• ITVI.USA
    15,948.420
    108.680
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.798
    -0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.010
    -0.060
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,936.600
    100.010
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,948.420
    108.680
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.798
    -0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.010
    -0.060
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,936.600
    100.010
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American Shipper

Visibility from national security to supply chain

Virginia-based visibility and analytics provider TransVoyant’s system is rooted in work it’s done for national security customers, but the company is now firmly rooted in the commercial applications market.

   The idea of supply chain visibility as a “need-to-have” capability is pretty well established at this point.
   Most importers and exporters either have some form of visibility, know they need to have it, or have made a decision that their cargo isn’t high value or transit time sensitive enough to necessitate it.
   So then the issue becomes, what type of visibility is required. Track and trace of a handful of key transportation milestones? Or deeper and more frequent updates on a shipment, including upstream and downstream activities?
   And there are two more components. What is the data going in to feed the visibility tool? And should the visibility tool connect the user directly to execution and optimization options in an integrated or outside system?
   These are all crucial factors in the visibility equation.
   The founders of Alexandria, Va.-based TransVoyant would argue the most important of these elements is the data and, ultimately, the insights that come from the data. These are the underlying building blocks of any visibility system or process. And arguably no one is measuring more data, when it comes to supply chain visibility, than TransVoyant.
   The supply chain technology analyst ChainLink Research has called TransVoyant “the power behind the throne” because the company’s Continuous Decision Intelligence (CDI) platform powers the visibility tools of many of the top providers of transportation management software.
   Included in that list of providers is JDA Software and Infor, which acquired TransVoyant customer GT Nexus in 2015. The power of the CDI platform is founded in an engine that collects and analyzes over one trillion events daily around the world using information from sensors, satellites, smartphones, GPS, automatic identification system (AIS) vessel tracking, weather and a host of other signals.
   This data has three levels of benefit for its users. For one, it provides historical information about where the assets have been.
   Second, and more interestingly, it provides precise current locations of assets, more precise than typically exists due to the latency inherent in electronic data interchange (EDI) messages that are typically used to convey location information.
   But third, and most crucially, TransVoyant’s vast trove of historical data and machine learning algorithms allow it to predict for users what will happen in the future, so that truck routes might be changed, or contingency inventory might be shipped.
   It’s here where visibility goes from being about supply chain monitoring to supply chain influencing.
   What gives TransVoyant’s approach teeth is the company’s background. Founded in 2012, the company has spent much of that time monitoring assets globally for U.S. security and intelligence customers, only really seeking out commercial applications of its technology over the past two years.
   Co-founder Dennis Groseclose said the company didn’t set out to provide data and analytics solely for governmental use.
   “We had always planned to go to commercial applications,” he said. “To do what we’re doing, you need to be able to fuse trillions of pieces of live sensor data to see what’s happening and predict what’s going to happen. That need happened earlier in national security, which is why we got traction there earlier.
   “It costs money and it takes massive computing power to process a trillion data points every day. The barrier to entry is the data itself and the growing library of predictive insights the come from it. There are tons of big data analytics players, and 99 percent of them have an analytics engine. But very few come with the data itself, nor do they have the pre-built insights.”
   The relevance to supply chain was clear to see straight away.
   “Strangely enough, it’s quite similar to national security uses (in terms of what needs to be tracked and predicted),” he said. “The technology, data and analytics needed to solve complex national security challenges apply directly to the supply chain if you can figure out how to do it in a cost-effective way.”
   This has always been the rub when it comes to visibility. Shippers and service providers have largely gotten by on “good enough,” information about just enough crucial shipment milestones, and in a timely enough manner to be still be useful.
   But the overall speed of supply chains, the need to reduce inventory, and the way manufacturing processes are often dependent on parts from several locations, are changing requirements.
   TransVoyant Vice President of Marketing Scott Byrnes, a veteran of global transportation and trade compliance solutions provider Amber Road, said the problem is that the inherent latency of EDI status updates, anywhere from 24 hours to several days latent, significantly limits a company’s ability to detect and remediate issues, commit inventory in-transit and orchestrate downstream operations.
   To better leverage its rising position in the logistics technology hierarchy, TransVoyant is making big pushes into two areas. For one, it has been targeting beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) more directly. It works with IBM and the shoemaker Brooks Running, along with other high profile companies in the apparel, retail and high-tech sectors.
   Second, it is aiming to provide more insight around demand, using existing data feeds and other inputs to help shippers understand how demand variability should impact their transportation planning.
   Groseclose said the goal is to get shippers to a state of virtually constant planning, instead of weekly or twice weekly.
   The TransVoyant platform, it should be noted, is not an execution system. But, for instance, it does integrate directly to a TMS to change a route or move to a contingency supplier that its visibility and optimization system recommends.
   Groseclose said the decision to work with partners like the established TMS providers was a conscious one, as it allows users to leverage the TransVoyant visibility data in an electronic environment with which they are already comfortable.
   But in mid-July, the company released its Precise Predictive Logistics tool, aimed more directly at end users who require logistics visibility and predictive analytics.
   “Before TransVoyant, we received two status updates via EDI from our ocean carriers—vessel departed and vessel arrived, and even those messages were latent,” Chase Mueller, manager of supply chain visibility at Brooks Running, said in a statement. “With the TransVoyant P2L solution, we know exactly where each shipment is, and when it will arrive, at every defined pulse point of the journey. This should enable us to more effectively plan our downstream operations, optimize lead times, measure carrier performance, and provide enhanced service to both our trade and direct to runner business.”
   Groseclose said P2L is rooted in the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), both in terms of the data feeds it receives as well as the real-time tracking information and predictive analytics it provides to users. APIs are an alternative method to EDI as a system-to-system communication method that reduces latency and provides more flexibility.
   The initial idea for TransVoyant was to “democratize” predictive analytics, so that anyone could marry their own data feeds and math via APIs with those provided by TransVoyant. Given all the data TransVoyant collects, it might be a hard task to find data that’s not already integrated into its CDI platform.
   CDI is TransVoyant’s underlying technology platform that consists of the big data it collects every day, the machine learning algorithms that it uses to analyze this data, and the APIs it uses to integrate to external systems.
   After the launch of P2L, announced last month, TransVoyant said it will be coming out with other packaged solutions focused on consumer demand (called P2C), and risk (P2R), Byrnes said.
   “All these packaged solutions sit on top of that (CDI) platform,” Groseclose said. “They produce what we call insights. Predicted dwell times at ocean ports next month. The ETA of a shipment. Which airports should I avoid. Which carrier should I choose. These are all insights.”
   Insights that are powering the next generation of supply chain visibility.

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