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Robinson unwraps truckload appointment scheduling software

Program automates manual task of scheduling pickup, delivery appointments

CH Robinson rolls out appointments scheduling software (Photo: C.H. Robinson)

Freight broker and logistics provider C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. on Wednesday took the public wraps off software that enables truckload appointment scheduling without any human intervention.

The software automates a historically manual task that is executed about 1 billion times a year, Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW) said in announcing the program. With so-called touchless appointments, a load can be electronically scheduled at the time it is picked up and scheduled again for the time and place of delivery. Robinson’s technology uses AI to analyze transit-time data from millions of shipments to determine the optimal appointment, the company said.

The software, which today does touchless appointments for 2,545 customers at more than 25,000 facilities, actually began gaining traction in September 2022. The company wanted to ensure that the software helped meet its internal productivity goals before publicly announcing its availability.

Touchless appointments, considered one of the last frontiers of logistics technology, are seen as offering myriad benefits to the trucking supply chain. Shippers save time they might otherwise spend to manually handle appointment requests. Touchless appointments allow brokers to expedite load availability to their carrier networks, giving carriers better access to freight while saving shippers money. In addition, the faster a load is offered and booked, the more likely a shipper can avoid paying a premium for a carrier to drive out of its way.

In a Robinson customer survey earlier this year, shippers said that more efficient appointment scheduling is their second-biggest IT priority this year, behind the quest to achieve real-time shipment visibility.

“It’s far more efficient for technology to find an appointment slot that’s open, that works for both the loading dock and the carrier, and gets the freight where it needs to be on time,” said Michael Castagentto, Robinson’s president of North American Surface Transportation, the company’s largest unit.


Robinson’s announcement comes two days after Uber Freight said it has taken the first steps toward activating an API technical standard produced by the Scheduling Standards Consortium industry group. The scheduling standard arose from the idea that fragmented processes in appointment scheduling hinder the efforts of FreightTech companies seeking operational efficiency.

Uber Freight told FreightWaves that it has incorporated those standards into its proprietary transportation management system, allowing for automated scheduling across 1,500 facilities and distribution centers for 10 large consumer packaged goods companies.

8 Comments

  1. Dave spacey

    I’ve worked at Chicago Central since the early days. As it goes, so does CH. They cut our base and commission to an unliveable wage. The mental health of our team is not good. We are probably the biggest perpetrators of double brokering in the entire industry. We spent $280m with a carrier last year based in Serbia and even sent an executive there. They do not even have close to that many trucks to be booking that amount of freight. If I were a customer, I’d use anyone but us. We are all trying to leave this place. They have automated all the relationships and everything is done on line. The new CEO and head of product are clueless. Their top carriers this year as a few weeks ago are

    MC 735038 Windy City 4038 loads YTD Feb 1
    MC 807590 Rocket Expediting 2335 l9ads YTD Feb 1
    MC 519274 Jordan Holding 2333 loads YTD Feb 1

    Explain that to me?

  2. Automation for Days

    All of these comments saying this must be fake because the commenters have never heard about it are kind of hilarious. It sounds like none of you work in the tech department. Unless you’re somehow involved with a project like this, of course you’re not going to hear about it until it’s released. That’s generally how tech projects work. The new project is kept under wraps at first, then released to a few pilot users to test it out, then finally released more broadly once everyone is sure it’s solid. This has been underway for more than a year. The fact you’ve never heard about it just shows it must be working well. If it wasn’t, you’d be constantly fielding complaints from the 2500 customers currently using it and having to fix failed automated appointments. If you’re current employees, it’s kinda weird to be so upset about something that will hopefully bring in more revenue for the company by allowing it to win more high volume customers.

  3. Investigate their tech

    Is ch Robinson gaslighting investors and the market with automation that isn’t real? This is a very very serious allegation and to be honest wouldn’t surprise me in the least

  4. First I'm hearing of this...

    I work at CHR and never heard any of this!! lol When were they going to tell us about this ?? CHR is becoming such a joke. They treat everyone so poorly.. customers, carriers and even their own employees! Executives are making REDICULOUS amounts of money and they are short changing everyone else! They have been putting tons of money into automation and its like it’s all they care about now, that and stuffing their own pockets, and trying to please shareholders. They seem to have forgotten about their employees. It didn’t even phase them to tell us we’re not getting raises. After we gave it everything we had last year and increasing our productivity by 18%..we got nothing! Employees are fed up and no longer want to work for a company that is run by money hungry morons.

  5. Felipe Garcia

    Porque la warehouse de los Angeles en Carson California permite que dos dueños de trucks estacionen en las instaciones de la warehouse, dentro de su yarda, yo como le hago para parquear ahi tambien. Uno es LASERSTARTS y HOLLAND

  6. What the actual?

    I’m going to be real honest with you.

    I’ve worked at CHR for the last 14 years, we have attempted automating appointments, and it failed. Never in the last 3 years have we even talked about automating appointments and it isn’t in any single persons work flow. It’s incredibly bold for them to make this public when none of our tech works inside our building, let alone the tech going to customers.

    I don’t want you to forget, all of CHR’s employees are now not working. I am in my office everyday with people watching netflix, hanging out, ignroing phone calls and deleting emails simply because of the leaderships recent decisions. Maybe they said they are automating appointments because they see none of our teams working and are trying to convince people we are? It’s bad here. Very bad for employee.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.