If 2020 has proved anything to supply chain participants, it is that digitization is here to stay. COVID-19 has placed the focus on logistics and the supply chain like never before. Craig Fuller, founder and CEO of FreightWaves, said the pandemic has given supply chain and logistics intelligence “a front seat inside of every organization that has any type of physical goods movement.”
Fuller welcomed Blume Global CEO and President Pervinder Johar for a special Fuller Speed Ahead episode to open FreightWaves’ Carrier Summit, streaming live Wednesday and Thursday on FreightWavesTV and on freightwaves.com. During the episode, titled “Empowering the Digitization of the Trucking Industry with Blume Global,” Johar drove home Fuller’s point, telling a story about a past position he held with a global company and the yearly disruptions to its supply chain, from earthquakes in Japan to floods in Thailand and volcanic eruptions in Europe.
“[The] last five months, we’ve seen all of them on a weekly basis [due to COVID-19]. How do you deal with supply chain orchestration [and adaptability]?” Johar asked.
Blume Global is the headline sponsor of the Carrier Summit. Johar joined Fuller to discuss the company’s latest product, CarrierGo Premium, and the overall digitization of the supply chain.
The digital present
“It’s now a necessity — digitization; for years we called it luxury,” Johar said. “2020 has proven that you have to be digital. Who wants to handle paper now when we want to be socially distancing from each other?”
“We are in a situation where we really want digitization, we want to have a digital experience,” Fuller added. “I think this was ultimately going to happen, but we’ve had 10 years of technology evolution compressed in two months.”
CarrierGo Premium allows carriers to facilitate transactions from virtually anywhere. The system’s advanced programming automates many functions of the dispatch office, including order management, fleet and driver management, dispatch, track and trace, contract management, as well as invoicing capabilities.
The tool, Johar told Fuller, goes beyond a traditional transportation management system (TMS) and is a critical component of the digital supply chain. He noted that years ago, the supply chain was broken down into silos — planning, sourcing, manufacturing and delivery. Combining the processes was difficult due to a lack of computing power, which prevented businesses from looking at the total picture.
“Our focus is on supply chain orchestration so that digitization, eventually, will have all silos of the supply chain work well with each other: How I plan. How I manufacture. How I deliver. In the end, it’s all around how your products are consumed,” Johar said.
CarrierGo Premium, which builds upon CarrierGo, first introduced in 2019, is part of the process of connecting all parts of the supply chain — from shippers to carriers — and making it easy for even the smallest trucking carriers to participate.
A solution for everyone
“The big issue that has been out there is data and the data around things like location,” Johar pointed out. “If you are delivering to a Walmart DC, or an Amazon DC or some other retailer’s DC, those DCs really don’t change. And many of these TMS, even on premise, you spend half your time [inputting] just the master data. And what we’ve done [is] in a single instance, [add] all the master data.”
That makes it easy for a small carrier to participate, he said, since they are instantly connected without the work needed to integrate systems.
“If you were a small company you couldn’t really do EDI [electronic data interchange],” Johar said. “We had one customer we rolled out this year that works with about 900 trucking companies in the U.S. and out of 900, there were only about 100 that were EDI capable. Now if you were on the Blume platform, you can be a one-truck owner and you can have EDI capabilities out of the box. Now because you are on the platform, you can have the same capabilities as what the larger players would have.”
The cloud-based CarrierGo platform goes beyond trucking companies and plays into the larger digitization trend. Johar noted that whether the supply chain includes a major intermodal carrier, ocean carrier or logistics service provider, the platform makes those connections immediately.
“It’s all standardized so you don’t have to do any system integration; it’s all set up,” he said.
CarrierGo Premium is fully integrated and includes over 10,000 global companies.
“It’s a TMS which instantaneously integrates you into all the shippers, all the ocean carriers or railroads we may be working with,” Johar said.
Learning to better manage business
He added that the platform, and the digitization trend in general, is about how to help supply chain participants learn about their business and better manage their customers.
“We start talking about the CRM and which companies do you work with? Which platforms or networks are you connected with? That’s part one,” he said. “All the regular features of a TMS or dispatch system are part of this system — from maintaining your rates to figuring out how to bid on spot rates or doing your own contractual rates.”
Fuller and Johar touched on a few other topics, including the increasing interest by ocean carriers to provide “dual moves,” such as what Maersk recently announced. Dual moves are an attempt to control multiple legs of the supply chain. Earlier this year, A.P. Moller-Maersk (OTCMKTS: AMKBY) acquired Performance Team’s U.S. warehouse network.
“From a shipper perspective, someone is going to do a dual move,” Johar said. “Either I can have an ocean liner do the dual move or I can have a 3PL [third-party logistics provider] or dray carrier do the dual move. The reality is, ultimately, all these moves are for the supply chain, so they need to be managed so they are seamless from origin to destination.”
To conclude the episode, Fuller asked Johar about a potential initial public stock offering for Blume, which was technically formed in 2018 from two predecessor companies that date back 26 years. Johar did not commit but suggested the possibility exists.
“Our plan has been that this can be a large, independent cloud software company in the supply chain space for decades to come,” he said. “For the next couple of years, it depends on the public markets and depends on how we do, but everything is possible.”