Logistics software from 10-4, a Trimble Brand.
Logistics software from 10-4, a Trimble Brand.

3PLs keep investing in tech as shippers' expectations grow

Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) releases its 2018 Visibility Report, which draws from more than 20 sources, including five of the nation’s largest 3PLs, mid-sized brokers, and the logistics units of several top motor carriers.

3PLs are investing heavily in technology to deliver the freight visibility and business intelligence increasingly required by shippers. That conclusion is one of many in the recently released 2018 Freight Visibility Report from the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), the organization representing the $185.7 billion third-party logistics industry.

“Visibility is at the forefront of what third-party logistics companies do,” said TIA President and CEO Robert Voltmann. “Among the key points in this report is that 3PLs continue to focus their technology on customers’ visibility needs and that amid an explosion of available data they are capturing the opportunity to deliver business intelligence.”

Advances in visibility technologies have created a wide range of perceptions and expectations among shippers, including some that are inaccurate, Voltmann also noted. “However, 3PLs are making a commitment to provide substantial financial resources to support shipper demand for more sophisticated visibility that enables real-time decisions,” he said.

The 2018 Freight Visibility Report from TIA draws from more than 20 sources, including five of the nation’s largest 3PLs, mid-sized brokers, and the logistics units of several top motor carriers.

The report consists of an overview of freight visibility, its technological evolution and the complexities attached to perceptions of 3PL visibility activities. It also illustrates how 3PLs are building visibility systems and how they are being refined as data options are growing, as well as addresses how the latest developments in logistics, the surging freight market and the ELD mandate are affecting freight visibility.

Key conclusions of the TIA report include:

  • The array of delivery options that allow 3PLs to customize the data they provide to shippers has expanded and includes everything from complex strategies to proven methods such as electronic data interchange (EDI).
  • As visibility needs accelerate, the forces of growing demand, capacity strains from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, and others have introduced new variables into freight markets.
  • The future challenge will be to find optimal and flexible methods to sustain the substantial advances already made by logistics companies in providing visibility to their customers.

“Increased freight visibility is creating significant value in today’s turbulent business landscape, and 3PLs are answering that need,” Voltmann stated. “Automation, digitization and collection capabilities have brought 3PLs closer than ever to their customer’s information, and the ways they leverage that proximity will determine what visibility means for years to come. Good technology underlies the delivery of relevant information, which in turn informs effective management.”

The TIA 2018 Visibility Report is sponsored by project44, a provider of a visibility solution and digital connectivity to multimodal transportation providers and partners, and by 10-4 Systems, a Trimble Brand that offers global supply chain visibility with a multimodal, real-time information platform.

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