Convoy says 100% automated brokering is now a reality in select markets

Ziad Ismail, Convoy’s chief product officer, told
FreightWaves in February that the automation of pricing and load matching were
two separate problems. At the time, Convoy
was solving for the first – load matching. Now the company has announced it has
solved the second.

Convoy said on Dec. 18 that it is now automating 100% of
brokered loads in top freight markets and that the automation process is
growing in markets across the country. Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles
are among the areas where Convoy is automating 100% of pricing and load

“Up until this point, we have had some human involvement in
setting these prices, and sometimes a driver would call into a brokerage team
to get the right rate,” Ismail told FreightWaves.

In select markets, the entire process of moving freight is
now automated. In February, Convoy began
matching loads automatically
, which is now happening in 98% of the country.
The process takes a tendered load and algorithms identify available trucks in
the Convoy network and as bids are accepted or rejected, the system analyzes
the process and makes adjustments as necessary to improve the chances the
shipment is accepted.

The addition of the automated brokering component further
streamlines the process and drives greater efficiency for every party involved
in the transaction, Ismail said.

“We think this is the future of the brokering model, not
only that it is automated but that the heart of it is a computer science
model,” he said, adding that existing Convoy brokers are working on new markets
and opportunities so there hasn’t been a displacement of workers. “What we are
seeing is that this is going to happen in the industry as well. And we think
that as you build a more efficient model, it’s going to shift the work.”

Convoy automated brokering national map
A map provided by Convoy that shows the growth of its 100% automated brokering in markets across the U.S. (Photo: Convoy)

Convoy’s machine-learning algorithms manage the entire
process, from setting rates to helping connect those loads to carriers. As
always, a carrier has the option of whether to take a load, and if loads are
repeatedly rejected, the algorithm will adjust the rate, which can save hours
or even days from the current manual process of negotiating rates to get
shipments moved.

“This breakthrough on automated platform pricing by Convoy
on high-density cargo lanes is significant and definitive towards achieving a
future of truly automated touch-of-a-single-button-type brokering,” said Silpa
Paul, team lead of commercial vehicle research and consulting at Frost and
Sullivan. “Digital freight providers have been around for years, but where they
have struggled is precisely in automating pricing. Most have had to create a
system of customer account executives with call support to actually complete
the brokerage process. Thus, they have been operating more or less like
traditional brokers.”

It’s important to note that the process does not lower rates
for carriers or raise rates for shippers, he said.

“Convoy works with shippers and we agree … which freight we
are going to take for them, and then it’s up to Convoy to find the right driver
for this work and what’s the right price for that work,” Ismail said. “Our
models need to learn how the prices are changing so we can [set the right

Ismail said with more than 15,000 brokers in the U.S., it’s
impossible for any single company to set the market rate for carriers, which is
why Convoy is focused on building tools that help all parties – brokers,
carriers and shippers – work more efficiently. He pointed to the Automated
Reloads program as an example.

presents drivers with a package of loads with a single price that
take into consideration criteria such as the carriers’ lane preferences, driver
hours-of-service availability, driver locations and facility wait times. The
idea is to provide carriers with multiple options so they don’t have to spend
time looking for backhauls.

“Automating this process doesn’t reduce the rates that
carriers are getting for the jobs,” Ismail said. “The thing it is doing is
making it a lot easier and a lot faster for them to get the work they need.
This work is really about reducing the hassle of drivers and helping them.”

The data science behind the automation of pricing as well as
load matching will drive additional efficiencies for the supply chain, Ismail

“There will be a shift away from doing the mundane tasks,”
he noted. “I think we’ll see the work move to things that are more [difficult] that only humans can do well. Things that are pure data science problems are
going to be automated.”

The expectation is that through automation shippers will
achieve better cost control and carriers will be able to search, select and
deliver loads more efficiently, freeing up time and resources for additional
loads or other cost savings.