Tech update: coronavirus sparks demand for digital freight tools

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Updated Apr 30, 2020
During the COVID crisis, technology suppliers are seeing increased demand for digital tools to eliminate paper from freight transactions.During the COVID crisis, technology suppliers are seeing increased demand for digital tools to eliminate paper from freight transactions.

The coronavirus pandemic has created more demand for technologies to remove paper documents from freight transactions and to minimize supply chain disruptions by increasing shipment visibility.

Over the past week, several companies have added new products and features that can more fully digitize transactions between shippers, logistics service providers (LSPs) and carriers.

No-touch documents

Command Alkon partnered with Infotech to offer a free e-Ticketing network for any type of company that makes deliveries to construction job sites. The network makes workers safer with touchless ticket interactions

The network combines Command Alkon’s Connex platform with Infotech’s Doc Express service to remove the need for face-to-face interactions and ticket exchanges between suppliers and contractors at the jobsite.

EBE Technologies developed a new artificial intelligence (AI) engine for process and content management called the Navigator.

The Navigator allows sharing of documents and data across the enterprise to automate repetitive tasks, and reviews transactions to determine if they are within standards and can be completed.

If an exception is identified, Navigator corrects the error and allows the transaction to be completed. When a transaction cannot be corrected by the Navigator, it is placed in an exception workflow to for manual review based on user rules and permissions.

The Navigator uses EBE’s applications in conjunction with one another such as indexing functions in the SHIPS Mobile application to improve billing cycle times; monitoring a carrier’s accounting system for out-of-standard transactions; communicating to drivers the need for updated safety documents; and creating complete and accurate driver qualification files in the applicant tracking and onboarding process.

Visibility made easy

On the shipment visibility front, Schneider Transportation Management, the brokerage division of Schneider, is collaborating with a real-time supply chain visibility and integrity solution from Overhaul.

Overhaul aggregates data from multiple streams and devices to provide insights and proactive supply chain command to minimize disruptions.

“This new, integrated solution gives Schneider’s customers more visibility into and control over their freight by harnessing the tracking and monitoring capabilities we are now able to deliver,” said Erin Van Zeeland, senior vice president and general manager of logistics at Schneider.

Shippers and LSPs that use the project44 visibility platform can use new enhancements to its Network Management Center (NMC) application to automate the truckload carrier onboarding process.

The application also provides carriers with instant access to project44’s global customer base to streamline the data sharing.

“As one of our strategic partners, project44 gives us advanced visibility into our transportation processes so we can remain focused on providing best-in-class service to our customers,” stated Matt Pyatt, Co-Founder and CEO of Arrive Logistics, an LSP based in Austin, Texas.

Previously, the NMC focused on API connections through the carriers’ ELD or telematics devices. Now, customers can also interact with carriers whose connection does not involve a third-party device integration.

Digitizing dry bulk

A new technology company, Roger (RogerThat.com), is focused on modernizing tools for shippers and carriers in the dry bulk truck freight industry. The company was assembled with collaboration from dry bulk freight shippers and more than 200 trucking companies.

Roger’s app and desktop dashboard will have paperless ticket capture, real-time shipment status, fast digital payment processing, and integrations with major industry ERPs. It will also have a digital freight marketplace for carriers to quickly find and book loads.

The initial shipper charter members account for more than 1 million loads annually and include: The Andersons, Cargill, Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., Koch Fertilizerand, The Scoular Company and Bushel, a leading agricultural technology company.

Jeff Schreiner, Scoular CIO, is transitioning to serve as CEO for Roger.

“Working with this team allowed us to build technology that can be used across the entire industry, giving trucking companies the ability to digitally track each interaction throughout a haul, then electronically request payment,” he said.

A full industrywide rollout is expected in late 2020. The Roger app can be downloaded at the Apple App Store or Google Play.

More COVID resources

A number of technology suppliers have created free COVID-19 resources for fleets and drivers with news and support. Fleet telematics and ELD supplier Zonar has a new resource center to help fleets and drivers figure out what restaurants and fast food locations are open and have discounts, as well as finding help with grants and financial assistance. The full list of tips are at: https://www.zonarsystems.com/safety-compliance/covid-19-updates/

Zonar also has a free weekly webinar hosted by the company’s safety and compliance team, led by industry veteran Fred Fakkema.