Mobile app aims to empower small LA-LB drayage operators

PortPro’s mobile app could help independent drivers in Los Angeles and Long Beach navigate California’s AB5 legislation.
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PortPro has launched a new mobile application designed to allow independent owner-operators and small trucking carriers to run their business from their cabs, giving them the ability to respond faster to rising demurrage and detention charges owing to US port congestion.

The transportation management system (TMS) provider, based in New Jersey and founded by Michael Mecca in 2019, is launching the app in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to target a drayage base that it says lacks the ability to contend with a growing set of market dynamics out of its control.

“There are numerous variables that make it really difficult to operate, like demurrage, per diem, port congestion, and equipment shortages,” Mecca said in a statement. “On top of that, drayage truckers have to source and manage their work, which is challenging in itself.”

A recent report suggests that demurrage and detention fees — storage charges for not picking up imports or returning equipment in a timely manner, respectively — are three times the global average in Southern California, the largest gateway for US imports. In conversations with JOC.com, shippers have said they lack a consistent, uniform method for tracking when a container leaves or returns to a terminal, resulting in additional costs and difficulties in reconciling inaccurate fees.

‘Not another digital broker’

PortPro’s desktop system has been available to drayage operators since October, but Mecca said the company is targeting overlooked segments of the drayage industry — drivers for whom investment in technology is typically out of reach.

He said the app, called drayOS, should not be compared with visibility or freight-matching apps from brokers and third-party software providers that have proliferated in recent years. Drivers using drayOS can access a pre-built network of loads within the PortPro system to supplement their own customer relationships.

“This is not another digital freight broker’s mobile application for truck drivers,” Mecca said. "This is a centralized mobile app allowing carriers to manage their own existing business outside of PortPro’s network, while opening doors to potential new business within PortPro’s network.”

The app is primarily aimed at helping drivers with two elements of their business operations: managing existing business and sourcing new business.

In the first area, drayOS lets drivers communicate with customers, create and dispatch loads, onboard drivers and track their locations, check container availability and remaining free time on containers, and invoice customers. The system syncs with accounting programs, such as QuickBooks, and allows drivers and small carriers to manage collections, safety precautions, and maintenance.

App users can also view and accept available loads posted by PortPro’s existing drayOS carriers.

Mecca said the launch of the app was also designed to help drivers in California manage the state’s pending Assembly Bill 5, legislation that requires owner-operators that work under another carrier’s authority to either work as full-time W2 employees or start their own trucking company.

The emergence of PortPro comes amid a flood of technology aimed at the drayage community in recent years, from digital brokers like Cargomatic and NEXT Trucking to drayage marketplaces like Dray Alliance. In addition, there has been consolidation in both the drayage brokerage space and in the existing drayage TMS market, led primarily by Envase Technologies, which has in recent years rolled up widely used software providers Profit Tools, Compcare Services, and GTG Technology Group.

Source : https://www.joc.com/technology/transportation-management-systems-tms/mobile-app-aims-empower-small-la-lb-drayage-operators_20210702.html?destination=node/3678796