Taylor Borum

By: Taylor Borum on May 18th, 2023

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How Transportation Intermediaries are Driving Innovation in the Transportation Industry

Technology | Logistics | Transportation | Shippers

In today's rapidly changing economy, keeping pace with the latest developments in the transportation industry is essential as organizations find new ways to differentiate their products and services. Leading transportation intermediaries are at the forefront of this wave of innovation. These companies play a critical role in connecting shippers with carriers, and their ability to leverage technology has helped advance the rest of the industry.

In this blog post, we'll explore how intermediaries are driving innovation in the transportation industry and why shippers should consider working with them. We'll also take a closer look at how Armstrong, a leading transportation intermediary, is helping shippers navigate these changes.

What Are Transportation Intermediaries?

RESOURCESA transportation intermediary acts as a middle point between shippers and carriers. Their primary function is to connect shippers with transportation providers to move their goods from one location to another. They may also provide additional services such as freight consolidation, tracking, and documentation.

There are a few different types of intermediaries, each with its own unique approach to helping shippers move their freight.

The most common are third-party logistics providers. 3PLs offer a wide range of services to shippers, including transportation management, freight brokerage, and warehousing and distribution. They can add value as an outsourced logistics department for their customers.

Another type of intermediary is the fourth-party logistics provider (4PL). 4PLs act as a single point of contact for their customers and oversee their entire supply chain operation, including carrier selection, warehousing, reverse logistics, and more. They may utilize multiple 3PLs and carriers to coordinate shipments and optimize logistics operations.

How Transportation Intermediaries Are Driving Innovation

Transportation intermediaries are playing an increasingly important role in driving innovation in the industry. Here are a few examples of how they're doing it:

Leveraging Technology

One of the most significant ways transportation intermediaries are driving innovation is by leveraging technology. Many are investing in software that streamlines the shipping process, from booking loads to real-time tracking.

For example, Armstrong's proprietary transportation management system (TMS), ATGFr8, allows customers to book shipments, track their status, and access detailed reporting on their shipping activity. Additionally, our LTL customer portal gives shippers insights into their loads, plus the ability to quote their own freight and (if desired) build their own shipments. Customers looking for white-glove service can rely on our experienced team to provide consultation and assistance on their loads.

Providing Data-Driven Insights

top view of businessman hand working with modern technology and digital layer effect as business strategy concept-1Transportation intermediaries use data analytics to give shippers valuable insights into their operations. By analyzing shipping data, intermediaries can identify trends, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement.

Armstrong provides customers with detailed reporting on their shipping activity, including carrier performance metrics, shipment volume by mode, and cost analysis. This data can help shippers make more informed decisions about their operations and identify opportunities to help you find the best rates, reduce your current transportation costs, and ensure your freight is delivered safely and on time.

Offering Specialized Services

As the industry becomes more complex, many shippers are looking for specialized services to meet their unique needs. Transportation intermediaries are responding by offering a range of services, such as temperature-controlled shipping, hazardous materials, oversized freight transport, and LTL shipping for those who don't need full truckload capacity. These services can be especially beneficial for shipments that require special handling, or that need to meet tight delivery windows.

Why Shippers Should Consider Working with Transportation Intermediaries

Access to a Vast Network of Reliable Carriers

This is particularly advantageous for smaller shippers who may lack the resources to establish and maintain relationships with as many transportation providers on their own. Collaborating with a transportation intermediary can level the playing field by offering shippers a broader range of options. Another crucial differentiating factor lies in the intermediaries' vetting procedures and policies, meaning you get the most reliable carriers for your freight.

Magnifying Glass - 5.18.23Armstrong Transport Group, for instance, employs comprehensive vetting procedures with industry-leading tools such as Carrier411 and SaferWatch. These platforms allow us to thoroughly evaluate carriers based on their safety records, compliance with regulations, and overall reliability. 

By partnering with a transportation intermediary that prioritizes carrier vetting, shippers can have peace of mind knowing their freight is entrusted to trustworthy and dependable carriers. This not only enhances the efficiency of your supply chain but also mitigates risks associated with working with unknown or unverified carriers.

Expertise in Navigating the Shipping Process

Shipping can be complex and time-consuming, especially for shippers who don't have a lot of experience in the industry or who move less-than-truckload shipments. Working with a transportation intermediary can help shippers navigate the process more efficiently. Freight brokers have expertise in all aspects of the process, from booking shipments to managing documentation and customs clearance. They can help shippers avoid common pitfalls and ensure their shipments are delivered on time and within budget.

Cost Savings

Another benefit of working with a transportation intermediary is cost savings. Transportation intermediaries have relationships with carriers that allow them to negotiate lower rates for their customers. They can also help shippers optimize their supply chain operations by identifying inefficiencies and suggesting cost-saving measures.

Additionally, working with a transportation intermediary offers shippers significant cost-saving opportunities through leveraging volume and optimizing shipping lanes. By harnessing their extensive network and expertise, they can unlock potential savings for their customers.

Man with a piggybank looking for his savings - isolated over a white backgroundIntermediaries consolidate shipping volumes from multiple shippers, allowing them to negotiate favorable rates with carriers. The higher volume of shipments handled collectively allows intermediaries to secure more competitive pricing than individual shippers might obtain on their own. These volume discounts can translate into substantial cost savings for shippers, regardless of their size.

Brokers also possess valuable insights into shipping lanes, traffic patterns, and carrier availability. By analyzing these factors, they can identify opportunities for lane optimization, suggesting alternate routes, modes of transportation, or consolidation strategies to streamline shipping operations and reduce costs. Intermediaries can leverage their industry knowledge to help shippers make informed decisions that optimize their supply chain and minimize expenses.

Mitigating Risk in a High-Stakes Environment

With fraud and theft reaching all-time highs, shippers must take proactive measures to safeguard their cargo. Intermediaries play a crucial role in helping shippers assess their specific risks and develop robust mitigation strategies. By conducting thorough risk assessments and analyzing historical data, intermediaries can identify vulnerabilities in the supply chain. They then work hand-in-hand with shippers to implement measures that mitigate these potential risks, such as implementing enhanced security protocols, selecting the safest routes, or leveraging real-time tracking technology.

Additionally, intermediaries recognize the importance of comprehensive insurance coverage to shield shippers from potential losses. Reputable brokers like Armstrong offer tailored insurance options that address the unique needs of different types of freight. Whether it's high-value products, sensitive electronics, or time-sensitive perishables, brokerages work closely with shippers to design insurance packages that provide peace of mind and financial protection.

Maximizing Efficiency, Minimizing Costs

Transportation intermediaries are driving innovation in the freight industry through technology, data analytics, and specialized services. By working with a logistics provider, shippers can access a vast network of carriers, benefit from their expertise in navigating the shipping process, save costs, and manage risk.

If you're a shipper looking for a reliable 3PL partner that can help you navigate market fluctuations and provide you with the insights you need to make informed decisions about your shipping strategy, we encourage you to visit our website. Armstrong is a leading transportation intermediary that offers a wide range of services to help shippers optimize their supply chain operations. Connect with us to learn how we can help your business succeed in today's fast-paced world.

About Taylor Borum

Taylor joined Armstrong in 2021, serving as the team's Marketing Coordinator. A native of North Carolina, she moved to Charlotte in 2018 after graduating from Appalachian State University with her bachelor’s in Communication Studies. She's a passionate writer, having curated a diverse range of blog posts, articles, press releases, feature stories, webpage copy, social media posts, and more.