The provider of digital freight management technology—out to improve the movement of goods through U.S. ports—raised $19 million from two leading shipping industry companies, Loadsmart said Thursday.

Loadsmart Inc., a digital freight brokerage service, is building out its technology for moving oceangoing shipping containers through terminals in ways that it says will save shippers, carriers and port operators time and the cost of doing business.

By matching incoming shipping containers with the most suitable trucking carriers, Loadsmart CEO Ricardo Salgado says, “We project that truck drivers will be able to reduce their time to get in and out of the port by at least 25%. At the same time, we estimate that port operators will be able to reduce container shuffles by at least 50%.”

Two major shipping industry companies have bought into those estimates and are joining other investors providing $19 million in new venture capital, bringing New York-based Loadsmart’s total funding so far to $53.3 million. Ports America, the largest shipping terminal operator and stevedore in the United States, and the venture capital arm of the world’s largest container ship operator, A.P. Moller-Maersk, joined prior investors in Loadsmart in the most recent funding round, Loadsmart said yesterday.

A crowded freight services market

The investors are backing Loadsmart in a market that is already brimming with activity from other digital brokerage services. Among Loadsmart’s competitors are ConvoyTransfixUber Freightproject44 and J.B. Hunt Transport Inc.’s J.B. Hunt 360 Marketplace. In addition, Amazon.com Inc. began testing a freight brokerage service, at freight.amazon.com, earlier this year.

Loadsmart’s investors, including venture capital firm Maersk Growth, say they expect working with the digital brokerage will bring more value to their shipping clients. Among its technology developments, Loadsmart in July said it is using digital supply chain technology from One Network Enterprises to provide shippers with updated pricing and transportation capacity information from carriers, and it has launched a Drayage mobile app that truckers can use to connect with shippers to view and book available hauling jobs. Earlier this month, Loadsmart and robotics manufacturer Starsky Robotics said they collaborated on using Loadsmart’s system to dispatch an autonomous tractor-trailer to haul freight using Starsky’s self-driving technology. “The historic initiative is part of a larger strategic partnership which paves the way for the future of trucking: digital brokerages dispatching freight to autonomous trucks without human involvement,” Loadsmart posted in a blog.

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“At Maersk Growth we want to define the future of trade,” says Sune Stilling, head of Maersk Growth. “From the onset, we recognized the synergies between Maersk and Loadsmart and our joint opportunity to drive change through technology. Our partnership will increase inland business opportunities to add value to our clients.”

‘We need to rethink how goods are moved’

Mark Montgomery, president and CEO of Ports America, says Loadsmart will have an important effect on how shipping containers are transported. “We need to rethink how goods are moved more efficiently,” he says. Loadsmart’s system of matching containers with truckers, he adds, “benefits our trucking community with faster turn times while providing cargo owners with better visibility and more efficient container retrievals.”

Loadsmart’s other investors include venture capital firms Chromo Invest and Connor Capital SB. “Logistics is a trillion-dollar industry worldwide, which requires more technology and efficiency,” says Josh Connor, managing partner, Connor Capital. “We believe Loadsmart will be the technology platform bringing different players together in a scalable and integrated way.”

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