Macropoint/FourKites/Project44 and other tracking

Jim L

Well-Known Member
30
Why has it become the industry standard that all brokers require our drivers to accept their tracking systems? Why are so many carriers just willing to accept this erosion of our service?. Do the carriers know where this pinpoint data is going?

I have had many conversations this December about this technology with people who demand it. I have been told that they don't even look at it but just pass this information on to their customer. Some are completely oblivious as to what it even does but are told its a requirement. I have had brokers call the driver that have dropped the trailer in our yard because of the holidays and the broker wants to know why the load is in a residential zone (while they are at home). The brokers say they don't get the phone number but I call BS on that because my drivers are being woke up at all hours for updates and ETA's, when they'll take their next break and thus my drivers are understandingly demanding that we don't give out their cell phone. We don't give out their cell phone but when they click the tracking button they obtain it. The brokers say it is all automatic but if you turn it off the driver gets an immediate phone call. If the driver turns it off his data, or heaven forbid that their battery dies, most brokers have a stipulation in their 3 page load confirmation that says they can remove hundreds of dollars for a breach of service.
Here is a scenario that I have presented. This pinpoint GPS information is passed onto the broker and passed onto the freight payor. Now conceivably everyone in those two companies know exactly what the product is, what it is worth, and where it is. If someone in any of those companies wants to hijack the load it is easy pickings. If the freight payor wants to score really big he can arrange for someone to hijack the load the night before the delivery when it may be at the closest truck stop, dump the load someplace nearby, then ask for insurance to cover the lost load and still have his freight. Its not all that far fetched!!!. It will happen eventually. The broker doesn't care, the trucking company's insurance will have to pay, there is a hold harmless arrangement and the carrier is stuck holding all the risk. The carrier knows their employees and the risk with that data. The carrier can manage who sees it internally via a username and password but does the broker do the same? Remember, not only are they getting the pinpoint data but they can see historical data of when, where and for how long your driver is taking a break, driving etc. It wouldn't take much to figure out if the driver is taking a 1/2 break or taking his 10hr break. To top it all off the broker can always make an argument that the driver should have driven longer or driven faster or shouldn't have taken that specific route. The broker has the ability to see exactly what you see and may use it against you in an attempt to negotiate hundreds of dollars off the rate.

I want all carriers to really take a moment to think about this very sensitive information that is being passed on to who knows who. Would you create a public website for anyone to look at the exact position of your trucks and trailers? Then would you add the cargo information and the value of the goods to that public site? Then top it off, give them historical data. That is effectively what these tracking systems are doing - they're just giving the people who ask for it the web address to access it. Ask your insurance company how they feel about this. Ask your CTPAT Supply Chain Security Specialist how they feel about that.

Freight is slim at this time and no doubt many carriers are just opting in to this because they won't get the load they desperately need to move their truck. Please do not go down without this very important discussion with the broker. At the very least tell the broker that you are not happy with this tracking but will do it only because you need the load and when times are the opposite and there is way more freight than trucks this will not be acceptable.
 

bellcitytransport

Active Member
15
WOW.. I couldn't agree more. We have the insurance industry demanding that we provide less distractions to the drivers, that drivers remain focused on the safe operation of the vehicle for which I agree. Like you, we've spend 10's of thousands of dollars in dispatch software and hardware to ensure that WE know where our trucks are. That WE know the product is secure and that WE can account for it.

I provide load brokers with ALL MY PERSONAL contact information, call me, day or night, wake ME up, but leave my drivers alone. Let them do what they are paid to do. Let them be the professionals they are, trust that you've vetted me as a carrier effectively and that I can be trusted to do as you have asked.

As a carrier, we've limited ourselves when it comes to whom we do business with as we have decided NOT to take part in these app based tracking programs. IF infact the shipper/customer wants to know where their freight is, they can easily place a GPS tracker in the load as their costs. We have several customs that do so, some even provide temperature readings so the customer can trust that all is being done correctly. This adds an additional line of security without impacting the carrier, and more importantly the driver.
 

loaders

Site Supporter
30
One thing I have learned is to “never say never”. What seems impossible today can often become commonplace tomorrow. However, I find it extremely difficult to imagine a scenario where a large, established shipper, probably a manufacturer of a well known, name brand product, would willingly participate in a nefarious scheme to defraud a carrier and its insurer for what....a few thousand dollars, maybe a few 10’s of thousands? An amount that is almost insignificant when compared to their annual revenues. I admit it is within the realm of possibility, but highly unlikely. Maybe a shady, struggling operation looking to score some quick cash, but are they the type of shippers asking for this advanced positioning technology on their loads? Fortunately, at this point, none of our clients are asking for this service. The closest some come to it is asking for a drivers cell number, which we refuse to provide unless there are extenuating circumstances where the client having the number actually benefits the driver and his schedule.
 

Jim L

Well-Known Member
30
I find it extremely difficult to imagine a scenario where a large, established shipper, probably a manufacturer of a well known, name brand product, would willingly participate in a nefarious scheme to defraud a carrier and its insurer for what....a few thousand dollars, maybe a few 10’s of thousands?
The far fetched scenario that I proposed may not come to fruition by a large established shipper but was intended to show you that the data obtained by brokers is not that important to them and they in turn give it out freely with no controls over whomever they give it out to. Once it is commonplace to have the carrier data on the brokers website for any one of their customers with a username and password, or an API system that downloads it, then conceivably anyone in the brokerage or anyone they give it to has visibility. Before you know it large and small shippers/customers will have it and with it the shady struggling operation or someone in that organization who needs cash quick to pay off their Christmas Visa card debt.

This is why I am asking all carriers to be reluctant to allow it and in resisting it not allow it to become the de-facto standard in the industry where a carrier MUST offer it.
 

loaders

Site Supporter
30
True enough Jim. Once the information is ”out there”, it is difficult, if not impossible to control who has access to it. The onus in cases like this, should be on the broker to ensure that the data is, and remains secure. Perhaps an addendum to thei broker/carrier contract addressing the carriers need for data security?
 

Kysanahc

Member
5
This is an example from a real customer and why they now require one of these -

Project44/Fourkites/Macropoint have figured out the way to sell their products is not through the logistics people but to by-pass that department entirely. They go to someone like the CFO, has all the power in the world to make decisions. Promise them the world on how this will reduce losses, minimize the risk, better customer satisfaction etc.

CFO signs off, tells logistics we are doing this and the changes get implemented at said large billion dollar company. Now, logistics goes to their 4PL/Broker and says we now require X tracking, please ensure all drivers are using said program.

Broker isn't going to fight the customer, implements said change to appease customer.

I think these tracking apps have a purpose, if used correctly but I don't think the push for these to become standard is actually from within the industry.
 

tasuinam

Active Member
10
Agreed - my drivers HATE with a passion all the tracking apps - I know exactly where they are and tell the customer / broker to call me and me alone.
If it's so high value put a GPS tracker in the load
 

loaders

Site Supporter
30
It sounds like the same sales pitch many of these firms use. Get an appt with the CFO, CEO, or similar and say ”blah, blah, blah, savings, blah, blah, increased profits, blah, blah, blah”. You get the picture. Nulogx is another famous for this approach. Decisions made from on high and the transportation department has to abandon all of the relationships established over the years, and sacrifice service for the lowest rate. I can’t count the number of times I have heard from the transportation coordinators complaining after the change over is made. Sorry, off topic rant is over.
 

Kysanahc

Member
5
It sounds like the same sales pitch many of these firms use. Get an appt with the CFO, CEO, or similar and say ”blah, blah, blah, savings, blah, blah, increased profits, blah, blah, blah”. You get the picture. Nulogx is another famous for this approach. Decisions made from on high and the transportation department has to abandon all of the relationships established over the years, and sacrifice service for the lowest rate. I can’t count the number of times I have heard from the transportation coordinators complaining after the change over is made. Sorry, off topic rant is over.
Might be off-topic but man is it true.
 

Michael Ludwig

Well-Known Member
20
To Jim's and BellCity's point, with the exception of one large and very responsible customer, we don't offer up driver cell phone numbers to anyone for tracking. Like BellCity, I will provide brokers with all of my contact information and if they want to know where my truck is, they can wake me up in the middle of the night. If a load we are looking at is dependent on our accepting their tracking app, then I guess we can't do business.

I'll run empty from Cali if I have to, but I won't allow my data to be exposed willy-nilly. Sounds strange I know, however, instituting and maintaining this policy has put us in touch with some exceptionally difficult to access customers that pay incredibly well. Behind every cloud ... right :)

In the short term, data exposure is a problem, but I think over the longer term, reliable shippers and brokers are going to have to include in their contracts clauses that deal specifically with ownership of data, and if and when and how it can be disseminated, and to who (whom?).
 

Jim L

Well-Known Member
30
I think these tracking apps have a purpose, if used correctly but I don't think the push for these to become standard is actually from within the industry.
No matter how it gets pushed into our industry the data needs to exist at the carrier level and when required it is requested of them - period. That granularity and volume of data is too precious to be extracted, manipulated, dissected, regurgitated and passed on to anyone who says they are interested in it in the hopes of saving them money and the broker in the middle is all too happy to give out that information to appease the guy with the money with no regard or second thought about what damage that data can do to the carrier if in the wrong hands.

These tracking systems charge so very little for their service so one has to wonder what benefit do they receive with setting up these systems, maintaining, collecting, storing and passing on the information? Make no mistake, they are data-mining and selling this information to whoever asks for it. Just think of the decision capabilities that a large fuel provider can obtain if they know X number of transport trucks pass by a specific competitor and Y are stopping at that competitor and for how long. Extrapolating that data will tell them if it is profitable to put a site across the road well before the plans for a design are considered. This data is much, much better than counting trucks for a month and waiting for such a small sample to come back and guess what seasonality do to affect it.
 

Michael Ludwig

Well-Known Member
20
@Jim L ... what is comical about these tracking apps is actually how useless the positional information is to the broker or the customer.
They cannot make the truck go faster, and they cannot ask the driver to drive over his HOS. The stupid brokers and shippers, and I call them this because they truly are stupid and there is no other word to describe them, the ones that actually call a driver, will never understand that the very second they do that and the driver answers, they have just put him on duty and completely negated the last 6.5 hours he just put in the bunk further delaying the load.
Responsible carriers would have already alerted a customer that their freight was running late and there is no real need for that type of tracking.
 

bubba-one

Site Supporter
15
Just like to add we do a fair bit of LTL and why would I let someone track my truck to each drop, only to pass the information on to brokers sales dept to solicit a new customer, or to track your empty truck after unloading to the point of reload to solicit. We will continue to refuse these tracking apps.
 

BPOVFB

Active Member
10
If they wanted your data that bad, they'd just start a Managed TMS, get some customers, collect all your rates "for your customer" and then slowly but surely use that data to strategize/optimize their pricing/ operation with the data you willfully give them... or sell it to a third party if they aren't in "brokerage".

OH wait, they do do that.
 

Mia19

Member
5
I've had a lot of brokers try to force it, actually given up some loads as a result. Not going to have them soliciting my customers for every LTL drop thats done.
 

RAINDOG

Member
5
Why has it become the industry standard that all brokers require our drivers to accept their tracking systems? Why are so many carriers just willing to accept this erosion of our service?. Do the carriers know where this pinpoint data is going?

I have had many conversations this December about this technology with people who demand it. I have been told that they don't even look at it but just pass this information on to their customer. Some are completely oblivious as to what it even does but are told its a requirement. I have had brokers call the driver that have dropped the trailer in our yard because of the holidays and the broker wants to know why the load is in a residential zone (while they are at home). The brokers say they don't get the phone number but I call BS on that because my drivers are being woke up at all hours for updates and ETA's, when they'll take their next break and thus my drivers are understandingly demanding that we don't give out their cell phone. We don't give out their cell phone but when they click the tracking button they obtain it. The brokers say it is all automatic but if you turn it off the driver gets an immediate phone call. If the driver turns it off his data, or heaven forbid that their battery dies, most brokers have a stipulation in their 3 page load confirmation that says they can remove hundreds of dollars for a breach of service.
Here is a scenario that I have presented. This pinpoint GPS information is passed onto the broker and passed onto the freight payor. Now conceivably everyone in those two companies know exactly what the product is, what it is worth, and where it is. If someone in any of those companies wants to hijack the load it is easy pickings. If the freight payor wants to score really big he can arrange for someone to hijack the load the night before the delivery when it may be at the closest truck stop, dump the load someplace nearby, then ask for insurance to cover the lost load and still have his freight. Its not all that far fetched!!!. It will happen eventually. The broker doesn't care, the trucking company's insurance will have to pay, there is a hold harmless arrangement and the carrier is stuck holding all the risk. The carrier knows their employees and the risk with that data. The carrier can manage who sees it internally via a username and password but does the broker do the same? Remember, not only are they getting the pinpoint data but they can see historical data of when, where and for how long your driver is taking a break, driving etc. It wouldn't take much to figure out if the driver is taking a 1/2 break or taking his 10hr break. To top it all off the broker can always make an argument that the driver should have driven longer or driven faster or shouldn't have taken that specific route. The broker has the ability to see exactly what you see and may use it against you in an attempt to negotiate hundreds of dollars off the rate.

I want all carriers to really take a moment to think about this very sensitive information that is being passed on to who knows who. Would you create a public website for anyone to look at the exact position of your trucks and trailers? Then would you add the cargo information and the value of the goods to that public site? Then top it off, give them historical data. That is effectively what these tracking systems are doing - they're just giving the people who ask for it the web address to access it. Ask your insurance company how they feel about this. Ask your CTPAT Supply Chain Security Specialist how they feel about that.

Freight is slim at this time and no doubt many carriers are just opting in to this because they won't get the load they desperately need to move their truck. Please do not go down without this very important discussion with the broker. At the very least tell the broker that you are not happy with this tracking but will do it only because you need the load and when times are the opposite and there is way more freight than trucks this will not be acceptable.
I have "lost" many loads due to my refusal to give out driver's phone numbers and will continue to do so. For the reasons already listed and more. This is an excellent post.
 

shayne

Active Member
15
SPEAKING AS A BROKER!

I dont think that the insidetransport.com crowd is the intended demographic for 4 kites. In my opinion only the top 5% of carriers are on this website because they go above and beyond for themselves and especially their customers. Alot of you would be surprised at the terrible tracking and tracing skills some companies have weather that is on purpose through lack of funding or by accident through lack of caring, I cannot say !

Although I can rudely spy on your driver with the program, it isnt like a truck gps so its very hard to read and it is honestly just easier to call for tracing updates.

1 of my fresh beef customers and 1 of my aerospace customers demand tracking app, but only as exclusive loads. Alot of time the reason why it is customer mandated is because these loads are privately insured by the customer and their insurance broker requires app tracking to pay out insurance.
 

Jim L

Well-Known Member
30
Alot of time the reason why it is customer mandated is because these loads are privately insured by the customer and their insurance broker requires app tracking to pay out insurance.
Thanks for your time on the matter as the brokers point of view.
If the product is privately insured then the best option would be that the shipper put a tracking device directly on their product or even a couple of them. They are fairly inexpensive and they then own the data and can do whatever they want with it. Why risk it with a broker telling a carrier asking a driver to manage it.
 

thebluffs1

Site Supporter
20
I have a long response I'd love to write on this sometime, but right now based on my interactions with a large broker out of MN, all I can say is that if brokers spent as much time managing customs clearances as they did on tracing, the entire supply chain would be more efficient and there would be a significant improvement in the broker carrier relationship. The complete lack of concern that most 3pls have with border clearances while they are yelling for location updates is a symptom of the misunderstanding of where the real challenges lie.
 
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