Long Beach, California-based NEXT Trucking recently announced product and program updates as part of its tech stack improvements following its merger with Chicago-based digital freight broker CDL-1000. These updates are targeted at improving the experience for both shippers and carriers by leveraging the combined companies’ resources and industry expertise.

NEXT Trucking began as a FreightTech pioneer back in 2015 with a focus on connecting full truckload and less-than-truckload carriers with shippers through an online platform and mobile application. By 2019, the company has added drayage as part of its logistics offering and expanded its technology platform.

In an interview with FreightWaves, Chris North, product marketing manager at NEXT, talked about the newest updates and his tenure with the company. With NEXT since 2016, North helped build the over-the-road business and technology before helping the company diversify into drayage.

“We built our OTR brokerage and tech platform to a point where it was sustainable and doing well,” said North. “I’d been managing drayage and OTR shipments since joining NEXT, so expanding into drayage technology was a natural progression for us. Of course, drayage is a heck of a lot more complex than truckload, but here we are almost five years later with the most advanced drayage technology in the industry.”

The path to drayage success involves integrations due to the extra complexities among multiple parties. North said, “We partnered with the steamship lines, terminals, shippers, truckers and warehouse providers to build ATLAS, our advanced trucking and logistics automation system. It orchestrates the end-to-end container life cycle from Delivery Order receipt through customer invoicing, all thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

New video library and industry collaborations

Following the merger in February, NEXT Trucking launched a video content library that spotlights its tech platform, infrastructure services, logistics expertise and close relationships with industry partners.

One well-received industry collaboration is a drayage introduction video that showcases a truck driver completing a dual transaction at a marine terminal. “We created the video in partnership with Yusen Terminals to educate folks about the truck driver’s experience at a port terminal. It’s something that most people haven’t seen before,” North said.

He continued, “Our friends at Yusen Terminals were so impressed, they asked us back to shoot a video of their entire terminal operation — from vessel berthing and offloading to yard operations to containers being loaded out on the train. They gave us unfettered access to the terminal. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

Quoting tool removes the wait and adds visibility

(Image: NEXT Trucking)

It’s one thing to complete drayage moves but another challenge entirely to quote them and receive a timely response. Mirna Kusalovic, chief technology officer at NEXT, highlighted the process of integrating new data sources into the improved quoting platform. 

“We originally had a quoting service on CDL’s website, but with joined data from NEXT and additional acquisition, Hickory Transportation Services, we are able to harvest our collective rate intelligence to develop much more accurate pricing, specifically for drayage” Kusalovic said.

The secret sauce is combining the data from the three merged companies. Getting an accurate drayage quote can be frustrating, Kusalovic notes. “Usually shippers send an email to their carrier network and receive a wide range of quotes over the next few hours or days,” compared to NEXT’s quoting tool, which provides drayage and truckload quotes in real time.

To provide that real-time quote, AI does all the heavy lifting. “Our pricing algorithm uses 650-plus machine learning models to determine the best market rate for drayage and truckload shipments,” said Kusalovic. “Our engineers and pricing team did a great job migrating and iterating the CDL quoting product after the merger, and we’re excited it now lives on the NEXT website.”

The eventual goal of the quoting tool, Kusalovic adds, “is to provide an end-to-end experience, where a shipper can quote additional services like transloading to bridge the gaps between drayage and truckload.”

BYOC Program (Bring Your Own Carrier)

NEXT is a traditional freight broker but with a twist: Shippers with their own capacity can now leverage the NEXT platform’s technology through the Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) Program. 

“We understand that some shippers already have carriers that they’ve worked with for years, have strong relationships and don’t necessarily need capacity. Or maybe they only need some overflow capacity when their volume spikes, but what they really need is someone to help them level up their game when it comes to technology,” said North. “That’s where the NEXT platform comes in.”

How it works: Shippers integrate their in-house carriers onto the platform and gain access to live shipment tracking, demurrage and per diem risk management, instant e-docs, and terminal integrations via the NEXT Shipper Portal or EDI and API connections. Should shippers ever need additional capacity, they can push their extra volume into the NEXT freight marketplace, where jobs are typically booked in less than one hour — some in as little as 15 minutes.

ATLAS Chassis OCR and new leasing program

(Image: NEXT Trucking)

For carriers that operate in the drayage space, it’s challenging to stay efficient and not waste time searching for empty chassis. To address this, ATLAS automates appointment scheduling at marine terminals and warehouses and uses intelligent route-matching logic to bundle loads across import and export customers, actively identifying chassis that can be reutilized through dual transactions.

In a recent ATLAS update, NEXT enhanced its optical character recognition (OCR) for an improved chassis experience. Without OCR, drivers had to manually enter a chassis number into the NEXT mobile app, but the technology now allows drivers to snap a photo of the chassis, which is automatically uploaded, read by ATLAS OCR and updated across the ecosystem. Says Kusalovic, “Once a chassis is added in ATLAS, it knows the location and shipment history for the lifetime of the chassis.”

This is useful, since many different parties can own or lease the chassis, causing added complexity. North explains, “It all depends on where the chassis are coming from and how different contracts are structured.” Some shippers have chassis contracted directly with the steamship lines, some with the terminals and some with the truckers themselves. NEXT also has over 2,000 private chassis assets it contracts to customers. 

North notes that the ability to track the chassis in ATLAS creates extra visibility redundancies. “If container XYZ goes ‘missing,’ we can just pinpoint it using the chassis’ GPS. So it’s super important for drivers to use OCR to provide an accurate chassis number.” Chassis demurrage costs can add up if they go missing, and the party responsible for the equipment, typically the carrier, can rack up thousands in fees.

As an additional benefit for its top-tier carriers, NEXT has started a chassis leasing program at almost half the cost of renting port chassis in the LA/Long Beach and Oakland, California, markets. Lease terms can be adjusted based on the carrier’s operational needs with flexible contract periods.

To learn more, visit www.nexttrucking.com.

The post NEXT Trucking releases expert tools to tackle supply chain complexity appeared first on FreightWaves.

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