Leveraging innovation and disruption for trucking companies’ home offices

McLeod FreightTech25

To make sure its customers — around 990 carriers and logistics companies  — stay competitive in a fast-changing market, enterprise resources planning (ERP) vendor McLeod Software has a group that focuses solely on strategic initiatives, evaluating new innovations to see how they might boost trucking companies’ productivity.

“We are trying to be thought leaders; we’re trying to make that an important part of our work,” said Kenneth Craig, vice president of special projects for McLeod Software. Ranking No. 17 on this year’s FreightTech 25 list is validation of that approach, Craig said.

“We stay abreast of and cover everything that is going on in the industry, the innovations and disruption, so that we’ve got our customers’ backs.”

McLeod Software provides an ERP system that supports trucking companies’ core business operations, including financial management, billing settlements and operations dispatch.

“We are the home office system of the trucking companies that we serve,” said Mark Cubine, McLeod’s vice president of marketing.

McLeod supports on the order of 160 integrations, Cubine said, and is committed to working with all companies that come to market with innovative products.

In addition to its openness, McLeod stands out for its advances in machine learning, he said.

In September, for example, McLeod launched a virtual Artificial Intelligence Truck Racing League, designed to educate the transportation industry about the importance of machine learning through gamification.

Also this year, the company released a suite of products with digital freight matching capabilities that Cubine said are typically only available to companies with deep pockets and a robust team of software developers.

These include Capacity Creator, a platform that creates greater carrier engagement and digital freight matching through machine learning, and TopMatch, which combines several carrier search methods into one comprehensive search.

“We try to put better tools in the hands of the 3PLs and brokers who run our platforms and say, ‘If Uber can do this particular aspect of digital freight matching, here’s how we’re going to compete with that,’” Cubine said.

Another product, still in the works, ties into autonomous trucking.

McLeod’s Smart Tractor as a Client initiative integrates its TMS systems directly into smart tractors. In that way, the tractor basically becomes another client in the home office system of a McLeod customer, increasing interactivity and improving capability as the industry progresses towards autonomous tractors.

Cubine said McLeod is in discussions with “more than one” of the truck original equipment manufacturers  about how to realize the smart tractor vision. He declined to reveal further details but noted that participating in the autonomous revolution is a natural fit for McLeod because of the “tremendous amount of command and control interaction that’s going to have to be engineered, designed and automated for all this to start to happen.”

McLeod took additional steps along that path this year with the release of two products, Driver Choice and Trip Management, aimed at improving the driver experience through interactions with the home office regarding trip planning and execution. The tools assist drivers in cases of inclement weather, worsening traffic or other unexpected events, Cubine said.

“Whatever happens, they can be more collaborative and interactive,” he said.

Companies named to the 2020 FreightTech 25 were judged by an external panel of industry experts, with voting conducted and overseen by accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM).

Each member of the panel ranked their top 25 companies on a 1- to 25-point basis. The companies generating the most points make up the FreightTech 25.