Imagine you can predict the future. How would you answer the following:

Where is the transportation industry headed?

What will drive the change?

What opportunities will benefit the trucking and logistics industries most?

Answering these questions created thoughtful conversations among fleet executives at the 2019 Truckload Carriers Association annual conference in March. The consensus among those discussions – the industry is evolving quickly with technology paving the way.

According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, four major themes predicting the next directions for the industry emerged at the conference: enhancing transportation apps, growing logistics, embracing technology, and meeting customer needs.

FreightRover started considering industry shifts two years ago at its 2017 launch. The challenge in starting a transportation technology company wasn’t just to predict the future of the industry, but to help create it. While we didn’t have a crystal ball, our instincts were correct with our CarrierHQ platform aligning to each of the four key areas fleet executives predict the industry is heading next.

Enhancing Transportation Apps

Driver apps aren’t new. Many large fleets have created home-grown driver apps or purchased out-of-the-box options for years. However, many apps available to small fleets remain limited in scope. CarrierHQ’s app takes a more comprehensive approach:

  • Mobile marketplace – drivers can access fuel, medical, and equipment savings within the same place.
  • Driver settlements – CarrierHQ offers full pay visibility including establishing deductions, electing pay frequency, and viewing net earnings.
  • Factoring portal – fleets factoring with FreightRover’s affiliate partner Rover180 can access receivables information and upload invoice paperwork using their camera phone.
  • Private load board – asset-based carriers and 3PLs can post freight to drivers through CarrierHQ’s load board. Drivers can self-select freight and provide load updates through the app.

Growing Logistics

With more than $700M awarded in independent contractor misclassification lawsuits in the past 10 years, asset-based fleets are understandably concerned about leveraging the capacity of owner-operators. However, in a catch22, they also don’t want to introduce a third-party into their customer relationship to access additional capacity. CarrierHQ serves as an important tool for any fleet’s employment classification risk mitigation strategy. FreightRover partnered with Legalinc to offer business formation services inside CarrierHQ. Independent contractors follow a step-by-step process to obtain their DOT authority and establish a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). In doing this, asset-based fleets can expand their brokerage operations to leverage independent contractor capacity and maintain the direct relationship with their customer, without assuming driver misclassification risks.

Embracing Technology

In the trucking industry, 97% of for-hire fleets comprise 20 trucks or less. With such fragmentation, widespread use of new transportation technologies historically has a long adoption curve. No shortage exists of new company entrants working to solve transportation’s biggest challenges. At the Transportation Carriers Association conference, Greg Hirsch, senior vice president of Daseke, described these companies as providing new voices to help the industry evolve and attract the next generation of drivers.

Many of the new technologies in transportation specialize in creating efficiencies and controlling costs. FreightRover developed CarrierHQ with the same goals in mind. Fleets can purchase four insurance policy types through the platform. FreightRover has reduced the antiquated multi-week process of obtaining insurance quotes and binding to less than 48 hours through a mobile device. Fleet owners or individual drivers answer a series of questions to generate a real-time quote among multiple insurance companies. A policy is chosen and the insurance certificate delivered digitally. With CarrierHQ’s insurance offering, fleets and independent contractors don’t owe any money up front, instead paying through weekly or monthly settlement deductions. The no up-front investment in insurance and pay-as-you-go model also removes a barrier historically preventing many independent contractors from obtaining their own authorities.

Meeting Customer Needs

As customers demand faster deliveries, shipper service requirements keep increasing. Carrier on-time pick-up and delivery is more important than ever. CarrierHQ’s private load board feature meets these increasing demands by connecting to truck telematic devices and driver cell phones to capture freight tracking data. Fleets grant shippers data access to create streamlined cargo visibility.

CarrierHQ also allows the technology to be custom branded. Fleets and 3PLs benefit by white labeling the platform to create and attract capacity using the service offerings of the mobile marketplace. White labeling existing technology expedites deployment, preserves IT resources, and provides a marketing boost.

Capacity remains one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. Trucking currently sits short 50,000 drivers, a number projected to triple by 2025. Sign-on bonuses and increased marketing spend typically only create turnover among fleets and the existing driver pool. These tactics generally fail to attract new drivers to the industry. Outside of significant legislation changes or economic factors like work conditions and compensation, technology provides one of the best opportunities to stem the driver shortage. CarrierHQ tackles this issue three ways: 1) low-cost business formation services; 2) reducing the need for up-front insurance capital, which averages $3,000-plus per truck for small fleets; and 3) providing mobile access to fleet service discounts for the top cost areas of fuel, equipment, and medical. By reducing these barriers to entry and growth, CarrierHQ opens the doors for more new drivers to join the industry.

To learn more about FreightRover’s CarrierHQ and how it could benefit your business, request a quick demo at https://www.freightrover.com/demo-request/

When people think of artificial intelligence (AI), they often conjure movie scenes with robots taking over the world. Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk hasn’t helped that image by calling AI the world’s “greatest existential threat.” While great for the box office, these misrepresent AI and discount its tremendous benefits for nearly every aspect of our lives.

Driver-assisted cars, improved customer experiences, cancer detection, and wildlife conservation – artificial intelligence is powering it all, but that’s just a small portion of how AI impacts our everyday lives.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence comprises computer systems able to perform work typically limited to human intelligence. Machines use large amounts of data and its patterns to learn tasks. The technology becomes “intelligent” over time through experience to achieve decision-making abilities comparable to humans. Using this learning, AI creates automation for specific activities typically performed by humans.

Is AI the end of the workforce as we know it?

Former Alphabet Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt shared a story of automation at the Global Digital Futures Policy Forum in 2017. The introduction of ATMs in 1969 was thought to be the elimination of teller jobs in the banking industry. However, the number of tellers doubled between 1970 and 2010. ATMs allowed banks to operate with fewer tellers, which supported the opening of more banks, increasing teller jobs overall. The moral of the story? While artificial intelligence will change job duties over time, it doesn’t necessarily mean the elimination of jobs.

Doug Thompson, president of Agilify Automation, which specializes in machine learning, often gets asked about AI’s impact on staffing. He doesn’t see AI automating whole jobs, but instead giving higher-level cognitive opportunities for staff and leaving lesser tasks to computers. When speaking to the Indianapolis Customer Experience Professionals Association recently, he said, “If a company doesn’t remain competitive, people will lose their jobs. If a company applies AI to process more volume at higher quality, they remain very competitive and don’t have to eliminate jobs.”

What are AI’s major benefits?

Resource savings

AI is a time and money saver for organizations. Traditional IT projects often require long development cycles with expensive internal or external human capital attached. Machine learning projects by comparison can be deployed more rapidly with less money. Surveyed organizations at the forefront of AI adoption report seeing up to 44% cost savings on projects. AI also brings new tech to legacy systems. The risks associated with switching CRMs or ERPs keeps many businesses on outdated technology. With the assistance of subject matter experts within the business to identify areas for automation, machine learning can bring new life to existing systems at a significantly lower cost than adopting a new management system.

Data discovery

Approximately 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years. This glut of information presents prime opportunities for machine learning. Unlike humans, artificial intelligence can analyze vast amounts of data quickly. Businesses can leverage information never considered before to create competitive gains.

Connectivity

Artificial intelligence works across systems and can streamline multiple databases. Consider a customer service representative working with clients of various product lines. Information often sits within different systems requiring CSRs to access multiple data sets to generate solutions. You know it’s happening when you hear, “Can I put you on hold for a moment?” Artificial intelligence brings this data together rapidly allowing CSRs to quickly access answers to improve customer experience.

Error Reductions

AI lives on data inputs. Clean information eliminates errors caused by human interpretation. AI also minimizes person-to-person knowledge deterioration when training. Machine learning brings continuity to job-related tasks and the timing of their delivery across staff for better employee management. Machines, unlike humans, also don’t take vacations or get sick. Their work is always as good as the data given to them and they can work continuously.

What can be automated?

Think of AI like an Excel macro – it learns repetitive tasks and executes them as many times as needed. Ask your staff what tasks they do daily. Where do they get the information and what steps are taken to complete the task? How much time would be saved in automating the task? What additional work could replace that time? AI automation time adds up quickly. Even 60 seconds a day across 80 associates generates significant opportunities in an eight-hour work day for a company.

Does FreightRover use AI?

FreightRover’s affiliate partner Rover180 recently announced its acquisition of Vemity, an Indiana-based company specializing in artificial intelligence automation and machine learning. As a result, FreightRover will soon integrate artificial intelligence into its PayEngine platform to improve invoicing and supply chain payment processing. Vemity’s technology allows PayEngine to harness often overlooked data to reduce manual work, improve invoice accuracy, and increase payment velocity for buyers and vendors along the supply chain. The technology provides better payment processing scalability without increased time and effort.

What’s Next for AI?

According to The Brookings Institution, the US currently spends approximately $1.1 billion annually on non-classified AI projects compared to China’s commitment of $150 billion over the next decade to the technology. To stay competitive, President Trump recently signed an executive order called the “American AI Initiative” to dedicate more federal resources toward artificial intelligence advancement.

We will continue to operate in an AI-filled world with new discoveries happening in nearly every sector including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and finance. Unlike the Hollywood movies, rather than robots taking over the world, they will be helping to solve the world’s challenges. To quote HubSpot, AI isn’t “human versus machine. It is human and machine versus a problem.” With that in mind, the opportunities are endless.

FreightRover’s PayEngine provides a mutually beneficial supply chain finance program for companies and their vendors. Companies benefit from extended pay terms to improve working capital while providing their suppliers with tailored options for accelerated receivables.

Despite the wins supply chain finance provides both parties, many companies hesitate to implement a structured payable program due to balance sheet concerns. Poorly managed programs can result in trade payables reclassifications to debt, which negatively impact leverage ratios and debt covenants.

PayEngine’s program meets all trade payables accounting standards to protect a company’s balance sheet and bottom line. Following is our guide to understand the difference between a trade payable and debt in a supply chain finance program.

The First Question:
Has the economic substance of the trade payable changed?

When accountants review payables classifications on the balance sheet, they look at each of the following categories to assess if the trade payable has been modified in such a way that it is creating a financing cash inflow that benefits the company. Accountants will look at the categories collectively to assess the entire supply chain finance program as well.

Terms:

  • Settlement of trade payables cannot take place at a date later than or for an amount other than what is stated on the original invoice upon submission to a third-party payor. Doing so would be considered borrowing, which is debt.
  • A new trade payables arrangement cannot change the terms between a supplier and a third-party payor that’s inconsistent with normal trade payables terms.
  • The company cannot participate in or influence term negotiations between the supplier and third-party payor. The vendor and third-party must negotiate directly.

Population Impacts:

  • A trade payables arrangement must apply to a broad range of suppliers. However, the program does not need to include all suppliers. Companies can extend days to pay without all vendors accepting the new terms if most suppliers do comply.
  • Supplier participation in a supply chain finance program must be voluntary. If enrolling is required to maintain a relationship with the company, a debt reclassification may be required.
  • Should a large majority of suppliers impacted by extended pay terms select an accelerated pay option, which marks a significant change from the previous arrangement, this could trigger a debt reclassification. For example, if a company extends terms from 30 days to 120 days and now most of their supplier base elects to monetize receivables and did not prior to the change, this would require review as potential debt.

Benchmarks:

  • Companies can extend pay terms to align days payable outstanding or other working capital ratios with peers without changing the structure of their payables to debt financing. As a reference point, the US average across the largest 1000 companies currently is 57 days.
  • Trade payables should not include the accrual of interest prior to when the trade payables become due. Late payments can incur interest without reclassification impact.

Credits:

  • A company must retain its negotiation rights with the vendor directly and have the ability to withhold payment. Application of credits must be consistent with past practices. For example, if a company places a freight claim against a carrier, they should have the ability to withhold payment to the carrier until the issue is resolved. If a third-party payor compensates the carrier prior to the completion of the claim negotiation, and the company must arrange for a credit that’s inconsistent with how they’ve traditionally done business with the carrier, there could be a debt implication.
  • Whether or not a vendor decides to monetize their receivable cannot impact the company’s cost of goods sold or services received from a vendor. The third-party’s arrangement with the vendor and company must be independent of the other party’s interests. Therefore, a company cannot pay a vendor more to offset the cost of accelerated receivables.

Legal Characteristics:

  • Companies cannot change the legal characteristic of trade payables. Events that indicate characteristic changes include: immediate draw-down of credit lines, altering trade payable seniorities, securing trade payables through collateral, or incorporating default provisions.
  • In general, trade payables cannot have guarantees. However, in the case of a parent company being “jointly and severally liable for a subsidiary’s obligation,” a reclassification may not be required if it is the sole indication of a debt trait.

Impact of Third-Party Payor:

  • Implementing a structured payables program may be part of a larger accounting outsourcing strategy. This could include using a third-party platform like FreightRover’s PayEngine, which includes posting invoices and assigning accounts for fund withdrawals as payables reach their maturity date.
  • Rates paid to the third-party payor by the company cannot vary based on things like the number of vendors selecting a quick pay option or number of invoices sold to the third-party.
  • Red flags for debt reclassifications include: the third-party receiving new rights, if the third-party has influence on which invoices get paid, or if the third-party can withdraw funds from the company’s other accounts without consent if sufficient funds become unavailable.

If you are interested in learning more on trade payables or modifying your vendor payments using PayEngine’s technology and supply chain finance program, visit www.freightrover.com/pay, email info@freightrover.com, or call 866-621-4145.