This week (and last week!) we convened three of our top subject matter experts in LTL tracking to discuss FourKites’ latest product release: Dynamic ETA for LTL. We’ve been referring to this product as “The LTL Revolution,” because this technology represents something never before seen in the less-than-truckload space – and it’s capable of solving problems that most had accepted as simply unsolvable.

The LTL space has historically been plagued with inefficiencies. Bad data, siloed workflows and redundant processes led to the perennial challenges of unreliable arrival windows, unavailable PRO numbers and difficulties in following a single shipment through a byzantine series of handoffs and deliveries.

For customers and delivery sites alike, these challenges quickly translate to compounded delays and dissatisfied customers. Yet for the people working on the front lines of LTL shipping, however, these problems became institutionalized. They were an unavoidable reality. That’s no longer the case

Part of the reason we held this webinar twice in the same month is to give people the opportunity to learn that in the world of LTL transportation management, the way it’s always been isn’t the way it has to be. And if the 600+ webinar attendees is any indication, the appetite for change is strong. Here are some of the top themes about LTL visibility that we tackled during our webinar.

More Data Doesn’t Always Equal Accuracy

It might seem odd to hear a technology company say this. But we stand by the maxim that more data, in and of itself, is not the solution. Trustworthy data is.

One of the most daunting aspects of LTL is the sheer number of parties involved in delivering a single shipment. You might be working with numerous LTL and parcel carriers, each of which sends out status updates in a different format, via a different system – and sometimes they don’t send out updates at all.

FourKites’ real-time visibility platform normalizes all of these disparate data sources and presents them in a single view (your TMS), helping you separate the signal from the noise and get a better idea of where your shipment is in real time.

But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to following handoffs, normalizing disparate data sources and presenting everything in a single pane of glass, our platform also feeds the information it’s collecting back into our constantly-growing, anonymized data repository. This database has been assembled from all the millions of loads we’ve tracked for our hundreds of shipper and 3PL customers over the history of FourKites, meaning it’s made up of information that spans the breadth of global regions, modes, and industries. All of this is then broken down into its constituent data points (stuff like shipper behavior, carrier behavior, seasonality, distance between intermediary points, carrier ETAs, appointment times and more), and reassembled as actionable insights into your shipments. When you add it all up, that’s about 3.2 billion LTL miles and counting, and each one informs the algorithm that then goes on to calculate your ETA.

This kind of continuous improvement – models are constantly updated as new data becomes available – means that our platform is always learning, always growing, and is therefore still reliable, even in uncertain times like those in which we find ourselves.

From Decentralization to Quality Data

During the webinar, we got a lot of questions from attendees about whether certain carriers’ data quality and practices are better than others. While it’s true that there can be disparities from carrier to carrier – some carriers use GPS, while others give only status updates and still others rely on APIs or EDI – you can make some startlingly accurate calculations about arrival times when you have access to the bigger picture.

FourKites already tracks over 96% of LTL freight in the US. In addition to normalizing the data that each individual carrier provides, the act of aggregating data from so many different carriers serves to smooth over the differences in data quality from carrier to carrier. In doing so, our algorithms are capable of predicting when a delivery will occur, even without direct GPS access to a truck’s location.

From Better Data Comes Better Collaboration

Our goal is to facilitate collaboration and sharing of resources across the logistics industry. It’s how we maximize the value of our platform with our customers, build a greener supply chain, avoid solutions that don’t work the way they’re supposed to, and ensure that we’re solving real problems rather than imagined ones. That’s why FourKites’ features are inspired by – and built directly with – our customers.

Before releasing Dynamic ETA for LTL, we carried out a month-long pilot session with numerous customers, making sure the tool was adding value to those companies in the way they needed it to.

The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, including one major FourKites food and beverage customer who experienced a 67% reduction in customer calls, 147% improvement in customer satisfaction. And that was just from the first month!

The ability to proactively manage exceptions for LTL shipments means better planning, smoother operations and improved visibility for customers. Predicting accurate arrival times for LTL loads has always been one of the harder problems in supply chain. This is a genuine breakthrough in real-time visibility, and we are happy to have collaborated with FourKites to help make this innovation happen.

– Dustin Braun | Senior Director, Logistics | Land O’ Lakes

This Is Just the Beginning

The promise shown by Dynamic ETA for LTL is unprecedented in the LTL space, but at the same time it’s quite similar to where full truckload stood several years ago. When FourKites first started out, we had the difficult job of convincing people that a real-time visibility platform and more accurate ETAs could transform the way companies conducted business.

Now, the LTL market is finally in position to begin reaping the rewards of modern supply chain visibility solutions that have already made such a positive impact on other modes.

This is just the beginning of the revolution in the world of LTL, and we’re thrilled to be helping our customers achieve more efficient use of labor and resources, greater customer satisfaction, reduced overhead costs and many other benefits.

If you didn’t have a chance to catch the webinar, please tune in here for the full recording

And if you have any questions, or if you’d like a full demo, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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