Digital LTL Council hopes to standardize digital processes
According to the Digital LTL Council, there is really only one type of transaction that would not benefit from the use of a standardized electronic bill of lading.
“If you only work with one carrier, standardization doesn’t do anything for you,” said Brian Thompson, board member of the Digital LTL Council and chief commercial officer of SMC3, a provider of LTL and load data and solutions. trucks. “But if you want to connect and integrate with 10, 20 or 30 carriers, it suddenly becomes exponentially large – a huge barrier to connecting to your carriers and interacting digitally with them. “
To help foster more efficient data sharing among LTL stakeholders, the relatively new Digital LTL Council, made up of various industry players, worked together to produce Standard Electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL) attributes.
Available on their website, the Gold Copy Bill of Lading API (Application Programming Interface) seeks to streamline LTL scanning with features such as YAML file access; examples of request / response; field names and definitions; Required fields; request / response patterns; and standardized counts.
JB Hunting“This is the first of many accomplishments,” said Christian Piller, member of the Digital LTL board and vice-president of project44. “But I think the first achievement was to bring friends and foes together at the same table to talk about standards that benefit the industry.”
Following its launch in September 2019, the Digital LTL Council has grown from 12 to 30 members and counts among its members some of the biggest names in the industry including Estes Express Lines, XPO Logistics, Yellow, TForce Freight, JB Hunt, Worldwide Express and Uline.
In addition to project44 and SMC3, other technology providers like BlueYonder, Manhattan Associates, Banyan Technology and My Carrier have joined the board and put their differences aside to “facilitate collaboration, automation, standardization and digitization.” between all participants in the LTL industry in the hope of raising the standard of the industry together, ”states a mission statement of the board.
Thompson said the council hopes its standardized approach to eBOLs will prompt more industry players to move away from paper-based methods in favor of more efficient, easily accessible and shared digital record keeping while reducing down to 2 % of freight under management (FUM) costs the board estimates at $ 1.2 billion in savings.
[Related: project44 acquiring last-mile delivery and customer experience company, Convey]
According to a council white paper, “The LTL industry continues to handle over 85% of all shipments with paper-based processes on both the shipper and carrier side. These manual processes present players in the LTL industry with a major obstacle to improving performance and decreasing cost. “
Board members see many opportunities to improve results through digitization.
“We believe that digitization will have a huge and positive impact on our industry and we are delighted to work with our carrier partners and shippers to adopt this new electronic bill of lading format in order to streamline our operations while increasing the visibility of the companies with whom we work. throughout the supply chain, ”said Dolly Wagner-Wilkins, member of the Digital LTL Council and CTO at Worldwide Express.
Aiming to improve industry results
Freight demand has remained strong this year and with it the need to maximize efficiency as capacity remains limited. For Piller, it is a difficult scene that does not go unnoticed.
“Prior to project44, I spent eight years on the shipper side in various execution and optimization roles,” Piller said. “One of the things I’ve found is that carriers, whether it’s LTL, full trucks, shipping, North America or Europe, are extremely advised. So they’re focused on operations, but they operate in an industry that has very thin margins and high performance expectations.
[Related: CCJ Innovator: DHL Supply Chain goes full speed to digitalization]
When the pandemic struck, Thompson said it quickly became apparent that online giants like Amazon have an impressive and profitable grip on the supply chain through widespread digitization, which tracks and shares critical information about stocks, shipping times, condition in transit, etc.
“LTL carriers are looking to do the same, to provide this next level of service,” said Thompson, “and I think you can see a lot of that is being driven by the whole change in the industry to be more closely tied to e-commerce throughout the pandemic where we have seen residential deliveries skyrocket for carriers. ”
To help LTL move forward, the Digital LTL Council decided it was best to standardize eBOLs first.
“The board decided this was the starting point because of the impact it has had on other processes that support LTL,” Piller said. “So if we started digitizing there, it would be easier to expand into other areas. ”
The board plans to then focus on pre-pickup and in-transit exceptions as it strives to become a stand-alone body with elected officers and full-time employees.
“I think it’s a few years away,” said Piller who, like Thompson and other board members, has a full-time job while working part-time for the board. “I think we could publish another standard before we get there, but that’s where we want to go because we want it to exist for a while to continue to meet the growing needs of the LTL industry.”