How can SONAR help me as a 3PL/Broker?

Use SONAR to maximize margins. Get more accurate information on volatility, rates and capacity.

For freight brokers, the two most important decisions that you make on a daily basis:

  • How to maximize margin and how to ensure service to shippers.
  • SONAR answers these questions better than any freight intelligence system on the market. 

SONAR knows the actual capacity in the freight market, along with load volume and market conditions. This information helps you understand how competitive a market is for a potential truck and how likely a truck is to fall off a committed load. 

SONAR is the only platform in the trucking market that tracks load tenders; an actual load transaction sent from a shipper to a carrier. From this information, SONAR determines all sorts of information about a market:

  • Whether a tendered load has been accepted or rejected from carrier 
  • Tender lead time
  • Length of haul 
  • Mode of capacity requested

All of this information is then compiled into freight indexes that can help brokers understand capacity, demand, and likely of a service disruption in a market. 

SONAR also combines historical freight rate data with real-time contract load tender data to create a freight rate predictor. This dynamic freight rate forecast gives freight brokerages a forecast you can trust, based on actual market conditions and operational data. 

Plus, SONAR is the only platform that monitors both contract market and spot market activity. With 85% of logistics market activity taking place in the contract freight market, SONAR gives you an unmatched view of the action. 

By creating real-time spot rate predictions and a dynamic spot rate forecast, brokers can price more accurately, increase quote to attainment rates, and protect load margins.

With SONAR's spot rate forecasts, your future profits don’t live in old freight data.




There are several key factors that impact brokers and 3PLs. Among the most important are capacity, pricing power, market volatility and trucking rates. Have a better understanding of these factors and take appropriate action to move your business forward. You want to be in shippers' routing books with quotes that win you business and make you money

You might also struggle with how to turn a mountain of data into information and information into knowledge. Now, you can use SONAR to solve this. The SONAR platform has powerful analytics and the richest, deepest and fastest data sets in the entire transportation/logistics sector. SONAR's 150,000+ indices and billions of data points give users insights into current and trending conditions from one specific market or across the global freight market. Use SONAR to benchmarket the freight market.

You can utilize SONAR's real-time data to understand freight market conditions/trends. With information from SONAR, take decisive action ahead of your competitorsTo benchmark your operations effectively, you need the most current data on freight demand, capacity and pricing for specific freight markets in order to evaluate your buying and selling decisions. That is exactly what SONAR provides you.

Volatility occurs for many reasons – seasonality, weather, labor unrest, etc. In any given market there is a certain level of volatility that is considered "normal." Movements outside of those parameters can indicate a market will realize a capacity crunch or oversupply of capacity, for example. SONAR helps measure the not-so-normal movement of specific indices for a market – in real-time – resulting in actionable insights

Rates often yo-yo, or they may rise or fall for extended periods for market-driven reasons that can then end or reverse. You need accurate information on the direction of rates to bid effectively on shippers' lanes. You also need it as you match trucking companies to loads.

A sudden change in outbound volume indicates that capacity will be impacted, and therefore rates will change. Since SONAR presents you near-time data while it can take weeks for your competitors to realize that demand has changed, you'll have the edge to take action before they do.

In a similar manner, a sudden change in tender rejections means that capacity is shifting. A rapid increase in tender rejections indicates that carriers are gaining an advantage in the market and have better pricing power – at least for the time being. But SONAR gives you data about those changes in near-time, giving you the power to take the appropriate action. Moreover, SONAR's Pricing Power Index measures how much leverage a carrier or shipper has in the market. SONAR estimates the negotiating power for rates between shippers and carriers.

Are you miscalculating rates because of incorrect or incomplete load volumes and capacity? How do you ensure you are not buying transportation above market rates or quoting customers using out-of-date market conditions? SONAR gives you the near-time information needed to accurately measure your performance in 135 key U.S. freight markets. Benchmarking is essential to your margins when buying transportation on the spot market to move shippers' loads. If you are not plugged into current market conditions, then you cannot bid accurately.

Using SONAR, you’ll improve your margins as well as being able to improve the service you provide your customers. And, you will be able to evaluate key performance metrics against your peer cohort and the market.


Volatility of market volumes 

What can you benchmark?

  • Capacity sentiment against actual capacity 
  • Customer lead times compared to market lead times 
  • Trucking Rates – what is being paid compared to what SONAR shows to be actual rates 
  • Rejections on regular lanes. Benchmark how carriers are responding to your contracted freight or regular freight against the SONAR index 
  • Compare routing costs between modes 
  • Response to weekly change. Is your volatility tracking the market or is it higher/lower? 
  • Market share
  • Pricing
  • Lead time
  • Length of haul
  • Weekly changes in numerous categories


Stop guessing and use SONAR's array of analytics and comprehensive freight market data to understand which markets are heating up or cooling down. You will have the ability to analyze how different market factors impact your revenue and profitability. Using SONAR, you have accurate data and actionable intelligence to practice effective price management – price lanes correctly in order to place competitive bids, then win tender offers that generate profit and secure additional business.

SONAR has the near-time freight market data your freight forecasters need to analyze current and future freight market conditions. This data isn’t about freight market conditions that existed a week, a month or three months ago. With SONAR’s data and analytics for near-time tendered lead volumes, tender rejection rates, head haul indexes and forecasted rates, your freight forecasters have all the information needed to build the most precise freight forecasts in the industry

SONAR’s market research and data give you the ability to make more informed bidding decisions. The data and insights inside of SONAR help you track global freight market data and enable you to develop spot market insights. Often margins are thin as you buy and sell capacity to meet shippers' needs. And then you have to make sure that you and your carrier service the load properly. Using the analytics inside SONAR, you will also be able to successfully service shippers' business.

And when market conditions cause a shipper's routing guide to break down, successfully secure the loads. Then identify carriers to successfully service the loads at rates that keep them satisfied and add to your bottom line as well.  

Worried about bidding on a Northeast short-haul load in mid-March? Customized daily alerts can let you know what markets in that region have the most volatile prices and volumes, allowing you to make the best decisions for your business. Here’s how:


Outbound tender rejection 3D map layered with Market Share data set

This is the outbound tender rejection map. In SONAR, a tender rejection is defined as a refusal by a carrier of a load offered by a shipper. Tender rejection indexes measure the percentage of tenders that were rejected. These rejections can be broken down by region, market, lane, equipment type requested, length of haul, mode, etc. Darker blue markets have the highest load tender rejection rates; this could mean an increase in spot market rates

While you’re in SONAR, you can also view detention times to see if the load is worth the wait! Moreover, you can break this view down to dry van, reefer or flatbed for an even more detailed analysis of any of the 135 U.S. freight markets that SONAR covers. 

With SONAR's freight detention data, you can analyze freight wait times, helping you determine whether the shipper and consignee locations are efficient or will create in-transit dwell for your truckload carriers. 


Outbound tender rejection of major lanes on 3D map

Here are a few examples of the types of SONAR analysis you can use:

  • The effectiveness of your purchased transportation spend, based on proprietary SONAR data. Are you paying too much? 
  • Create a multi-modal transportation rate analysis 
  • You can use SONAR analysis features to understand how to price and negotiate on the buy and sell sides
  • You can use other SONAR analysis features with 3D maps to better understand origin-destination pairings 
  • Market share – how does your company compare in a specific market or region?


Using SONAR’s monitoring features, you can understand real-time freight market conditions in order to take immediate action to prosper from positive conditions or take precautions because of negative conditions. And you have the ability to monitor a specific market or the global supply chain.

SONAR has special features and alerts that you can customize for the personalized views necessary to easily monitor and quickly assess the market conditions that matter most to you and your business.

With SONAR, you have the ability to monitor dozens of conditions, including load volumes, truck capacity and forecasted rates in specific markets in near-time. This near-time view of the markets enables you to adjust to volatile markets on a day-to-day basis.

With SONAR's proprietary data, you can see where the market is headed before it gets there. For the first time in history, you can see the impacts of actual freight movement in a timeframe that is less than 24 hours old

Plus, SONAR has a wide variety of volatility measurement indicators  that look for unusual and inconsistent market activity in the market and you can set personalized monitoring alerts for your specific needs. 

SONAR helps you identify hot markets, book more loads and improve margins as you monitor market conditions daily in the markets that matter the most to your company! 

Still worried about that load after it’s been booked? Don’t worry, SONAR can help! 

See economic, financial or industry news that can lead to pricing changes in one or all markets. Observe weather events, targeted news, fluctuating load capacity and more. With SONAR, you can keep your assets covered.

Atlanta traffic on a 3D map

Atlanta traffic on 3D map

A key factor to monitor year-round is weather, which creates supply chain volatility and risk. Hurricanes, blizzards and flooding all cause significant challenges for freight movement. SONAR has the deepest set of weather analytics and risk monitoring applications of any logistics and supply chain software platform.

United States freeze forecast by county on 3D map

SONAR's weather monitoring features include:

  • Forecasts 
  • Radar maps 
  • Projected weather risk impacts to assets 
  • Surface weather conditions 
  • Extreme weather alerts 
  • 24-hour rain/24-hour snow forecasts
  • 48-hour barometric pressure and dew point forecasts 
  • Hourly rain, freezing rain, snow and ice forecasts/totals
  • Wind gusts

For similar reasons, SONAR Critical Events keeps you ahead of costly disruptions to freight movement. Impact regions are highlighted, often days in advance of major weather  events like hurricanes or snowstorms. Other Critical Events include earthquakes, fires, road/bridge closures, etc. Within a potential impact region, Critical Events color codes assets such as highways, airports, seaports and railroads based on threat level, and indicates how long the threat will last. Overlays of radar, temperature, precipitation and wind forecasts, National Weather Service warnings, DOT traffic information and forecasted road conditions complete the picture. SONAR’s Critical Events, along with its vast freight market data, can help you make better routing decisions for driver and asset safety, helping to protect your bottom line.


Global temperature and radar on 3D map

SONAR’s News feature can also help you analyze the market (whether that is a single market, a region or the entire country). The SONAR RSS News Feed provides real-time news feeds from hundreds of business news sites, including many in transportation and logistics.

You can customize the RSS news feed to present as a scrolling ticker or as a page with automatic updates.


Critical events page focused on Denver Airport weather risks

News categories include:

  • Transportation news
  • Financial news
  • Technology news
  • U.S. news
  • International news
  • Oil and fuel news
  • International freight news

The Social Media Flash feature is streamed from Twitter and is highly filtered from a list of 35,000 relevant accounts that tweet about business and transportation news. You can sub-filter the content even further with:

  • Pre-selected subjects
  • Custom accounts
  • 70 terms that are relevant for transportation and logistics 
  • Social media flash can also be put into scrolling ticker mode

News widget with transportation and oil and fuel filter



SONAR's comprehensive, trustworthy and real-time data from freight markets across the United States and the world is combined with the most powerful forecasting features in the industry. You are provided with the intelligence necessary to proactively manage your business. Forecast contract and spot rates, volume, market volatility, fuel and market conditions – to name just a few. 

Traditional freight and trucking rate products tell you where the market has been. SONAR picks up where they end and provides you forecasts of where rates will go. Imagine the power of knowing where rates will head in the future. You can create customizable dashboards, and the information that you analyzed and monitored can be used in your forecasts.


Comparison of short haul, mid haul and tweener volume index on chart 

Examples of areas that SONAR helps you forecast include:

  • Future market conditions to maximize your margins 
  • Rates – using SONAR's rate forecasting capabilities, you can develop spot rate forecasts for up to one year
  • Capacity (tender rejection/ seasonality overlay); you can also use digital signals and critical events 
  • Volume (whether growing or shrinking)
  • Emerging markets using inbound custom data sets
  • Market-level capacity changes using a seasonality map

Forecasting load volumes and capacity for specific freight markets is a challenging task. Most 3PLs/freight brokerages rely on historical rate data that is not useful to predict future rates. With the only near-time data on load volumes and capacity, SONAR has the ability to generate predictive rates for up to one year for hundreds of freight markets.

SONAR delivers:

  • The fastest access to proprietary market data with a 1-2 day lead on widely available, price discovery rate data
  • Market, region, state-level and lane-level market insights in time-based, interactive charts, maps and watch lists
  • Daily tactical to strategic data points and market insights
  • API connectivity/workflow integration


  • Faster insights into current rates and rate changing environments, which lead general market price discovery
  • Faster reaction to changing Headhaul/Backhaul markets to capture margin arbitrage opportunities
  • Insights into seasonal market/lane patterns for optimal bid cycle pricing strategies

We all want freight data fast. With FreightWaves SONAR, you can react faster to the changing freight market landscape. SONAR gives you access to changing headhaul and backhaul markets, insights into seasonal market and lane patterns, and near-time rates, helping you get ahead of the game days before the competition.

SONAR can give you the data you need to quote, cover and manage your load, making sure you pay what you need to pay – and not a penny more. Year-over-year data gives you a look at long-term trends, making your annual bids more accurate than ever. Paired with your existing loadboard, SONAR puts the future of freight at your fingertips.

SONAR delivers a faster view of freight market data than any other platform in the industry – by several days in most cases and often even weeks earlier. Through a unique combination of near-time data, analytics and news, you gain unprecedented insight and understanding into what is happening in the freight markets right now, as well as forward-looking data for the weeks and months ahead.

ROI Calculator

Just how quickly will SONAR provide a return on your investment? Use this calculator to determine the effect that small improvements can have to your bottom line. Using SONAR, you will make more informed and less risky freight decisions that can lead to growth in your organization. 

By increasing the number of loaded miles per day your drivers drive by 1% and your rate per mile by $0.03 you will make more per week #WithSONAR.

#WithSONAR you can save up to per week through better bid negotiations and more effective management of your routing guide.

#WithSonar you can add 1 more load per person each day and increase $5 margin per load, earning your company an extra per week.

Disclaimer: Every company’s circumstances are unique. Fixed and variable expenses, market conditions and operational factors vary. Unforeseen events may also affect results. Calculated potential results reflect the consensus expectation of FreightWaves’ experts. Actual results may vary.


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