American Truck & Rail Audits, Inc.: SMART After-Payment Freight Audits

As transportation and supply chain industries continue to transform due to digitization and innovation, the value of employing humans alongside processes increasingly enabled by technologies is often dismissed. The exponential increase in the use of automation in the freight audit and payment space further magnifies the perception that human experts can be easily and equally replaced in this domain. The reality is, however, that freight costs and billing can be very complex, and it is widely acknowledged that most technologies have not evolved sufficiently to address multi-faceted, novel problems where human judgment, insight, and expertise remain critical. Freight audits performed solely using technology products are presently limited by what software and algorithms are designed to identify. As such, Arkansas-based American Truck & Rail Audits, Inc. (AMTR) continues to focus on the powerful synergy between human transportation experts and leading-edge technologies to provide after-payment freight auditing and transportation-related knowledge services. Maintaining smart transportation experts in the loop is the centerpiece of the company’s Smart Auditing® approach, which is to discover and recover freight overcharges and to educate clients on how to avoid such errors in the future.

As the Home of Smart Auditing®, AMTR is one of the few freight auditing firms in the industry that continues to emphasize the significance of human transportation experts in the audit process. “At the same time, we do recognize the critical importance of enabling our auditors with powerful technology tools. And, with our primary strategic focus on after-payment freight audits, we endeavor to become the nation’s premier provider,” states Summer Bartczak, Ph.D., CEO of AMTR. The company works with clients’ data after the payment for freight transactions has been made—also known as post audit—as opposed to the practice of pre-audit before the payment is made.

AMTR is a comprehensive claims management company that files claims and recovers overcharge payments for clients. "Many organizations do not have spare time to pay attention to transportation-related cost details and may even lack the expertise to do so. There is also a significant pressure to ‘just pay the bills’ with no opportunity to investigate accuracy. We work with such organizations to recover freight overcharges that would otherwise become a permanent freight expense,” adds Summer. At AMTR, freight bill auditing begins with analyzing all data for a given shipment and verifying bills for payment errors. This process, where the human element is essential, includes researching supporting data, pricing, regulations, and implied intents of any contractual agreements. AMTR charges no upfront fees, and payment is based solely on a percentage of successful claim recoveries.

While most clients look to AMTR for a primary after-payment freight audit, others leverage the company’s services as secondary auditors—some even behind pre-audit firms. No matter the scenario, AMTR always makes interesting finds that expose the man-machine gap. One AMTR client was found to have been charged hazardous material and freeze protection fees on truckloads in error for so long that it had become routine for them—expected and paid without question. AMTR experts identified the error, educated the client, and recovered $100,000 in past overcharges and untold amounts in future overpayments.

As the Home of Smart Auditing®, we are one of the few freight auditing companies in the industry that continues to emphasize the significance of human transportation experts in the audit process

Another example involves AMTR intervening to solve railhead/city name issue conflicts. This problem involves the case where there is not an identical match between a city name and the corresponding railhead(s) name for that city. When names are improperly used on invoices, they generate confusion for the rate engines for both the railroad and shipper. Often, personnel paying the invoices see no alternative to rates because they cannot identify a match to negotiated contract or even public tariff prices, so the improperly billed invoice is approved and paid. AMTR has educated many clients on this type of problem—the kind that automated applications simply cannot detect— and thus, saving them hundreds of thousands in past and future overpayments.

“AMTR has more than 35 years of experience in the freight audit business and is fortunate for the past leadership of family members and employees who made the company what it is today. Reflecting on our significant growth in the past five years accompanied by a growing list of Fortune 100/500 clients, we are excited about what lies ahead,” mentions Summer. AMTR attributes its success to the educational investments in its human experts, including five Mensa members, who form the backbone of the company’s Smart Auditing® approach. Also crucial are its deep relationships with shippers as they tenaciously participate in industry gatherings and work to remain actively engaged in professional organizations such as NITL, TLC, TIA, and NASSTRAC. AMTR now looks forward to enhancing its auditing capabilities by further exploiting technologies such as data mining, artificial intelligence, and visualization across all key processes while constantly maintaining the synergy with its smart human auditors. Instead of using technology alone to “Jet Ski” freight audits at the surface, the knowledgeable experts at AMTR will continue to do a “deep dive” to save organizations even more money.