Start-up’s web portal shaking up container haulage industry

Ride-hailing and bike-sharing platforms have entrenched themselves in many countries, including Singapore. And the trend has now spread to container trucks.

Local start-up Haulio - which is targeting users in the supply chain - has a web portal that functions like a consumer-focused ride-hailing or bike-sharing platform.

Customers who require containers to be moved from one point to another put up job notices on the platform. The containers are treated like "passengers" and truck drivers assigned using an algorithm-driven engine.

Drivers are assigned based on a few criteria, not just a first-come, first-served basis, but also reliability ratings and past performance.

What is different is that customers set the prices. And the customers can be truck drivers themselves, who might need a hand in times of overwhelming demand.

Haulio co-founder and chief executive Alvin Ea said the firm seeks to solve the problem of increasingly extreme fluctuations in shipments.

He said: "As shipping lines are consolidating, the ships are getting bigger and it gets busier with sudden spikes. The big companies have economics of scale; they can do good planning. But those that are suffering are the small ones."

Haulio tries to bring together, on its platform, smaller trucking companies, which typically have fewer than 10 vehicles.

Mr Sebastian Shen, co-founder and head of product development, said: "Collectively, there are economies of scale. If you are in this community, anyone who is nearby can serve your customers; you don't need to depend on your own trucks."- THE STRAITS TIMES