Convoy, J.B. Hunt, and Uber Freight want API standards in freight tech. The three have formed the Scheduling Standards Consortium (SSC) to call for standardization in transportation appointment scheduling via a report from FreightWaves.
What’s the problem In Freight Tech?
Despite being a common task, appointment scheduling is still one of the freight industry’s most analog and disjointed processes. Freight tech companies have tried to tackle this issue but haven’t had insight into one another’s data. Going in without that open exchange doesn’t help fix fragmented supply chains.
The SSC wants to combine the work of logistics providers, warehouse management solutions, and transportation management systems to push toward industry standards in scheduling practices.
Standards Consortium started with an organic conversation…
…between three representatives from each company during a FreightWaves Future of Supply Chain conference back in May. It was there that Dan Lewis, CEO of Convoy, spoke with Stuart Scott, executive vice president and chief information officer at J.B. Hunt, and the co-founder and head of operations at Uber Freight, Bill Driegert. The three felt that as early technology adopters, they could lead the way to more efficient scheduling practices.
They say that the goal of SSC is not to create another commercial product but to pull multiple parts of the industry together “to design a common application programming interface for sharing scheduling data,” Lewis and Scott explained to FreightWaves.
Lewis adds, “By setting these API standards, it allows for more innovation in the future.”
What’s the response?
There’s already a website up and running. Scott says current contributors showed an overwhelmingly positive response to the goal of industry-wide API standards. But they still need to get more key players on board with sharing information. The goal is that seeing leaders like J.B. Hunt involved will convince others to join the consortium.
The SSC plans to roll out standards for full-truckload freight by Q1 2023.
Kodiak Robotics, an autonomous truck startup out of California, will get $49.9 million from the US Army to work with the Robotic Combat Vehicle program, per The Verge. They’ll use the funds to help develop self-driving vehicles for the military in reconnaissance, surveillance, and other “high-risk” missions.
What kind of autonomous military vehicles can we expect from Kodiak?
The 24-month US Department of Defense agreement allows Kodiak to build on its commercial autonomous truck software for national security. Press releases revealed few details about the potential vehicles.
“Kodiak will develop autonomous vehicle technology for the Army to navigate complex terrain, diverse operational conditions, and GPS-challenged environments while also providing the Army the ability to remotely operate vehicles when necessary,” the company says.
Last month, Kodiak displayed the capabilities of its self-driving software under a high-pressure situation. We shared the video of the autonomous truck maintaining precise control during a tire blowout, never leaving its lane.
That type of display may have been why they were initially the only autonomous vehicle company selected out of 33 submissions for this DoD Defense Innovation Unit award.
What about Kodiak’s commercial autonomous trucks?
Kodiak mentions that this reward and project will not derail its core commercial autonomous trucks business. They see the military contract as a way to extend and propel its innovations forward.
“As we progress our commercial product over the next 24 months and beyond, we will provide that increased functionality and performance to the army…Our military work will help us progress Kodiak’s trucking stack and core commercial offering.” CEO and founder of Kodiak, Don Burnette, writes.
That’s usually how things go when a company partners with the military. We’re likely to see advancements from the collaboration. We’re curious to know how the military-industrial complex’s focus on autonomous vehicles will help shape the future of US roads.
In an earlier newsletter, FreightCaviar wrote about a WSJ report on the unraveling of the US and China trade relationship. Now, US manufacturing orders from China are down 40%, according to the latest data from CNBC. Most production will shut down for seven days starting on January 21 for the Chinese New Year holiday, two weeks earlier than in previous years.
Some numbers from project44:
- 2,475,792 vessel TEU volume from China to the US in July 2022
- 1,961,121 TEUs in November 2022, a 21% decline.
What Caused ORder Dropoff in China?
Recent China trade issues stem from strict Covid-19 lockdowns that its citizens angrily spoke out against in protests across the country. We can’t forget the general drop in global demand and overcapacity issues. So it’s easy to see why the disruption and slowdown have some brands looking elsewhere.
Apple plans to move production out of China.
The company wants to diversify its supply chain because of recent issues in China. The Wall Street Journal reports that “iPhone City” in Zhengzhou, China dealt with violent protests over Covid restrictions at its Foxconn-run factory. This one factory employed around 300,000 workers and, at one point, made 85% of Pro version iPhones, according to Counterpoint Research.
During lockdowns, workers at the factory lived on-site and limited their interaction with others. The first to grow restless were young people who climbed fences, left the factory, and began speaking out on social media against low wages and harsh restrictions, WSJ reports.
The disruptions became apparent at the end of the line: US wait times for iPhones have increased since 2020, with customers waiting 37 days, even 10 weeks after launch day in 2022.
- There was a 25-day wait time for the iPhone 12 Pro Max in 2020 at launch.
- In 2022, wait times increased to 39 days for the iPhone 14 Pro Max at launch.
Apple is now looking to India and Vietnam as new hubs of production. But they won’t be completely cutting off ties with China just yet. The country still has the workforce and consistent regulation. However, in the long term, Apple wants to ship 40% to 45% of iPhones from India.
Supply chain lines are being reworked…
…because of a series of global events that have lasting consequences. Brexit, the US – China trade war, a worldwide pandemic, and Russia’s war in Ukraine have some fearing the end of globalization. But China still plays an essential role in the supply chain for many countries. Given the current economic climate across Europe, the EU plans to ramp up ties with China despite US desires.
So no, lines with China won’t be erased any time soon. They may be redrawn or made less bold as countries reevaluate the role that the “manufacturing hub of the world” plays in their economies.
By Adriana Pulley
Locus Raises $117 Million To Advance Warehousing
Another win for robots! Locus Robotics, based in Massachusetts, has made a name for itself in the thriving warehousing robotics industry. This week Locus announced a $117 million Series F led by Goldman Sachs, G2 Venture Partners and Stack per TechCrunch. The company’s total funding is now around $400 million bringing Locus’s valuation close to $2 billion.
Locus is a standout among others in the industry like…
- Verity AG
- 6 River Systems (acquired by Shopify)
- RightHand Robotics
- Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems)
We can only expect ventures like Locus to boom…
…considering the accelerated growth of the eCommerce sector and rumors of names like TikTok pushing into the US market. In recent days, we’ve seen digital orders set records this Black Friday. In order to stay competitive, you’ve gotta bring in the bots.
Of course, industry giant Amazon still dominates. They were one of the early adopters of automation, acquiring Kiva Systems for their fulfilment centers back in 2012. Amazon sets the standards and goals that smaller retailers have to catch up to. Because of that, robotics startups have cropped up everywhere to bridge the gap.
Like others, Locus assures the public that no, our robots won’t run you out of a job.
They say they “understand the importance of having robots that work collaboratively with workers, not replace them.” They illustrate the point with digital line art showing an at-ease worker leaning against one of their robots. See? Total harmony.
For the future…
Locus looks towards further solidifying its place as a leader in the warehouse robotics space.
Powered Trailers Coming Soon Thanks to Range
Based in Mountain View, California, Range has created a powered trailer to “accelerate the electrification of commercial transportation” according to their website. Range was founded in 2021 by Ali Javidan, a former head of prototypes at Tesla.
How do They work? Range explains on its site:
- An “integrated sensor and powertrain system” power the trailer.
- A smart kingpin unit measures the load the trailer places on the truck.
- The smart kingpin, sensor, and system communicate with one another, reducing the load on the engine under acceleration and recapturing kinetic energy using regenerative braking.
The trailers use standard interfaces and are compatible with both diesel and electric trucks. Even if the trailers weren’t plugged in, they can still safely haul cargo.
Who’s interested and why?
It makes sense that smaller trucking companies might be interested in this more cost-efficient alternative. The Tesla Semi, which reportedly completed a 500-mile haul, costs $180,000 or $150,000 for the 300-mile-range option.
The FMCSA has made its environmental priorities clear, wanting to curb engine emissions and pushing towards the adoption of zero-emission trucks. California leads the way in electric vehicle initiatives with goals to phase out diesel trucks in the next 20 years.
Range’s powered trailers could really help the little guys…
…stay relevant in this fast-changing industry. Their audience is clear to them. Range markets the powered trailers as a “practical, compliant, near-term solution to emissions mandates.”
According to Range, their trailers “reduce diesel consumption and tailpipe emissions by 41% in combined city/highway driving, with no increase to cost-per-mile.” And for those companies that may already have electric vehicles, the powered trailers extend the miles driven before the EV trucks need their next charge-up.
The company recently raised $8 million in Seed funding led by Up Partners, R7, and Yamaha Motor Ventures.
Latest and Greatest From Around the Freight Web
Somebody Help!: On Monday night, Biden called on Congress to take action to avoid a freight rail strike. On Tuesday, Congressional leaders spoke up, expressing support for legislation on the issue. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Tomorrow morning we will have a bill on the floor.”
Drug Bust: A truck driver was stopped at the US-Mexico border where his load of “surgical kits” turned out to be hiding 22.97 pounds of cocaine (an estimated street value of $291,760). In a statement, the driver said he was “obligated” to move the drugs.
Korean Wave: South Korea’s trucker strike, the second one this year, rippled through the supply chain. The disruption blocked access to two of the country’s busiest container ports. Following a 6-day strike, the truckers have now been ordered back to work.
Final Battle: In the battle of the brokers, many see 2023 as the time to prove yourself or sink. Legacy brokers like C.H. Robinson and RXO have expanded their own automated systems to compete with native digital brokerages like Uberfreight and Convoy. For smaller firms without AI tech…things will get pretty rocky.
Fast Friends: Turvo and DAT have formally announced their partnership bringing efficiency in the form of a “one-stop shop” for freight matching. DAT VP of Sales says their load board network will host more than 535 million load and truck posts.
Check out our latest roundup of the top news headlines from around the freight and logistics world. We gather news related to brokers, carriers, shippers, logistics startups, freight tech, and more. Here’s what we’ve got for November 28, 2022.
- Broker Market: The global freight brokerage market is estimated to reach $90.7 billion by 2031, a CAGR of 6.3% from 2022-2031.
- Unionize the Skies: Workers at Amazon’s largest air hub in the world are pushing to organize a union. This comes as strikes are cropping up at Amazon centers across the globe.
- From Outside the Cab: A viral video showed a truck driver steering an 18-wheeler into a parking spot without even stepping inside the cabin. Some gave praise while others ripped him a new one.
- Askin’ All Them Questions: The planned mega-merger between Kroger and Albertsons is facing questioning from congress this week. If successful, the top grocers would bring nearly 5,000 stores under one umbrella.
- Class 8 Update: October Class 8 orders continue at robust levels due to pent-up demand, broader orderboards for 2023, and elevated fleet age.
Want to see last week’s headlines?