Convoy, a 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. Shippers can now rely on a 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.

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.

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.

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. Evan Armstrong, President of Armstrong & Associates, Inc, commented:

Convoy’s service is the first technology-driven drop-and-hook program of its kind. 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.

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. 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. Brad Benbow, Transportation Sourcing Manager at Ardagh added:

“Convoy has continually provided value with innovative programs aimed to improve our overall operations. 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 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 offered shippers flexible primary capacity while maintaining high efficiency and reliability. Convoy continues 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.

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