This Week in Logistics News (May 15-19, 2017)

The weather finally warmed up in Boston, although temperatures in the 90s so early in the season is not what I had hoped for. Nonetheless, I put on my cycling gear and went for a couple of rides this week as I begin turning up the training dial in preparation for our Logistics Leaders for Type 1 Diabetes Cure team ride, which is just four months away in Saratoga Springs, NY.

I am happy to announce the confirmed riders and sponsors for this year’s team:

So far, we have raised over $40,000 for JDRF, the leading non-profit organization focused on T1D research and advocacy. A great amount, but short of our audacious $70K goal for this year. So, if you’re a friend or colleague of any of our riders and are interested in making a donation, please do so via the links above.

Also, we still have an open slot on the roster, so if you’re a supply chain or logistics company interested in sponsoring the team and an employee to participate in the ride, or if you’re a supply chain or logistics professional with a direct or indirect connection with T1D, or you’re an avid cyclist or someone looking to take on a challenge for a great cause, please contact me for more details on how to join the team.

Why do I ride for this cause? My daughter Hannah, who was diagnosed with T1D at age 11. Despite the daily challenges, she doesn’t let T1D get in the way of accomplishing her dreams. She recently completed her second marathon and earlier this year she was recognized by our city for her participation in Understanding Our Differences, an organization focused on disability education awareness, where she speaks to 4th graders about T1D. The video below is the brief talk she gave at the ceremony.

Thank you for listening.

Now, here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week:

Hot off the wires this morning, Descartes announced that it has acquired ShipRush, a leading provider of e-commerce multi-carrier parcel shipping solutions for small-to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Here are some details from the press release:

[Based in Seattle, Washington], ShipRush helps e-commerce SMBs and omni-channel retailers execute parcel shipments for last-mile delivery to customers.  With integrations to over 60 business systems, including leading ERP, e-commerce and supply chain platforms, the ShipRush platform helps customers to streamline their supply chain and reduce transportation costs by automatically importing orders, comparing carrier rates, printing shipping labels for all major carriers, and tracking through final delivery.

“The ShipRush team brings deep domain expertise in e-commerce and parcel shipping to Descartes,” said Edward J. Ryan, Descartes’ CEO. “When combined with our solutions from the recent Oz and pixi acquisitions, it provides our omni-channel retail and SMB customers with a broad set of solutions to address their parcel shipping needs.”

Descartes acquired ShipRush for up-front consideration of approximately $USD 14.0 million satisfied with cash on hand, plus potential performance-based consideration.

This acquisitions underscores the growing importance of parcel shipping in transportation operations, which is why over the past few years several transportation management system (TMS) vendors (after long ignoring this mode) have added parcel capabilities to their solutions. It also underscores another trend I’ve written about over the past year: the growing convergence of commerce and logistics.

The other big news is that Uber Freight (after quietly starting operations late last year) officially launched this week. Here are some excerpts from the company’s FAQ page:

What is Uber Freight and how does it work? Uber Freight is a free app that matches carriers with shippers. Carriers can press a button to book a load, and receive the amount that’s in the app. Our app shows you the price we pay for a load and the load details, and with one button, you can book that load! 100% of the loads on our app are exclusive to us through our contracts with shippers. Once you sign up and submit your information, you can download our free app and book loads right from the app once you’re approved.

What kind of freight are [we] moving? Right now we’re moving 53’ dry van and reefer. We’ll be expanding to more types of freight moving forward!

Where is [our] freight? The majority of the freight in the Uber Freight app is in and out of Texas right now, but you will see loads in the app all over the United States! You can filter loads by location and date to find the best load for you. We’re continuing to add freight to our app every day, so if you don’t see one that fits, check back soon!

And here is the new Uber Freight video:

Check out my post from March — “Uber: The Newest Entry on Your Carrier Scorecard” — for more insight on this topic. I’ll just repeat what I said then: It takes a lot more than a mobile app to succeed in the freight transportation industry, but because of its resources and brand strength, you have to take Uber seriously. But as [Frank McGuigan from Transplace] alluded to [in our Talking Logistics conversation], Uber’s success or failure will ultimately depend on whether shippers and carriers take them seriously too, and whether they provide a better value proposition than the status quo. With some shippers already including Uber in their routing guides and carrier scorecards, we’ll find out soon enough.

Finally, the The Weather Company, an IBM Business, introduced its new Operations Dashboard for Ground Transportation, “a solution which is designed to help optimize workforce productivity and route selection for freight and logistics companies.” Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

This comprehensive, customizable dashboard includes key information on weather and road condition information, such as precipitation, wind, fog, ice and pooling water. The dashboard also integrates real-time traffic flow and incident data, and flags safety hazards.

“By providing freight and logistics companies with a single view of critical weather and traffic information, we are providing them with the ability to make proactive decisions that can reduce inefficiencies and potentially keep their drivers out of harm’s way,” said Mark Gildersleeve, vice president and head of business solutions, The Weather Company. “We understand that weather can be disruptive, but with the right insight companies can be prepared to make proactive decisions.”

No doubt, having access to real-time data about weather, traffic, and other factors would help companies take proactive actions to minimize or prevent transportation disruptions and delays. But in order to efficiently leverage this insight, this data has to be tightly integrated with transportation management systems — that is, be presented in the same context and user interface of the applications transportation planners and dispatchers work with, otherwise users will be clicking back and forth between different screens and apps, which would be too cumbersome a process and thus limit its use and effectiveness.

And with that, have a great weekend!

Song of the Week: “Kill for Candy” by DREAMCAR