The Future of Freight Dispatch Technology

The world relies on fast, accurate freight dispatch to transport goods around the world. Learn how these processes evolved over the years to keep up with a competitive, globalized marketplace.

Peter Prior
Oct 22, 2019 · 5 min read

What is freight dispatch?

Freight brokers with multiple warehouses, vehicles, and drivers rely on freight dispatch professionals to process new orders, pinpoint the nearest warehouse for picking up freight, then find and contact the driver with the best-suited existing route to fulfill the delivery. They’re meant to identify the most efficient way to optimize each driver’s route, meaning their work is akin to the notoriously challenging traveling salesman problem.

This requires keeping track of tons of information that evolves on the fly, including each truck’s remaining capacity, real-time location, weather and traffic patterns, and much more. Considering the complexity of this task, solely relying on humans for freight dispatch is an inefficient and expensive convention. Many forward-thinking companies are turning to automation, machine learning, and artificially intelligent software to help streamline their supply chain. But before we get into this new technology, let’s explore the origins of these processes.

Yesterday’s freight dispatch technology

Historically, manual dispatch systems were developed to manage all of the data points associated with each shipment. For example, dispatchers used punch cards similar to employee time cards to note the capacity, regional territory, and freight type on a card for each truck. The time of important events like order placement or pickup would be stamped on each card to provide a full picture of each shipment’s history. Punched tags hanging on boards studded with pegs representing each vehicle are another example of a now outdated dispatch technology.

One of the first punched-card computing machines, manufactured by IBM in 1936.

Like any manual process, both of these systems are subject to high risk of human error, including writing incorrect information and losing cards or tags. What’s more, keeping track of shipments this way is incredibly time-consuming, and prevents drivers from understanding changes to their routes as quickly as possible, which often results in unnecessary delays, deadhead miles, or backtracking.

Today’s dispatch call centers often utilize computer systems with programs designed to track this information more simply, but this legacy software still relies on humans to input data, organize the information, and look it up again as needed to call the right driver and update their route over the phone. Considering the widespread use of smartphones with advanced location tracking services, today it hardly makes sense to rely on people working in remote call centers to provide truck drivers with crucial information related to each shipment.

Many companies today use freight dispatch processes that were better suited for a decade ago.

Mothership recognizes that truck dispatch is exceptionally well-suited for automation. Inefficient punch cards, call centers, and outdated freight dispatch software are rapidly being replaced with smart freight shipping platforms powered by machine learning algorithms.

So what exactly is machine learning? Simply put, it’s the process of using mathematics and large volumes of data to create machines or software that can mimic human cognition. Since computers are much better suited for data processing than humans are, modern freight dispatch technology can optimize drivers’ routes much more accurately and efficiently than human dispatchers can.

Machine learning brings truck dispatch to the era of automation

These efficiency improvements are far from incremental — Mothership’s truck dispatch app Ground Control not only powers real-time fleet tracking technology, but it instantly calculates the best routes as new orders come in. Automatic adjustments are made in the smartphone interface of partner drivers so they can immediately accommodate new jobs with minimal extra time spent.

Traditionally most trucks are only half full while in transit, so drivers have to charge more per mile for their deliveries to make it worthwhile. Ground Control packs our partner drivers’ trucks full by continuously optimizing their routes as new shipments come in. That means Mothership partner drivers earn more money for their day’s work by completing those extra deliveries, and they never have to go out of their way or spend extra time lining up jobs.

Automated dispatch provides huge benefits to businesses that ship too. Every business that uses Mothership leverages Ground Control on demand to examine planned routes and historical data about where each carrier usually drives from day-to-day. With that information delivered directly in the app, our clients can offer same-day pickups and local deliveries and enjoy cost savings from reduced shipping rates made possible by reduced deadhead miles and fewer man-hours devoted to manual, low-payoff activities like searching for shipping records and trying to track drivers down over the phone or fax. These savings can be passed along to the consumer so businesses can offer more competitive pricing and higher margins.

Companies like Amazon are already offering free same-day delivery to consumers in many markets, but they’re taking a massive cut in order to encourage this shift in consumer expectations. That means it’s a critical time to innovate to keep up with what your customers want without risking taking losses on each delivery. Thankfully, the future of freight dispatch is a fully automated process that allows drivers to deliver more with less, and that future is already here.

Interested in learning more? Explore Mothership’s Interactive Demo to see for yourself why so many businesses have switched to Mothership and joined the freight revolution.

Official Mothership Blog

The future of freight is same day

Peter Prior

Written by

Director of Marketing at Mothership

Official Mothership Blog

The future of freight is same day

More From Medium

More on Freight Shipping from Official Mothership Blog

More on Freight Shipping from Official Mothership Blog

Perfectly Prepared Freight for Winter Shipping

More on Freight Shipping from Official Mothership Blog

More on Freight Shipping from Official Mothership Blog

More on Freight Shipping from Official Mothership Blog

The Good, the Great, and the Guaranteed

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade