The spot freight market is blazing forward, and shipping capacity remains tighter than ever as the 2020 peak season approaches. During times of sudden market shift, freight brokers and 3PLs need a way to look beyond the assumed contract versus the spot market and make informed decisions. FreightWaves SONAR customers are using SONAR Signals Open API as a solution to ingest SONAR freight data sets into other programs to gain efficiency and navigate volatile freight markets.

What is SONAR Signals Open API?

SONAR Signals Open API is an innovative resource allowing shippers, 3PLs, freight brokers, and freight forwarders to gain immediate insight into lane variability regarding trucking capacity and associated rates.

SONAR Signals Open API is often ingested into many programs, including MS Excel or other workflow programs that use automation, like ZOHO, to gain simple visualization guidance to help brokers or shippers compare lane variability and ensure the most profitable (or problematic) freight moves first. 

How Visualizations created from ingesting SONAR Signals Open API works

For example, the SONAR customer success team built a pre-formatted excel document for our customers who have not yet established the ingestion of the Open API into an automated program like ZOHO. Further, the use case was built around providing prescriptive action on various loads for individual lanes. The excel document provides a series of prescriptive values that range from -3 to +3 which reveal the likelihood of tender acceptance. As the score increases, the difficulty in covering freight increases. Most importantly, higher scores indicate the need for longer lead times between tendering a shipment and pick up.

Take the following table and graphic below the table, which reveals the top insights gained from displaying the freight data ingested via API from SONAR into the Excel document:

Value Assigned. Meaning Capacity Impact Lead Time Example Shipper V. Carrier Favor
+3 The highest difficulty in covering freight. May lead to faster bookings resulting from a stronger deviation (increase) from average rates. Extremely Limited and Highest Rejections 7+ Days Highest Rates Carrier Dominates Negotiations
+2 Freight moving within markets with this indicator is difficult to cover but easier than lanes with a +3 ranking. Limited Capacity that Results in Higher Rejections ~6 Days Carriers with More Negotiations
+1 Freight in this market is moderately difficult to cover and may involve a slight jump in rate deviation. Tight Capacity with Little Room for Sudden Market Shifts; Some Rejections ~5 Days Carriers with Some Negotiations
0 The neutral market means rates are reflective of national averages; users should target suggested booking price. Generally Available Capacity and Few Rejections ~4-5 Days True Market Rate National Trend Equal Balance
-1 Moderately easy to cover freight. Rates are slightly below average and offer more options to better marginalize freight. Available Capacity with Still Fewer Rejections ~3 Days Shippers with Less Pull During Negotiations
-2 Easy to cover freight sees further deviations below typical market rates allowing for more workable options to get a better deal. Sufficient Capacity with More Cancelled Moves by Carriers with Near-Zero Rejections ~2 Days Shippers with More Pull During Negotiations
-3 Easiest to cover freight incurs the strongest deviation for a lane from market rates and offers the greatest opportunity to maximize margins. Ample Capacity that Results in Most Canceled Moves by Carriers and Possible Rejections Due to Cancellations ~1 Day
Or Same Day
Lowest Rates Shippers Have Most Leverage

SONAR’s application programming interface (API) seamlessly shares data between systems and maximizes time efficiency, providing an opportunity to take these insights to the next level by automating some of the above decisions.

INFOGRAPHIC: How FreightWaves SONAR Signals Open API enables split-second decision making and prioritization


Benefits of Prescriptive Action and Automation via SONAR Signals Open API by Segment

The leading benefits of ingesting SONAR Signals Open API into an Excel template or into an automated workflow program allow for an assessment of the “easy load versus the difficult load.” Freight managers often fall into a trap with staff inquiries regarding the profitability of specific load movements. Unfortunately, lacking visibility within existing systems effectively limits the autonomy of front-line workers and results in massive inefficiencies. That’s why shippers and Brokers are turning to SONAR used in this way to gain the following benefits.


Shippers apply the value number assigned to focus on getting a high margin for the most attractive freight and ensuring rates are competitive. Shippers can better prioritize workflow and determine which loads need tendering sooner to ensure enough capacity is available. Thus, top benefits are derived including:

  • Reallocating resources to secure more affordable rates on freight that is not a high priority.
  • Strategic mapping of freight across distribution centers and warehouses. 
  • Identification of behavioral trends in performance metrics. 
  • Increased insight into the performance of staff for tendering freight into high-difficult markets.
  • Implementing incentive plans to encourage users to tender the best freight for the situation.


Freight brokers deploy SONAR Signals OPEN API data to get a lane value to better measure the performance of front-line workers responsible for reviewing and booking loads. By eliminating the uncertainty regarding the highest-margin versus the lowest-margin freight, forwarders and brokers effectively “cherry-pick” the most attractive loads and improve time management. In other words, freight with a lower profit value will be left to movements of a lower priority. The applications of that data continuously add up to improve:

  • Collection of historical data to conduct performance analysis.
  • Analysis of trends among service representatives to understand performance and recognize those booking the most lucrative loads.
  • Ability to help new broker representatives understand the workflow by filtering loads with an “easier” score within Lane Manager to reduce delays in booking.


For 3PLs, the use of lane value assignments carries both benefits for freight brokers and those associated with shippers. 

For instance, 3PLs can:

  • Drive increased carrier performance.
  • Set standards for expectations in booking more difficult loads.
  • Restrict access to the premier or most-attractive loads from low-performing carriers and more. 

These features allow a 3PL to better manage its relationships with available carriers. With respect to 3PLs operating dedicated fleets, more prescriptive lane value assessments also provide insight into where that 3PL can reallocate resources. Therefore, shippers and freight brokers are more likely to have ample shipments that they can generate greater profitability in a shorter period. 

As an added example, an asset-based 3PL can effectively move available trucks and capacity into markets with a higher difficulty rate to help stabilize the market.

Get a Demo of how SONAR Signals Open API can enable split-second decision making and automated workflows

A process so simple, everyone should be doing it. SONAR Signals are bringing the intel of SONAR directly to your commercial software or tender management system for faster, easier decision making within your organization or customer. Free to use through third-party developers, SONAR Signals Open API is the easiest way to simplify your daily decision making. 

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