Transplace announced this morning, July 2, that it has opened up its Platform Services, which include analytics and benchmarking tools, a command center with real-time visibility and optimization, and network collaboration with other shippers, to customers who don’t use Transplace’s transportation management system (TMS).
Shippers that use SAP, Oracle, JDA and other TMS or enterprise resource planning systems to manage their supply chains can now feed their data into Transplace’s Platform Services via standard API connections. Customers log into Platform Services through a secure web-based portal.
“Shippers that currently have other TMS relationships or are in entrenched ERP systems now have the ability to get Transplace technology,” said Frank McGuigan, Transplace chief executive officer. “What we’ve done is lower the barrier to entry to these services.”
Platform Services offers three toolkits to customers – Data Insights, Command Center and Marketplace, in increasing order of complexity and added value. With Data Insights, shippers get sophisticated benchmarking and reporting tools that allows them to analyze spend and service metrics. McGuigan said that as Platform Services was rolled out to a new cohort of customers, he was surprised by the appetite Fortune 50 and 100 shippers still had for those kinds of analytics.
The Command Center combines real-time tracking and visibility with service prediction and event monitoring, giving shippers a tactical responsiveness to the day-to-day operations of their supply chains.
Transplace’s Marketplace is its network collaboration platform. Collaboration can start with something as simple as consolidating less-than-truckload shipments into a multi-stop truckload, reducing shipper spend and improving carrier yield at the same time. Customers uploading high frequency data into the platform can offer carriers continuous moves by partnering with other shippers, which lowers cost, but also meaningfully improves service. That opportunity extends to the optimization of private fleets; one shipper’s private fleet may generate revenue from other shipper’s freight on a recurring basis, and even cross-docks.
Transplace, a leading provider of managed transportation services based in Frisco, Texas, manages about $11 billion of freight spend across its network. Founded in 2000 as a kind of logistics consortium for large trucking carriers, Transplace has since expanded its service offerings through a mixture of in-house technology development and acquisitions.
Two acquisitions made this year are characteristic of Transplace’s strategy: Lanehub, a shipper and carrier collaboration platform; and ScanData, a parcel-focused managed transportation provider. Lanehub matches complementary lanes across client supply chains, finding links where networks overlap and capacity can be more efficiently utilized. ScanData helps high volume parcel shippers optimize carrier selection, booking, tracking, and invoicing, finding opportunities in complex parcel carrier operations and pricing schemes to save money and improve service.
For years now, Transplace’s technology rollouts and M&A have pointed in two broad directions: increasingly intimate collaboration with shippers in order to optimize freight across Transplace’s entire network, not just on the customer level; and a uniquely diverse multi-modal service offering. The goal is to overlay millions of freight movements into a dense network, find and solve inefficient redundancies using, for example, dynamic continuous moves, and do it across all modes, including truckload, less-than-truckload, ocean, air, intermodal and parcel.
“Customers are trying to find scale, leverage and network synergy with other major shippers,” McGuigan said. “Our platform is the home for making that scale happen. It’s one thing to recognize opportunities, but it’s another thing to recognize them and continuously make it happen.”
McGuigan explained that the most sophisticated freight brokers offer similar ways to pool freight and private fleet backhauls, but they tend to charge higher rates and to capture efficiencies for their own benefit.
“Large companies have scale and density, but they also have underutilized private fleets,” McGuigan said. “Marry those two components across customers, and finding those continuous moves, both static and dynamic, is unbelievably powerful. The world’s largest brokers already do that, but not in a transparent way. Rates are significantly higher and savings aren’t passed back to the shipper community.”
McGuigan said that coronavirus-related disruptions to demand and capacity accelerated a technology renaissance in transportation and logistics that was already years in the making. An exogenous event has forced a broad swath of companies to critically analyze their supply chains and reconsider the design of their networks at the same time that the technology to do so works well and is widely available.
The uneven distribution of business closures across geography, and unforeseen changes in consumer behavior have made private fleet utilization an acute challenge for many large shippers. A beverage shipper, for instance, might have a private fleet dedicated to serving restaurants, bars and hotels that have all been shut down, while demand in grocery and convenience stores has spiked. In the for-hire market, the same volatility in demand has made it difficult for trucking carriers to allocate assets efficiently, driving up tender rejections and creating pockets where capacity is scarce.
“Companies woke up on April 1 and had a completely different business than they had on January 1, making network redesign and execution incredibly important,” McGuigan said. “We do business with companies that manufacture household cleaning products that are up 100% year-over-year. To be able to flick that switch and service that market is a huge enabler for those companies. We also have companies that aren’t manufacturing much in June, and they don’t know about July, but we’re able to go in, look at their networks, and ask why they’re using a certain facility, or carrying a certain amount of inventory. The amount of goodwill we’re getting in the marketplace is propelling our business. We’re having a terrific year.”
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