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We recently interviewed Sarah Schwartz, Intermodal Operations Manager for Paper Transport, Inc. (PTI) about how the company’s logistics division uses the DrayNow freight marketplace to manage drayage moves to and from rail yards. Sarah works out of the company’s headquarters in De Pere, WI, outside of Green Bay.

 

Q: Tell us a little about PTI?

Paper Transport is a for-hire carrier offering truckload and logistics services. I work on the logistics side, where most of our focus is on intermodal.

 

Q: What are the major pain points you have with managing intermodal freight?

First is matching customers’ exact needs with reliable carriers. Because we don’t run our own assets in my division of the company, we rely heavily on carrier partners to keep customers happy. The second major pain point is communication. We have to be able to update customers on the status of their container. That can be a real problem, depending on the carrier we select and the technology they have or don’t have.

 

Q: Let’s talk first about the challenges of finding reliable capacity.

Well, that was actually the trigger that got PTI to expand our use of DrayNow. Service levels were poor on a lane in California that was critical to a large, important customer. We really needed to move away from the carriers we were using. PTI had been using the DrayNow Marketplace on a limited basis, so we were familiar with the platform. We thought DrayNow could be a solution to this particular challenge, and as it turned out they were.

 

Q: So service levels improved?

Absolutely. Our scorecards went up and this helped stabilize our customer relationship.

 

Q: Did you have any hesitation about using DrayNow for such an important customer and lane?

Personally, I was concerned that the process of entering orders on a different platform would be difficult and time-consuming to learn. Right about that time, we had a visit from a couple of folks from the DrayNow team who demonstrated just how easy the platform is to use. That alleviated any concerns I had. I used DrayNow successfully to address our quality issue in California and then started encouraging the team to post more and more loads. Our volumes with DrayNow have increased substantially since then.

 

Q: Do you think the rise in carrier performance you’ve seen with DrayNow is linked to the company’s use of independent owner-operators?

In part, yes. When you work with DrayNow carriers, you typically work with drivers who own the truck and the business. They examine all the available loads on the DrayNow Marketplace and select the ones that work for their schedules. Their performance on each load determines their success as an independent business owner. With large carriers, it’s different. You have a dispatcher that’s trying to plan many, many pick-ups and deliveries. Sometimes they plan wrong.

 

Q: Let’s move on to the other big pain point you mentioned – communications

It’s a real problem. You ask some carriers for a status update or for paperwork and you wait. Some carriers are good. They send us the in and out times, the empty they dropped or the container they used to load. But, frankly, most don’t. You can wait for 2-3 hours, and even into the next day. The waiting is what is most frustrating.

 

Q: How does this impact your business?

We often need the data to take the next step. If we’re waiting on a BOL, for instance, we can’t make a delivery until we have it.

 

Q: How has this changed with DrayNow?

All the data – on load status and shipping documents – is right there in the platform. We don’t have to spend time chasing it down. Stuff happens on the road because of weather and other reasons. We get that. But we depend on our drayage partners to keep us updated on delays so we can alert customers. DrayNow’s ability to pinpoint the driver’s location in real time saves us considerable time and frustration. No more waiting.

 

Q: Is there anything that has surprised you about DrayNow since you started using the platform more?

It goes back to the ease of use. Initially, I thought. ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to invest 2 hours to learn a new process.” Then I did my first load and, after learning how easy it was, I thought, “Why didn’t I start using the platform earlier?”

 

Q: Overall, has your use of the DrayNow Marketplace been successful?

Absolutely. Our scorecards on key lanes have improved due to the performance of DrayNow carriers and we’ve been more productive as a team because we can immediately access data and documents on the platform.

 

Q: How are you measuring that success?

It’s really looking at customer scorecards and asking, “Are our customers happy?” DrayNow helps us track metrics. In fact, they are the only company, including all of our carrier partners, that actually visits us on site to provide quarterly metrics on things like carrier performance, what lanes we’re running, and success rates. Not all of the results can be captured with numbers, like feeling less frustrated because we can access data quickly and easily.

 

Q: There’s value in that.
Yes. Hard to quantify, but that has huge value.

 

Q: What’s the next step in PTI’s relationship with DrayNow?

Our team is pushing for direct integration between our TMS and the DrayNow platform, so we are exploring this with the DrayNow team. It would give us all the advantages of DrayNow’s marketplace model, while working within a single system.

 

Q: For IMCs and other brokers that have been hesitant to try the DrayNow platform, what would you say to them?

It’s easy to use, easy to track.  All the data and paperwork that goes mysteriously missing or is needed to execute the next step of a move is all on the website. You’re not constantly trying to track down answers from carriers, it’s just there.

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