According to Gartner’s new Market Guide for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms, by 2023, 50% of global leading enterprises will have invested in real-time transportation visibility solutions. As real-time visibility continues to grow as a distinct software category and a top priority for shippers, 3PLs and their customers, Gartner adds that “true value comes from deriving actionable insights and spawning actions” that drive improvement and greater efficiency throughout a business’ operations.
The report suggests that the role of visibility technology within the broader transportation industry is at an inflection point. “You cannot control what you cannot see,” the report notes, meaning that just knowing what problems or inefficiencies are occurring within your supply chain is the first step to resolving them. It was gratifying to see this idea – part of the founding mission of FourKites – forming a core concept within Gartner’s report.
Seeking Value in a Sea of Promise
The Gartner analysts point out several times that quantitative value has been difficult to convey for many real-time visibility providers. We’re happy to report that as more and more of our customers have begun to apply real-time visibility across broader expanses of their operations, they’ve seen compounding value growth. As FourKites customer, Brett Frankenberg, Senior Vice President of Product Supply Planning and Bottler Sales at Coca-Cola Consolidated, put it, “If our merchandisers experience one-tenth of one percent productivity improvement, FourKites will have paid for itself many, many times over.”
Equally compelling has been the demonstrated potential for visibility to free up transportation capacity by reducing detention and demurrage. Several months ago, FourKites joined forces with the Transportation Partner Alliance (TPA) and the Consumer Brands Association (CBA) to evaluate the potential of transportation visibility technology to reduce dwell time costs at four target facilities. Together with representatives from Wegmans, Land O’Lakes, Giant Eagle, Inc., and Coca-Cola North America, along with several of their carrier partners, we developed a customer Dwell Dashboard that allowed us to identify numerous factors contributing to dwell within each operation, based on real-time dwell data from their facilities.
After implementing some of the optimizations suggested by the data resulting in reduced dwell times for scheduled loads, we determined that having visibility enabled a potential creation of 2-4% additional transportation capacity within the industry as a whole! Within the context of the $2 trillion CPG industry alone, this represents a massive potential for growth that benefits all parties included. Solving the dwell time problem represents a significant opportunity for all stakeholders. And achieving a significant reduction in dwell is dependent on greater visibility, collaboration and availability of transportation data.
The Data is Compelling
The quantifiable evidence of the efficacy of real-time visibility platforms goes far beyond dwell, as our customers’ mounting successes demonstrate. To name just a few:
- Land O’Lakes, Inc., a longtime FourKites customer, recently started using Lane Connect to identify lane-sharing opportunities across its network and the networks of key partners. One such collaboration opportunity for Land O’Lakes was with a major food wholesaler, whose private fleet was able to pick up regional backhaul for Land O’Lakes between Ohio and Tennessee. The partnership resulted in cost savings of 20-25% for Land O’Lakes, and reduced empty miles for the wholesaler by 502 miles per trip, twice a week.
- Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (CCBCC), was able to improve stock performance to 99% by giving its inbound freight user group access to FourKites, allowing for better information sharing and cross-functional collaboration between two closely-related departments. By rolling FourKites out at their manufacturing and distribution facilities, CCBCC is able to help front-line personnel make the most of their available time and labor, rather than waiting around for shipments that were running hours behind their scheduled delivery times.
- C&S Wholesale Grocers reduced check calls by 65%, due to more proactive management of customer needs and expectations.
- Smithfield was able to improve its on-time delivery rate by seven percentage points, raising it from 87% to 94% after implementing FourKites technology.
Separating the Leaders from the Laggards
Gartner’s report is a comprehensive and thoughtful treatment of the many forces of disruption that are transforming the logistics industry. Now with 100+ market providers and increasing numbers of businesses recognizing the need for greater visibility across their operations, the report notes that “many companies still struggle with low market maturity of visibility solutions.” Another perspective we would add from the frontlines is that there are no shortcuts to achieving high-quality carrier integrations across the complex transportation ecosystem in North America (consisting of over 500K carriers, 90% of whom have six or fewer trucks) – another key component of a successful visibility program, as Gartner points out.
These factors can cause headaches for more risk-averse businesses as they embark on their visibility journey. When choosing a visibility provider, businesses should keep in mind that not all providers are created equal, and the testimonies of existing customers within your vertical or industry can go a long way toward proving the quality and maturity of a given solution.
As with any new category of software, there will be growing pains and uncertainties, especially as we begin to move past the early adoption phase and into the mainstream. Through it all, it’s important to remember that the primary goal of any true visibility platform will be to shine a light on every corner of your supply chain and help you maximize efficiencies at every point. Because after all, you can’t fix what you can’t see.