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Top 3 logistics tech trends for shippers to stay competitive

Image credit: Jim Allen / FreightWaves

Staying on the leading edge of technology requires time and capital investments, along with innovation and a corporate culture that values iteration. 

We recently caught up with Jim French, chief technology officer at Transplace, to get an inside view on high-impact trends in logistics tech. He says Transplace has been increasing its technology investments 25% each year for the past four years.

“We take innovation and invention seriously and encourage our employees to push the envelope on what’s possible with our advanced technologies,” French said. 

With all of the logistics and supply chain advancements now available, it can be confusing for shippers to identify high-impact technology investments that will help them stay competitive in 2021 and beyond. French offers three areas of logistics tech to consider.

Data-driven decision-making

Investing in a robust transportation management system (TMS) is one of the most important decisions for a shipper. A cloud-based TMS provides real-time clarity of transportation networks, data insights, dashboards, reporting and analytics. Having the right TMS results in 6-10% transportation cost savings within six to 12 months.1

“I realize that a TMS is not new tech,” said French. “In fact, the hottest innovations in logistics and supply chain technologies right now may not be the newest, but it’s tech that continues to get sharpened and more sophisticated. Through iteration and continuous improvements, we are refining our technology platforms and processes to provide a competitive advantage for our clients.”

For shippers with a legacy TMS, a new logistics solutions platform provides shippers access to emerging technology like real-time visibility, service prediction, service performance benchmarking, network collaboration and optimization and more. These stand-alone offerings are a quick, cost-effective way for shippers to take advantage of Transplace’s leading-edge logistics technology, intelligence and visibility to optimize supply chain operations in concert with their current TMS infrastructure. 

With the democratization of data, logistics technology specialists are able to minimize risks and spot opportunities to save costs to help shippers make smarter decisions for better business outcomes. TMS apps are making the dashboards and analytics accessible from any device anywhere in the world.

French advises shippers, “If you haven’t explored the latest upgrades to TMS platforms, make a point of finding out what’s new. For example, Transplace is leading the TMS industry by enabling ‘instant price’ quotes from multiple providers, while still allowing carriers without this capability to directly interact through the more traditional carrier portal for spot shipments.”

Contingency planning and business continuity

Expect logistics and transportation to continue experiencing volatility in 2021. In addition, retailers are demanding more visibility into the entire supply chain to avoid empty shelves. Invest in technology that boosts contingency planning and business continuity. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are supporting intelligent inventory demand forecasting, production scheduling and predictive analytics. Through AI and ML, a task that could take humans days or weeks to unravel can be completed in mere minutes. More and more logistics execution will be automated, saving time and increasing efficiencies within the supply chain.

For example, Transplace upgraded its tracking portal and control tower as a central source for managing dynamic and complex planning. The display shows hot spots in addition to weather and traffic incidents to help shippers avoid disruptions in their transportation network. Combined with powerful integrations for real-time location and status updates, AI can accurately predict problems before they occur, allowing for mitigation to minimize impact.

Near real-time data processing continues to advance through IoT devices, APIs and potentially blockchain shared ledgers. The newest tech surpasses geo-location visibility, allowing logistics plans to be adjusted to avoid delays and disruptions by the superior accuracy and timeliness of the data. The smarter, automated supply chain analytics will minimize risks, identify root causes, improve procurement performance and accelerate forecasting. With automated data processing and predictive analytics, workstreams will be more aligned across supply chain and transportation departments, as well as logistics partners.

Multi-shipper collaborations

Increased collaboration among shippers, carriers and the logistics and transportation communities will enhance agility. The newest technologies upgrade the usual digital brokerage relationships. Now supply chain professionals can improve capacity and cost management by taking advantage of multi-shipper collaborations, planned and dynamic continuous moves, LTL pools and other strategic carrier partnerships.

To be responsive to rapidly changing circumstances, Transplace developed its Network Services to support shippers with capacity challenges and demands. Network Services delivers significant advancements in multi-shipper collaborations leveraging Transplace’s $11 billion in freight under management. Through AI, ML and industry-leading technology, Network Services identifies optimization opportunities that generate significant transportation cost savings for both the shipper and carrier communities.

Transplace is also launching a set of APIs to connect carriers with its Freight Allocation Module (FAM). This is an auction and bid technology within Transplace’s logistics platform, allowing carriers to bid on lanes. These APIs will significantly shorten auction timing without compromising the ability to find a true market price in near real time. Accessible through Transplace’s API Portal, the solution is an easy, low-cost way for shippers and carriers to integrate with Transplace. 

French concludes, “Shippers should partner with supply chain experts who will tailor their solutions to meet their specific needs. The technology must be customizable and flexible to changing circumstances and business evolution.”

To learn more about Transplace’s industry-leading TMS and customizable, tech-enabled services and solutions, reach out at

1Source: ARC Advisory Group: