Automation gives you an advantage over competitors. It increases efficiency and at the same time lowers the costs of running business. No wonder that the biggest players on the market invest billions of dollars in modern technologies allowing for continuous development and improvement. We asked Łukasz Muzyka, a system integration expert at Trans.eu, what automation means for the TSL industry and how it can be implemented in a company.
- Łukasz Muzyka
- System Integration Manager
- A specialist with a 15-year experience in developing business and new services based on technology and exchange of data. He was responsible for the integration of the system of exchanging economic information with the largest companies in the banking, insurance and telco sectors. He built technological partnerships with the leading ERP system suppliers, such as COMARCH, Asseco and Insert. Today he brings his experience to logistics and delivers technological solutions to the key clients of Trans.eu Group S.A.
It is said that automation supports development of companies. What is this automation really about in the times of logistics 4.0?
By definition, industry and logistics 4.0 is a fully integrated manufacturing (production) and supply system, which is able to react in real time to changing needs of clients and conditions in the supply chain.
It is a pure definition which in practice stands for constant seeking of better control over the process and data by combining subsequent (previously closed) systems. All this is to transfer the repetitive, reproducible and manual work to machines and focus on making key decisions.
Automation gives us some space and time to react to the increasingly dynamic changes on the market. Whereas, integration of company systems and data provides us with information necessary to make the best decisions.
Automatic rules implemented on the Trans.eu Platform are an example of automation in logistics. They allow every user to create a scenario, according to which information about a cargo is automatically made available to other contractors, e.g. regular carriers, trusted but working with clients on demand or exchange carriers. The machine takes over an effort of all the inquiries from subcontractors, whereas the dispatcher focuses on negotiations and obtaining the best rate. Owing to this automation, the forwarder is able to ask several dozen companies about the price without extending the time of transport organization. It gives a much better chance to get an attractive price or expected value. According to our research, this change brings companies even 6% savings on road transport costs.
When can we say that a company is fully automated?
Automation means a constant development of a company and releasing its resources. We can pursue full automation but it will be very difficult to achieve. Thus, the leader must always ask himself if a given task must be completed by a human and whether to scale up his operations only by hiring more employees.
The priority for automation should be an area where a company must invest more resources, i.e. jobs. It is a space where constant decision making competes with manual tasks. Work of a forwarder/dispatcher/logistician and integration of the tools used by them become a natural area for automation in logistics. It increases his efficiency and gives full control over the process.
How does this integration work exactly?
It is a connection between systems which exchange data between themselves. In this process technology is in the second place – the effect is crucial here. Possibility of sending a load offer to our exchange is a simple example of its usage. Limiting manual copying data from orders to offers can save time in medium-sized forwarding companies.
However, we are working on a much broader automation of work and integration with TMSs on the Polish and European markets. Only this year TMS SPED and Nawigator users will receive direct access not only to the exchange, but also closed bids with carriers and the possibility of arranging the forwarder’s tasks in automatic rules. Key information about a given carrier and transport rates will also be imported from the Platform to TMS. It will allow automation of order processing on the TMS side.
How will clients benefit from integrating their systems with the Trans.eu Platform? What makes it so special?
It is our community – around 40,000 most competitive transport companies in Europe. That is why TMS integration with our Platform means opening one’s own system to the transport market and its data. It is an automation of the process of carrier selection as well as the possibility of making decisions based on the market data.
Even if a company works only with regular carriers, on the platform it can automatically organize:
- operation on fixed routes and contracts with the selected carriers,
- ad hoc cooperation with trusted carriers, where the price is negotiated in private bids,
- one’s own private load exchange (spot),
- inquiries about transport on the open market (exchange).
All these options of choosing the carrier can be combined in processes (automatic rules) and, based on the price provided by the algorithm, adjusted to the current situation on the market.
Why is automation so important in companies? How is work in the TSL sector going to look like in a few years’ time?
Automation gives a competitive advantage, which is used e.g. by many digital freight forwarders. It increases efficiency and lowers the costs of running business. CH Robinson is investing 5 bln dollars in the technology not without reason. As a transport broker it will certainly spend this money on automation, data integration and predictions. This is all to automate ‘simple’ decisions of the forwarder and provide him with data to let him make wise decisions in tough situations.
Remember that the transport market regulates supply and demand, just like financial, foreign exchange or raw materials markets. In this sector most purchase and sales decisions are already made by robots and algorithms, not humans. On the transport market the situation is going in a similar direction and the data on the basis of which we can make profitable decisions is becoming more and more significant.
On the other hand, connecting other systems in the supply chain will lead to automation of the carrier’s work. Data exchange between the GPS system in a tractor and the warehouse system already allows for an automatic management of deliveries. To add more, there are autonomous vehicles which have been moved from the testing stage to confirmation of legal regulations. In a few years’ time we may experience some really big changes.
What are the goals of the Trans.eu Platform in terms of automation? Are they somehow consistent with the vision described above?
Of course. Currently our most important goal is supporting Polish companies with the technology and services which will let them build an even greater competitive advantage on the market.
We want to redirect our community’s attention from the exchange to some new functionalities, i.e. sequential and private bids, automatic rules or integration with leading TMSs.
Making profitable decisions today is already supported by the price algorithm informing the user of an expected price from the open market. In result, everyone can compare ‘their’ price with rates accepted on the market and choose an optimal way of carrier selection. With one click of the mouse the user decides whether to choose a regular carrier with a contract rate, bids and negotiations with trusted carriers, or an inquiry on the freight exchange.
The manager may receive reports presenting effectiveness of his employees. The has a unique value, as apart from the information about the number of inquiries, conducted negotiations and received offers, it includes a reference to the market price. It allows the manager for an objective and complete evaluation of the employees.
We also run a pilot of the vehicle monitoring service, within which every carrier will be able to ensure full transparency for his shipper. The monitoring service is already integrated with over hundred suppliers of telematics services and the list is still growing.
All these functionalities and services are provided on one platform integrated with the Client’s TMS or ERP. In result, we support automation of the shipper’s process, whereas the carrier has access to all data in one place (starting from an offer inquiry, through an order and ending with settlement).