As the world grows increasingly connected, supply chains have become more complex than ever, and so has the technology that’s used to manage them. Customer demands are on the rise at a time when shrinking capacity and global pandemics make it challenging for companies to even meet demand, let alone exceed expectations.
As the stakes rise, companies have worked to shrink the gaps that exist between good information and good decision-making. This, in turn, has prompted the demand for supply chain visibility to rise to a fever pitch. In survey after survey, dozens or even hundreds of leading shippers have been polled to find out what their top priorities and business objectives are during this turbulent time. More often than not, real-time visibility is at the top of that list.
Six years ago, however, supply chain visibility was just a promising new opportunity on the radars of only the most forward-thinking shippers and technology providers. February 2021 marked FourKites’ six-year anniversary with one of those companies. MercuryGate, one of the TMS industry’s premier vendors, first partnered with FourKites in 2015. Now, after three upgrades to the integration and dozens of customer engagements, they’re still one of our strongest partners in the TMS space.
I worked for MercuryGate for seven years, from January of 2009 to early 2016. In that time, I watched the TMS industry begin to come to terms with a brand new technology: real-time transportation visibility.
Companies like MercuryGate operate at all levels of the transportation management process — from planning to execution to settlement. In the early 2010s, we started to see the development of a very important piece within the execution component of that process, which has only continued to grow increasingly important over the past several years. I’m talking, of course, about visibility.
Visibility gave MercuryGate’s shipper customers the ability to understand how their supply chain execution is proceeding in real-time, rather than waiting for a carrier to send them an EDI message, or a customer to call in asking why their scheduled shipment hasn’t arrived yet. This, in turn, allowed them to construct more effective plans, and conduct more transparent and efficient settlement processes. As it became clear that the technology behind visibility had finally matured enough to deliver on the promises it was making, MercuryGate recognized the need to make this technology available to their customers.
MercuryGate was one of the first to recognize that visibility is an important part of the transportation process, and that’s why they chose to partner with FourKites, which was the clear leader in the space even then.
For most TMS providers, partnership with supply chain visibility providers enables a richness and a granularity of data that they can’t do on their own. Transportation management systems have always relied on outside sources to connect with their carriers and provide higher-quality data. Prior to the arrival of third-party visibility providers, the default was often EDI data sent directly from the carrier. We’ve known for decades that this strategy has profound limitations, due to data latency, quality and reliability. Now, an entire industry of companies, which FourKites continues to lead, has arisen over the past several years to fill that gap. So it’s a very logical partnership for any TMS provider.
FourKites’ integration with MercuryGate sends load data from the TMS to FourKites for tracking, matching either the truck or the trailer (or both) with status and location data pulled directly from the vehicle’s onboard GPS. That information then gets processed for accuracy and consistency, factored into FourKites’ proprietary Dynamic ETA algorithm, and sent back to the MercuryGate TMS for display directly within the load record. This handoff occurs hundreds of times per shipment, rapidly updating stakeholders of the load’s progress and automatically alerting them whenever a shipment falls behind schedule, goes out of route, loses temperature tolerance or any number of other causes for concern that may occur.
Thanks to this seamless integration, MercuryGate users aren’t forced to toggle between applications to leverage the value of FourKites’ data within their TMS. They’re able to trigger real time notifications, view updated load status on a map and generate detailed reports, all without having to learn how to use an unfamiliar system.
In February of 2015, FourKites was a young company with a bright future — one in which MercuryGate saw tremendous potential for transforming the digital supply chain space. Today, dozens of leading shippers have supercharged their MercuryGate TMS by combining it with FourKites’ real-time visibility data. FourKites’ integration with MercuryGate TMS, now in its third generation, is on par with any other integration we have on offer today, and the FourKites-MercuryGate implementation process is one of the most seamless and cost-effective in our arsenal.
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In short, it’s all about delivering value. Together, FourKites and MercuryGate are committed to continuing to improve our integration in order to help our mutual customers run powerful, efficient supply chains. We continue to identify new ways of enhancing the user experience for our customers, and optimize data-driven supply chains throughout the country and around the world.
Thank you to the entire MercuryGate team for their ongoing partnership and support in this incredible endeavor. We’re looking forward to the next six years and beyond!