June 16, 2024

What happens when AI orchestrates freight for 20+ major global brands?

Can AI play a role in optimizing freight operations in a way that delivers true value for all participants? What type of value can be achieved? Would it be impactful to everyone including carriers, drivers, retailers and customers? Or is this still a futuristic vision that sounds good on paper but is not quite implementable in today's high pressure, e-commerce environment?

Here at SemiCab, we began a process two years ago in partnering with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and more than 20 major global brands. The objective of the group under CII is simple: To establish a community ecosystem built to redefine truckload transportation in a way that optimizes truckloads and inventory by creating a digitally orchestrated freight network. This would create a more sustainable transportation network aligned with the government of India initiatives under Gati Shakti. Gati Shakti is a transformative initiative launched in India to enhance economic growth and sustainable development through multimodal infrastructure.

The mission of this national digital freight exchange started with a primary goal of consolidating national shipping demand together onto a digital platform and then building a more efficient network. A collaborative transportation platform at the core of this network not only projects and predicts, but it matches ideal assets to loads for every trip. The complexity of 20+ supply chains of these major consumer brands is simplified and then digitally orchestrated by AI that's employed for this process to frame decision making. As volumes in the transportation network increased and density grew, the value and results became clearer. Having a neutral platform to predict and identify optimal roots and trips led to greater efficiency and more reliable service, with committed capacity available through a dedicated fleet. The predictive model removed excess costs and empty miles.

The overall initiative is on pace to achieve 70% reduction in empty miles, 35% improvement in on time deliveries, and provides 99% real time visibility into shipments. But the value and impact reaches further to customers, carriers and drivers to address major challenges and pain points being faced today.

Challenges in ecommerce environment: retailers and consumers demand more

Mastering the customer experience and securing loyalty is a dynamic and ever-changing process. Consumers anticipate and expect an experience that is at least comparable to one they would have at a physical store, if not more convenient. Retailers, in response, have rigid shipment windows and expected delivery times. Creating a clear, uncomplicated, and simple process for fulfilling orders and getting them into customers’ hands is a crucial step.

It’s well documented that customer loyalty goes hand-in-hand with the customer’s overall experience. But delivering goods to meet growing customer expectations can be a strain on resources and profit. When it comes to inventory transportation, each shipper is navigating and racing to meet demand. Picture the complex web that must be traveled to physically deliver goods to the end consumer even after the goods have touched ground in the intended market; each retailer or brand manages its own loads and process separately. Trucks are dispatched to battle traffic and the elements and numerous other conditions. And when drivers finally arrive at a destination with a load and make delivery, they drive away back to their domicile or on to another pick-up miles away – but traveling EMPTY. A truck driving empty might pass five facilities where a load is waiting to be picked up by another truck that’s driving in from another city. But if there’s no central point of collaboration, then inefficiency reigns. Picture thousands of trucks doing this day in and day out. The level of excess costs, emissions and lost time builds up.

Meanwhile, sustainability is touted as a major goal for consumer brands, retailers and carriers that move their freight. But up until this point it's been a challenge to actually have a positive impact on sustainability goals, specifically carbon emissions. The traditional level of fragmentation and entanglement in the world of truckload transportation makes it very difficult to achieve sustainability goals without sacrificing customer experience and expectations.

The math is straightforward: Demanding customers + excess shipment costs + urgent need for emissions reduction = the need for a new and transformational approach to orchestrating transportation.  

Pairing Technology & Trucks

Finding the right tech partners in today’s ecommerce environment is foundational to providing a streamlined customer service experience. When the 20+ consumer brands in India got together to solve topline headaches that plague the consumer experience, they focused on a vision of digitally orchestrated transportation. An AI engine was applied to dynamically predict and optimize the matching of trucks to loads. This meant fewer trucks on the road moving more loads, in less time, with fewer empty miles. Excess cost and carbon were extracted from the supply chain. And loads arrive reliably and on-time.

As a result, drivers are happy because they have reliable and consistent loads. Maintenance teams are happy because they can schedule jobs in advance and control preventive work to prevent breakdowns. Shippers are happy because they know when their orders will be picked up and arrive, and their facilities can plan better. Consumers are happy because they can depend on a sustainable supply chain that is actively working to minimize their carbon footprint. Operations and finance folks at shippers and carriers are happy because costs and inefficiency are removed, supporting their growth and profitability.

We are proud that together with CII and GOI, SemiCab is helping to build a world class digital freight network in India benefiting the economy and the environment.


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