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by Heather Mueller
Heather Mueller

5 min read

Challenge Your Carrier Selection Process For A Smarter Transportation Network

April 20, 2023

Heather Mueller
by Heather Mueller


Skepticism used to fill the room when asset-based carrier selection processes were challenged to become more efficient and effective. In the past, it was assumed that the only options for building a successful carrier network were to utilize FMCSA records, look up information online, and post notices on load boards, and conduct traditional full network RFPs. Transportation professionals have challenged legacy ways of thinking and integrated technology into transportation network strategy. Smart technology has enabled asset-based carrier selection to become more efficient, effective, and result in sustainable partnerships.

Carrier selection is the process of shippers selecting carriers to move goods from origin to destination. The shipper is usually assumed to have most of the control in the freight contracting process. However, the power between shippers and carriers can shift depending on the freight market cycle. Some transportation professionals may refer to it as the shipper and carrier freight market balance beam.

The Power of Visibility into Carrier Performance Data

Technology has exponentially increased the amount of data consumed and processed. Real-time data collection on each part of the shipment enables tracking of cost, capacity, service, and emissions output. Comparing these metrics across a shipper’s transportation network and the broader supply chain can provide visibility and insight to achieve optimal levels of performance – while establishing transparency, accuracy, and fairness with your asset-based carrier partners.

Data serves as an accountability measure at the center of the relationship. The case for better transportation data is critical to:

  • Receive greater visibility to recognize deviations from plan
  • Track carrier performance
  • Identify best-fit asset-based carriers

If a framework or process is not established, partnering with a strategic transportation management partner experienced in organizing actionable data is recommended. With their guidance, shippers can immediately act on opportunities instead of waiting for technology to be built and tested. This starts savings on day one and provides the opportunity to execute other initiatives.

3 Ways to Identify Best-Fit Asset-Based Carriers for Your Transportation Network

To start identifying best-fit asset-based carriers, three considerations need to be addressed. Aligning network priorities is important so the technology can identify what to prioritize. Different shippers have different needs when it comes to their network, therefore it is important to find a solution that is customizable and leads to a sustainable plan of action and improved decision-making. Then, network performance and capabilities will follow suit.

1. Network Priorities

Choosing the right carrier search technology that has the option to sort by network priorities can lead to considerable cost and time savings compared to more traditional methods. Focusing on a specific priority – whether this is cost, capacity, service, or decarbonization – allows transportation professionals to prioritize the asset-based carrier partners that align with their greater network strategy. This priority may change based on macroeconomic conditions, but smart technology can accommodate the ebbs and flows of the market.

2. Network Performance

Understanding carriers’ compliance and service history is important to know upfront. Like reading a review for a restaurant before deciding to go, it is beneficial to have a baseline expectation of the carrier before partnering with them. This information can help transportation professionals avoid partnering with carriers who have a history of poor service which can lead to shipment delays, lost or damaged goods, and potential financial issues that can negatively impact the bottom line. Likewise, positive carrier reviews can meet freight needs and provide greater peace of mind.

3. Lane-Level Capabilities

Finding an asset-based carrier that meets unique freight characteristics can be a challenging and time-consuming task. There are several factors to consider, such as transport equipment type, available capacity on a designated lane, and ensuring that the carrier meets emissions requirements. With a dashboard that highlights in-network regional or national carriers and displays the capabilities by lane, transportation professionals can source freight at any time to streamline the process.

With a best-fit carrier selection solution that provides visibility and customizable solutions to an individual shipper, transportation professionals can find the right partners on each lane in their network. Then, it is a quick process to contact a carrier to identify available capacity and offer them a competitive linehaul rate with rate benchmarking technology.

The Value of Smarter Carrier Selection Processes

Shippers selecting best-fit asset-based carriers have found significant results in their transportation networks. In one example, a Breakthrough client found moving to a carrier with a better carrier fit score resulted in a 14% cost savings. Once these best-fit carrier partnerships are established and shippers grow their shipment volume with them, they contract at rates 2.75% lower than other carriers on average.

The Breakthrough ecosystem of data represents over $25 billion in annual transportation spend. This robust dataset feeds Breakthrough’s carrier search tool, Capac-ID, which identifies best-fit carriers and fair-market linehaul rates for shippers. This tool eliminates or reduces the need for ongoing spot market & brokerage usage by finding regional partners that are otherwise hard to find and that match network priorities. To learn more about Capac-ID, please visit

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