Raaho: a tech-packed freight market

Did you know that the truck next to you on the highway is empty 35% of the time? The phenomenon of trucks returning empty (empty miles) to the place of origin in the absence of a return load is estimated at 25% in India. This is clearly a big problem for the environment. Additionally, with higher fuel expenses and declining revenues, operators end up neglecting maintenance, which negatively affects the quality of their fleet.

“The problem with empty miles is that the expense meter keeps ticking – whether it’s EMIs or fuel costs – while the asset is unused or underutilized. If the capacity exists, it must And that’s what we try to do at Raaho 24/7 to improve the lives of truckers and drivers,” says CEO and co-founder Md. Imthiaz.

According to a recent report by Niti Aayog, CO2 emissions from freight transport are expected to increase by 451% – to 20 giga tonnes – in 2050. It states that 2.7 giga tonnes of emissions could be avoided and Rs 85 trn saved in reducing empty running, improving load factors and using larger trucks. This is where Raaho is trying to bring efficiencies.

Founded in 2017 with just 10 trucks, Raaho is an on-demand intercity trucking management company focused on mid-mile logistics. The brainchild of Imthiaz, it is a new-age technology broker that uses technology and real-time data to ensure freight tracking and on-time delivery, and enables operational and economic savings in a otherwise opaque sector. The company envisions creating a reliable freight marketplace connecting shippers and truckers nationwide through its efficient digital freight network.

Raaho’s network creates liquidity through its market-based trucking and instant tracking solution. Load is made available to trucks and trucks are made available to shippers typically within 30 minutes. As a result, monthly truck usage has increased from 7,000 km to 11,000 km. “Because of better asset utilization, the average incomes of truckers and drivers have increased. This, in turn, has led to a greater transfer of money to the immediate community of interest, which includes 15% of India’s population who make a living directly or indirectly from trucking,” says Imthiaz.

Trucking in India is waiting to be uberized; Adopting digital freight matching will match loads to nearby trucks, he says. McKinsey estimated a 5-15% increase in revenue from return trip visibility (return load certainty) and a 3-5% cost reduction if truck usage is resolved. He points out that digitization not only ensures trucking efficiency by bringing a layer of discovery, but also transparency – with vehicle tracking and instant digital payments for truckers – and reliability – with verified partners, which they are shippers, truckers or drivers. “The action in India has already started with Raaho, something akin to Blackbuck Convoys in the United States.”

He says Covid and the resulting lockdowns have seen around 12 million trucks and their drivers venture into the digital world. But no more than 1% of cargo matching in India has gone digital so far. With the growing adoption of the digital platform, “Covid has actually been a boon to the future of logistics in India. It could revolutionize an otherwise opaque and fragmented industry plagued by 2,00,000 brokers who are still in matchmaking manual over the phone within their immediate network,” he adds.

GO FORWARD

Raaho bundles its on-demand trucking solution through its full suite of apps (Shipper App, Trucker App and Driver App) to offer nearby discovery, vehicles with verified documents, credible shippers, real-time tracking of freight-laden vehicles and instant digital payments. This is made possible first by leveraging technology and data science, then by an extensive network of shippers and truckers on Raaho and finally by access to verified digital e-KYC and the integration with digital payment platforms such as UPI or Paytm.