Rapid-fire pitch: Shipwell is closing the gap on trucking workflow automation

( Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves )

Shipwell is a startup that turns “the imperfect into the perfect,” stated company co-founder and president Jason Traff while presenting on the MarketWaves18 demo stage. What Traff alluded to was the trucking market, which over the course of this decade has seen various attempts at automation of specific processes, but with none comprehensively bearing fruit.

Traff contended that problems in automation would probably be never-ending, but it was about how technology reacts to it that needs to be discussed. In that vein, Shipwell has created an online freight platform on which shippers and carriers can automate the process of quoting, booking, and tracking freight. The company has designed an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant which Traff mentioned would help clients with workflow automation, real-time connectivity, and actionable insights.

“We combine the AI assistant with our freight services, because in our view, the most powerful combination is a person with automation software, as that drives the biggest impact on supply chain efficiency today,” said Traff. “Our shippers and third-party logistics providers can run a near-seamless free shipping experience by having their carriers use our mobile apps to coordinate, track, and close out shipments.”

Shipwell has also partnered with over 70 percent of the electronic logging device (ELD) providers in the market and has integrated it into the platform, making it easier for shippers to pull back location and the remaining hours of service from the carrier in question.

Nonetheless, Traff also highlighted the real-world problems associated with tracking carriers. “This is a world where carriers don’t connect their ELD, don’t accept your cell phone tracking requests, don’t download your mobile application, and for that matter, they might not even have a smartphone,” he said.

Shipwell’s AI assistant can intuitively understand such a situation and respond without any manual intervention. Initially, the system can notify drivers with instructions on downloading the mobile app, the procedure to connect to the onboard ELD, and on accepting tracking requests. If the driver ignores the instructions flowing in, the system would eventually call him asking for an update and give a timeframe for responding with an answer.

“In the back-end, we’re using natural language processing to extract important information out of what the driver says, and machine learning algorithms compare the answer to what’s expected,” said Traff. “If the driver is on time, it’s great. If he’s delayed, it will trigger secondary actions, maybe even notifying the representative of the shipment. And this pattern is self-reinforcing.”

The AI assistant is flexible enough to take in answers through different mediums like voice calls or SMS texts and different languages like Spanish or Hindi. “But still, we prefer hands-free so that drivers can stay aware of their surroundings,” said Traff. “This specific natural language processing technology will be used in the future to dynamically schedule warehouse appointments, reconcile payments’ status, and also dynamic freight matching, capacity, pricing, and route automation.”

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Vishnu Rajamanickam, Staff Writer

Vishnu writes editorial commentary on cutting-edge technology within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from industry frontrunners and thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he writes neo-noir poetry, blogs about travel & living, and loves to debate about international politics. He hopes to settle down in a village and grow his own food at some point in time. But for now, he is happy to live with his wife in the middle of a German metropolitan.