The new visibility capability, which taps into real-time positioning data for all types of truckload equipment, is intended to fit into project44’s larger ambition to help digitize and automate the entire shipment lifecycle for its customers, chief executive officer Jett McCandless said in an interview with American Shipper.
The truckload visibility tool is designed to complement project44’s existing visibility into small package, less-than-truckload (LTL) and volume LTL shipments. Customers can access the visibility data through their existing off-the-shelf or proprietary TMS, or via a standalone interface. project44 is directly integrated within a number of TMS providers, including JDA Software, MercuryGate, McLeod Software and CloudLogistics.
McCandless said project44 is taking a different approach to gathering the visibility data than other companies that either seeking to solely provide truckload visibility or using it to create a marketplace of available capacity.
“There’s so much more that goes into the shipment lifecycle than transportation, so we’re focusing on multimodal,” he said. “How do you plan inventory is you only have visibility to one mode?”
project44 will use ELD information (by partnering with telematics solutions providers), appless tracking and APIs, eschewing app-based tracking and EDI.
Among the telematics companies is fleet management technology provider Omnitracs.
“Once a new software solution like freight visibility begins picking up steam with shippers and 3PLs, those buyers will want to know that their various software providers have not only a tight integration but also access to a vast amount of trucking data," said Andrew Kelley, vice president of corporate development at Omnitracs. "When you combine the data access provided by Omnitracs’ Virtual Load View Application with project44’s enterprise-grade architecture, commitment to quality, capacity provider connections and robust product portfolio, those buyers now receive greater visibility and improved customer service.”
At the time of launch of the visibility capability, project44 said it is already connected to more than 91,000 carriers via:
• Integrations with every major ELD vendor including PeopleNet, Omnitracs, and Rand McNally
• Direct API-level integrations with top truckload carriers including Schneider, Werner, Knight, CRST, and Covenant, among others
While McCandless said app-based tracking provides great data, project44 has taken the position that such approaches don’t fit in with it ethos. He added that expecting truckers to adopt another new trucking app is practically difficult.
The appless approach requires truckers to opt-in to a text message – McCandless said the company is seeing a plus-60 percent opt-in rate – and one they’ve opted in once, all future shipments hauled by that driver are tracked, no matter the cargo owner, until the driver opts out.
Since then, project44 has aimed for a broader footprint, building a one-to-many API hub for shippers and LSPs to connect to and get critical data from carriers. In its next evolution, it will aim to digitize the entire multimodal shipment lifecycle through APIs, not displacing existing TMSs and their ecosystems but providing its customers a layer to automate as much of the shipment management as possible.
“All our customers are enterprise, and all they want to know is “is it going to show up the day it’s supposed to, then manage the exceptions and know what their options are,’” he said. “They they can say, ‘Oh no, that truckload is going to be late, so I can go to FedEx Freight priority.’
“For so long the thinking was that transportation was a cost center, but Amazon is proving that there is value creation in transportation. In order to accomplish that, it requires a lot of functional expertise, but people don’t want to hire 30 people to manage their supply chain. Someone orders a product, and there’s an expectation that it the shipment will be automated.”