to manually create bookings via phone calls, emails, and coordinating with drivers and manufacturers. 

Benefits of Freight Automation

Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS) can bring manufacturers/sellers, shippers, and carriers on a common platform. Automation solutions can bring the following benefits-

Route Matching and Optimization

Traditional backhauls include unused available capacity, causing deadhead mileage. 

With route matching feature of a freight automation system, instead of travelling back and forth from location A to location B, and then starting a new haul from location A to location C; trucker can find the best route to reach location C enroute.

Efficiently Managing Fleet Operations

Traditionally, equipment tracking was dependent on manual data entry from drivers, shippers, and consignees. The process was not only cumbersome but also error-prone. Transportation supply chain automation helps in managing fleet operations in the following ways-

  • Lodging truckers’ start and end time automatically add to the accuracy of HOS (Hours of Service) records.
  • Vehicle tracking can identify bottlenecks and provide instant support in case of accidents, fuel shortage, roadblocks, or other unanticipated highway incidents.
  • Route guidance enables efficient haul plans.
  • It can reduce idling time and thus improve fleet productivity.

Transparent Pricing

Transparency in pricing can make freight transport robust and reliable. 

For instance, Uber Freight has introduced Lane Explorer, which shows real-time market-based rates, up to two weeks in advance.

Online Processes

In any logistics and transport organization, the manual payment cycle requires 40%-60% more time and effort than its automation counterpart. Freight bill automation can solve the heavy-haul truckers’ problem of receiving payments faster. Eliminating manual processes can improve overall supply chain efficiency.

Collaboration Between Fleet Brokers

OECD states– Truck platooning can save over 10% in operational costs. Platooning is driving a group of vehicles together to increase road capacity via an automated highway system. 

At the same time, HCVs (High Capacity Vehicles) that carry 50% more load than traditional trucks can save up to 20% cost/km.

However, truck platooning and utilizing complete HCVs capacity requires collaboration between shippers, carriers, and freight brokers. Automation can bring different stakeholders from the freight and logistics industry on a common platform to work together.

Product Spotlight

HwyHaul, a leading California-based freight brokerage startup uses transportation automation to connect enterprises with truckers. It simplifies the ‘load booking’ process for shippers and seamlessly empowers them with a state of the art Transportation as a Service (TaaS) solution.

Currently serving Reefer, Dry Van, and Flatbed loads, HwyHaul connects shippers and carriers on a common platform. The distinct features that freight-logistics management platform brings are-

  • Shipping enterprises can create and track their freight from booking to end-of-delivery.
  • Trucking companies (carriers) can manage their fleet and drivers.
  • Internal operations team can oversee and govern backend processes.
  • Truckers can use HwyHaul app to book and deliver loads without having to wait for telephonic communication.

We specialize in developing industry-specific and logistics & freight automation products. Contact us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com to learn more.

Bottom Line

Load bookings and freight brokerage automation solutions can contribute to reducing carbon footprint and improve fleet productivity to a great extent. 

PwC 2019 report says by 2030, automation will shorten delivery lead times by 40% and reduce logistics costs for standardized transport by 47%. With newer disruptions like driverless trucks, relay-as-a-service model and automatic freight scheduling on the horizon, the transportation and logistics industry is on the cusp of unlocking new revenues across the value chain.


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12 Tips To Secure Your Mobile Application

Cyber attacks and data theft have become so common these days especially when it comes to mobile applications. As a result, mobile apps that experience security breaches may suffer financial losses. With many hackers eyeing to steal customer data, securing these applications has become the number one priority for organizations and a serious challenge for developers. According to Gartner’s recent research, Hype Cycle for Application Security, investment in application security will increase by more than two-fold over the next few years, from $6 billion this year to $13.7 billion by 2026. Further, the report stated, “Application security is now top-of-mind for developers and security professionals, and the emphasis is now turning to apps hosted in public clouds,” It is crucial to get the fundamental components of DevOps security correct. Here are the 12 tips to secure your mobile application: 

1. Install apps from trusted sources:

It’s common to have Android applications republished on alternate markets or their APKs & IPAs made available for download. Both APK and IPA may be downloaded and installed from a variety of places, including websites, cloud services, drives, social media, and social networking. Only the Play Store and the App Store should be allowed to install trustworthy APK and IPA files. To prevent utilizing these apps, we should have a source check detection (Play Store or App Store) upon app start.

Also read, https://andresand.medium.com/add-method-to-check-which-app-store-the-android-app-is-installed-from-or-if-its-sideloaded-c9f450a3d069

2. Root Detection:

Android: An attacker could launch a mobile application on a rooted device and access the local memory or call specific activities or intents to perform malicious activities in the application. 

iOS: Applications on a jailbroken device run as root outside of the iOS sandbox. This can allow applications to access sensitive data stored in other apps or install malicious software negating sandboxing functionality. 

More on Root Detection- https://owasp.org/www-project-mobile-top-10/2016-risks/m8-code-tampering

3. Data Storing:

Developers use Shared Preferences & User Defaults to store key-value pairs like tokens, mobile numbers, email, boolean values, etc. Additionally, while creating apps, developers prefer SQLite databases for structured data. It is recommended to store any data in the format of encryption so that it is difficult to extract the information by hackers.

4. Secure Secret Keys:

API keys, passwords, and tokens shouldn’t be hardcoded in the code. It is recommended to use different techniques to store these values so that hackers cannot get away quickly by tampering with the application. 

Here’s a reference link: https://guides.codepath.com/android/Storing-Secret-Keys-in-Android

5. Code Obfuscation

An attacker may decompile the APK file and extract the source code of the application. This may expose sensitive information stored in the source code of the application to the attacker which may be used to perform tailored attacks. 

It is better to obfuscate the source code to prevent all the sensitive information contained in the source code.

6. Secure Communication:

An attacker may perform malicious activities to leverage the level of attacks since all communication is happening over unencrypted channels. So always use HTTPS URLs over HTTP URLs.

7. SSL Pinning:

Certificate pinning allows mobile applications to restrict communication only to servers with a valid certificate matching the expected value (pin). Pinning ensures that no network data is compromised even if a user is tricked into installing a malicious root certificate on their mobile device. Any app that pins its certificates would thwart such phishing attempts by refusing to transmit data over a compromised connection

Please refer: 

https://owasp.org/www-community/controls/Certificate_and_Public_Key_Pinning

8. Secure API request & response data

The standard practice is to use HTTPS for the baseline protection of REST API calls. The information sent to the server or received from the server may be further encrypted with AES, etc. For example, if there are sensitive contents, you might choose to select those to encrypt so that even if the HTTPS is somehow broken or misconfigured, you have another layer of protection from your encryption.

9. Secure Mobile App Authentication:

In case an application does not assign distinct and complex session tokens after login to a user, an attacker can conduct phishing in order to lure the victim to use a custom-generated token provided by the attacker and easily bypass the login page with the captured session by using a MiTM attack.

i) Assign a distinct and complex session token to a user each time he/she logs on successfully to the application. 

ii) Terminate the session lifetime immediately after logging out. 

iii) Do not use the same session token for two or more IP addresses. 

iv) Limit the expiry time for every session token.

10.  Allow Backup 

Disallow users to back up an app if it contains sensitive data. Having access to backup files (i.e. when android:allowBackup=”true”), it is possible to modify/read the content of an app even on a non-rooted device. So it is recommended to make allow backup false. 

11. Restrict accessing android application screens from other apps

Ideally, your activities should not give any provision to the opening from other services or applications. Make it true only when you have a specific requirement to access your flutter screens from other apps otherwise change to android:exported= ”false”

12. Restrict installing packages from the android application

REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES permission allows apps to install new packages on a user’s device. We are committed to preventing abuse on the Android platform and protecting users from apps that self-update using any method other than Google Play’s update mechanism or download harmful APKs.

Conclusion: 

Mobile Apps have become more personalized than ever before with heaps of customers’ personal data stored in them every day. In order to build trust and loyalty among users and prevent significant financial and credential losses for the companies, it is now crucial to make sure the application is secure for the user. Following the above-mentioned mobile app security checklists will definitely help to prevent hackers from hacking the app.

About the Author:

Raviteja Aketi is a Senior Software Engineer at Mantra Labs. He has extensive experience with B2B projects. Raviteja loves exploring new technologies, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.

Read our latest blog: Implementing a Clean Architecture with Nest.JS

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