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Project44 brings visibility to supply chains, even when they break

The Chicago firm secures No. 2 spot on FreightTech 25 list with a platform that seamlessly tracks freight through the turbulence of strikes, hurricanes and presidential tweets.

Photo credit: FreightWaves staff

Even on a good day, it can be hard to pin down the location of that shipment of Carménère wine from Chile, let alone when it will arrive at a distributor in Boise.

But with the prospect of port strikes, tropical storms, flat tires and a Trump tweet announcing new tariffs, the possibilities of supply chain disruptions are endless.

Tommy Barnes, president of project44. Photo: project44.

Case in point: When FreightWaves spoke to project44 President Tommy Barnes, a weeklong strike by Canadian National (NYSE:CNI) rail workers was coming to an end.

“These things happen,” Barnes said. “Many companies have alternative ways to move things and have business continuity plans for disruptions. But they run into lots of problems.”

That, Barnes said, is where project44’s Advanced Visibility Platform makes the difference.

“Even if the mode changes or something diverts, customers are seeing the same inventory visibility, the same ETA. The platform allows for seamless flexibility,” Barnes said.

Founded in 2014, project44 focuses on bringing seamless visibility for shippers, logistics providers and carriers regardless of the changes on the ground that require diversions.

The Chicago-based firm earned the No. 2 spot on FreightWaves’ FreightTech25 list for 2019. The list, chosen from the larger FreightTech 100 list, recognizes the most innovative and disruptive companies in the freight world. Underscoring the sheer quality of project44’s visibility solutions, the No. 1 firm on the FreightTech25, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), is a customer.

A platform that ‘learns from everyone’

Project44’s visibility platform is designed to make life easier for its customers. But under the hood, it makes sense of large, complex data input from a dizzying array of sources, such as electronic logging devices and telematics systems, incorporating machine learning and data analytics.

“It learns from everyone,” Barnes said of the system.

The result is that transportation and logistics professionals can zero in on how to move a shipment or asset rather than struggle to establish where things are, Barnes said.

“To be able to focus on the things that matter. It’s quite profound,” said Barnes, an industry veteran with stints at XPO and Coyote Logistics under his belt. “I’ve been part of many fire drills over the years. We’d be scrambling with spreadsheets and get so far in the weeds.”

Project44’s ecosystem is growing around an increasingly collaborative model for customers, who see collective benefits from the careful sharing of certain data.

“We’re allowing for sharing in the right places,” Barnes said.

At the same time, Barnes is proud that project44 operates under the European Union’s stringent General Data Protection Regulation, even for its North American operations.

“Data is profound,” Barnes said. “From a data security and governance standpoint, we’re probably the strongest in the industry. I’m so proud of that.”

Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]