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C.H. Robinson’s new Procure IQ tool helps take the guesswork out of moving freight

The proactive tool helps shippers decide when to move freight through an RFP process and when to shift it to the spot market

Whether shippers should put freight out to bid or move it on the spot market to get the best pricing is a difficult decision, but C.H. Robinson is attempting to make that process smoother with a new tool. (Photo: Shutterstock)

C.H. Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW) is offering shippers a new data tool that will help them identify which freight and lanes should be sent out to bid and which may be better suited for posting on the spot market. The Procure IQ tool leverages C.H. Robinson’s large data set to offer shippers a way to better manage their freight, Bob Biesterfeld, CEO and president, explained to FreightWaves.

“We’re able to look at that [data] and determine what freight should go to an RFP (request for proposal) and what freight … to move to the spot market,” he said. “We look at this as a transformational part of the supply chain planning [process].”

Developed inside Robinson Labs, the company’s innovation incubator, Procure IQ provides personalized data visualization of an individual customer’s shipping lanes, or routes, integrated with C.H. Robinson’s vast freight marketplace data, unlocking the optimal way to purchase transportation, the company said.

“I think this is a great example of how we can develop, innovate and rapidly scale [technologies],” Biesterfeld said.

Procure IQ, like many technologies, started with a single customer request.

“Everything for us starts with either the customer or carrier in mind,” Biesterfeld noted. “We heard loud and clear that [shippers] needed a solution to [solve for procuring freight capacity] because the tried and true RFP process wasn’t working as well as it once did.”

Using Procure IQ, a shipper is able to analyze each specific freight lane through a comparative pricing, volume and service analysis rather than purchasing transportation lanes in bulk during an annual bidding process. 

Biesterfeld said the tool is not a replacement for the traditional RFP approach but a “really strong complement.” He noted that for some freight, such as low-volume freight or seasonal freight, the RFP process may not provide the best rates or process to securing capacity. Leveraging C.H. Robinson’s 200,000 unique carrier and shipper database that moves 18 million shipments annually, companies are able to identify the best process for moving freight simply by inputting their needs, such as lane origin and destination and volume estimates.

“We push that [information] through our pricing engines and through our data to look for complementary ways to move that shipper’s freight through the Robinson network,” Biesterfeld said.

C.H. Robinson surveyed more than 1,000 of its customers in June and a new way to procure capacity was among the key findings, Biesterfeld said.

“We are disrupting a decades-old way the entire industry buys transportation in order to drive better outcomes for shippers,” Biesterfeld said. “At C.H. Robinson, we are laser-focused on solving customers’ toughest supply chain challenges, which is why we are accelerating the release of our technology. As customer expectations and market volatility reach new heights, we will continue to deliver against our $1 billion tech investment to bring smarter solutions that help our shippers increase efficiency, reliability and gain a competitive edge.”

IPC, the purchasing cooperative for Subway franchisees, is one company that is already taking advantage of Procure IQ.

“As we navigate a historically volatile market, we are rethinking how we do business. Procure IQ’s advanced analytics can help us navigate uncertainty and has been invaluable in helping us develop a new, more efficient and cost-effective transportation-buying process for everything from fresh food to kitchen equipment,” Matt Montour, senior director of logistics for IPC, said in a statement.

Procure IQ is the latest tool to come out of Robinson Labs and is part of C.H. Robinson’s broader $1 billion investment in technology over the next five years. In recent months, the company has announced integrations of its Navisphere multimodal transportation management system (TMS) with 19 leading providers of TMS and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and partnered with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to integrate Navisphere with Microsoft’s Azure platform and make it available within the Azure IoT (Internet of Things) environment.

Procure IQ is designed for larger shippers that move thousands of loads a year. It is available in the 48 contiguous states.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]