Recent AI-driven TMS upgrade shows promising profitability

Manufacturing and labor shortages, along with rising fuel costs, have left the transportation industry in a state of perpetual uncertainty. Only time will tell when these situations will ease, but current trends don’t paint a promising picture.

The price of diesel hit a record-setting $5.703 a gallon on Monday, surpassing the previous record of $5.623 a gallon set on May 9. 

What’s even more astounding is that the 16.4 cent weekly gain set on Monday isn’t even one of the largest increases this year — the DOE/EIA price has risen by 74.5 cents, 40.1 cents and 34.9 cents.

Skyrocketing fuel prices, along with the onslaught of other supply chain challenges these past two years, have led many to begin cutting costs in any way they can.

“We’re seeing greater adoption of supply chain visibility technology,” said Chris Poelma, CEO of PCS Software, adding that uncertainty is also driving more communication between shippers and manufacturers with carriers.

With the need for transparency at an all-time high, supply chains are turning away from disparate platforms and siloed solutions that leave stakeholders with more questions than answers. The economic turmoil that’s defined the 2020s has led to a greater interest in transportation technology as automation continues to disrupt freight market hierarchies.

Shippers and carriers are now managing their operations on a single AI-powered transportation management platform, with PCS Software. 

“It’s a shipper and carrier platform that works in unison, providing visibility into each other’s supply and demand so that each can anticipate what’s going on,” Poelma said.

“Companies that can automate are finding that they can do more with less,” added Chief Customer Officer Alan Shaw. “If you can do more with less, it means that your people can focus more on growing the business.”

Shippers are now utilizing the most efficient routes, schedules and loading models with PCS’ AI-driven optimization engine, LoadFusion Optimizer. What would normally require intense planning and scheduling foresight can now be done automatically.

“We have access to hundreds of thousands of lanes across North America. … So shippers have visibility into tens of thousands of new carriers that they didn’t otherwise have,” Poelma said, adding that carriers too are enjoying working again and again with the same shippers.

Chief Technology Officer Paul Beavers said that PCS’ latest AI algorithm will optimize loads based on driver availability, traffic, weather and historical performance to tremendously reduce deadhead or empty miles.

“It is truly leveraging the machine to calculate the best route plan for the week. So a human’s not making that decision,” Beavers said. “Here’s the best route plan and loads to run in order to reduce empty miles.”

Shaw said PCS’ goal is to reduce fleet deadhead miles by at least 10%. “That’s our mission, to help reduce the carbon footprint.” 

He noted that 40% of truck miles are typically empty.

“There’s a massive opportunity for the industry to apply AI and machine learning to identify how to move the same amount of goods with fewer empty miles,” Shaw said.

Beavers stresses a sense of urgency for companies to bolster their transportation logistics management, explaining that uncertainty looks to remain a staple of the economy for the foreseeable future. He points to market surges as a prime example as to why it’s important to know how your resources are being used and where they can best be utilized. 

It’s also worth noting the growing speculation that record-high oil prices have yet to peak. The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates suggested that Chinese demand hasn’t yet recovered, expressing concern with current consumption rates as “China will come with more consumption.”

While you may not be able to control transportation costs, port delays or manufacturing shortages, the performance of your logistics operations is your call.

To get started on the PCS platform, Poelma explains, costs less than the price of a single daily cup of coffee.

He described receiving an email recently from a midsized carrier customer titled “million-dollar decision.” 

“Because their shipper visibility is unlike what they’ve had in the past, they can anticipate the shippers’ needs and therefore contract more lanes and loads with the specific shippers that they’re working with,” Poelma said. “Where in the past they struggled to make hundreds of thousands in profits, now they’re making millions in profits on an annual basis.”

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Editor: Jack Glenn