We all know Uber. We know it’s efficient and it does a relatively good job of being transparent. That is, when we request a ride, it keeps us informed about when it will arrive and how much it will cost. But how will it work for trucking and logistics? Will that efficiency scale and translate?
What is Uber Freight?
Launched in 2017, Uber Freight offers data tools to carriers and shippers. Its app matches truck drivers with cargo that needs shipping. It also claims to help shippers tender loads faster and says it can tender loads from start to finish.
The first step in finding answers to questions about Uber Freight is a visit to the reviews of the Uber Trucking app in the Google Play store. Unfortunately, many of the reviews are negative. Most seemed to focus on the functionality of the app itself. “… This app will not work properly at all… Too slow… have to close and reopen the app constantly to book any load.”
Ok, so the app isn’t there yet. But, we need to remember that the Uber ride-sharing service also took a while to get up to speed. This leaves a larger question: Will Uber transform logistics and shipping as it did for passenger transportation?
At this point, it sounds like the answer is no. At the moment, Uber doesn’t seem to offer enough. Truckers need to be able to track their state miles to complete the IFTA and IRP reports. Owner-operators need to track maintenance, and the fleet manager needs to pay the drivers. Uber doesn’t look like it’s going to offer those things. However, it does seem to provide real-time tracking, dynamic scheduling, and transparent pricing. It recently released a freight quoting tool, Lane Explorer, which enables shippers to view real-time market-based rates up to two weeks ahead.
Unlike traditional freight where payment to truckers can take up to 90 days, Uber Freight guarantees payments within a week, while also offering higher rates for drivers waiting for a load. Airspace follows this same model.
Uber’s model may not be sustainable
Uber Freight reportedly lost $4.5 billion in 2017, up from the $2.8 billion loss they experienced the previous year. Why? One possible reason is the app doesn’t do enough. For example, it doesn’t enable large carriers to choose to rely on drivers; it has come to trust through experience. Put another way; the system isn’t smart enough.
The pressing need for intelligence in logistics
Here at Airspace Technologies, we strive to see the big picture in shipping and logistics. So while Uber is focusing on trucking, at least for now, we think a higher-level approach does more to advance the interests of companies and people who need to get critical packages to their destination as quickly and reliably as possible.
Bottom line, we wish Uber Freight the best, but we prefer to add efficiency and intelligence to the entire process – top to bottom and end to end.