Simple Logistics, a brokerage in St. Charles, Illinois, began to rethink its business strategy and look for an automation partner after COVID-19 sent its workforce home and a customer’s needs lined up perfectly to try automation.
“Shippers are starting to adopt new technology, so the more portals and websites we have to go to for load tenders, location updates, quotes, and scheduling makes it very difficult to manage the business,” said Scott Hadley, vice president of operations at Simple Logistics. “The more difficult that gets, it really stunts your growth. If you have some turnover, you have to retrain. We combat that now using [Hubtek’s TABi] to get through those major friction points.”
In a recent FreightWaves webinar exploring how Simple Logistics gained an immediate return on investment (ROI) with Hubtek’s TABi, Joel McGinley, cofounder of Hubtek and a 38-year industry veteran, contextualizes the industry’s need for automation – how it can free up human labor to tackle more revenue-generating tasks.
“We’ve got a technology revolution happening in this industry,” said McGinley. “It’s been a long time coming. Many other industries have already gone through the technology revolution, but transportation tends to be a laggard in that regard.”
Because the technology already exists outside transportation, said McGinley, the revolution within the logistics industry will probably happen very quickly. Because small businesses dominate the transportation industry, purchasing the technology platforms from larger companies becomes a financial burden.
“When you employ TABi it’s like hiring an employee and you have a monthly recurring cost, although at a much lower rate than an employee,” said McGinley. “A minimum of 44% of the typical tasks that a worker in this business performs can be automated.”
TABi, Hubtek’s digital worker supported by robotic processing automation (RPA), promises an 80% cost reduction, 100% accuracy, a perfect bill of health, and an enormous increase in profitability due its 24/7 availability and lower costs.
“We went live with this during the build-up to the Fourth of July,” said Scott Hadley, vice president of operations at Simple Logistics. “We needed to make sure we could adjust the margin percentages on the fly as markets tighten to protect ourselves. We also needed to make sure we could drop it on the fly, so when markets loosen up, we’re not going to be quoting ourselves out of the freight. Hubtek made this very easy to do, and we are the ones controlling the process.”
“It landed us where we are now with a bigger win rate and more business,” said Jeff Paul, manager of finance and accounting at Simple Logistics. “I see what we’re paying to implement this, and we’re in the green already. It’s only been two or three weeks so far and it’s already covering its implementation costs, as well as this month and next month’s fees. It’s paying for itself and we’re getting a return on that time the sales rep now has free.”
Of course, adding a technology that’s not yet mainstream creates worry among workers about job elimination, as well as the cost of losing that human gut check.
“We had to really sit down and explain the process and data points that TABi is pulling from, which is more data points than the sales rep would be quoting,” said Dan Hellman, executive vice president of Sales at Simple Logistics. “It’s actually a more accurate quote than an experienced rep could determine. As we explained the big picture, that buy-in was created. A rep should be selling, not crunching numbers. We make mistakes. We type in the wrong numbers.”
Hadley added that TABi is not replacing employees. Having the confidence and consistency in quotes help sales reps make the sale and get more freight. After seeing the ROI possible after a few weeks, Simple Logistics has already begun strategic planning for more TABi automations to cover track and trace, data inputs and margin analysis.