Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN) has been on a technology spree of late and that is continuing with the recent announcement of its investment in and deployment of Mastery Logistics Systems’ MasterMind transportation management system (TMS).
Werner will deploy the software-as-a-service solution across its Werner Truckload Transportation Services and Logistics business units. The deployment includes an equity investment and “ongoing strategic advisement by Werner to drive continued product development,” according to a release.
Chief Information Officer Daragh Mahon told FreightWaves that when Werner started evaluating TMS options, Mastery’s checked all the boxes, including being purpose-built for the cloud.
“One of the requirements [we had] was something built on the cloud, not something that had been converted,” he said. “There’s not many cloud-based TMSes out there and not many that are built [like Mastery].”
MasterMind has been designed with large organizations in mind, something that Werner was attracted to. Mahon said the company liked the functionality and architecture of the solution. That flexibility is important for Werner as it transitions to using outside vendors for much of its technology needs.
Mastery is the latest example of this. Earlier this year, Werner announced it was creating the EDGE platform. Werner EDGE offers drivers access to the latest telematics data, breakdown information and communication tools in a tablet-friendly app, but most importantly, it allows for continued innovation by both Werner and outside vendors, allowing the carrier to take advantage of the solutions that make the most business sense.
An agreement with Platform Science to roll out that company’s open platform technology across its entire 8,000-plus vehicle fleet is an example of that approach with the flexibility of EDGE. The rollout, called EDGE Connect, will be complete in the first quarter of 2021, Werner said. Werner trucks will be outfitted with Platform Science’s full suite of products, including its catalog of applications and third-party app marketplace.
Mahon also said Werner is adding Trimble map technology that will ingest more accurate estimated time of arrival so drivers “can maximize their earning potential.”
“We can give the driver the ability to improve their trip planning and better manage their hours of service,” he added.
All of the solutions are being built using application programming interface (API) technology. APIs and cloud-based solutions is where the industry is moving, Mahon said, and both Mastery and Platform Science are two companies that appear to be at the forefront of this movement.
Werner becomes the second major carrier to invest in Mastery, founded by Jeff Silver. Schneider National (NYSE: SNDR) announced a strategic investment in July. Schneider is using the MasterMind platform, at least initially, in its logistics operation.
“I think it is a modernization of the industry,” Mahon said. “And this is a startup, albeit with a ton of experience behind them. … From the investment standpoint, what it does for us is it gives a prominent seat at the table with Jeff to help them road-map the product.”
Mahon doesn’t believe the fact that both Werner and Schneider have made investments in the company presents a potential conflict, insisting that “when it comes to the competitive stuff that differentiates us, we’ll continue to do our [own thing].”
What it does, though, is allow Werner to more effectively put its capital to best use. Mahon said using outside vendors could potentially cost more than developing the technology in house, but it offers more flexibility and allows Werner to “spend more wisely.”
MasterMind is designed to offer increased control and collaboration across business units and customers. Werner said the solution will complement its developing Werner EDGE platform.
“The opportunity to lead the transportation industry into the next generation of cloud-based technologies is upon us,” Mahon said. “Not only will Werner’s partnership with Mastery include its innovative TMS solution, but it also affords us the opportunity to evolve and develop technologies together as the industry advances and more fleet data is stored. As a result, our company, as well as others, has the opportunity to benefit from better processes, information exchange and technological agility.”
In June, Werner announced it would implement Trucker Tools’ suite of real-time shipment visibility, predictive freight matching, automated booking and electronic document capture into its brokerage operation.
“The Werner and Mastery partnership is the perfect combination of history, reputation, innovation and opportunity,” Jeff Silver, Mastery CEO, said. “By working together, we intend to drive value within the Werner ecosystem and across the entire transportation and logistics industry. We look forward to a collaborative relationship with Werner and its team of industry leaders.”
In an interview with FreightWaves in early 2019, Silver, who founded Coyote Logistics, said the decision to build Mastery and the MasterMind platform is about reducing waste and solving problems in the entire freight logistics industry for the large organizations.
“Even some large customers have very little systemization of the appointment-making process,” Silver said. “Thousands and thousands of people are spending the vast majority of their time on the telephone or on a website making appointments. What we’d like to do is create a centralized and automated process so that as loads are being tendered, they’re tendered with appointments that are preset based on the needs of the customer, the preferences of the carrier or broker who’s involved and also taking load attributes into consideration.”