Artificial intelligence, data analytics, and business-process automation are innovations being heavily utilized by logistics companies, technology vendors, and load board operators right now, as these methods have boosted freight matching capabilities and truck-to-load connectivity efficiency.
“I think it starts with the customer and really understanding their problems,” said DAT Freight & Analytics vice president of product, Nadya Duke Boone. “When they’re looking at that load, they actually have lots of different things in their heads that they’re trying to juggle. What we’re doing is bringing all that together in one streamlined way. I think that’s where the power of automation can really help if you do it right.”
According to Boone, DAT Book Now was one of her company’s methods for solving the issues customers face regularly and to help automate previously-manual processes.
For Truckstop.com, streamlining processes begins with determining what currently is working efficiently and what isn’t, and the company has been investing in technology teams to accurately make those decisions.
“How do we help them be more effective and efficient, and how do we get the work flows correct to provide them answers at the right time so they can make quick decisions?” asked Truckstop.com’s chief product officer, Brett Webb.
Also implementing automation in regards to business-process technology is Kenco Group, a logistics services provider.
“A couple of good examples where we got some traction are things like tracking and tracing,” said the company’s senior vice president of transportation, Mike McClelland.
Kenco has also been using process automation for its large online retailers wanting to integrate coordinating, warehousing, and appointment-setting services into their own fleets, as well as for its freight payment activity and other back-end processes.
“We are investing heavily in robotic process automation to eliminate any type of manual work, [and] any type of data entry that we’re having to redo in various systems,” said Kenco’s vice president of innovation, Kristi Montgomery.
Additionally, Kenco has been using DaVinci AI, a proprietary machine-learning AI system for service failure predictive analytics as well as for more accurately-estimated times of arrival. Other new technology utilized by Kenco includes Kenco STARR, a system launched in February to help smaller shippers with a TMS, HubTran for automated back-end processing, and a control tower capability system for its transportation branch.
“It is a marketplace, so you have to make sure demand and supply meet,” explained Uber Freight‘s head of product, Natarajan Subbiah. “Every time I’ve talked to someone in the logistics space and the shippers of the world, no one [has ever] said they have a lot of free time. So, this means that we have to make things super easy for them to basically improve their daily quality of life.”
Uber Freight has also launched a variety of tech-based AI solutions for supply chain members, especially to help make processes easier during the coronavirus era.
“It helped us weather through the market fluctuations, which we had quite a few [of] last year,” said Subbiah.
Additionally, Uber Freight’s pricing models have implemented data point-analyzing machine learning systems in order to instantly offer pricing for loads across their network. For larger customers to more easily gain access, Uber Freight also launched Uber Freight Link and Market Access.
“For those smaller shippers, we basically built a fully self-serve platform called the Shipper Platform that allows them to price and tender loads almost instantaneously,” Subbiah continued. “Because we price loads instantaneously, we make it super easy for shippers.”
Truckstop.com is also currently working on shifting its customer base to a new load search system, one that utilizes machine learning automation to predict more accurate rate estimates and ease the process of product freight matching.
For example, a ‘summary card’ was created by Webb and her team to work as a decision tree for carriers to more efficiently call a broker or book a load themselves.
“That is kind of the simplest part of that automation that we’ve been investing in, just keeping that user interface simple, streamlined, and with the right data at the right time,” she said.