The State of Freight: Is the Future Already Here?

By: Lance Healy

When we crunched the data for the 2017 State of Transportation Management Report, we found some things that surprised us. For example, 45% of respondents still use static guides or spreadsheets to select carriers. Not so surprising is that shippers with a TMS average 5x more carrier contracts than those without a TMS.

Amidst all of these findings, the one constant is that technology is rapidly transforming the transportation industry. Recently, our Chief Innovations Officer, Lance Healy, gave two separate talks on the current state of technology in freight and future technology that will impact the industry.

In this article, we elaborate on some of the technology mentioned by Lance so our readers can evaluate their own technology solutions and prepare for the future.

Technology Already Available

The technology available today, or “accessible tech,” has already revolutionized how companies manage freight shipping. Almost every facet of the freight cycle has been altered for better performances and efficiencies.

One of the major areas where technology has made an immediate impact is in reporting. With a live carrier-connected TMS, transportation managers can create and measure reports based on real-time metrics. When that’s happening, there is never a reason to falsely make the assumption that the given price is the best price. Instead, that manager will be able to see the report of every pre-approved carrier’s updated price and make a selection based on who has the lowest cost on that given lane.

Another element of the transportation industry that has been positively impacted by technology is visibility. Especially now, as the ELD mandates come into effect, visibility to a driver’s activity or a shipment’s location has never been easier or more important. By leveraging cellular and GPS technology, drivers can now report on their locations from their phones.

The final part of the freight cycle that is largely impacted by the advent of new technology is communication capabilities. Barely evolved beyond the “two tin cans and some string” method of communicating, the transportation industry was stuck for years in the quagmire of batch communication. With new technology that offers live updates on carrier information, shippers can now receive invoices and other communications instantly. This means that there is no need to sift through batch communications looking for discrepancies when the communication comes through in real-time.

 

 

Technology on the Horizon

Looking forward, transportation managers should be optimistic when thinking about where technology is going to take the industry in the next five years. Referencing our survey of transportation and logistics professionals, 93% of respondents believe that technology has already had a positive impact on the industry.

The first technology that will be making waves in the freight industry is already doing so in a different space. Blockchain technology is the future of freight tracking and communication. Initially developed for tracking Bitcoin and other digital currencies, blockchain is being prepared and optimized for the freight industry. What the technology provides is complete visibility to the path a shipment has taken. Every step of the shipping process is accurately documented so you can know every piece of a shipment’s journey. This will help with damage claims because when something goes wrong, you’ll be able to see exactly where that took place. If you are unfamiliar with blockchain, now is the time to read as much as you can on the subject, before it becomes ubiquitous.

The next technological advancement that will impact the freight industry shortly is dynamic pricing. Carriers will soon have the ability to make client specific adjustments on the fly. Technology based on predictive analytics and real-time feedback can programmatically set pricing the way Uber and Lyft are changing fares based on time and place. Amazon is already using dynamic pricing to determine what certain customers pay. Based on particular metrics like how many times a customer has returned items, Amazon will charge that person differently than someone with no returns. These same predictive analytics will soon be assisting truckload drivers when they go to book a load and bounce that data against real-time market pricing.

The final future advancement that Banyan Chief Innovation Officer Lance Healy examined in his two recent industry discussions was local delivery. If you have been paying attention to the news in recent months, you’ll have undoubtedly seen reports on drone-delivery services. Many e-commerce companies are researching and developing solutions for last-mile delivery. In the freight industry, local delivery advancements will see the arrival of more freelance, or Uber-like, drivers who will take over for larger shippers because of the demand and accessibility. In his talk, Lance touched on inner-city moving companies, who will look to enter this space because of their proximity to their destinations and their readily available assets.

Download the Report

Technological innovations are increasingly creating win-win situations for logistics-partner relationships. When visibility is improved and communication techniques are enhanced, the industry as a whole grows.

Banyan Technology is proud to be at the forefront of creating technology that is pushing the industry into the future. Through live carrier connectivity and an API-enabled TMS, Banyan Technology is prepared to provide the latest technology now, and in the years to come.

If you would like to see where some of this data came from, and get an overall sense of technology in the industry, download our 2017 State of Transportation Management Report. Inside, you’ll learn what is driving the industry and how your peers in transportation management are handling technology.

 

 

 

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