Students at the University of Stellenbosch caught a brief glimpse of the future of logistics in South Africa following an in-depth presentation by the team from online transport entity, Linebooker.
Speaking to a gathering of honours and post-graduate students, Chief Operating Officer of Linebooker, Nick Hoffman said that the transport and logistics landscape would look vastly different in the decade to come as digital freight goes online. In today’s digitally connected world – and on-demand economy, it is now possible for customers to connect to transporters seamlessly in order to meet their transport and freight requirements, quickly and efficiently.
Internationally, the use of online digital platform to manage logistics and freight requirements is becoming more and more commonplace.
Linebooker was established as South Africa’s first and largest online transport platform that already has more than 140 transporters operating on its digital platform. Unlike digital freight platforms in other parts of the globe, Linebooker has extended their offering beyond that of just an online load scheduling platform, taking care of the full load execution and payment. Says Hoffman, ”this substantially reduces the administrative burden on customers requiring multiple trucks.”
The platform also allows customers to specify the exact nature of the load, the type of transport required from tautliner to refrigerated vehicles.
For the transporter, participation on the Linebooker platform has multiple advantages. Apart from providing exposure to a broader customer base, transport companies can better manage their route planning and lane balancing and reduce the number of costly ‘empty load’ trips.
“Cash flow is often the transporters biggest headache,” says Hoffman. “Creating an environment where transporters can access greater load volumes – throughout the year and across both high and low seasons helps in streamlining operating costs and ultimately improves their revenues.”
Hoffman said that South Africa would experience a digital revolution in the transport and logistics sector in the coming years. “Outsourcing of the freight and logistics function has become the preferred option for many large customers given the high operating and resource costs associated with owning and managing an in-house owned transport fleet,” says Hoffman. In recent years many large corporates have shed business that are not critical to their core operations and have sub-contracted services such as transport to specialised entities.
Advances in technology is now making it far easier for customers to engage with a wide-array of transporters at the click of a button. Digital platforms such as Linebooker removes the need for a transport broker or 3rd party intermediaries and can deliver the best possible pricing for a load at any given time. Hoffman added that many international entities were making use of digital platforms to better leverage their existing fleets and operations to streamline costs and manage resources more effectively. “The same trend is manifesting itself in South Africa notes Hoffman and a larger percentage of customers are looking towards supplementing their existing road fleet by subcontracting their requirements as and when required. Rising fuel and maintenance costs, safety and security risks are just some of the factors compelling many businesses that had their own fleet operations to rethink their needs and requirements – and reduce the overhead costs of managing their business operations.”
Online transport management companies that provide an efficient, transparent and reliable platform will become the norm and revolutionise an industry that has long-relied on administrative and resource intensive procedures.
“Internationally, the number of online entities has grown significantly over the last couple of years, supported by substantial venture capital funding and interest from investors such ranging from Jeff Bezos of Amazon to Dropbox CEO, Drew Hudson.
Here in South Africa, Africa Rainbow Capital, under the directorship of Patrice Motsepe have invested in Linebooker through its Stellenbosch-based subsidiary, GemCap.
“Our engagement and interaction with transporters and customers alike has been extremely positive. From a platform perspective the ease of use and considerable time saving that the application brings to the freight fulfilment function has been welcomed by the market,” Apart from the efficiencies inherent in the digital environment, the open and transparent nature of the Linebooker offering ensures a win-win relationship for shippers and transporters alike. It is an exciting time in the evolution of the local freight industry,” concludes Hoffman.