Supply chain software company project44 said Tuesday it has enhanced its software tool for tracking the location of trucks in transit, allowing shippers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to obtain precise data without relying on other IT intermediaries to handle the information.
Chicago-based project44 said its "Truckload Visibility Solution" goes beyond tracking a vehicle's current and past locations to enable users to identify and respond to shipment "exceptions," defined as when a shipment, for whatever reason, does not move as booked.
Project44's platform integrates application programming interfaces (APIs) into various software platforms, allowing computers to exchange data directly with each other instead of depending on third-party interfaces like email or formats like electronic data interchange (EDI).
Applying this API-based approach to vehicle tracking allows project44 to immediately collect geographic data from a range of sources including electronic logging devices (ELDs) installed in truck cabs, carrier groups' own tracking databases, and links to drivers' smart phones, project44 President Tommy Barnes said in an interview. The company then converts those inputs into a single data format and passes it on to shippers or 3PLs, who access the information through a transportation management system (TMS) platform or directly through project44's user interface, Barnes said.
Project44 has expanded its freight tracking coverage over various transportation modes in recent months, adding visibility over truckload shipments to its existing solution for tracking less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments, which it launched in April. The company plans to apply its technology to rail, ocean, and air modes by 2018.
By enhancing its Truckload Visibility Solution, project44 says it can eliminate gaps in supply chain visibility, tracking any type of tractor—including dry van, reefer, flatbed, tanker, heavy haul, cartage, and drayage transport —from the point a load is tendered until it reaches its final destination.
While a range of logistics software providers already offer truckload-level shipment tracking services, project44 says its product is more valuable than some competitors because it delivers real-time data instead of using daily batch uploads or human-based manual communication methods, Barnes said.
Project44 is also wooing truck drivers by offering a technology called "app-less tracking," which simplifies the smartphone-based freight visibility process. The company can now text a link to a driver that allows him or her to connect their phone directly to project44's network without downloading an app or joining an online load-matching marketplace that could ultimately commoditize the capacity they offer, Barnes said.
"Right now, drivers have app overload," Barnes said. "A lot of drivers have 30 apps on their phones, from 3PLs and from guys like 4Kites, guys like Convoy, and guys like MacroPoint."