How Do Freight Load Boards Work?



Jun 6, 2023

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Freight load boards aren’t a new concept in the freight industry. They’ve been used for decades for load brokerage and getting trucks booked, and they’re an integral part of success in the freight industry for most professionals.  Carrier relationships are the backbone of the freight industry, and load boards can be a great place to start and build new ones.

What is a Freight Load Board? 

A freight load board is an online marketplace that allows shippers and brokers to post loads and carriers to find loads and post their available equipment. Sometimes load boards are referred to as freight matching services or freight boards.

To use a load board, brokers, shippers, and carriers simply need to make an account. Once they log in, they have access to post loads or find loads and post equipment, whichever they’re there for.


When Would You Use a Load Board?

Some in the industry rely on load boards almost exclusively for load brokerage and finding loads. However, the more common approach is to turn to load boards to cover a load or book out a truck when there’s no availability in-network. 

Freight load boards are great for getting loads covered, plain and simple. When a shipper or broker needs a load covered quickly and doesn’t have a carrier in their network that can take it, they can post it to a load board and gather quotes from interested carriers with minimal effort.

For carriers and owner-operators, load boards are a great way to get equipment booked. They can search for loads that meet their needs or post their equipment for shippers and brokers to find so that they keep their trucks moving and make the most of their time on the road.


Types of Freight Load Boards

There are two main types of freight load boards: public and private. Some load boards cater to specific types of loads like open deck loads or LTL loads, as well. Some load boards require paid subscriptions while others are free to access.


Public Load Boards 

Public load boards are those that the general public has access to. Once a logistics professional has created an account and carried out all the due diligence that specific freight load board requires, whether they’re there for load brokerage or finding loads, they can see loads and take appropriate actions.


Private Load Boards

Many shippers and brokers have their own private load boards, as well. These load boards are often offshoots of other technology like a TMS or capacity management solution. Here, they can post their own loads to be shared directly with their current network of carriers. A private load board can help facilitate stronger relationships between shippers/brokers and carriers since they encourage carrier reuse, which is great for both


Additional Tools Load Boards May Offer

Many modern load boards offer tools that go above and beyond posting and searching for loads. 

Many of the best load boards in the transportation industry integrate with other types of supply chain technology to offer additional benefits like data collection and analytics. For example, Parade integrates with top load boards to offer additional capacity through the Parade platform and help keep carrier data updated, plus posting to freight load boards directly from Parade.

Freight load boards often offer vetting tools so that carriers, shippers, and brokers can protect their businesses from bad actors. For example, many load boards offer FMCSA verification. Double brokering is a serious issue in the freight industry right now, and these tools can help weed out the good from the bad. Still uncertain about whether a carrier is on the up-and-up? Check out this new tool from Parade to help brokers avoid double-brokering scams.

Load boards may also offer tools like:

  • Payment services

  • Rate benchmarking

  • Digital booking and quoting capabilities

  • Dedicated freight bidding

  • Mobile accessibility

How Do Freight Load Boards Work for Shippers and Freight Brokers?

Shippers and brokers can either use load boards to post their open loads or they can search for open trucks that match their criteria to get their loads covered.

When posting to load boards, shippers and brokers can get the best results by including as many details about the load as they’re able, including pickup and delivery times and locations, equipment type needed, insurance requirements, weight, and commodity type. This can help cut down on questions from carriers and reduce the odds that they’ll wind up booking a carrier that isn’t truly equipped for the load.


Pros of Load Boards for Brokers and Shippers 

  • They work well for one-off loads that don’t match the current carrier network’s capabilities

  • Load boards can be great for a tight turn-around

  • They’re simple to use; even new reps can get loads booked this way

  • Load boards can help brokers and shippers build up their carrier network


Cons of Shipper Freight Broker Load Board Use

  • Rates may exceed what rates within the carrier network would

  • Avoiding fraud can be tricky and make it difficult to trust new carriers

  • Managing loads across multiple load boards can get complicated


How Do Load Boards Work for Carriers, Including Owner Operators?

Carriers can use load boards to search for loads that work for them. They do this by setting filters for the types of loads they want so that they can sift through the mass amount.


Pros of Load Boards for Carriers

  • Load boards are easily accessible, even from the road for owner-operators or drivers who handle their own booking

  • Most of the administrative tasks involved in booking out trucks can be taken care of through the load board, streamlining the booking process

  • Load boards can help carriers find the best rates possible by aggregating many loads in one place for comparison


Cons of Carrier Freight Load Board Use

  • Load details may be overlooked in postings, creating delivery or payment problems

  • Carriers can also face fraudsters on load boards; there’s more risk involved almost anytime you’re doing business with someone new

  • Load boards are very competitive, making it difficult to win loads at a fair price sometimes


Should You Be Using a Freight Load Board? 

Or even multiple load boards? Load boards are valuable tools for anyone in the freight industry when they’re used correctly and when due diligence is applied to avoid fraudulent activities like double brokering and cargo theft.

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