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Logistics Blog - Value of visibility

Lyall Cresswell, CEO of Transport Exchange Group, the leading freight trading platfom for the road transport industry, tracks the evolution of the freight exchange.

Over the past few years there has been significant change in the way freight exchanges operate, taking advantage of advances in technology and faster Internet speeds. As a result, we are now seeing a system much more about the sharing of data – whether location, status, vehicle type or planned destination – to deliver complete visibility for road transport and logistics operators that is driving smarter, more profitable ways of working. 

Initially these trading exchanges were simple fleet boards where companies could post their available loads. Following on from this, they became powerful business tools allowing members to proactively communicate information about empty vehicles and availability, so operators were able to interactively collaborate, work more efficiently and profitably. Today, we are seeing the introduction of a central platform that can operate seamlessly with other supply chain and back office systems to achieve true data integration.

We often hear technology companies referring to the Internet of Things (IoT), which in simple terms is a network of physical objects associated with sensors to enable them to collect and exchange data. The real benefit of this approach is that it is now possible to connect objects, such as vehicles, securely over public networks and get them to talk to each other and relevant management systems. By gathering, analysing and sharing this data, there is a huge opportunity to track and monitor assets to greatly reduce waste and cost.

However, the real potential for the logistics marketplace is the ability to bring together data from so many disparate telematics systems. There are at least 15 significant vehicle tracking suppliers, with comfortably over 100 providers in total. With little or no industry standards within the telematics sector, there were previously no means for logistics partners to share vehicle positioning and other useful data unless they are using the same tracking tool (and even this would require costly integration of some kind).

The leading freight exchanges are now able to offer the ability to create a central platform that operates seamlessly with multiple telematics systems to achieve true data integration for operators. What this means is that there is now an opportunity to bring together information from multiple data sources providing companies with complete visibility of in-house, sub-contracted and partner fleets.

This added visibility can help businesses to fill empty vehicles and trailers through interactive co-operation between business partners. It allows the creation of trusted networks, boosting operational efficiency and increasing profitability simply by being better connected. Moreover, with the increasing adoption of smart matching technology there is an opportunity to move visibility away from something that is essentially passive towards a more active and dynamic process.

Furthermore, by integrating vehicle tracking with a freight exchange there is now an opportunity to increase the telematics value proposition for smaller fleets. Often the return on investment for these operators has failed to justify the ongoing cost of the tracking system. The result of this is that despite many acknowledged benefits, few are easily measurable and there is sometimes a perception that significant internal resources are required to maximise the potential of the technology.

These smaller operators now have the potential to be part of an extensive virtual, fully-tracked fleet. As a result, they have the ability to become more attractive to larger organisations that are increasingly demanding end-to-end visibility of their supply chains, while helping to promote unused capacity to other members, minimising dead mileage and boosting revenues.

Transport Exchange Group’s Haulage and Courier Exchanges now have agreements with more than a dozen leading telematics providers to deliver complete visibility and control for both in-house and sub-contractor fleets using their unique SCALE infrastructure (Smart Location and Location Exchange). As a result, data from many of the best-used vehicle tracking tools can now be combined through the Exchange to create the first system-neutral telematics integration platform for the logistics and road transport sectors.

The value of visibility is already seeing active, tracked members of the Exchange reduce levels of empty running from an industry average of around 30 per cent to less than 10 per cent. A more efficient use of available capacity is having a dramatic impact on revenue growth, operational performance and lower environmental impact.

To provide feedback:

Jonathan Symons
+44 (0)20 8654 7618