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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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Chatbots are the assistants of the future and they are taking the Internet by storm. Ever since their first appearance in 1994, the goal was to create an AI that could conduct a real dialogue with their interlocutors. The purpose is to free up customer service agents’ time so they could focus on more delicate tasks- which require a more human approach.

If you are thinking about including a chatbot on your website, here are the things you need to keep in mind to boost customer engagement and deliver high-quality services.

Define your audience

First things first- think about who will be interacting with the chatbot? Who are your customers? How do they talk? How can you address them in a way they’ll enjoy? How can you help them?

For instance, if your company sells clothes that are mostly designed for young adults, using a less formal tone will be much more appealing to them.

Lisa Wright, a customer service specialist at Trust My Paper advice: “Customer service calls are usually recorded, so listening to a few of them can be a good place to start designing your chatbot’s lines of dialogue.”

Give your bot some character

People don’t like to talk to plain, simple robots. Therefore, giving your chatbot some personality is a must. Some brands prefer naming their chatbots and even design an animated character for them. This makes the interaction more real.

For example, The SmarterChild chatbot- designed back in 2000, was able to speak to around 2,50,000 humans every day with funny, sad, and sarcastic emotions.

However, the chatbot’s character needs to match your brand identity and at the same time- appeal to customers. Think about – how would the bot speak, if they were real? Are there some phrases or words they would never use? Do they tell jokes? All these need to be well-thought through, before going into the chatbot writing and design phase.

According to a report published by Ubisend in 2017, 69% of customers use the chatbot to get an instant answer. Only 15% of them would interact for fun. Thus, don’t sacrifice the performance for personality. 

Also read – 5 Key Success Metrics for Chatbots

Revise your goals before chatbot writing

Alexa- Amazon bot has 30+ skills which include scheduling an appointment, booking a cab, reading news, playing music, controlling a smartphone, and more. However, every business bot doesn’t need to be a pro in every assisting job.

Before entering the writing phase, think over once again – WHY you need a chatbot? Will it help customer service only? Or will it also help in website navigation, purchase, return, refund, etc.?

Usually, customers want one of the three things when they visit your site: an answer to something they’re looking for, make a purchase, or a solution to their problem. You can custom build your chatbot to tackle either one or all of these three situations. Many brands use chatbots to create tailored products for their clients.  

Cover all possible scenarios

When you start writing the dialogue, consider the fact that a conversation can go in many directions. To ensure that all the situations are covered- start with a flowchart of all possible questions and the answers you chatbot can give.

To further simplify your chatbot writing, take care of one scenario at a time and focus on keeping the conversation short and simple. If the customer is too specific or is not satisfied with the bot’s response, do not hesitate to redirect them to your customer service representatives.

For instance, Xiaocle is one of the most successful interactive chatbots launched by Microsoft in July 2014. Within three months of its launch, Xiaocle accomplished over 0.5 billion conversations. In fact, speakers couldn’t understand that they’re talking to a bot for 10 minutes.

Also read – Why should businesses consider chatbots?

This article is contributed to Mantra Labs by Dorian Martin. Dorian is an established blogger and content writer for business, career, education, marketing, academics, and more.

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The antiquated commodity of Financial ‘Coverage & Protection’ is getting a new make-over.  Conventional epigrams like ‘Insurance is sold and not bought’ are becoming passé. Customers are now more open than ever before to buying insurance as opposed to being sold by an agent.  The industry itself is witnessing an accelerated digitalization momentum on the backs of 4G, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence-based technologies like Machine Learning & NLP.

As new technologies and consumer habits keep evolving, so are insurance business models. The reality for many insurance carriers is that they still don’t understand their customers with great accuracy and detail, which is where intermediaries like agents and distributors still hold incredible market power.

On the other hand, distribution channels are turning hybrid, which is forcing carriers to be proficient in their entire channel mix. Customer expectations for 2020 will begin to reflect more simplicity and transparency in their mobility & speed of service delivery.

A recently published Gartner Hype Cycle highlights 29 new and emerging technologies that are bound for greater business impact, that will ultimately dissolve into the fabric of Insurance.

For 2020 and beyond, newer technologies are emerging along with older but more progressively maturing ones creating a wider stream of opportunities for businesses.

Gartner-Hype-Cycle

Irrespective of the technology application adopted by insurers — real, actionable insights is the name of the game. Without it, there can be no long term gains. Forrester research explains “Those that are truly insights-driven businesses will steal $1.2 trillion per annum from their less-informed peers by 2020”.

Based on the major trends identified in the Hype Cycle, 5 of the most near-term disruptive technologies and their use cases, are profiled below.

  1. Emotion AI
    Emotion Artificial Intelligence (AI) is purported to detect insurance fraud based on the audio analysis of the caller. This means that an AI system can decisively measure, understand, simulate and react to human emotions in a natural way.

    F0r Insurers, sentiment and tone analysis captured from chatbots fitted with emotional intelligence can reveal deeper insights into the buying propensity of an individual while also understanding the reasons influencing that decision.

Emotion-Intelligence-Market



Autonomous cars can also sensors, cameras or mics that relay information over the cloud that can be translated into insights concerning the emotional state of the driver, the driving experience of the other passengers, and even the safety level within the vehicle.

Gartner estimates that at least 10% of personal devices will have emotion AI capabilities, either on-device or via the cloud by 2022. Devices with emotion AI capacity is currently around 1%.

  1. Augmented Intelligence
    Augmented Intelligence is all about process intelligence. Widely touted as the ‘future of decision-making’, this technology involves a blend of data, analytics and AI working in parallel with human judgement. If Scripting is rules based automation, then ‘Augmenting’ is engagement and decision oriented.

    This manifests today for most insurance carriers as an automated back-office task, but over the next few years, this technology will be found in almost all internal and customer facing operations. Insurers can potentially offer personalised services based on the client’s individual capacity and exposure to risk — creating opportunities for cross/up-selling.
Gartner-Data-Analytics-Trends-Forecast-2019


Source: Gartner Data Analytics Trends for 2019


For instance, Online Identity Verification is an example of a real-time application that not only enhances human’s decision making ability, but also requires human intervention in only highly critical cases. The Global value from Augmented AI Tools will touch $4 Trillion by 2022.

  1. AR Cloud
    The AR Cloud is simply put a real-time 3D map of an environment, overlayed onto the real World. Through this, experiences and information can be shared without being tied down to a specific location. Placing virtual content using real world coordinates with associated meta-data can be instantly shared and accessed from any device.

    For insurers, there is a wide range of opportunities to entice shopping customers on an AR-Cloud based platform by presenting personalized insurance products relevant to the items they are considering buying.

    The AR ecosystem will be a great way to explain insurance plans to customers, provide training and guidance for employees, assist in real-time damage estimation, improve the quality of ‘moment-of-truth’ engagements. This affords modern insurance products to co-exist seamlessly along the buying journey.

  2. Personification
    Personification is a technology that is wholly dependent on speech and interaction. Through this, people can anthropomorphize themselves and create avatars that can form complex relationships. The Virtual Reality-based concept will be the next way of communicating and forming new interactions.

    VR Applications such as  accident recreation, customer education and live risk assessment, can help insurers lower costs for its customers and personalise the experience.

    Brands have already begun working their way into this space, because as they see it — if younger generations are going to invariably use this technology for longer portions of their day for work, productivity, research, entertainment, even role-playing games, they will shop and buy this way too.

  3. Flying Autonomous Vehicles and Light Cargo Drones
    Although this technology is only a decade away from being commercially realized, the non-flying form is about to make its greatest impact since its original conception. Regulations are the biggest obstacle to the technology taking off, while its functionality continues to improve.

    The Transportation & Logistics ecosystem is on the brink of a complete shift, which will create a demand for a wide array of insurance related products and services that covers autonomous vehicles and cargo delivery using light drones.

While automation continues to bridge the gaps, InsurTechs and Insurance Carriers will need to embrace ahead of the curve and adopt newer strategies to drive sustainable growth.

Mantra Labs is an InsurTech100 company solving complex front & back-office processes for the Digital Insurer. To know more about our products & solutions, drop us a line at hello@mantralabsglobal.com

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