Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (July 19, 2019)

We’re getting ready for a heat wave here in Boston. Temperatures are supposed to reach 100F tomorrow and Sunday.

The National Weather Service has issued an “Excessive Heat Warning” for the area, advising residents to take extra precautions if you spend time outside.

What do you do in this heat? Go to the beach or pool? Go to the movies? Go bowling, to a museum, or anywhere indoors with air conditioning?

I’m probably going for a 3-hour, 50-mile bike ride.

It’s an opportunity to train in the conditions I will face this October when I ride 100 miles in Death Valley, CA (where the temperature will reach 117F this weekend) in support of JDRF. There’s no distance I won’t ride, and no weather I won’t ride in, to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) — for my daughter and everyone affected by this disease.

Several members of our Logistics Leaders for Type 1 Diabetes Cure Team are also riding in Death Valley, and others are riding in Saratoga Springs, NY in September (including five riders from BluJay Solutions, one of our team sponsors). 

It’s not too late to help us reach our fundraising goal. If you’re interested in sponsoring the team or riding with us, please contact me. You can also donate to support any of our riders via our team page (just click on the rider’s name). Any amount you can donate will help us get closer to creating a world without T1D.

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

Transplace and Descartes MacroPoint: Making Real-Time Freight Visibility a Standard TMS Capability

There’s always something new to talk about with transportation management systems.

The big news this week was the announcement by Transplace (a Talking Logistics sponsor) that “it will provide real-time visibility as a standard feature, without any extra transaction or integration fee, for all of its managed transportation services and Transportation Management System (TMS) customers.” Here are some details from the press release:

As the first to include real-time visibility service as standard within TMS, Transplace is leveraging Descartes MacroPoint™ as its prime real-time visibility partner. Integration of Descartes MacroPoint into its TMS and managed services solutions will enable Transplace to seamlessly deliver consistent and reliable real-time shipment tracking leveraging the hundreds of thousands of carriers Descartes MacroPoint supports. Transplace will first roll out the solution for truckload (TL) shipments in the U.S. and Canada by January 2020, and will expand the offering to Mexico and other geographies, as well as other modes in the future as part of Transplace’s vision to deliver superior, full, end-to-end real-time global visibility as standard practice.

This real-time visibility integration extends Transplace’s efforts to apply the benefits of machine learning and data science to help shippers take a more predictive and proactive approach to supply chain management. Real-time visibility combined with Transplace’s existing predictive risk analytics capabilities will enhance service prediction and enable Transplace and its customers to more proactively manage potential supply chain disruptions.

Transplace chose Descartes MacroPoint because of its ease of use, proven capabilities, extremely large, diverse network of carriers and connectivity with smaller fleets and owner-operators. The two companies have fostered a strong, beneficial relationship over the past four years, and this expanded alliance is a natural step in continuing to deliver outstanding and differentiating value to customers.

At last year’s Descartes Evolution 2018 conference, I interviewed executives from BASF, which is one of Transplace’s customers using Descartes MacroPoint (see “BASF Video Case Study: The Value Of Real-Time Freight Visibility”). According to William Wehrle, who was Director of Supply Chain at BASF at the time, “the data we’re getting [from Descartes MacroPoint] has been hugely successful. It allows us to analyze the in and out times at our shipping locations as well as our customer locations. We’ve embarked on a demurrage project to look at where we’re having inefficiencies in our loading and delivery processes causing us to waste a truck driver’s time.

“We’re also using the data to manage our carriers,” Wehrle added. “By having actual minute-by-minute arrival times for our carriers, we’re able to accurately measure their on-time delivery performance, see which carriers are performing well and which ones aren’t, and as a result we’ve awarded more business to those superior-performing carriers.”

As I’ve written before, real-time freight visibility is quickly moving from a “nice to have” capability to a “must have” one. That is why most leading TMS vendors have partnerships with multiple freight visibility solution providers. Their approach is to remain partner agnostic, but in the process, some of those partnerships haven’t advanced past the press release stage — meaning, the integration work hasn’t been done and customers still have to contract separately for the service. The Transplace-Descartes MacroPoint partnership takes it a step further by making real-time freight visibility a standard capability of the TMS — just like anti-lock brakes have become a standard feature on cars. 

From a broader perspective, this partnership builds upon other partnerships and investments Transplace has made to expand and strengthen its Control Tower capabilities. In April 2019, for example, Transplace announced a partnership with Riskpulse “to enhance real-time, predictive risk analytics capabilities.” Earlier in the year, the company also announced a partnership with Noodle.ai, “a leading provider of Enterprise AI® applications, [which] will enable Transplace to further integrate AI and machine learning technologies into its operations in order to deliver enhanced logistics services and technology to shippers.” And on the people side, Transplace recently hired Matthew Harding as the company’s senior vice president of data science. As stated in the press release, “Harding will lead Transplace’s Data Insights & Analytics team to derive useful and actionable insights out of internal network data, as well as support partnership and collaboration with companies with deep artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning expertise.”

Simply put, as I wrote last October, the line between TMS and Control Tower solutions has started to blur. Leading solutions go beyond providing visibility to shipments and assets; they also enable visibility to orders and stock keeping units, and they incorporate optimization capabilities (to re-plan when exceptions occur) and collaboration capabilities (to facilitate communication and the exchange of data and information between trading partners). Leading solutions are also starting to embed machine learning capabilities and leverage a broader set of data sources — including weather, traffic, location, and social media — to enable predictive capabilities, especially around determining more accurate Estimated Times of Arrival (ETAs).

Yes, there’s always something new to talk about with TMS.

And with that, I’m out of space and time. Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Without a Blush” by Hatchie