Under pressure from COVID-19, in-person conferences across the country have been cancelled or postponed, and that includes many in the freight industry. But, the show must go on, they say, so FreightWaves plowed ahead with its FreightWaves LIVE event, originally scheduled for this week in Atlanta. No longer an in-person event, the event was rebranded FreightWaves LIVE@HOME, which kicked off today.
The virtual event features a full three days of great presentations, conversations and company demos. And through the special FreightWaves LIVE@HOME Slack channels, attendees are able to connect and converse with each other in real time.
Day One of the event included four special What The Truck?!? episodes, hosted by Timothy Dooner and Michael Vincent, and special FreightWaves LIVE @HOME presentations of popular FreightWavesTV shows FreightWaves NOW and Great Quarter, Guys.
Just like previous FreightWaves LIVE events, demos were an important part of the day, with presentations from Truckstop.com, Transflo, PROS, TriumphPay, J.B. Hunt 360, Lean Tech, McLeod, Epay Manager, and Trucker Tools.
Day 2 of FreightWaves LIVE @HOME will include more companies presenting their latest technologies. The entire Day 2 schedule can be found at www.freightwaveslive.com. The event can be streamed for free.
FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller also introduced SONAR 6.0 and the latest innovations for the industry’s leading freight forecasting platform.
“FreightWaves is launching SONAR 6.0, with new features that make the SONAR data platform even easier to use and will help transportation companies make data-driven decisions at all levels of their organizations,” Fuller said. “SONAR 6.0 features greater accessibility for its subscribers, as well as single-focus apps for simplicity, better integration with users’ systems and adaptability for users’ brand equity.”
The new innovations include SONAR Lane Signal, which gives users access to analytics down to the granular level of a lane. It is a consolidated dashboard that gives shippers, carriers and brokers real-time trucking spot rates, pricing power information, and volume and capacity data on any origin-destination pair in the continental U.S.
Fuller also announced that SONAR is now an open API platform for third-party technology providers to access and integrate SONAR data into their own platforms.
Finally, the launch of Mission Control was highlighted.
“The big idea behind Mission Control is bringing the FreightWavesTV experience directly onto your operational floors – and the floors of your customers and prospects,” Fuller said. “And we’re creating the opportunity to also have SONAR data directly on these big boards – bringing the SONAR experience into a market dashboard.”
Mission Control is powered by FreightWaves SONAR data and the award-winning FreightWavesTV video platform, delivering premium content covering all modes of transportation. It is customizable, allowing users to include their own branding and ads/messages onto the platform.
To learn more about SONAR 6.0 or to see Craig Fuller’s presentation of the new capabilities, click on: FreightWaves SONAR 6.0 debuts at FreightWaves LIVE @HOME
Day One also included a conversation with Ricardo Salgado, founder and CEO of Loadsmart, on how shippers and carriers could future-proof their businesses; a fireside chat between Shelley Simpson of J.B. Hunt and Nick Hobbs, president of J.B. Hunt’s DCS and Final Mile Service.
Also, FreightWaves’ Director of Passport Research J.P. Hampstead talked autonomous vehicle technology with Vijaysai Patnaik, product lead of trucking for Waymo, and how technology can improve the shipper/carrier relationship with Lily Shen, president and CEO of Transfix.
Klain talks COVID-19, praises essential workers
The day kicked off with a keynote address from Ron Klain. The executive vice president and general counsel at Revolution, a Washington, D.C.-based technology-oriented investment firm, and former chief of staff to then-Vice President Joe Biden, was responsible for organizing the Obama administration’s actions as the Ebola response coordinator in 2014-2015.
Speaking about the current COVID-19 situation, Klain said he learned an important truth during his time overseeing the Ebola response: “One lesson I learned in fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is that it’s doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, scientists and researchers that beat a disease. But it’s logistics that beats a pandemic,” Klain said.
Calling warehouse workers, truck drivers, longshoremen, airport ground handlers and other transportation workers “unsung heroes,” Klain said they deserve our recognition.
“We never considered these people as essential workers until now and they deserve recognition. But they also deserve some compensation. A ‘thank you’ isn’t enough,” he said. “When people are putting their lives on the line to make it possible for others to work safely from home it’s important to provide some financial incentives. And I hope Congress will do that.”
To read more about Klain’s keynote, or watch his entire speech, click on: Obama White House official says COVID-19 response depends on logistics sector
J.B. Hunt adapts to a changing environment
One of the most talked about speakers at previous FreightWaves events has been Shelley Simpson, executive vice president, chief commercial officer and president of Highway Services at J.B. Hunt (JBHT:NASDAQ). Simpson once again joined FreightWaves for a keynote address, and she didn’t disappoint.
Simpson talked about J.B. Hunt’s 360 platform and how the company has had to quickly pivot to adapt to customers’, carriers’ and employees’ changing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s made us really evaluate what our priorities are in our organization. We are even more focused on how we help our people, our customers, the people we do business with really move forward in an environment that is constantly changing, constantly being disrupted,” she said.
Simpson said Hunt has been focused on the health and wellbeing of its more than 30,000 employees, but going forward, it – and its customers – will need to adapt to a “new normal.”
“I think this entire environment is challenging us to think differently and if you’re wanting to meet the promises of your customers, you and I both have to think very differently about what that means for us in our future,” she said.
To read more of Shelley Simpson’s keynote, or see her entire presentation, click on: Industry experience, continual innovation drive J.B. Hunt 360 technology platform
Laggards finally adopting technology
Echo Global Logistics’ (NASDAQ: ECHO) CEO Doug Waggoner joined Fuller to discuss the downstream adoption of technology in the industry.
“When we put out technology for trucking companies, there are some trucking companies that are eager to adopt it and jump on the bandwagon,” Waggoner said. “Same for shippers. There are some that demand it.”
Others are not as excited, he added, but said that more companies are jumping onboard as digital transactions become commonplace.
Waggoner also addressed the impact capacity demand has on margins, the migration of load boards into the brokerage space, and the evolution of the industry.
To read more of Waggoner’s conversation with Fuller, or watch the entire video, click on: Slowly but surely, technology laggards are getting up to speed: Echo Global’s Waggoner
The evolution of load booking
Truckstop.com CEO Paris Cole joined Fuller for a conversation on load booking and the uncertainty facing the freight markets.
“My personal feeling is that the worst is behind us, but I don’t have a crystal ball,” Cole said.
The CEO added that Truckstop.com has been offering discounts to new and existing customers and providing real-time visibility into the marketplace as ways to support its customers during the current environment.
“What’s happening in the spot market is unprecedented,” Cole said. “The explosion of freight in the spot market in mid-March and then a drastic decline is something I’ve not seen in my time here at Truckstop,” or even going back to the Great Recession.
To read more of Cole’s conversation with Fuller, or to watch the entire video, click on: FreightWaves LIVE @HOME: Fuller Speed Ahead with Paris Cole, CEO of Truckstop.com
Innovation needed in a pandemic-impacted economy
A regular feature of FreightWavesTV is the Fuller Speed Ahead program, in which Craig Fuller talks shop with an executive. Day One of FreightWaves LIVE @HOME featured one of those conversations as Fuller talked innovation with Peter Rentschler, CEO of CarrierDirect, which is a consultancy and technology delivery firm.
“COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the businesses that are architected to move quickly and make fast decisions,” Rentschler said. “We had some clients that spent the first two weeks of the pandemic going to every Best Buy within a 100-mile radius buying laptops. It was outrageous.”
Rentschler said companies need to self-evaluate and be aware of where they fall short, and also need to listen to their customers.
To read more of Craig Fuller’s conversation with Peter Rentschler, or to watch the entire video, click on: FreightWaves LIVE @HOME: Fuller Speed Ahead with guest Peter Rentschler, CEO of CarrierDirect Innovations in the Market