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Tech Boosts Efficiency Throughout Supply Chain

·3 min read
supply chain logistics technology
supply chain logistics technology

From aggregating freight to improving routing and providing visibility throughout the process, digital technology is helping companies in the transportation and logistics industry make the most of their trucks, trailers and other assets.

During companies’ quarterly earnings calls held over the last couple of weeks, executives highlighted the investments being made in future technology and the returns being delivered by the digital tools they’re using now.

For example, value-added logistics solutions enabled by technology are in high demand and are contributing to a significant amount of new business at Ryder System, said Chairman and CEO Robert Sanchez.

Beyond that, Ryder has invested in startups focused on areas like autonomous vehicle technology, eCommerce fulfillment and digital technologies that support freight optimization.

“Our investments here advance strategic relationships to support development of new products that benefit our customers and solidify our position as an industry leader,” Sanchez said.

Empowering People With Technology 

Enhanced visibility provided by a multimodal digital freight platform was put in the spotlight during J.B. Hunt Transport Services’ earnings call. Dubbed J.B. Hunt 360, this platform helps customers effectively source their capacity needs.

Read more: Inflation Throws Wrench in Supply Chain as Freight Traffic Levels Off

“We empower our people, our organization and our customers with investments in technology to help provide productivity and efficiencies in our collective processes,” said Shelley Simpson, who was chief commercial officer and executive vice president of people and human resources at the time of the call and was appointed president of the company a day later.

Digitizing and automating the business, particularly around the transaction level, has been a significant focus at Schneider National. The company is seeing it start to bear fruit in its logistics business and is bringing those same digital tools to its other segments, Schneider CEO and President Mark Rourke said.

See more: Seasonality Returns to Trucking After Years of Pandemic Panic

“We anticipate over time becoming more of a trailing equipment-centric organization as a result of using our technology and our network management capabilities around assets — in this case, trailers — to aggregate freight on behalf of our customers,” Rourke said.

Improving Productivity 10% 

Route optimization was highlighted by ArcBest during its earnings call, as CEO Judy R. McReynolds reported on the results of a pilot project.

Also read: Data Offers New Route to Profitability for Logistics Firms

“One of our distribution centers in Atlanta really benefited from this route optimization being put in place and saw an improvement in their street productivity that was over 10%,” McReynolds said. “What you also saw from that facility was greater ability to grow because of the efficiency that was gained.”

Visibility that enables trailers to be deployed to the segment in which they’re needed — over-the-road, dedicated operations or logistics — was cited as a way to provide customers with ample trailer pool capacity by Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings.

Read more: Inflation Brings Worries by the Truckload as Freight Demand Slows

“Certainly we have more technology to develop,” Knight-Swift President and CEO David Jackson said, “but between our ability to connect our systems across brands, our enhanced visibility and utilization of trailers and the actual insights our reporting capabilities provide our team, we are we are leveraging tech to successfully navigate the market, execute on our strategies and deliver on our relentless efforts to be the most productive and have the lowest operating cost in the industry.”