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June 25 2018

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26 The Journal of Commerce | June 25 2018 Surface Transportation THE SEARCH FOR truck capacity should start not on the highway but at sea, says Nina Luu, a former shipper turned digital entrepreneur. US importers or beneficial cargo owners struggling to find trucks to move goods inland from seaports need to begin the search for landside capacity well before container ships arrive at ports and boxes hit the docks, she said. Truck capacity is tight every - where in 2018, but especially at sea- ports. The amount of trucks available to dray containers and haul freight in- land is being squeezed by a shortage of drivers and the impact of the US electronic logging device mandate, and the "bunching" of containers at marine terminals as larger and larger container ships call at US ports. Owner-operator drivers are becoming more careful in choosing the motor carriers they will drive for. Fred Johring, president of Golden State Express, told The Journal of Commerce that when he recruits new drivers, they ask two questions: "How much do you pay?" and "Will you keep me busy?" That's pushing shippers to search for new sources of capacity and solu- tions to the trucking problem, includ- ing, in some cases, dedicated drayage, which requires a long-term commit- ment from the importer but also locks in guaranteed truck capacity. "Trucking is a huge problem," said Luu, a former apparel import- er in Los Angeles who co-founded digital shipping platform Shippabo to solve problems she encountered moving freight off ships, through US Customs, and onto trucks bound for customers. "Planning for truck capacity has to start on the ocean," she said, with better visibility into inbound freight. As a small shipper, she found that visibility hard to come by. Most of the existing systems designed to give ship - pers a clearer view of inbound freight were created for businesses larger than her company, she said. In 2015, she launched Shippabo as a cloud-based alternative, connecting the maritime and landside transportation from ocean line to drayage carrier. "As an importer, everyone talks about the manual processes" in logistics "and how many inefficien- cies there are," she said. "That's true, but what really mattered at the end of the day was understanding where the product was, and getting insight into how I could optimize to deliver better service and scale and compete in e-commerce. That led me to look for solutions." Coming from the shipping world itself makes Luu and Shippa- bo somewhat unique in shipping and the transportation technology market, which is rife with startups with strong technological back- grounds but less real-world transpor- tation know-how. A venture capital stampede toward transportation has helped many of those start-up com- panies grow extremely quickly. Shippabo has raised $1.8 million in two rounds of funding, a drop in the bucket compared with the funding received by some big digital startups, but enough to launch her plan to inte- grate shipping processes. "We provide interfaces for people to really interact," she said. "Lots of companies keep their data in silos," Luu said. "The freight forwarder has some data, the customs broker has some data, but nothing is tied together to give the importer meaningful information. A ton of time is spent on auditing, and it becomes reactive." Many of Luu and Shippabo's clients don't have direct connections to the drayage companies needed to move freight off the docks to points inland, whether nearby for deconsol - idation or for door deliveries. That's where Shippabo's connections to ocean shipping lines, information on inbound cargo at sea, and shipping line door contracts and rates come into play, Luu said. Those shippers, especially smaller companies, also don't have access to "door contracts" that include door rates covering the cost of the ocean voyage and the dray to the custom - er's warehouse. The drayage portion of the move is usually subsidized by the shipping line. Shippabo, however, does have ac- cess to those door rates, and has been able to get reduced pricing for many shippers using its service. That's only one step, and a short- term one, in finding a solution to the trucking problem. A longer-term strategy would be to integrate the flow of information among supply chain partners, from the importer and shipping line or forwarder to customs authorities and trucking op- erators. That way drayage companies would know what boxes to expect at marine terminals. JOC email: twitter: @willbcassidy Truckloads on the water Tracking on the seas found to ease drayage snags on land By William B. Cassidy Trucking | Rail | Intermodal | Air & Expedited | Distribution

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