The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic shutdowns did not have the effect on freight that many thought they would. In fact, the initial disruptions caused by the shutdowns drove more interest in freight visibility solutions.
Few companies are more representative of that fact than FourKites. The real-time supply chain visibility company saw tremendous growth in 2020 with 140% growth in ocean customers and 138% growth in rail and intermodal customers over 2019. The company told FreightWaves it has experienced a 200% increase in international load volumes tracked via its platform and a 149% increase in rail shipments tracked. Onboarded carriers grew 67%, it said.
During this time, FourKites has continued to roll out new technology and visibility-related solutions, earning it the No. 6 spot on FreightWaves’ annual FreightTech 25 awards list. The FreightTech awards nominations are narrowed down to the FreightTech 100, which is then voted on by a handpicked peer group of CEOs, industry leaders and investors actively investing in freight to select the FreightTech 25.
“We are honored to have been named to the FreightTech 25 for the third year running. In a year of so much upheaval in supply chains, disruption and continued innovation in the market is more important than ever. Our 500-plus customers recognize this and we saw them this year finding new ways to collaborate with their partners, extend visibility into new parts of their operations, track shipments more closely and dynamically than ever, and improve safety and efficiency throughout their operations. We will continue to dig in and support them in all of these areas and more,” Matthew Elenjickal, founder and CEO, said.
There were also a host of collaboration and paperless document-processing capabilities announced and a direct store delivery and mobile app.
“2020 will go down in the books as the most challenging year modern supply chains have ever encountered,” Elenjickal said. “And yet the community rose to the occasion, innovating and collaborating based on real-time visibility data to keep food, medicine and goods of every kind flowing during a time of crisis.”
In all, the company said it introduced 126 product enhancements and features in 2020.
Dynamic Yard was announced early in 2020 and officially released in July following the acquisition of TrackX and that company’s yard management solution.
TrackX’s yard, dock and gate control products combine with FourKites’ visibility solutions to create Dynamic Yard so users can manage every step in a shipment’s journey — from appointment and dock scheduling to gate operations and spotter tasking. Once on the road, the shipment can be managed to include estimated time of arrival, accelerate gate-in and gate-out processes and to better manage a driver’s on-site time.
Mulitmodal purchase order tracking
Working with Meijer, FourKites developed the multimodal purchase order solution. It simplifies freight visibility by tracking items based on their PO numbers. This includes inbound logistics, track and trace, customer service, procurement/materials management and merchandising, FourKites said. In essence, it assists any company that manages the exchange and transportation of goods primarily via PO numbers.
Dynamic ETA for LTL
Dynamic ETA for LTL provides increased visibility into less-than-truckload shipments for shippers, carriers and third-party logistics providers, covering tracking from pre-pickup through proof of delivery. The technology, available at no cost for any FourKites LTL customer, allows the company to narrow estimated time of arrival windows and update that window as conditions change. It adds document retrieval capabilities to streamline processing for those involved in the transactions. Users of the system are able to deploy notifications to customers based on parameters they determine, such as ETA changes or when a truck is two hours away.
FourKites celebrated Earth Day on April 22 with the launch of its sustainability dashboards. The dashboard provides users with insight into their estimated greenhouse gas emissions from freight activity; emissions by mode (rail, ocean, truck) on both an aggregate level and a per-shipment level; how emission levels and patterns are changing over time; and which lanes have the highest and lowest emissions.
Network congestion map
FourKites network congestion map tracks cross-border freight movements in North America, Mexico and Europe. The map includes port delays at over 230 global ports and interstate transit metrics. The map is updated in near real time and includes data from cities and states throughout the U.S. It shows congestion to help supply chain managers more accurately predict freight movement, and is free and available at https://live.fourkites.com/border-crossing.
Direct store delivery and mobile app
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.
Paperless document transfer
FourKites made paperless document processing possible through its Advanced Mobile Package, which includes electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) and electronic bill of lading (eBOL) documentation. Platform enhancements included 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.