freight broker software
April 1, 2024

The Evolution of Load Management: From Manual to Automated with Freight Broker Software

Axle Team

The phrase “flying blind” is said to have originated during World War I, when military pilots had no navigational instruments or visual cues as they flew through thick fog or darkness. Today, thankfully, we don’t have to move goods blindly. We’ve got freight broker software that literally makes goods easy to see at any point in their journey.

🕵The Era of Manual Load Management

A longtime freight broker remembers what it was like to move truckload freight when he was hired by a Chicago-area brokerage in the early 1990s.

“It really was like flying blind,” he said. “You had to rely on the driver checking in to know where the truck was.”

And because this was before the proliferation of cell phones, the freight broker had to wait until the truck driver made his way to a landline to provide a load update. Say the truck broke down in the middle of nowhere or an interstate was shut down because of a snowstorm. It could be hours before the freight broker could find out where the load he was trying to track actually was.

This also was before everyone communicated via email. That didn’t become a standard form of communication – and a common way to manage freight – until the 2000s.

Sure, there was some technology in the early 1990s. You might get a load confirmation via fax or be paged by a dispatcher if a truck had a problem. And speaking of faxes, there was a lot of paper flying around in the 1990s. Freight brokerage desks were covered with faxes, spreadsheets, and Post-It Notes.

Obviously, flying blind is no way to fight a war – or track freight. Operating without technological tools results in business inefficiencies, pickup and delivery errors, and a whole lot of wasted time.

👩🏻‍💻The Drive Toward Automation

The veteran freight broker remembers early offerings that made doing business a little bit easier.

“We used DAT in the ’90s. It was fax-based then. We wrote down all our available loads and faxed them to DAT and they would send the available loads out to trucking companies. Every morning I would go to the fax machine and get a list of available trucks from DAT,” he said.

Later there were DAT terminals on which freight brokers could search for loads.

Each technological advancement made a freight broker’s job just a little bit easier. While clunky at first, early freight software products were able to increase brokers’ efficiency, reduce errors, and enable the brokerage to scale its operations.

“Somebody in the office built our first TMS. You couldn’t email a load, and you still had to fax rate confirmations,” the freight broker remembered.  

🔀How Freight Broker Software Transforms Load Management

Today, no freight broker has to fly blind. In the 2020s, automated load management is not a newfangled thing. Among the benefits are automated carrier matching, real-time tracking and updates, and digital documentation and workflow automation.

Automated Carrier Matching

Freight broker software utilizes algorithms to automatically match loads with the most suitable carriers, considering factors like location, equipment, and pricing, streamlining the process and increasing efficiency.

Real-time Tracking and Updates

Automated tracking provides freight brokers with real-time visibility into load status, carrier location, and delivery timelines, enabling proactive shipment management and improved communication with clients.

Digital Documentation and Workflow Automation

Digital documentation has done away with piles of paper in baskets on desks and automated such key workflow processes as billing, proof of delivery, and carrier onboarding, reducing manual errors and saving a lot of time.

🔮The Future of Load Management with Automation

Technological advancements and their profound impact on load management have truly been job – and life – changing for freight brokers. These past advancements also point to future evolution sure to come. Artificial intelligence and machine learning integration sounded like science fiction not so long ago. Most certainly they will be commonplace in the not-so-distant future.

An EY report titled “Embracing the Automation Revolution in Trucking,” released in October 2023, said, “The transportation and logistics sector needs to be prepared for the strategic challenges and opportunities that will arise as a result of technology innovations. The benefits seem obvious, but successful transformation still requires a strategic mindset that balances the risks and the opportunities and gathers perspective from a variety of stakeholders.

“Technology is here to stay, but the policy and regulatory environment governing these technologies is uncertain. Logistics companies have a key role to play in both preparing for alternative technology scenarios and helping to determine which automation and AI scenario will shape the future of trucking in the US.”

💡Axle’s Role in Automating Load Management

Despite the plethora of products available to them, many freight brokerages still rely only on off-the-shelf transportation management systems. They can get the job done, but at Axle Technologies, we integrate with customers’ existing TMSs to position ourselves on the cutting edge of automating load management. Our software’s unique features differentiate it from other products on the market today.

Our Beacon software’s features include:

  • An integrated sidebar to easily see load information across platforms in one place.
  • Track and trace to automate carrier and shipper status checks.
  • Smart auto-replies that improve customer response times.
  • A load-building function that instantly inputs loads into your TMS and eliminates data entry.
  • Appointment scheduling to set appointments – and reschedule them if necessary – seamlessly.
  • A quick quote function enables instant responses with rate quotes for loads.

👀Freight Brokers Keep Their Eyes Wide Open With Axle

Freight brokers today don’t ever have to fly blind. Axle’s software enables freight brokers to visualize every step of a load’s progress, from booking to pickup to transport to delivery.

Our overarching mission is to make data usage easier, fostering advancements in transportation and logistics. Our suite of solutions harnesses cutting-edge technology to empower customers with the capabilities to leverage data effectively, enhance customer relationships, drive operational efficiencies, and ultimately build a robust data infrastructure for innovations in the critical transportation industry.

Through our Beacon software’s Integrated Sidebar, users can quickly and easily see load information across platforms in one place. By automating load assignments, offering real-time tracking, and integrating quoting and scheduling, Beacon revolutionizes efficiency, minimizing errors and positioning brokers at the forefront of logistics evolution.

With our Beacon software, users also can go through emails 10 times faster with workflow automations specifically designed for logistics; unlock growth potential; automate the back office; scale up seamlessly; save time; cut costs per load; and exceed customer relationship metrics.

Beacon promises:

  • Customer-centric approach. Strengthen customer relationships with advanced tools and insights.
  • Efficiency redefined. Beacon automates all aspects of load management for significant time savings.
  • Collaborative communication. Seamless tools ensure effective communication with all stakeholders.
  • Rate quote revolution. Automated solutions provide quick and accurate rate quotes and load building.
  • Real-time visibility. Enhanced tracking provides constant updates for improved operational control.

Through its customized workflow automation software, which plugs directly into the customer's email and transportation management system, Beacon can increase each freight brokerage rep’s capacity by 30-40%, reduce errors, and ultimately bolster customer relationships. It uses AI to help automate data entry, scheduling, and tracking—all absolutely essential for freight brokers to maintain and grow their businesses

Beacon is designed to free freight brokers from tedious day-to-day tasks so they can focus on their core job — building strong relationships with their carrier partners and customers. Brokers can concentrate on what they do best by leaving the back-office functions to Beacon. From load building to appointment scheduling to track and trace, Beacon handles it all.

With our Beacon software, Axle stands at the forefront of innovation, revolutionizing the transportation and logistics industry. We are on a mission to simplify data usage and shape a future of transportation that is both efficient and technologically advanced.

Book a Beacon demo today.

Written by
Axle Team

The future of transportation is built with Axle