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.
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…
6 River Systems (acquired by Shopify)
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.
Elon Musk tweeted over the weekend that a fully loaded Tesla Semi truck completed a 500-mile trip at a total weight of 81,000 lbs.
The Tesla Semi is the first to meet the 500-mile target out of all its competitors.
Nikola, Mercedes, Daimler, and Volvo have not reached that milestone yet. Tesla’s achievement comes just a few weeks after Volvo’s Renault Trucks taunted Musk and his company for failing to deliver on past promises. Tesla’s pushed back its deal to deliver the first fleet of long-haul electric vehicles to PepsiCo by 2019 multiple times. The delivery of 15 Tesla Semi trucks is now set for December 1. It looks like it’ll finally happen.
Renault delivered its first electric trucks to Pepsi’s rival Coke in Belgium on Nov 26.
That means they beat out Tesla by just a week. It’s great to see a little friendly competition because it helps drive innovation in the sector.
Once Pepsi receives its promised first delivery, there are hundreds more Tesla Semis on order. Companies like UPS and Walmart are waiting for their fleets, too.
Australian truckload-sharing startupOfload has raised $60 million for its digital road freight platform that sells access to empty truck space. The Series B raise was led by Singapore-based Jungle Ventures.
The investment signals the continued rise in popularity of shippers willing to pool together goods into one haul. In the US, the software-driven shared truckload platform Flock Freight reached unicorn status in October of last year. The company raised $215 million in Series D financing led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
Why is Shared Truckload An Attractive Option?
Customers avoid higher costs related to loading and unloading or paying for unused space.
Shipments are delivered more quickly, as well.
Carriers can fill trucks to capacity–increasing sustainability and profit.
The platform pools shipments in real time, maps terminal-free routes, and calculates the shipper’s risk with patented technology.
FreightCaviar hopped on a call with Hunter Yaw, the Co-founder and CEO of LogRock, a company that helps uses automation to handle the unexciting business of all things compliance for trucking companies. We picked his brain over how he got his start in freight tech, what it takes to secure investments in this sector, and how LogRock shields its users against DoT violations and keeps them off the scent of trial lawyers.
Yaw got his start in freight tech before it was cool. He began working in New York with Loadsmart in 2017 when the company hadn’t yet caught the eye of those in the tech space–before this boom we’re seeing now.
He’d tell friends, “I’m working for a trucking startup,’ and people would be like, “you’re doing what?'” But “Now you tell someone you work in supply chain tech, and it’s like, ‘where can I invest?'”
His work with Loadsmart connected him with João Bosco, now co-founder and COO of LogRock. It was Bosco who suggested the two start a company together.
After both had already left Loadsmart, Bosco called up Yaw with the proposal.
“What’s the idea?” Yaw asked him.
“Listen, man; I don’t have an idea.”
What Bosco had was a vision. He saw what was happening in the supply chain space and knew the right timing to make a move. While at Loadsmart, Yaw learned that to be successful in this space, you have to be aware of what you bring to the table–and what you don’t.
He explained that for someone coming from a tech background, you couldn’t overlook that a large part of this industry needs people. So, you have to be careful that you’re not creating something that will further complicate things.
“We had to find a problem that could be attacked purely with technology, with software.” The two came to the issue of compliance, which is fundamentally a data problem. “And data problems are problems that technology is really good at addressing.”
Bosco and Yaw got an even clearer picture of the trouble by spending a lot of time with trucking company owners and safety managers. They got a deeper understanding of what needed fixing directly from the horse’s mouth.
With an idea and research in hand, the two needed funding. After pitching the idea to investors, LogRock landed $3.5 million in a seed round led by Dynamo Ventures. After scoring the investment, the team set out to make their product a reality.
Yaw and his team wanted to be sure they surpassed expectations. “It can’t just be about the money… once you take the money, then like you owe something to these people… You should feel like they’ve bet on you. And now you’ve gotta…live up to that promise,” he says.
The forecasts look promising. From what Yaw reports, LogRock has been getting plenty of love from those in safety and compliance.
“When we’re talking to safety managers like they get it immediately, and they love LogRock… they’ll tell you it makes their life a lot easier.”
And even the owners, who take a bit more convincing, come to realize the savings that are being brought to their companies through the use of LogRock. They save on liability insurance, reducing time spent out of service and cutting the risk of litigations that can appear from improperly managed compliance.