This article first appeared in the October issue of Bulk Transporter magazine.
With attendees and speakers being spread out across the country for Trimble’s 2020 in.sight user conference and expo — which is being held virtually over three days — the fifth annual event opened with talks about how Trimble brings people, supply chains and technology together.
In his opening remarks, Trimble president and CEO Rob Painter recalled speaking with a customer at an in.sight conference three years ago. “His feedback was major stuff works better together. You bought the best companies in the industry, now you need to bring them together and you need to do it faster,” Painter recalled during the event’s opening session on Aug. 24. “That’s it. For us, that translates into having better integration between our products, better integration between our carrier solutions, as well as connection with our shipper solutions. It means developing a data and analytic strategy to help give you insight in order to optimize your networks.”
Painter said Trimble wants to make itself easier to do business with as it grows and meets ambitious goals over the next five years. Those goals involve transforming the supply chain and creating more industry visibility, data integration and collaboration, which all tie into the 2020 in.sight theme: “We Are One.”
Right now, the freight industry is facing uncertainties after the sharpest year-over-year declines in shipping rates since the 2008-09 Great Recession, noted James Langley, Trimble’s senior vice president, who cited the Cass Freight Index on shipping. He also noted similar declines in line haul rates per mile — all before the COVID-19 pandemic took over the nation earlier this year.
Before the pandemic hit, there was hope building again in the freight industry, he said, after a rough 2019 that saw many trucking companies shut down or reduce operations. “I think we were poised to see a recovery coming into this year,” Langley said. “But, of course, something else happened — it was called a pandemic, which hit us hard in March and April as the freight markets declined after seeing a slow recovery coming out of the end of Q2, which will be beneficial going forward.”
He cited the reemerging spot rate market as early signs of new life in freight. “The spot market tends to lead to contract freight changes as well — as long as they’re sustained,” Langley explained. “I believe as the world opens back up, we’ll continue to see some of that spot market surge, leading to better contract freight rates.”
Moving forward, Langley said the technology company’s key priorities are working to help carrier and shipper customers work better together while integrating and using a microservices architecture. That was the primary logic behind Trimble’s Kuebix acquisition and linking to the company’s Community Load Match, which enhances how truckload capacity is found and filled by connecting Kuebix shippers with Trimble’s network of 1.3 million commercial trucks.
“Shippers latched onto visibility, they really wanted more collaboration, and they wanted more transparency with the carriers,” Langley said during a virtual roundtable discussion with transportation industry journalists. “A lot of the technologies that are moving on the scene now are providing them connections and are providing them visibility and those integrations.”
Langley also said that Dan Clark, Trimble’s new vice president of product innovation and strategy, and Kuebix bring 20,000 shippers into the company’s network of customers.
“If you look at our traditional applications, a lot of our applications were built as monolithic databases with on-prem TMS applications,” Langley explained. “That’s not where the world is going, and we all know it. The world is going to where it’s all going to be connected and more integrated with microservices architecture.”
“What we’re trying to do in addition to bringing in the shipping community into connecting with the supply chain, it’s building upon the Kuebix platform, which is already in the modernized architecture that we see as the technology we want for our go-forward solutions,” Langley added. “In addition to that overarching strategy, we are hot on the trail of continuing to deliver on our U.S. ELD product. We are still working hard to deliver on a Canadian ELD as well. In addition, it’s a simple reaction to what the customers have asked about being easier to do business with.”
New TMS integrations
During the opening of the in.sight user conference, Trimble announced new integrations and enhancements for its transportation management system (TMS) solutions, designed to create efficiencies and streamline operations for carriers, brokers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers. These new solutions are available for TMW.Suite, TruckMate and Innovative IES users.
“These new integrations and upgrades help bring the connected supply chain together more than ever, streamlining operations and creating efficiencies for carriers and their customers,” according to Jay Delaney, who is Trimble’s senior director of product management.
Here is a look at some of those recent enhancements, broken down by product:
KeepTruckin integration: With new mobile communications integration, carriers can now use KeepTruckin to see drivers’ ELD (and HOS) data, position, enable geofencing and send messages. These additions are available within Innovative or TMW.Suite TMS.
New, flexible dashboard for Innovative IES platform: Innovative’s new dashboard allows end-users to customize their screens to meet their own organizational needs and processes. With this new Windows-based tool, users can add key data content to their screen and then drag and drop it into the format that works best for them. Content such as Available Loads, Assigned Order, Orders In Progress and Units are available and users can also incorporate additional content such as reports, maps and graphs to further improve the management of their daily activities.
Fuel dispatch subscription services for TMW.Suite: Available for fuel marketers as well as carriers, the Fuel Dispatch subscription bundles offer a standalone solution to improve planning and dispatch operations, streamline in-ground inventory management and replenishment of products and track fuel deliveries to ensure they are made on time and in the right quantity. This solution bundle is designed to help companies leverage key cloud hosting services to limit IT expenses and requirements, while also predictably managing their technology expenses through monthly payments without an upfront capital investment.
The TruckMate platform has seen a few enhancements:
- Project44 integration: TruckMate broker and 3PL customers get quicker access to rate quotes and management of load tenders and acceptance via project44. With this new tool, brokers and 3PLs can connect to top carriers directly within the TMS without the need to maintain individual connections.
- Container IQ in-port tracking: Container IQ was enhanced to enable TruckMate intermodal carriers to track containers in port. The enhancement joins Container IQ’s existing rail tracking functionality and expands fleets’ ability to more closely anticipate containers’ availability for pickup. Using the information in Container IQ, intermodal fleets can set appointments with the port to authorize charges and validate the pickup company for added security.
- WorkOptima integration: Along with the existing TMW-Synergize solution, TruckMate customers have a user-configurable cloud-based solution for document and process automation. When using WorkOptima with TruckMate, carriers and brokers can manage their documents, workflows and processes in an integrated solution. ■