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We recently interviewed Luke McGinnis, Head of Intermodal for Matson Logistics Houston, about how the company uses the DrayNow Marketplace to manage drayage moves to and from rail yards.


Q: Tell us a little about Matson Logistics?

We’re the 3PL arm of Matson Inc. that handles rail intermodal, along with warehousing and over-the-road transportation. Matson Navigation is the container shipping side of the business. Matson Logistics Houston operates as an agent of Matson with our own set of customers.


Q: Why did you start using DrayNow?

I was just frustrated with the traditional process of working with drayage carriers. Quotes took 4-5 emails back and forth with carriers to get a clear answer. That could last for days. The slow feedback was unnerving. DrayNow promised a better way with its marketplace model. We started using them early in 2018, shortly after the company launched.


Q: Has DrayNow helped address those frustrations?

For sure. The feedback is near immediate. Our average time, from posting the load to acceptance, is under 10 minutes. No more having to badger carriers to get back to me.


Q: What do you see as the primary advantages of sourcing drayage capacity through the DrayNow Marketplace?

It saves me time, helps increase profits, and keeps my customers happy.


Q: How does it save you time?

There are many steps and variables that go into moving a container, and that results in lots of back and forth between broker and carrier. With DrayNow, sourcing capacity and monitoring shipments is largely an automated process. Posted loads are typically accepted in minutes; I am proactively notified if problems arise; and shipment status and shipping documents are available in real time right on the platform. It virtually eliminates the time we spend chasing carriers for data and documents.


Q: Is the process of posting loads quick?

It is, and DrayNow has templates that make the job faster and easier. For instance, for many of my regular lanes, DrayNow is the awarded carrier. For these repeat trips, much of the information – like the ramp, the customer, the return location – is already filled in. With templates, we’ve probably gone from 18 or so keystrokes down to 4 for posting a load on the marketplace. It’s a huge time saver.


Q: And you’re getting the capacity you need?

Yes. DrayNow mostly uses owner operators with 1–3 trucks. DrayNow might have 100 drivers in an area that, frankly, I don’t even know about. That increases the chances that I’ll get my load covered at the rate I need. For at least one of those drivers, the pick-up and delivery locations will fit in very well with their schedule.


Q: You said DrayNow has help to increase your profits. How so?

It’s about leveraging the available technology. For instance, DrayNow has added a feature called the TRUprice tool. I can enter a rate for a specific move and, based on the historical rates for this lane over time, the platform will provide a numeric rating based on its likelihood of being accepted by a carrier. If it comes back as “very competitive,” I know I may have room to lower the rate and add some margin, while still making it attractive for many drivers.


Q: Do you ever increase the rate based on the TRUprice tool’s guidance?

Actually, yes. If I’m moving freight for a key customer and I need it moved fast, I might push the rate in $10 increments until it hits the “very competitive tier.” That will make it more attractive to drivers. If a particularly reliable driver continually takes this steady load, that helps me keep an important customer happy.


Q: What do you like most about the DrayNow platform?

I love the overall transparency it brings to intermodal freight. You’re not reliant on carriers to report on shipment progress. You know exactly where the container is in real time. If a customer calls and asks about the location of an inbound container, I can look at the DrayNow platform and give them a very precise answer – “It looks like the driver is passing over I-75 right now and should be there in 15 minutes.” Pretty impressive.


Q: How else is the transparency working for you?

We’ll use billing as an example. I work directly with a large carrier that uses independent agents. Let’s say there is a backup at the delivery location and the agent logs an excessive wait time penalty. By the time that accessorial charge works through the agent to the carrier and back to me, it might be 6–8 weeks before I see it. How can I go back to my client and justify this? With DrayNow, I get an immediate, automated notice that there is an accessorial charge awaiting my review. When I go to the portal, the driver has uploaded the documentation that I need as back-up for my own billing. There is no waiting and there are no surprises.


Q: Speaking of surprises, is there anything that has surprised you about DrayNow since you started using the platform?

The level of automation is beyond what I thought I would see at this point. Also, the quality of the service from DrayNow carriers has been excellent. In two years, I have never had a customer complain and say, “Don’t send that trucker again.” That’s a huge plus.


Q: Any other surprises?

With DrayNow, you get some surprising combinations. For one, the company combines automated self-service on the DrayNow platform with an ability to interact directly with key team members. If I have a question, I’m not directed to an FAQ page. If needed, I can talk to key operations leaders for real-time problem solving. Also, DrayNow is a technology company that employs a lot of software developers, yet the company has a real street-level understanding of the ins and outs of intermodal drayage. That’s a rare and very valuable combination.


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

I would ask, “Are you happy with the current process for sourcing and managing intermodal freight?” If they’re honest, most would admit that current processes are manual, time-consuming and can be incredibly frustrating. So why not use the power of a freight marketplace to eliminate the manual back and forth between brokers and carriers and automate these interactions?

In the end, it’s just using proven technology to bring together freight demand with freight supply. It’s already happening with traditional OTR freight. It’s about time those same efficiencies came to the intermodal freight sector.


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