Technology & Data - Transport & Logistics mode

Optimizing freight transportation: a collaborative task

November 20 2020

Digital players are creating new opportunities to optimize freight transportation flows, which enables pertinent cooperation that will strengthen market efficiency. A pragmatic approach illustrated by the collaboration between Upply and PTV.

The road freight transportation market is currently undergoing a profound transformation rich in challenges. As they operate in a highly competitive environment, carriers need to secure their operating margins to ensure a solid financial situation that is essential for themselves and the shippers that make up their customers. At the same time, pressure is increasing for the greening of the sector, which means huge investments. In this context, it is essential to improve market efficiency, especially by optimizing transportation flows and combating the under-utilization of loading capacity. Making sure that trucks are fully loaded, and containers are not being driven empty, reduces the number of trips made, mileage and carbon footprints.

Increasing operational efficiency

Digital players, combining data science and business expertise, offer win-win solutions for the logistics industry. Digitalization is often seen as a threat because it would seem to favor the lowest bidder. But in B to B, and particularly in the road transportation sector, this vision does not stand up to operational scrutiny. The level of skills required is such that the execution of services at the proper level relies entirely on the know-how of traditional players. However, digital technology professionals can provide tools that save time, expand business opportunities, and meet the growing need for transparency.

The French company Upply, for example, has launched an online freight marketplace application. A smart algorithm matches freight offers and available trucks; shippers and carriers can instantly find an answer to their needs and negotiate in real time without having to waste time on multiple phone calls. In addition, the marketplace enables all stakeholders to easily compare the prices offered to the rest of the market, by using Upply’s solution “Compare & Analyze”.

A dialogue between technology and business expertise

The entire effectiveness of this system lies in its ability to feed the algorithm optimally by supplying precise data that is up-to-date, timely and ideally placed. By definition, fret transportation is a sector which brings together a multitude of players who each hold a particular part of the required data. As such the platform does not act autonomously. This data collection inherently requires all the players within the freight transportation ecosystem to work in collaboration.

Whether it be the carriers, the freight forwarders or the shippers, Upply’s Marketplace clients are all at the very heart of the operation. As an intermediary service platform that does not does not act on behalf of the parties but accompanies them, Upply strives to see that it is constantly evolving the available features on its Marketplace so as to match the evolving needs of its users. In order to implement its value proposition, the company has teamed up with technological partners that are capable of completing its offer. It was with this in mind that Upply made the decision to establish a partnership with PTV Group, which develops and markets software for transportation planning and optimization. By using various elements of PTV’s xServer software, Upply’s application can geocode recipients’ addresses, manage travel times, optimize routes by taking into consideration particularities of the trucks used. In addition, xServer provides Upply with high-quality digital maps, that clearly display areas to be bypassed, road hazards, and constraints specific to trucks.

Co-built features

The collaboration between Upply and PTV Group will be developed further. "PTV Group has a very high level of competence in our field of activity and they are true experts in the reality of road transportation of goods and supply valuable advice. This has allowed us to form a partnership that even includes the co-development of features”, says Christophe Menet, Upply’s Product Architect. “This close relationship allows us to rapidly adapt to the real-world requirements this are being relayed from the ground, and as such become more efficient.” adds Jean-Baptiste Dupré, Partner Solutions Sales Engineer at PTV Group,

Transparency is key in this process: Upply communicates with PTV Group on all mobility issues that may arise in the transportation of goods. For its part, PTV Group brings its assistance in identifying the needs and keeps Upply informed of new products it is developing, including, in some cases, those which are still in the draft stage.

Around ten additional projects are actually under study. Some of the upgrades include finding new lots during a journey, proposals for "pre-determined" weekly rounds, delivery time forecasts, and truck parking space reservations. “We share with PTV Group the desire to use technology to clearly improve the customer experience. By offering road carriers new business opportunities and improved operating conditions, digitalization simplifies and streamlines the entire goods transportation chain. Our collaboration with PTV Group is fully in line with Upply’s objective, which is to set up a true service hub dedicated to carriers and their daily needs”, concludes Christophe Menet.

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