Freight.Tech 25: Technology innovation keeps C.H. Robinson focused on customers

Billions of dollars are being thrown at freight technology companies to build the next-generation of solutions, but as evidenced by the results of the FreightWaves’ Research Institute Freight.Tech 25 Awards, not all those companies are startups.

Coming in at No. 9 on the list is C.H. Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW), one of the tried-and-true providers in the freight space. Robinson’s Navisphere technology platform is part of the company’s commitment to providing solutions to its customers and carrier partners.

The Research Institute narrowed an original list of over 500 nominations down to the Freight.Tech 100, which was then cut to the Freight.Tech 25, announced at MarketWaves 18 last month. The final 25 were voted on by an independent panel of judges in a process overseen by acclaimed accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM).

The list of the Freight.Tech 25 winners can be found here.

Navisphere is a proprietary TMS system that “provides a virtual network, connecting people, customers and service providers across all regions they do business, enabling improved processes, greater visibility to shipments and comprehensive business intelligence,” the company’s website explains.

The technology has both a carrier and driver version – the latter introduced this year. The carrier version is more robust with additional reporting features, including load searching and truck posting, load management from driver assignment to billing, and document uploading. The driver version eliminates some of the management of loads and focuses instead on load updates and availability and information the driver needs to make a delivery. Drivers can also scan and upload documents.

According to the company, there are over 100,000 supply chain companies in the Navisphere system and over 70,000 active carriers in C.H. Robinson’s global database.

Importantly, the company’s technology solutions are not a one-size fits all. The company offers the Carrier Advantage Program that allows carriers to pick the right tier of services they are looking for, from basic access to Navisphere Carrier and contract freight opportunities, to the ability to make web offers for freight and get access to dedicated account managers and earlier access to freight.

“C.H. Robinson brings smart solutions to life through our digitally connected technology platform, and with our robust data science and analytics capabilities, we help shippers and carriers develop more effective, optimized and efficient execution plans for their businesses,” Mike Neill, C.H. Robinson’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.

C.H. Robinson is not only tied to its own platform, though. Late in 2017, the company announced it was implementing Omnitracs’ Virtual Load View (VLV) application as a way to improve visibility into load tracking. Omnitracs VLV allows brokers, shippers and carriers to track and manage all of its loads from a single, easy-to-operate portal.

At Transparency18 in April 2018, C.H. Robinson’s TMC, the technology and managed services arm of the company, showed its 4PL and global shipments solution, Navisphere Vision, which won a Best in Show award. The technology works to accelerate commerce through the most powerful platform.

In the Demo Day presentation, TMC showed Microsoft’s supply chain visualized on a map. The goals are to identify current location of inventory at all times, to run transactions through predictive analytics and machine learning architecture, and to identify supply chain disruptions so companies can be proactive rather than reactive. The data gets granular and is live-tracked through a 3rd party API. Also live tracking of flights, all through their Navisphere Vision platform. Whether truckload or ship or air.

These are just a couple of the technologies that C.H. Robinson has been developing, but it is a clear showcase that not all innovation comes from Silicon Valley.

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at