Convoy Launches Industry-first Automated Backup and Spot Services for Drop-and-Hook Trailers, Nationwide
Press Release • Published on May 19, 2021
Advances in machine learning, predictive trailer routing, and pricing algorithms extend Convoy Go to provide shippers with unparalleled flexibility
Seattle, WA — May 19, 2021 — Convoy, the nation’s most efficient digital freight network, today announced new, automated drop-and-hook services for backup and spot freight, providing shippers with unmatched flexibility nationwide when unexpected surges occur. With its network of tens of thousands of carriers, a shared pool of telematics-enhanced trailers, and machine learning models that predictively route trailers to facilities across the country, Convoy Go can now flex in unprecedented ways to meet shipper demand. For the first time, shippers can rely on nationwide drop-and-hook coverage across primary, backup, and spot – all from the same provider. Convoy estimates that shippers using these services can save 9% of their annual freight spend on average, while increasing efficiency and service quality.
Shippers have long preferred the efficiency of dropped trailer pickups. By preloading trailers in advance, shippers avoid the challenges associated with “live loading,” such as tight appointment scheduling and detention fees paid to trucks waiting to unload their trailers. A drop-and-hook driver can be in and out of a facility in less than an hour, whereas a live load takes 3 hours on average at both pickup and delivery locations.
The challenge with traditional drop-and-hook services is that they’re inflexible. Large trailer pools must be precisely matched with available drivers and tractors, against freight that will keep them fully utilized to control costs. As a result, traditional drop services are used almost exclusively for primary contract freight on lanes with consistent volume. However, shippers experience volatility in their supply chains every day. Seasonal storms and “Black Swan” events like the COVID-19 pandemic create additional unexpected surges in demand. These market dynamics force shippers to convert what would have been a drop shipment into a live load, driving up overhead costs, reducing operational efficiency, and increasing risk to service quality.
To address these limitations, Convoy has expanded its drop-and-hook service, Convoy Go, across the routing guide to provide automated coverage of backup and spot freight. Convoy overcomes traditional drop-and-hook’s inflexibility with technology to dynamically price freight and then predictively route telematics-enhanced trailers to shippers that need capacity for unplanned volume.
Central to Convoy’s unique approach is a set of machine learning models that predict trailer demand several weeks in advance across hundreds of facilities nationwide. By combining these forecasts with historical shipment data, GPS-based trailer locations, shipment assignments, inspection reports, and driver locations, Convoy’s machine learning models analyze billions of trailer route permutations every hour and select the most cost-effective solution to move trailers where they’re needed. Through this efficient rerouting process, Convoy can respond to demand surges at any facility, providing fast backup and spot turnaround for shippers nationwide.
“Convoy’s service is the first technology-driven drop-and-hook program of its kind,” said Evan Armstrong, President of Armstrong & Associates, Inc. “Traditionally carriers and 3PLs rely upon significant trailer pools and power unit assets to manually manage large-scale drop-and-hook or trailer interchange programs. Due to their cost and complexity, these operations tend to be limited to larger key customer accounts. Convoy’s service uses intelligent capacity management to dynamically manage fewer trailers to provide similar cost savings for a wider range of customers.”
“This announcement is the culmination of years of technology investment to build a drop-and-hook service that provides unmatched flexibility,” said Ziad Ismail, Chief Product Officer at Convoy. “By combining our fluid carrier network, our shared trailer pool, and our machine learning models to predict demand, we’ve changed the way shippers access drop capacity for their primary freight. Now with the launch of backup and spot for Convoy Go, we’re able to reinvent the experience for all our customers’ drop-and-hook needs. The response has been overwhelming – shippers haven’t seen anything like this and they want more of it.”
“Convoy has an innate ability to understand our business needs as a digital freight provider,” said Scott Roberts, VP of Logistics, CHEP USA. “It’s one of the reasons we proudly partner with them. Convoy brings new ideas and innovative solutions, helping us continually improve our processes to better serve our customers and the environment.”
“Convoy has continually provided value with innovative programs aimed to improve our overall operations,” said Brad Benbow, Transportation Sourcing Manager at Ardagh. “For example, Convoy Go has given us another level of flexibility and efficiency by streamlining and reducing wait times at shipping and receiving locations. Their overall approach is more than just brokering freight, it’s truly strategic, collaborating with both shippers and carriers to create a winning scenario for all involved.”
Convoy has taken a fundamentally different approach to drop-and-hook than any other player in the industry. Unlike the traditional services offered by brokers or asset-based carriers, Convoy envisioned a service that scaled exponentially to meet demand. In 2017, the company set out to turn the traditional drop-and-hook model on its head by opening up access to carriers of all sizes to haul power-only loads using a shared pool of trailers. This opened up drop freight to more than one million small carriers and offered shippers flexible primary capacity while maintaining high efficiency and reliability. After expanding nationwide, Convoy continued to innovate with enhanced machine learning and automation technology to rebalance trailers and match head-hauls with backhauls. Today, Convoy Go yields a 97% equipment availability rate.
Effective today, Convoy Go is available across primary, backup, and spot loads nationwide. Learn more by visiting convoy.com/drop.