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Amid port congestion, it’s best to think local

Clockwork operates locally on a global scale

You know a logistics issue is a big deal when the entire family discusses supply chain bottlenecks at the dinner table. 

It’s likely that many families have discussed, say, Los Angeles’ container congestion in depth over the past few weeks, discussing articles they’ve read in an attempt to articulate macroeconomic issues. 

Mid-debate, many may have checked their phones’ pizza apps for delivery updates — unbeknownst to them that the answer to the topic at hand is in fact in their hands.

“Today we can track a pizza being delivered to our houses but we struggle to know where our cargo containers are in general,” said Sascha Peyer, co-founder and CRO of Clockwork Logistics Systems.

It’s an interesting thought: Why is it easier to track a $10 pizza than a multimillion dollar shipment? Sure, visibility is beginning to take shape in logistics, but many aspects of shipping are still in the dark, especially concerning ground-level movements compared to maritime.

“Terminals are waking up and realizing that the system is so broken, saying that we may control what’s happening inside our terminal operation as we’ve got some systems in place, but we clearly lack the connectivity to the land side of things, to the trucker community,” Peyer said.

When it comes to the container congestion, all eyes are squarely on San Pedro Bay and beyond, where the Marine Exchange reports that a total of 61 ships were awaiting berth at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as of last week.

The optics of it all have painted quite a spectacular picture for mainstream news audiences as of late, but Peyer said the truth is that ports have been struggling with these bottlenecks at varying degrees for nearly a year.

Peyer, who resides in Orange County, California, noted how common it’s been to see vast numbers of empty containers scattered about Southern California’s Inland Empire for upward of 60 to 90 days this year.

He further stressed how frustrating missed appointments have been for terminals. Thousands of containers are made available for pickup at ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach on any given day, but if up to 30% of truckers fail to show up, terminal operators are left to reshuffle their decks completely, tacking on more operational and time expenses that create even more yard friction.

Ocean terminals are already following suit. Clockwork CEO and founder Robert Haney has spoken with many terminal operators who say they’re aiming to bring their land-based operations up to par with the optimization achieved on the ocean side.

“How do we connect a global shipper directly to a trucker working in a local market and cut out the middleman, allowing both global and local entities to have a direct contractual and operational relationship?” asked Haney, answering that what’s needed is a platform that allows global shippers to digitize their existing networks.

Built to think locally on a global scale, Clockwork does just that. The intuitive digital delivery platform connects shippers to independent carriers in markets worldwide.

Clockwork believes that transforming your supply chain shouldn’t be so complicated, hence the lack of overhaul needed to utilize its platform. Instead its mission is to connect proven technology to existing systems, thereby creating an efficient and fully transparent supply chain network.

With Clockwork, everything is designed to integrate with your existing system. Thus, actionable driver and shipment data is collected in real time through the platform’s cloud-based and intelligent automation technology, seamlessly linking both driver and shipper with its easy-to-use mobile app and command console.

“You’re not having to make a big investment because you’re tapping into equipment or technology that everybody has in the pocket — their smartphone,” Peyer said.

Haney added that its software-only approach and ability to digitize trucking networks helps each of its users form unique relationships. The more Clockwork is utilized, the more differentiated the user experience will become, which Haney said is a great way to future-proof your operation.

“Don’t try to take a shortcut by using some kind of a tracking device that’s only going to give you some tracking information. Let’s actually solve this problem; let’s connect to the drivers so that you know them by name and give them a digital reputation,” he said.

“We learned a lot of lessons along the way, including how to engage with drivers, how to make it fun, how to make it useful for them,” Haney continued, presenting Clockwork as an effective solution to the driver problem. “I think most people who try to engage with the driver themselves fail because they’re treating it as adding a component that they’ve built over the weekend to their existing TMS, and it just lands very flat.”

As container congestion in Southern California continues to reach new heights, patience is growing even thinner. But while activity off the coast — or lack thereof — garners most attention, keep in mind that pacing the widow’s walk gains nothing.

Focus instead on what you can improve — your driver networks. Clockwork makes it easy to connect with drivers in the markets where your products are picked up and delivered, helping alleviate the driver and container issues that markets like Los Angeles are experiencing and providing your supply chain with the same technological prowess as pizza delivery.

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Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.