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Estes Express Lines Migrates Freight Bill Processing to AI-Powered Platform

Top 10 North American LTL carrier selects DDC FPO to augment business process outsourcing (BPO) benefits, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver accurate data to customers at a rapid rate.

Estes Express Lines, the nation’s largest privately-owned freight transportation carrier, has decided to enhance its existing billing program with DDC FPO by migrating its bill of lading (BOL) volume to the provider’s machine learning-powered BOL processing program. 

“Freight billing is a foundational event for our customers,” said Tad Blackburn, vice president of administration for Estes Express Lines. “Yet the process itself is underestimated. It’s incredibly complex and difficult with so many different  formats and tens of thousands of templates.”

And, with the recent acceleration in data demands that shippers require, he explained, “We all need to be automating more and increasing efficiency levels.”

The company, ranked no. 5 out of the top 100 for-hire carriers of 2023 by revenue, has been partnering with DDC FPO since 2011. Now managing over 33,000 bills per night for Estes, DDC has migrated the carrier’s bill volume to the company’s AI-powered platform. Offered as a service, the solution leverages a hybrid template-based and template-free extraction model paired with dedicated freight billing expert validation. The technology component grows smarter with every BOL it processes, ensuring progressive improvement in SLAs. 

According to Blackburn, who has been with Estes for over 20 years, the core benefits of this program that will move the needle for their LTL operation are speed, accuracy, and cost containment.

“Our customers want the information faster and faster. It’s really important for us to get the data back to them as fast as humanly possible.” And, when it comes to accuracy, Blackburn said plainly, “if we have inaccurate data, nothing else works right.” 

Of course, everyone is also under pressure to keep costs in line, delivering better products for cheaper prices. “DDC's solution allows us to achieve these goals,” he explained.

The testing began at the end of last year, and the official migration kicked off on August 5, 2019.

“Even with their dedicated DDC team already meeting or exceeding their service levels, we’re excited about this next chapter,” said Art Zipkin, President of DDC FPO. “Our machine-learning solution will only continue to improve these performance metrics and, more importantly, facilitate the long-term growth and scalability for our partner.”  

The outcomes mentioned by Zipkin aren’t limited to the carrier. Their shippers will also benefit directly from this decision in their own back offices. With low unemployment, obtaining talent is challenging throughout the supply chain.

“One thing we hear from our customers is that they are short-staffed on the AP side,” said Blackburn. “Add in the surge in demand for automation and efficiency, and we’re at a crossroads. 

“With machine learning, we can now do data matching and validation accurately and more timely, and enable our customers’ processes and systems to connect seamlessly without any problem.”


About Estes Express Lines

As the nation’s largest privately-owned freight transportation carrier, Estes is a go-to provider of end-to-end transportation and custom logistics services. Through our vast regional, national, and international coverage areas, Estes’ comprehensive solutions include: Less-Than-Truckload, Time Critical, Volume and Truckload, International, Custom Shipping Services Residential, and Technology. Backed by nearly 90 years of industry expertise and financial stability, Estes delivers a better customer experience through flexibility and improved technology to best meet your rapidly changing freight transportation needs. We are a fourth-generation company, and we understand that our nationwide team of over 18,000 employees is one of our strongest assets.


With 30 years of business process outsourcing (BPO) experience, DDC FPO currently processes 30% of all LTL bills in North America and has delivered more successful freight back office solutions than any other company, including Freight Billing, Rate Auditing, POD Processing, Track & Trace, Carrier Onboarding and more. As the freight-focused division of The DDC Group – a worldwide network of business process outsourcing experts – we are powered by a global staff of over 7,000+ professionals to service our clients in over 40 languages. Our hybrid approach leverages innovative technology, proprietary workflows and subject matter expertise in a customizable framework to equip you with long-term cost containment and uncapped revenue potential.

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