J.B. Hunt, others look to improve systems integration across supply chain

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 625 views 

Lowell-based carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. is collaborating with Convoy and Uber Freight to increase industry efficiency and better integrate systems throughout the supply chain, according to a Monday (Dec. 5) news release.

The three companies have established the Scheduling Standards Consortium (SSC) to address scheduling challenges in the transportation industry, the release shows. They plan to tackle these challenges by establishing the industry’s first formal set of appointment scheduling application programming interface (API) standards.

Fragmentation between existing scheduling systems and interfaces is “a point of friction” among carriers, brokers and shippers, according to the release. “As the industry turns increasingly to an integrated network of providers and solutions to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of each shipment, it has become important to define and share a consistent data architecture and API standard for the distribution of scheduling information.”

Following are the Scheduling Standards Consortium’s objectives:

  • Define an API standard for sharing scheduling information
  • Implement those standard interfaces to enable integrations in existing systems
  • Advocate for the standard across the industry

According to the release, the standard is expected to “bring more cohesion and resiliency to the movement of goods, making it easier to book and manage appointments, optimize processes for drivers, shippers and receivers, and drive operational efficiencies for the industry at large.”

Scheduling Standards Consortium looks to add other brokers or third-party logistics providers and transportation management system and warehouse management system vendors to the group. Initial standards and documents, starting with full truckload freight, will be available as early as the first quarter of 2023.

“Technology has ushered in a new era for transportation – new players, new apps, new platforms, new services. Yet, our industry remains extremely fragmented,” said Spencer Frazier, executive vice president of sales and marketing for J.B. Hunt. “We want to change that, starting today with the three of us and hopefully many more providers in the coming months. We want to create an open exchange of data so that the numerous TMS and digital freight platforms can communicate at a level where we can help one another when needed. The voice of our customers is clear – collaboration will drive progress. Our challenge is to make the systems they use daily work together to generate greater value and efficiency for their supply chains.”

Convoy CEO Dan Lewis said the industry sets up about 1.5 billion appointments annually, and “scheduling inefficiencies slows everything down and creates a lot of waste… One of the most complicated and consequential things about being efficient in freight is setting up pickup and drop-off appointments… Scheduling is a tech problem at the end of the day. When all the trucks are plugged into a digital network, the industry can better orchestrate freight needs with data-informed systems. A standard API-based approach allows companies to access the latest data and make smart decisions to increase efficiency, reduce empty miles and waste, lower costs and improve service outcomes. This is the future of freight.”

Bill Driegert, co-founder and head of operations at Uber Freight, said implementing “APIs to simplify execution of manual tasks like scheduling is revolutionizing how shippers and carriers plan, manage and execute shipments. We are at a critical inflection point of adoption, and if we don’t align on standards, we will create more work for everyone in the coming years. Everyone wins if we can align on common ways of interfacing. In doing so, we minimize operation friction and fragmentation and unlock a more fluid and optimized market for shippers and carriers to move goods.”

Shares of J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT) were trading Monday at $177.91, down $4.97 or 2.72%. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged between $153.92 and $218.18.