Document transfers have been a longstanding issue in the supply chain. The inability to electronically transfer bills of lading and proof of delivery documents leads to slower payments, lost paperwork, and in the current COVID-19 environment, increased health risk.
FourKites has introduced several new features for its platform designed to improve this process, eliminate paperwork, and enhance overall safety for front-line supply chain workers. In addition, new notifications, tracking options and merchandiser solutions are part of the enhancements.
The company said the features are designed to provide digital access and critical information to workers who previously lacked access to such data. FourKites cited research from consultancy Gartner that found “social distancing is a challenge for all essential workers, including truck drivers and employees at pickup and delivery locations, such as warehouses, stores or medical facilities.”
Gartner noted that management needs to do what it can to improve safety.
“Supply chain and logistics leaders must make it a priority to facilitate these interactions through technology as much as possible, in order to prevent infections with COVID-19. The efficiency and time savings realized through these methods could be a benefit to the supply chain long after the impact of the pandemic,” it said.
To that end, FourKites has introduced paperless document processing through its Advanced Mobile Package, which includes electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) and electronic bill of lading (eBOL) documentation so that transportation workers can process all applicable paperwork on their smartphones from start to finish. The company said in addition to reducing possible exposure to COVID-19, the solution ensures electronic management of documentation and leads to more secure transmission and faster payment processing.
“We are very excited about FourKites’ new features, in particular the ability to manage documents electronically at the various pickup and drop-off points along our routes,” George Henry, senior vice president of Logistics at USA Truck, said in a statement. “This will significantly improve long-standing documentation problems related to payment and proof of delivery, and it will also help to provide a much-needed safety buffer between drivers and warehouse staff.”
Platform enhancements also include new real-time notifications for everyone involved in the process, from shippers to warehouse workers and retailers, and enhanced messaging tools that centralize communications previously sent via third-party messaging, email or phone. Dispatch, driver and warehouse personnel can view information affecting shipments and deliveries in a single location, FourKites said.
“This democratizes information in ways other services cannot match, dramatically reducing oversight and error, and eliminating long and distracting communication chains,” the company said. “Users can share documents, photographs and notes for any given load, while forming online workgroups and controlling access as needed.”
For retailers, FourKites has added direct store delivery tracking and a merchandiser solution.
The direct store delivery tracking enables tracking of last-mile shipments from warehouses to retail outlets. Shipment visibility and estimated time of arrival is viewable via mobile devices.
The merchandiser mobile app solution provides visibility into shipments for merchandisers. Tracked in real time and with notifications sent through the app, merchandisers can optimize receiving and restocking, the company said.
“With FourKites’ Direct Store Delivery and Merchandiser solutions, we now have visibility into the last mile of our supply chain – from our warehouses to our retailers – instead of relying on a printed route plan that does not update as delivery sequences change,” Brett Frankenberg, senior vice president of product supply planning & bottle sales at Coke Consolidated, said. “FourKites is creating visibility of the physical via digital, and facilitating better frontline decisions. This enables our merchandisers to service their stores with confidence, knowing the product in question has been delivered or is expected to be delivered based on real-time information. This reduces unproductive phone calls, texts and overall uncertainty.”
“COVID-19 presents a great many challenges to the supply chain and to front-line workers in particular,” Mathew Elenjickal, FourKites CEO and co-founder, said. “FourKites serves as the single source of truth for our customers’ end-to-end supply chain data. Our latest platform enhancements take information-sharing to the next level, enabling front-line logistics workers to collaborate more effectively and safely than ever before.”
FourKites has been busy in 2020 with new innovations and enhancements. On April 29, the company announced a new interactive network congestion map that tracks cross-border freight movements in North America, Mexico and Europe. The map also includes port delays at over 230 global ports and interstate transit metrics and is updated in near real-time to show congestion to help supply chain managers more accurately predict freight movement.
Earlier, it announced a scalable GPS solution called Partner Hub. Partner Hub creates tailor-made tools for brokers, carriers and shippers, with carriers retaining full control over their data and having the ability to share data with the stakeholders that make sense to them. From its end, FourKites will ensure that it never shares electronic logging device credentials with brokers or shippers. The company also traces shipments rather than tracking trucks, thus making sure the stakeholders within the trucking value chain only get data on shipment origin and delivery times and not private carrier data.
In March, FourKites acquired TrackX’s Yard Management, Dock Management and Gate Control solutions. These solutions are highly scalable, serving the smallest facilities up to multiple enterprise locations, the company said. The solutions are hardware-agnostic and integrate seamlessly with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and warehouse management systems (WMS), as well as RFID and IoT sensors.