Shipment visibility is vital for tracking arrival times and successfully managing customer metrics. In this video, we discuss other freight visibility options available to shippers and how artificial intelligence (AI) tools can be helpful in providing more accurate ETAs. Read the full Q&A transcription below.
Q: Having shipment visibility is vital for shippers to ensure on-time arrivals and manage other customer service metrics. Using third-party services that collect and aggregate tracking data can be expensive. What other freight visibility options do shippers have?
A: Quite honestly, this has been a key pain point for shippers and carriers for many years. And not only is it the expense of using a third-party track and trace company, it’s also the time involved with getting that data and information to that tracking company or are your carriers getting that. What we’re doing in PCS is we’re adding track and trace to be a part of our core platform. Right, so if you are a PCS carrier or a PCS shipper, you have this idea of track and trace and the ability to understand where all your freight is, whether you’re hauling it in your private fleet, or whether a carrier is hauling it. You have the ability to leverage the platform to understand where that freight is.
Q: Scheduling realistic delivery appointments is one of many ways shippers can achieve better customer service outcomes. How can artificial intelligence or other tools be useful to provide more accurate ETAs and help with planning better schedules to avoid customer service failures?
A: Within the TMS platform, especially PCS’ TMS platform, we have the ability to use AI to determine the estimated time of arrival. So we’re not just going out and taking a Google Map and having them tell me based on traffic, we’re actually taking into account past performance, the specific driver, the amount of breaks a driver has to take a larger array of other data to help us calculate eta. We put it into a machine learning all that data into a machine learning algorithm, and we determine ETA, but it’s not just about determining the ETA. That ETA then goes into an optimization algorithm that allows us to plan exactly when these loads should be delivered. So it’s not just about taking into account the ETA, the estimated time of arrival, it’s also about what you do with that ETA. Once I have an AI-based ETA now I feed that into an optimizer, an optimization algorithm, and I can optimize based on driver efficiency, I can optimize on trying to drive down into miles. But really, it’s about optimization based on an accurate ETA that gives us the ability to really drive the best possible and most successful route schedule that can be delivered.
Q: Besides freight visibility, what are some other essential tools that shippers can use to ensure they meet customers’ OTIF requirements?
A: As you know, OTIF is all about being full and all about being on time, which basically means you want to make sure that it isn’t just about going out and estimating arrival time. That is a trailing indicator, quite honestly. What you want to do is make sure the loads are properly planned, and that you’ve got the proper resource utilization, that eta is a data point into that optimization process, but it’s really about planning and in old days, or in previous days, you would have dispatchers doing all this planning in their head. Leveraging AI in PCS’ platform, you now have the ability to run algorithms that will help me develop the most efficient load plan and route plan for my drivers and for my shippers and my carriers. This gives us the ability to make sure that we’re on time. It is a plan and a more executable plan will be more successfully executed. That’s really what it’s all about producing that route plan and load plan and taking into account all the variables that could impact it. It’s not just about measuring how well I did. It’s about planning how well I’m going to do.
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