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Transplace makes end-to-end real-time visibility a standard offering

(Photo: FreightWaves)

Transplace announced on July 14 that a partnership with Descartes MacroPoint would allow it to offer end-to-end real-time visibility as a standard feature to its managed transportation and transportation management system (TMS) customers. 

Transplace already gave shippers deep visibility into their networks with a variety of technology providers, but coverage had been incomplete due to uneven carrier adoption, and the service often came with transaction or integration fees.

 By January 2020, Transplace says that all of the hundreds of thousands of trucks operating on its platform in the United States and Canada will use MacroPoint. Periods when trucking capacity is loose tend to accelerate technology adoption by carriers as they seek to differentiate themselves and shippers have more leverage to enact stricter requirements. Adoption of visibility technology in Mexico has been slower, however, and Transplace says that it has not yet identified a solution provider with enough market share to be designated as a single source provider.

MacroPoint was founded in 2011 by Bennett Adelson. Susquehanna Growth Equity invested $44 million in the visibility solution provider in November 2016, and in August 2017 Descartes Systems Group (NASDAQ: DSGX), the Canadian technology conglomerate, acquired MacroPoint for $107 million.

“Expanding our relationship to make real-time tracking the norm allows Transplace and Descartes to deliver even greater value to the market,” said Edward J. Ryan, chief executive officer at Descartes, in a statement. “Through our Descartes MacroPoint technology and network, Transplace can offer comprehensive visibility, opening new opportunities for efficiency, automation and predictive analytics to their customers.”

Transplace said it chose MacroPoint as a partner for its universal visibility offering primarily because of its deep penetration into the carrier community and its proven history of successful integrations.

FreightWaves spoke to Transplace CEO Frank McGuigan about making visibility a standard feature.

McGuigan said that Transplace was an early adopter of visibility technology when only customers with extreme service requirements – commodities like fresh food and beverage, some consumer packaged goods, but also chemicals and hazardous materials – wanted the ability to track their loads closely. Over time, the technology became cheaper, customers raised their expectations, and supply chain operators began thinking of ways to leverage the data generated by visibility solutions to make their networks run more efficiently.

“The marketplace is evolving; everybody wants to know where their inventory is at all times in the best possible way,” McGuigan explained.

In the past five years, McGuigan said, customer demand for visibility has increased, and Transplace’s ability to gain visibility into loads and provide it to customers has improved.

“With our ability to provide meaningful information through the lifecycle of the shipment and our investments in artificial intelligence, including service prediction and freight matching, it became clear that visibility on every shipment was the way of the future,” McGuigan said.

McGuigan explained that end-to-end visibility benefits all stakeholders in the supply chain, including Transplace. Making visibility standard improves the quality of the data feeding Transplace’s algorithms, making capacity more liquid.

One of Transplace’s automated technologies that will benefit from universal visibility is its Network Continuous Move solution, which builds multi-load routes for carriers, optimizing for asset utilization and cost to shippers. Running carriers in continuous circuits requires aggregating data about carrier preferences, performance and equipment so that Transplace knows where carriers want to go and how tightly they can meet deadlines. It also requires detailed insight into the operations of specific facilities, including not only the efficiency of the dock operation, but also future demand and the topology of Transplace’s customer’s customer networks.

Although Transplace is a technology company, McGuigan called out its investments in people who work closely with customers in consultative roles. Tracy Rosser, formerly Walmart’s senior vice president of transportation and supply chain, joined Transplace about three weeks ago to take on the role of executive vice president of operations. 

“Most of our customer relationships include a supply chain consultant as well, where we’re working with them on procurement, forecasting and going into their demand profile,” McGuigan said. “We understand their order cycle time, their necessary lead times, how they’re engaging their customers and planning for quarter-ends.”

For Transplace, it’s all about meeting and exceeding rising customer expectations. 

“People want to know where their freight is, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” McGuigan said. “How ‘s their network performing? What are the actionable, forward-looking insights you can deliver to help their network perform better? Our customers expect more from us as a result of this partnership with Macropoint.”


  1. Bart De Muynck

    As the author of the Gartner market guide on real-time visibility I can confirm that our publication does not make any mention of the fact that Macropoint is not a competitor. We list the most relevant vendors across the globe in this solution area of which Macropoint (Descartes) is one of those vendors. We do not make any type of classification or ranking in the publication. We will publish an updated version early 2020 listing the current 20 most relevant vendors.

  2. Magnus

    Interesting that Transplace selected an outdated solution that has had little to no innovation since being acquired.
    Gartner has recently published white papers on this topic and Macropoint isn’t considered as a real competitor in the race.

    1. Sam Smith

      Magnus you gave a total mischaracterization of the Gartner research and clearly you represent one of the other visibility players. Nice try.

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John Paul Hampstead

John Paul conducts research on multimodal freight markets and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. Prior to building a research team at FreightWaves, JP spent two years on the editorial side covering trucking markets, freight brokerage, and M&A.