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New TMS player looks to capture small truck fleet share

When it comes to utilizing mobile technology, fleets of three to 10 trucks are often caught between a rock and a hard place. The micro-fleets can no longer rely on email to scale their businesses, yet mobile apps for small fleets traditionally have limited technology that can get costly as functionality is added. What’s more, mobile apps serving the small-fleet segment have been built around desktop versions that lack the power and design to effectively support folks on the road.

Small fleets are big business — the federal government has estimated that 90% of all fleets are fewer than six trucks. Several TMS vendors have come to market with mobile solutions tailored to small fleets, among them established players like KeepTruckin and Samsara. The latest to enter the fray is Ran Transportation Solutions LLC, a Toledo, Ohio-based company founded by Dr. Ned Lakshmipathy, a pain management physician. 

Ran’s cloud-based mobile TMS, called Lynks, went public last Friday. Ran is positioning Lynks as having all the functionality of a desktop computer without the aggravation of using browser-based technology for a mobile app. Users can track and trace shipments, schedule pickups, manage broker and 3PL relationships, and handle invoicing and driver settlements from the app, Ran said. Lynks can integrate with QuickBooks accounting software, although the invoicing process need not go through QuickBooks. Invoice factoring is also embedded in the app.

George Hellmann, Ran’s director of operations, said the TMS’ target market is the one- to 20-truck category with a focus on the three- to 10-truck subcategory, as well as smaller shippers and brokers.

The monthly cost is $49 per user and $15 per driver. Ran is offering users a 10% discount for each new user they refer to the system. There are no contracts.

In a statement announcing the launch, Lakshmipathy said the mobile apps aimed at smaller fleets “either lacked the full functionality to serve user needs or they relied on access to browser-based systems that are too slow and clunky for drivers to use on the road.”

An individual with close ties to the TMS market said Ran has its work cut out for it. It not only faces well entrenched rivals, but it must manage the costs of rolling up many small fleets into one platform, the individual said. It also will compete with large third-party logistics (3PL) providers that provide their own TMS solutions in relationships with smaller truckers, the executive said.

“The key question is how will (Ran) differentiate its offering” from the rest of the vendor universe,” the individual said. “Reading the press release doesn’t provide that answer.”