More, better and highly actionable data is a frequent refrain from all supply chain stakeholders these days. And as a carrier, the ability to deliver on those demands is a huge – and growing – competitive differentiator

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Visibility has been a hot topic of discussion within the logistics industry for most of the last decade. During that time, however, smaller carriers and owner-operators have been largely left out of that conversation. In turn, their absence has given rise to a lot of misconceptions around what visibility is and how it’s being used.

Last week I decided to do something about that, by helping the hundreds of thousands of small carriers and independent owner-operators that carry so much of our nation’s freight get more involved in the broader discussion around supply chain visibility. I joined Chad Boblett, the founder of Rate Per Mile Masters (RPMM), one of the largest online forums for drivers, carriers and brokers, for a live “Ask Me Anything” session to address some of the biggest questions and misconceptions around visibility. All told, we had over 2,700 viewers tune in to hear our talk. 

In this post, I will recap some of the big questions that were asked during our session, and that I’ve seen come up from a lot of the carriers we work with on a daily basis. If you’re interested, you can also watch the video here.

Is the broker going to be able to see all of my truck locations? 

One of the biggest concerns I’ve seen among the driver and carrier community is that once you give us access to your location information, the broker or shipper will be able to see the locations of your trucks at all times, and use that information to achieve an unfair business advantage. Let me be abundantly clear when I say that this will never happen when you share your data with FourKites

When you give us your ELD credentials, we use them to pull locations from that ELD for a single load at a time, and only during the time in which that load is active – in other words, from the time the truck is enroute to the pickup to the time the truck leaves the final delivery. Outside of that window, we don’t even pull that data, let alone make it visible to anyone else. 

Why does it seem like everyone’s getting value from my data except me?

In a lot of ways, the value that you get out of a platform like FourKites depends on what you put into it, and that goes for carriers as much as for big shippers and brokers. There’s a ton of value for carriers to be gained from FourKites. For one, there’s the potential for new business that you didn’t have in the past, and you as the carrier stand to set yourself apart from other carriers who don’t have visibility set up and ready to go. You also stand to benefit from leveraging your own data, the same way the shippers do. 

To reap these benefits, all you have to do is be willing to change with the times.. As Chad put it during the webcast, visibility is bringing more freight opportunity across the board, for everyone involved.

If I have tracking, the broker will still call me anyway.

Honestly, this is exactly the kind of problem that full visibility is already solving. If we had our way, brokers wouldn’t need to call you at all, because they’d have the status of all of their active shipments right at their fingertips. The more carriers we have in the system, the less brokers and shippers will need to rely on annoying and outdated track-and-trace procedures. 

FourKites is working to replace check calls altogether, because let’s face it: Everyone wants them gone! They’re annoying for you as the carrier, and they’re a waste of resources for the shipper or broker. And with the kind of technology we have today, they’re no longer the most efficient way of doing business. 

If I hand over my ELD credentials. I’ll lose all control over my data. 

First things first: You don’t have to hand over your ELD credentials to anyone. As I said above, there are lots of business reasons where you might want to hand them over to get some kind of advantage, but no one is going to force you to do that. Second, you don’t have to lose control over any of your data. It all depends on who you’re handing that data over to. I’ve written at length about what carriers can do to protect their privacy while sharing their ELD information. With FourKites, for example, you can even remove someone from the platform if you don’t want them tracking you. You simply log in, click the name of whoever you’re connected to, and hit “Disconnect.” Done. They can no longer track you. 

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In conclusion, I think the best approach here, especially for smaller carriers and owner-operators, is to be cautious, not afraid. There’s lots of value that you can achieve from sharing your data with a company like FourKites, from securing new business to making your existing customers happy to identifying areas for improvement within your own operation. But like I’ve said in the past, don’t give access to your information to anyone who doesn’t have a need to know.

FourKites is not just here to help shippers; we’re here to help everybody – small carriers included. Hold us accountable to that mission, and make your voices heard. I’m looking forward to having many more conversations like the one I had this past week. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (jason.eversole@fourkites.com) with any questions about our benefits for carriers, or our latest offering, Partner Hub – first solution that brings total visibility and security to the ELD onboarding process.

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