How to Work Smarter: The 2 Steps Needed to Transform Transportation Data into Supply Chain Action

Tommy Barnes, President, project44
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Tommy Barnes, President, project44

The trucking industry is the heartbeat of our economy. Almost 70 percent of freight tonnage moved in the U.S. is on trucks. But in order to move 9.2B tons of freight in a year while reducing transportation costs and, ultimately, getting products from A to B to the consumer faster, we have to work smarter and modernize our technology.

Integrating cloud-based tools that have less expensive and faster-to-deploy solutions is one of the best ways to do that. There are a handful of platforms available in the industry that check that box, but only one is positioned to have an immediate and long-lasting impact on enhancing revenue, reducing costs and improving efficiencies.

That technology is web-service APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) -- they capture clean, real-time transportation information and transform it into data-driven supply chain action. Here’s how:

Step 1: Capturing Real-Time Transportation Data

The degree of fragmentation in trucking and logistics demands for solutions that better streamline freight connectivity - that is, facilitate the exchange of data and documents with the external systems in a real-time, flexible and cost-effective way.

We need immediate connectivity, but rely on a default technology called EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). EDI runs data transmission in batches over timers – data is stored and then forwarded without confirmation, like a fax machine. That storage delay causes daily freight transactions, like tracking a package, to take between 30 to 240 minutes.

In today’s on-demand economy, the strategic importance of transportation efficiency and the costs associated with poor execution are magnified. Therefore, shipment data has become more important than the shipment itself. A modern-alternative to EDI, Freight APIs facilitate two-way data transfer in nanoseconds, resulting in real-time transportation connectivity at a lower cost.

Step 2: Transforming Transportation Data into Supply Chain Action

Now what if you could layer big data analytics on top of transportation connectivity to obtain deeper insights into how your data flows support your supply chain?

You can. The technology that harnesses and analyzes transportation data to build a comprehensive supply chain picture is the same technology that facilitates better freight connectivity.

Business intelligence like this is a key focus area for CIOs and Chief Supply Chain Officers in 2016, and it’s made possible because Freight APIs are structured to clearly define how a system will interact with the rest of the software world without data entanglements. The first step to deploying big data analytics is putting APIs in place to capture structured, transportation data in real-time. Then, supply chain executives can begin to leverage that data to deliver the predictive insights needed to empower their supply chains into action.  

Ultimately, that means…

• Distributors improve their vendor profile and compliance by reducing inbound transportation delays and meeting just-in-time deadlines.
• Retailers manage leaner inventory levels with less stockouts and, ultimately, better meet the dynamic needs of today’s omni-channel consumer at a lower cost.
• E-commerce retailers tie LTL outbound transportation costs and transit times directly into their e-commerce platforms to reduce shopping cart abandonment and optimize price.

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