Today's Paper Obits Crime NWA Outdoors Today's Photos PREP Sports NWA EDITORIAL: The natural Razorbacks land graduate transfer QB Puzzles

J.B. Hunt Transport Services says more than 6,000 freight loads a day are available to 100,000 participating drivers nationwide through its J.B. Hunt 360 mobile load system, a milestone for the product.

Operating since 2014, the digital brokerage app features loads that carriers can book without having to interact with brokerage professionals over the phone, the way it has traditionally been done.

Right now the supply chain management industry is facing disruption from companies such as Uber Freight and Cargomatic, which have rolled out products similar to this, hoping to digitize an industry that has deep roots in Northwest Arkansas.

There are two sides to the system -- one for shippers and the other for carriers. Much of the focus has been on the carrier side, but a spokesman said the company is increasingly enrolling shippers. Earlier this year the Lowell company introduced a marketplace function to the shipping side to better compete with the Uber-like products.

Other companies battling in this space include C.H. Robinson, which J.B. Hunt named as a competitor. While J.B. Hunt has traditionally been recognized as an intermodal trucking company, it has positioned as a logistics services provider. And the digital apps are a part of its logistics services. But what sets J.B. Hunt apart is the ability to deploy its physical assets to customers, not just technology.

C.H. Robinson, which a spokesman said has about 60,000 carriers in its network, rolled out its 360-like app more than a year ago.

"There is a lot of talk and interest in mobile app use in the trucking industry right now," the company said in an email. "Trucking is a complex business. That's why we went directly to the source, carriers, to understand what technology would be most meaningful to them."

Most of the carriers using J.B. Hunt's app have fleets with five trucks or less, a spokesman said, noting these companies have net 1 million trucks throughout their fleets. The vast majority of the trucking industry consists of small fleets with fewer than a dozen trucks.

"One of our main goals in creating J.B. Hunt 360 was that businesses of all sizes and industries would find value in using our technology," the company said in a prepared statement. "Using the platform, customers can manage the shipping process from the beginning to end."

This is all part of the company's endeavor to invest $500 million into technological innovation over the next five years, an effort announced at the same time as 360 marketplace development.

Business on 12/06/2017

Print Headline: Booking app hits a stride for Hunt

Sponsor Content