RFX Blog

4 Powerful Mobile Apps for Freight Brokers

August 4th, 2014

Photo Credit:  Felicia Åkerman  |  Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Felicia Åkerman | Flickr Creative Commons

We have already discussed how mobile technology has changed the way we do business.  Admittedly, we’re a little late to the table when it comes to the “Best Mobile Applications for Our Industry” blog.  Every blog site has (at least) one.  By next week, this article could already be outdated.  It seems that there are new freight management applications popping up all the time.  With that said, I will tell you up front that this is not a “best of” article.  It is simply one take, based on my experience as an IT manager in the transportation industry, of some of the mobile applications that have helped RFX and our operations staff be successful on a daily basis.  RFX is not just a freight broker.  We are also an asset-based motor carrier.  I understand that there are probably 100+ applications for truck drivers out there (Logging apps, maintenance apps), but for the purposes of this article, we will focus on what we think are some of the best mobile apps for freight brokers.

McLeod Software Loadmaster –  This one goes first, because it has been, by far, the most powerful mobile application for RFX.  At it’s core, McLeod Software’s Loadmaster mobile application is a freight management tool, whereas some of the other applications listed below are accessories for brokerage operations. Available for both iOS and Android, phone and tablet, Loadmaster piggybacks on McLeod Software’s internet module to provide users with most of the operational components of McLeod’s traditional enterprise desktop application.  It integrates with the same database as the desktop application, so freight agents can build their loads  from the comfort of their own office and update those same loads on-the-go from a smartphone or tablet device.

There are other mobile freight management applications that claim to offer the same features as Loadmaster, but when you consider how many moving parts McLeod has integrated into their application, it doesn’t seem, at least at this point, that anyone else has come close.  For example, because McLeod’s mobile application integrates with the same system as the desktop application, users are able to accept EDI load tenders, wire money with Comdata or FleetOne, send push notification updates to other users via McLeod’s RapidAlert feature, monitor customer and carrier information and set mileage using multiple versions of PC*Miler or Intelleroute to meet customers’ specific requirements.  For freight brokers who have agent models and need certain customer data to remain private between users internally, Loadmaster uses the same Responsibility Filtering feature that the desktop version does, so information is always private, even on-the-go.  Loadmaster mobile was designed with security in mind.  If a user loses their phone, the system admin can disconnect the application on the server-side, so no unauthorized users can gain access to private information.

Some areas where Loadmaster may fall short?  Don’t expect to do any freight billing, truck pay, collections or any other administrative process from the application.  The loadmaster mobile app was built specifically for dispatchers and freight agents with an emphasis on freight operations.

Google Maps  – While Google Maps does not show truck routes (we wish it would) freight agents use Google Maps all the time to get traffic information, geographical information about shipping and receiving facilities, truck stops, etc.  Satellite View offers views of landscapes, parking lots, rail yards, etc.  It is easy to confirm if a specific building is a warehouse or distribution center, as opposed to a shopping mall based on the number of trucks and trailers parked outside.  Generally speaking, it is easy to visually separate industrial, commercial and residential areas using Google Satellite View.  Of course, Google Maps is a web application, but Google offers a mobile version with the same info.  It may seem a bit obvious for this list, but Google Maps is an important application for transportation professionals, nonetheless.

Transflo Mobile –  This is not the first time we have talked about Transflo, but it’s well worth mentioning.  Transflo Mobile, by Pegasus Transtech, is a mobile document imaging application that allows any motor carrier to take pictures of their bills of lading, lumper receipts, freight invoices, etc., and send it electronically into a broker’s internal imaging system, where it can then be processed for expedited payment.  All photos are digitally optimized as photocopies and come out looking very clear.  The reason this is important for freight brokers is that brings about an incentive for motor carriers to come back and do more work for that particular broker again.  Basically, it’s a great selling point.

SalesForce – For a salesperson in any industry, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution is important.  SalesForce happens to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest stakeholders in this area.  Since their service is web-based (SaaS), it is very versatile and has been transformed into a mobile application that sales professionals can take to customer meetings and present vital, up-to-the-minute information to customers about how they’ve benefited from the salesperson’s product or service.  This is most important in service industries such as transportation, where the service is not tangible and shippers don’t always see the benefits immediately.  Implementing a mobile CRM solution will give freight agents the ability to keep powerful service information at their fingertips and remind customers why 3rd party logistics management is so important.

SalesForce is also a powerful tool for finding new sales leads.  Their data.com product helps freight agents track down key people within organizations and get the conversation started with the correct people.

The most powerful thing about mobile applications is the ability to have important sales and operational information in the palm of your hands when you need it the most.  For 3rd party logistics, a 160-billion dollar industry, the more information you have available to make sound decisions, the more competitive and successful you’ll be.  Of course, having the latest and greatest technology is not the only factor in being a successful freight agent.  You have to have the industry know-how to make sound decisions on your own.  There are many characteristics that make up a successful freight agent, but if shippers and carriers see that you are willing to invest in the best tools of the trade, you may find yourself one step above the rest.

Posted on August 4th, 2014 in business strategy, freight agent, Smartphone, Technology