How can SONAR help me as a Shipper?

Use SONAR to make decisions based on today’s freight rates—and rates out as far as a year.



Shippers seek to squeeze costs from their supply chain. SONAR gives you information you need to take tactical and strategic action. SONAR's customizable dashboards let you see key supply chain information – helping to optimize your contract tendering and shipping schedules

You often struggle with how to turn mountains of data into information and information into knowledge. Now, you can use SONAR to solve this. In particular, SONAR's spot rate/predictive rate features give you information you can't get elsewhere. Get insight into your markets and commodity flows to help you to determine what factors are affecting your supply chain and transportation spend.

Using SONAR you can develop a more efficient and dependable supply chain. Decrease the cost to sell products by better understanding how your performance compares to regional, national or global freight markets. Benchmark your company’s data against the broad market – by sector, mode of transportation, etc. Using SONAR, you can eliminate conjecture and the status quo (“it’s always been done this way…”). You can set goals based on credible market data gleaned from SONAR.

SONAR delivers a faster view of freight market data than any other platform in the industry – by days and even weeks. With its unique combination of data, analytics and news, you have unprecedented insight and understanding of what is happening in the freight markets right now – in the near-term and in the weeks and months ahead.

You have access to near-time insights into the freight market and lane volatility across all transportation modes with SONAR. It allows you to quickly react to changes in rates and to your supply chain.


Volatility of market volumes on tree map

SONAR can help you benchmark the following:

  • Freight cost per unit/pound
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Inbound/outbound freight as a cost % of sales
  • Accessorial cost %
  • Detention cost %
  • Routing guide compliance
  • On-time %
  • Average lead time
  • Transit time trends
  • Claims: Loss/stolen %


Utilize SONAR's real-time data to understand freight market conditions/trends. With data on spot rates, as well as the ability to acess SONAR's predictive rate feature, you can take decisive action ahead of your competitors

The SONAR platform has customizable dashboards that use powerful analytics and the richest, deepest and fastest data sets in transportation.  SONAR's 150,000+ indices and billions of data points give users insights into current and trending conditions from a specific market or across the global freight market. You can analyze how different factors impact your profitability and revenue. With SONAR, you’re able to dissect freight market conditions and gain actionable insights that drive down costs and improve efficiencies.

SONAR aggregates data from over 1,000 sources in transportation and logistics. These sources range from IoT vendors, transportation management systems, telematics providers, on-truck sensors, payment providers, fuel vendors, 3PLs, carriers and other shippers. Moreover, 93% of the data available in SONAR is proprietary.

Each data set is statistically significant and most samples are massive in size. How much of the market does SONAR see? FreightWaves has access to 85% of the electronic tenders in the market, 800,000 ELDs, 220 large for-hire fleets (about 60,000 trucks), 95% of wholesale diesel transactions, 9 million commercial equipment listings – plus much more! 

Across the board, SONAR offers you the largest and most representative samples in the market. Also, SONAR is not dependent upon one type of data, unlike most data providers in the freight market. SONAR offers a holistic view of the market and analytics to see how different factors impact current operating and financial performance. And how you display the data and analytics is customizable as well – near-time data on maps, 3D maps, charts, watchlists, etc.

For years, analysis has been limited to old data, because old data was all that was available, and it was better than no data. With SONAR, much of its data is based on what happened in the market in the past 24 hours. This gives SONAR a near-time view of market conditions from data sets generated by executed TMS and telematics activity. You have access to that near-time data, making your analysis better than your competitors

Most importantly, SONAR is more than just data – its intelligence that can help you make decisions to take the right action at the right time. The intuitive SONAR platform allows you to quickly understand market conditions. You also have access to the expertise of the FreightWaves Customer Success and Market Expert teams.

With SONAR, use and analyze data and information to strengthen your business by utilzing:

  • Spot rates and predictive rates for the markets you need
  • The fastest access to proprietary freight market data with a one- to two-day lead on widely available, price discovery spot rate data
  • Market, region, state-level, and lane-level market insights in time-based, interactive charts, maps and watchlists
  • API connectivity/workflow integration
  • Visibility into all modes of transportation including air, maritime, rail, intermodal, barge and over-the-road

Using SONAR’s various features, you are able to analyze:

  • Operating margins. You can lower your transportation costs by faster responsiveness to changing rate environments.
  • Increasing visibility of market/lane volatility. You are then able to optimize your contract and waterfall tendering.
  • Daily/weekly/monthly shipping schedules. Doing so lets you optimize and increase lead-times through better visibility of cyclical capacity patterns.
  • Insights into seasonal market/lane patterns for optimal bid cycle pricing strategies.
Outbound Tender Rejections in SONAR

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

While much of its information is trucking-related, SONAR is truly a multi-modal near-time freight market platform. For example, SONAR includes daily volumes for intermodal containers moving within and between freight markets in North America – including bi-directional container volumes between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. 

SONAR also displays the inbound and outbound container volumes by both load status (empty/loaded) and container length (20’, 40’, 45’, 48’ and 53’) between major freight markets. Combined with weekly intermodal spot rates on 105 origin-destination pairings, you have an unprecedented view into the intermodal freight market.

Detention Times

Detention times on a tree map

In the U.S., intermodal represents about 46% of all railroad traffic each week and for shippers, and brokers, it represents a competitively priced capacity alternative, especially in the long-haul freight sector where supply chain flexibility allows longer lead times. 

You can also measure capacity or when demand is exceeding supply as well as general rate increases. As with trucking, when volumes surge in maritime lanes, rates also increase. Increasing rates can be a leading indicator for increasing freight volumes entering the U.S., potentially creating market disruption.

If you import goods from outside the U.S. or export goods abroad, you have access to two major container spot rate indexesFreightos Baltic and the Drewry World Container Index, which represents the average weekly spot rate for shipping a 40-foot container in seven of the largest maritime shipping routes.

Drewry World Container Index

Drewry container showing goods to and from Shanghai to Los Angeles

Through SONAR you have insight into lane-specific rates in the following:

  • Los Angeles to Shanghai 
  • New York to Rotterdam 
  • Rotterdam to New York
  • Shanghai to Genoa 
  • Shanghai to Los Angeles 
  • Shanghai to New York 
  • Shanghai to Rotterdam

The Freightos Baltic Daily Index measures daily price movements of 40-foot containers in 12 major maritime lanes between countries. It is expressed as an average price per 40-foot container. This index is the world’s only ocean container pricing index that is reported daily and you have access to it.

In addition to average daily prices across the 12 major maritime lanes, the price differential between shipping a 40-foot container from China to the North American West Coast and the North American East Coast is provided.

SONAR offers you a proprietary index that helps track the relative cost of using West Coast or East Coast ports to ship Asian exports – FreightWaves calls it the ‘Panama spread.’  

The trans-Pacific trade lane is among the world’s busiest and most volatile, and container rates are affected by ship capacity, demand and canal fees (both Panama and Suez). If you have a choice of port of entry, this feature helps you determine which is the most cost-effective for your business.

Another version of the Panama spread feature includes intermodal spot prices to Chicago, the major Midwest market. Shippers, freight forwarders and intermodal marketing companies can use this tool to better determine which route is the most cost-effective.

The Panama spread measures the difference between the all-in rates to ship goods from China to the Midwest through West Coast ports and East Coast ports. Specifically, SONAR combines daily maritime container spot rates and weekly intermodal spot rates to compare the costs of moving freight from China to Chicago on different lanes.

A positive reading on the index tells you how much more expensive routing Asian freight through the East Coast is in dollars per container; a negative reading indicates that East Coast lanes are at a discount to West Coast lanes.

These indices help shippers and freight forwarders make decisions about the most cost-effective method and lane to move freight.



Using SONAR’s monitoring features, you can understand real-time freight market conditions 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.

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 book more loads and improve margins as you monitor market conditions daily in the markets that matter the most to you! 

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

Monitor hazardous weather and road conditions that can negatively impact your bottom line. See economic, financial or industry news that can lead to pricing changes in one or all markets. Observe weather events, targeted news, highway traffic cameras, fluctuating load capacity and more. With SONAR, you can keep your loads covered.

Traffic Conditions

Atlanta traffic and road conditions 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.

Weather Forecast

Southwest weather forecast (NM and AZ)

SONAR's weather-monitoring features include:

  • Forecasts 
  • Radar maps 
  • Projected weather risk impacts to assets 
  • Surface weather conditions 
  • Extreme weather alerts 
  • 24-hour rain/snow forecasts
  • 48-hour barometric pressure and dew point forecasts 
  • 48-hour wind speed forecasts 
  • Road conditions (dry, wet, light frost, slush, snow, ice and possible closure)
  • Air and road temperatures
  • Ice or snow on road
  • 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. Forewarned is forearmed!

Critical Events in SONAR

Critical events page focused on Denver Airport weather risks

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.

Freight News Widget in SONAR

News widget with transportation and oil and fuel filter

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
Social Media Flash in SONAR

Social media flash widget

Global View of Seaports in SONAR

Global view of seaports with a focus on Charleston

Using the SONAR platform, you are able to monitor real-time market conditions in order to take action to improve your costs and the effectiveness of your supply chain. If a market is strengthening, or tender rejections are increasing, there will be upward pressure on rates. There is no ceiling on rates, but if rates stay high for an extended period, new capacity will enter the market. Using SONAR’s charts and maps, you can easily see volume and pricing changes across the country.  

Shipments are susceptible to national and global events, natural disasters, extreme weather, etc. Any of these factors can have a major impact on a supply chain. How can you prepare? 

Use customized SONAR dashboards to see local, national and global events as they are happening. SONAR’s Weather, Critical Events and News  allow you to monitor current issues or events that may impact your business. SONAR gives you the data you need to for a more complete/transparent view of the freight market.

Have questions? Contact our team for information.



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

At best, traditional freight and 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 create customizable dashboards, and the information that you analyzed and monitored can be used in your forecasts. SONAR's predictive rate feature uses market data and artificial intelligence to forecast freight rates for today, next week, next month, next quarter, six months from now or even next year. The predictive rates feature calculates the mileage and shows a total with or without fuel surcharges.

The predictive rate widget currently predicts trucking dry van rates, but will soon provide predictive rates for reefers and flatbeds, as well as for other modes, including rail and intermodal, air freight and ocean freight.

And SONAR's predictive rates will also provide forecasts of a customer's own rates. For the first time in history, freight market participants have the ability to monitor the health and activity of the market in near real-time (<24 hours).

SONAR helps you use information developed through analysis and monitoring to forecast market conditions. Whether you ship across the nation or around the globe, you will have the information to make decisions about when and how you ship your goods. 

Due to your work on the SONAR platform, there will be relevant information that you can use to develop more accurate budget forecasts of your transportation spend. In addition, you will be better able to protect your supply chain from disruptions due to routing guide failure and future carrier rejections.

Predictive Spot Rates in SONAR

Charleston to New Orleans rates with ship locations and seaports in layered on the 3D map

SONAR delivers:

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

Everyone wants freight data fast. With FreightWaves SONAR, you get accurate freight data and intelligence across multiple modes quickly. Therefore, you can react faster to the changing freight market landscape.

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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