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Trucking Industry in Early Stage of Adopting AI to Help Move Freight

Coyote Logistics had developed a network of 35,000 contract carriers and a range of software applications designed to help deliver short-term trucking services to shipping companies. Customer UPS liked it so much they bought the company, paying $1.8 billion in 2015.

Today the UPS Supply Chain Solutions unit is considered a leader by Gartner in what it calls the Third-Party Logistics market. In recent news, Coyote released an update to its Dynamic Route Optimization program that aims to streamline operations and reduce uncertainty for carriers by planning consistent loads on optimized routes.

It’s helping solve problems for truckers. “Like all carriers, inconsistent load volume, rates and schedule gaps are significant sources of stress that are exacerbated by market volatility,” stated Eric Lewis, VP of Operations at Ed Lewis Trucking, in a recent Coyote press release. “Dynamic Route Optimization from Coyote has helped us remove uncertainty from our weekly operations by strategically stringing shipments together so we can keep our fleet full and moving, while providing our drivers the amount of miles per week they were promised.”

One trucking company found the technology helpful to deal with disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “We began using Dynamic Route Optimization with Coyote before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Despite being a time of disruption for the supply chain, it offered us the consistency and reliability we needed to combat market volatility and the stress drivers experience during economic uncertainty,” stated Joey Riceputo, Vice President at FSR Trucking. “We were not only able to uphold all commitments we made prior to COVID-19 but have also continued to give our drivers regular routes even with the rise and fall in demand.”

Use of Data and Technology Growing in Freight Industry

The use of data and technology—including AI—is growing in the freight industry, largely because it returns results and cost savings, according to a recent account in Transport Topics.

Trucking fleets usually average 9,400 miles between breakdowns, but the best fleets go 43,000 miles, stated Jim Buell, executive VP with FleetNet America, a third-party maintenance provider based in Cherryville, NC. The firm has found that using technology and data to understand and avoid trouble saves time. “Without data, you are just guessing,” he stated.

The logistics vertical is undergoing a fundamental transformation with the increase in the amount of data and the number of devices utilized, with AI in a nascent stage but expected to grow at a rapid pace, according to a recent report from Infoholic Research. More companies are testing AI in logistics, to help improve on last mile delivery, reduced time to market and provide customization. The market for AI in logistics is predicted by the company to reach $6.5 billion by 2023.

Some in the trucking may fear that AI is out to get their job, leading to some resistance. However, “It’s not something to fear,” advised Steve Chaffee, senior director of transportation data analytics at Hitachi’s Center for Social Innovation.

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