July 2, 2019

Opus9 says drayage platform offers transparent pricing and container tracking

Opus9 says drayage platform offers transparent pricing and container tracking

Firm adds container port mode to truckload and LTL products in bid to build end-to-end visibility.

By Ben Ames

Third party logistics provider (3PL) Opus9 has added a drayage mode to its automated freight-booking platform for full truckload and less than truckload (LTL) cargo, the firm said recently.

The move adds another link in the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's plan to provide a "one-stop shop for transportation needs" that will eventually allow users to manage their shipments from end to end, Opus9 CEO Alex Ryu said in a phone briefing.

Opus9 offers its new drayage platform at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., Garden City and Savannah, Ga., and Kearny and Elizabeth, N.J., with plans to add additional sites in coming months. The company also plans to add another transportation mode next year when it launches a platform for ocean shipping rates, Ryu said.

Shippers in the drayage sector face challenges such as a lack of capacity and poor transparency into pricing, according to Opus9. The new platform helps those shippers move containers more efficiently by helping them get instant quotes, book easily, and track their shipments in real-time, the company said. According to the company, its drayage app improves efficiency by offering three services: instant drayage quotes that remove the time and effort of negotiating rates; an easy-to-use booking process; and smart matching with carriers to provide greater capacity at busy ports.

While those features may sound commonplace to shippers and carriers using some of the digital freight matching apps available in the long-haul trucking market, they are not yet broadly available at ports, Ryu said. Comparing the automation levels of booking freight in different modes, Ryu said that LTL is "pretty automated" in terms of pricing, booking, tracking, and invoicing; full truckload is "tricky but doable," and that drayage is "really challenging."

Drayage is different from other modes because shippers sometimes incur unplanned surcharges added by carriers, Ryu said. For example, a closed port terminal may decline a trucker's delivery of an empty container, forcing the driver to haul the load back to his own lot and try again the next day.

In another difference from other transportation sectors, shippers say it can be hard to track the location of their containers because drayage drivers are not required to install the electronic logging devices (ELDs) that automatically provide global positioning system (GPS) coordinates in addition to monitoring drivers' hours of service. Lacking that data, shippers must check individual container numbers through a terminal operator's computer system, Ryu said.

By compiling information like transparent pricing and container tracking on a single drayage platform, Opus9 hopes to market its product to shippers and freight forwarders in Asia, who currently lack that visibility into the status of their shipments into U.S. markets, Ryu said.

Opus9's product joins a number of other digital solutions targeted at the drayage area. Logistics technology startups launching drayage platforms in recent months include: Next Trucking, BookYourCargo.com, Dray Alliance, and DrayNow Inc.

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

More articles by Ben Ames

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