Uber Freight New Scheduling Standards Consortium 63934abf0d25c

Trucking partners tackle API shipping standards

Dec. 9, 2022
Convoy, J.B. Hunt, and Uber Freight form new ‘Scheduling Standards Consortium’ with the goal of simplifying scheduling and improving automation in the freight industry.

Convoy, J.B. Hunt Transport, and Uber Freight recently partnered to formalize the first application programming interface (API) standards for the freight industry.

Their new Scheduling Standards Consortium (SSC) aims to solve “complex, pervasive, industry-wide” transportation scheduling challenges by standardizing how information is exchanged around scheduling shipments, the companies said.

“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 at J.B. Hunt. “We want to change that, starting 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.”

Fixing fragmentation

Today, scheduling system and interface fragmentation is a point of friction among carriers, brokers, and shippers, the companies maintained. 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 increasingly important to define and share a consistent data architecture and API standard for the distribution of scheduling information.

The SSC’s objectives are to define an API standard for sharing scheduling information, implement those standardized interfaces to enable integrations in existing systems, and advocate for the standard across the industry. The standard will 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.

“One of the most complicated and consequential things about being efficient in freight is setting up pickup and drop-off appointments,” said Dan Lewis, Convoy’s CEO and co-founder. “Every year the industry sets approximately 1.5 billion appointments, and scheduling inefficiencies slow everything down and create a lot of waste. Freight runs 24/7, and, for most situations, every hour counts.

“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.”

Cooperation is critical

Adoption is critical for the effort to succeed, the partners concluded. The SSC aims to sign on other brokers or third-party logistics service providers, transportation management system and warehouse management system vendors, and others to help shape the future of supply chain efficiency. Initial SSC standards and documentation, starting with full truckload freight, is expected to be available as early as the first quarter of 2023.

“Logistics is rapidly evolving to be more real-time and intelligent at every point of execution,” said Bill Driegert, co-founder and head of operations at Uber Freight. “The implementation of APIs to simplify the 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.”

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Commercial Vehicle Staff

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