Construction equipment is constantly on the move. It has to be transported, whether from a manufacturer, dealer, rental company, auction company, contractor or just from job to job.
And it doesn’t come in a neat shipping container. It can require specialized equipment to load and transport, special permits, a pilot car and/or adherence to port protocols, all at a price tag that can be an unpleasant surprise. Not to mention that each state has its transport rule quirks and that the machine may have been modified in ways that change transport dimensions and weight, none of which are on a standard spec sheet.
Finally, who do you trust to efficiently, safely and legally transport a costly machine?
Jeffrey G. Cox Jr., president, VeriTread, knows about construction equipment freight woes. He operated a construction equipment heavy hauling business for 10 years and his equipment heritage goes back to his grandfather, James Cox, who co-founded Komatsu dealership Linder Industrial Machinery. “I know their pain points,” he says.
“There are a ton of challenges around hard-to-move freight,” Cox says. And if a hauler shows up with the wrong trailer type, hasn’t ordered the right permits and has no plan for getting the machine on the trailer, it adds to the total expense.
Since he established software firm VeriTread, Lakeland, Florida, in 2013, Cox has taken on the construction equipment freight conundrum. The resulting software solution has attracted a number of big-name investors, including Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, Ritchie Bros, United Rentals and several dealers.
In what Cox calls a “two-sided marketplace,” his company connects construction equipment owners/buyers/users with haulers. For large fleet providers such as manufacturers, dealers, rental companies and large contractors, VeriTread offers its freight management solution.
VeriTread says its services appeal on several different levels. “There are different pain points depending on what side of the freight you’re on,” Cox says.
For contractors who occasionally buy used equipment or need to transport equipment from job to job, VeriTread offers help with the nuts and bolts of machine transport, such as how to find a carrier, who to trust to carry your equipment and how much it will cost. “Now they can go into an auction knowing their ballpark freight costs.” Cox says.
When users key in what make and model they want to move, the equipment dimensions are pre-populated into the order. “We have the largest equipment spec database because that’s critical in order to get a good price on moving equipment.,” says Wayne Keyes, VeriTread chief marketing officer.
The company’s Load Advisor app electronically profiles the freight and tells users what they will need to transport it, including loading equipment, trailer type and permitting. The company says its database contains detailed transportation dimensions for more than 61,000 pieces of equipment, which are critical when determining pricing, routing, permitting and trailer selection. “It helps haulers give an accurate price on what it takes to ship the machine,” Keyes says.
VeriTread allows users to note any anomalies that affect transport, such as machine modifications. Take, for example, transporting a Cat D8T. “This model comes in several configurations,” Keyes says. “It may or may not have a ripper. We take our customers through everything that’s going to affect transport. While they may know everything about how to operate this machine, they may not necessarily know that it takes to ship it, especially if it’s going across state lines.”
Manufacturers, dealers, rental companies and other large fleet providers want centralized freight management, Cox says: “They want to have visibility across their enterprise so they can better use their capacity. For example, before they call a truck, maybe they can get a backhaul and double load a trailer. They are also keen on reducing their liability, so VeriTread has a tool that monitors a carrier’s insurance compliance information in real time.”
Shipping customers using VeriTread for Business can easily get multiple competing bids from pre-qualified providers or work within their own approved network of transport providers, says the company. They can collect estimates, name their own price, or start a public or blind-bid freight auction.
Cox says VeriTread helps providers “dramatically lower their freight costs by giving them visibility across their enterprise so they start to make smarter, more informed freight decisions. We’ll also significantly lower their liability since we work with vetted, insured carriers.” VeriTread says its developed a proprietary grading and feedback system to rate carriers providing what it says are never-before-seen details on every service provider.
A freight hauler’s primary pain point, on the other hand, is unused capacity. “About 40 percent of the time they go out full and come out empty,” Cox says, “so that’s a big financial issue.
“The freight is the bait,” he continues. “We attract haulers by having good fair paying freight that’s clean and spec’d out. We provide dimensions and match it to trailer capacity. We want to eliminate friction in the process.” VeriTread alerts its users about transporters with extra capacity to fill, or who are in need of backhauls.
Transport in the age of COVID-19 has additional complications, which the visibility provided by VeriTread can assist with, Keyes says. All parties can see who is approved to pick up a machine. “Clients need to see who’s coming into their yard and when they’re coming and making sure they have everything in place,” he says. “And they can note safety procedures in the order. Our technology has helped in these scenarios, “ he says.
VeriTread is paid two ways: with a fee per match, such as when an auction buyer arranges machine transport through its service. The freight management side has a monthly subscription fee.
VeriTread’s newest development is its Load View app, which it is currently in beta testing with IronPlanet, a division of Ritchie Bros. Load View is designed to take buyers and sellers through the logistics required to physically and legally transfer ownership and possession of a sold machine. “It’s a communication tool where all parties know what’s going on,” Keyes says. “It eliminates a lot of on-the-phone logistics.”
Part of the development of Load View is a “Ship it now” feature, giving users the option of having VeriTread handle all transport-related matters, including finding a bonded and insured transport provider. “A lot of people want that white glove service,” Keyes says. VeriTread hopes to expand Load View to other clients either late this year or early in 2021.
“No matter the technology, it’s ultimately a relationship business,” says Keyes, who came to VeriTread after working for used equipment marketplace Rock & Dirt for several years. “We understand this industry. Heavy haul is a part of every transaction and it’s a headache. We want to make it easy.”