Trying to find an efficient way to get more loads? Sick of spending time filling out your schedule? Uber Freight may be worth a look.
Uber officially launched its freight business in May of 2017, beginning in the state of Texas. It was a logical move after Uber's acquisition of Ottomotto LLC (Otto) in 2016, a deal worth a reported $680 million.
Plans for Expansion
Engadget recently noted that, during the coming months, Uber Freight will expand into major metropolitan areas in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona and California. Uber calculates that the new routes will comprise more than 25 percent of America's truckers and freight.
Uber has some ambitious goals for its new truck dispatch service. On Facebook, the company says, "We hope to empower a community of carriers by providing upfront, transparent pricing that's guaranteed, fast payment, and the ability to book a load simply, with just the touch of a button."
Load Matching Needs
Despite an increase in third-party logistics in recent years, freight hauling in the United States is still quite inefficient. The Economist notes that trucks travel empty in excess of 50 billion miles every year - this is more than one-quarter of total trucking miles.
Traditionally, owner operators have had to contend with scheduling loads and negotiating prices. Depending on market conditions, this process can be time-consuming and stressful. If Uber Freight can live up to its own expectations, it could provide at least some owner operators with a more efficient way to book loads.
Uber's August 3rd press release highlights improvements to its freight app. To better customize the app for each trucker, it will now "automatically learn driver preferences based on their past loads, their location, their home base, and more." The app will automatically notify the driver when a load appears that matches those preferences.
Uber also intends to show packs of loads specifically categorized as local, short haul or long haul. A customized "For You" pack will be tailored to each driver. The app will be continually upgraded to get "smarter" over time.
Of course, to truly disrupt the industry's way of doing things, Uber will have to bring something new to the table. Here are some things Uber says it can offer to owner operators:
Freedom to choose
A key difference between the original Uber transportation concept and its freight services is that owner operators can browse opportunities and select the loads they want, rather than being automatically matched.
Uber says it plans to account for market dynamics and fluctuating supply and demand through surge pricing. The company has already established a means for increasing rates during periods of high demand for its original for-hire transportation service.
Uber has planned in advance for times when things don't go as planned. According to its accessorial table, Uber is offering detention pay at $75/hr and layover pay at $300/day.
Uber begins to process a payment as soon as the shipment is delivered. As a result, drivers will be paid in as little as two days, but not more than a week.
At present, Uber Freight does not offer a means for owner operators to negotiate rates, although a spokesperson says Uber may consider this in the future.
Uber says it is "more excited than ever to deliver on the promise of leveling the playing field for America's truck drivers." Uber Freight maintains a signup page online.
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