C.H. Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW) has remained one of the most technologically innovative companies in the supply chain. That is continuing Thursday morning as C.H. Robinson has formally introduced C.H. Robinson Labs. The innovation incubator is designed to create, test and scale technology solutions for the global logistics giant and its customers.
Informally known as Robinson Labs, the incubator will be led by Tim Gagnon, vice president of analytics and data science at C.H. Robinson. Dedicated data science teams will be based in Minneapolis, Chicago, California's Silicon Valley and Warsaw, Poland.
"Our customers and carriers tell us that they are hungry for tech solutions to strengthen their competitive position and increase their efficiencies," Bob Biesterfeld, C.H. Robinson president and CEO, said in a statement. "That's why we have always been laser-focused on working together to solve our customers' toughest logistics challenges. Under Tim's leadership, Robinson Labs further demonstrates our commitment by identifying even more ways we can bring together our technology and the most comprehensive data sets in the industry to deliver solutions that cut shipping costs, simplify processes, and drive greater reliability and visibility."
Robinson Labs is already working with shipping customers and carriers. The incubator will complement C.H. Robinson's technology team of over 1,000 data scientists, engineers and developers. Robinson Labs will be tasked with developing and testing solutions before they are implemented across C.H. Robinson's network of 124,000 customers and 76,000 contract carriers.
"Through the spirit of innovation, Robinson Labs will create the newest solutions to continue driving the logistics industry forward," Gagnon said. "My team and I are actively collaborating with customers to solve their supply chain challenges, and then applying those learnings to benefit all of our customers and carriers."
C.H. Robinson has pledged $1 billion in technology investment across its enterprises, which is being leveraged in part to create Robinson Labs. Its continued investment in technology landed it the No. 9 spot on FreightWaves' annual FreightTech 25 list of the most innovative technology companies in logistics.
Among its innovations are the flagship Navisphere platform and the Navisphere Vision software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that allows clients to leverage C.H. Robinson's technology investments to gain improved visibility into their own supply chain operations, optimize processes, and access data and reporting on one platform.
Last November, the company launched Freightquote by C.H. Robinson. The web portal offers capacity sourcing capabilities to small and medium-size businesses for most modes of transportation. The platform allows shippers to compare real-time rates from C.H. Robinson's network of approved carriers and book their shipment via credit card. Additionally, the system provides the shipper with load tracking and shipment notifications.
Robinson Labs will build on these types of innovations to create more advanced solutions, the company said. Already, Robinson Labs is building transportation management capabilities and making them accessible through leading transportation management systems (TMS) and enterprise resource planning systems. Starting with Oracle's ERP and transportation management software, C.H. Robinson is making it even easier for customers to connect with C.H. Robinson where and how they want to buy, the company said. Connectivity includes functions such as allowing shippers to work in their own daily systems to access real-time market rates, tender freight and get real-time tracking.
"By digitally connecting C.H. Robinson's Navisphere capabilities into leading technologies such as Oracle Netsuite and transportation management, we help our customers increase productivity and drive cost savings," Gagnon said.
Robinson Labs will also help enhance Navisphere Insight, the company's business intelligence software that includes C.H. Robinson's proprietary TMS. According to the company, the enhancements will use millions of data points, predictive analytics and other information to provide insights to customers on how to improve savings, reliability and visibility. For example, with the Robinson Labs benchmark tool, shippers can reduce costs by altering lead times and volumes, as well as improve dwell times and on-time performance.
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