Why Independent Truck Dispatchers Are Here to Stay: Debunking the Myth of Trucking Applications Killing the Truck Dispatching Business
The trucking industry has seen a significant shift in recent years with the rise of trucking applications that allow drivers to book their own freight. This has led to a lot of questions from prospective students wondering if these apps are killing the dispatching business. In my opinion, they are not, and here's why.
Trucking apps that allow truckers to book their own freight have been around since 2012 or so when smartphones became usable. Drivers can access major load boards on their smartphones and directly call freight brokers to book their own freight.
Who needs independent truck dispatchers?
However, the search for loads is not the only reason why trucking companies hire dispatchers. For example, some truckers just don't want to talk to freight brokers. They can, but they don't want to. The same reason applies to most shippers hiring freight brokers to move their freight. Although shippers can post freight directly on load boards, very few actually do it. Most freight is posted by freight brokers because shippers don't want to deal with motor carriers directly.
Big Tech still requires a human touch
Uber Freight, for example, has been in existence for several years, allowing shippers to connect directly with motor carriers. However, Uber Freight is actually a licensed freight broker, and you may end up calling them when booking a load because transporting valuable cargo is not the same as getting a ride from point A to point B as a passenger in a car. There is a lot of money riding on the transaction, and shippers want to be confident that they can talk to someone if there is a problem. The same goes for motor carriers. Something may happen, the truck may break down, or the cargo may get damaged. You cannot address this type of situation in an application. You need to talk to someone and find the best possible resolution.
While technology can be helpful in many ways, some people are not accustomed to using it. We have clients who are truckers of a certain age, in their sixties or even seventies, who do not feel comfortable putting together PDFs to upload to their factoring company to get paid. They could have learned, but they just don't want to. So, they pay someone else to do all their paperwork and billing. It's just easier for them to do business this way.
The Future of Trucking and Truck Dispatchers
Looking into the future, things will change significantly. When autonomous trucks are widely accepted, this industry will be turned upside down because there will be no need for truck drivers, freight brokers, or dispatchers. Loads will probably be booked by algorithms that pick the most suitable capacity for the cargo somewhere. But this is a thing of the future, and we cannot tell when these technologies will arrive, when they will gain wide acceptance, and when they will start changing things. When they do, obviously, we will be adapting along the way. But it is not something we can or should worry about this year or next year or in the next couple of years. More than likely, some form of human oversight will still be required.
While there are many applications out there that help truck drivers book loads directly with freight brokers or shippers, it still does not eliminate the profession of an independent truck dispatcher. Truck dispatchers can provide other services that applications cannot. We outline the type of companies that prefer to work with independent dispatchers and why they hire them in our post “Who hires independent truck dispatchers".
In conclusion, while trucking apps have certainly impacted the dispatching business, they have not killed it. Dispatchers provide a wide range of services that are still essential to the trucking industry, and many truckers still rely on them for support. While the future may bring new challenges and opportunities, dispatching is likely to remain an important and valuable profession for the foreseeable future.
© By Roman Shmundyak May 2023
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