Exclusive: Jett Mccandless and the project44 team give the lowdown on visibility, hypergrowth and 2021 logistics trends

Exclusive: Jett Mccandless and the project44 team give the lowdown on visibility, hypergrowth and 2021 logistics trends

Supply chain visibility is a phrase that’s seen plenty of action in the logistics industry in 2020, and those providing it seem destined to play a key role in optimising the supply chains of the future. One of the leaders in this area is project44, who in the space of 5 years raised over $100 million in funding and acquired GateHouse Logistics, which was the European leader in Transportation visibility back in 2018. Since then, the company has opened offices in Paris, Amsterdam and Milan to better serve their growing European customer base.

Now the logistics company is opening an office in Poland as it aims to make its real-time visibility platform more accessible to smaller carriers and 3PLs across the European continent.

In light of these developments, we hooked up via Zoom with project44 CEO and Founder Jett Mccandless, plus directors Anjuli Steffen, Marc Boileau and Marek Bella, to chat about the company’s future plans, emerging trends, supply chain visibility, customer expectations and how the coronavirus crisis has accelerated digitisation.

To start off, although it may seem like a rather odd question given our readership are already clued up on the logistics industry, I’d like to ask you in simple terms “What is supply chain visibility”? Everyone can define these terms in different ways, it would be fascinating to see how you interpret it.

Jett: Well, to understand what we mean by supply chain visibility, we have to start with what it means to NOT have that visibility.

Today, deliveries between businesses are largely tracked via a chain of manual calls, emails and faxes. International freight is transferred between a multitude of parties in its supply chain journey. Each step takes time, introduces the opportunity for error, and is often stressful and taxing for everyone involved.

The consumer shipping experience – via Amazon or direct-to-consumer brands, where you know where your package is and when it will arrive, with alerts, etc. – is attainable for the larger freight market. That’s where project44 comes in with our cloud-based Advanced Visibility Platform.

Supply chain visibility gives manufacturers, retailers, or any business that ships goods, as well as logistics providers and carriers, valuable real-time insights, and shortens the time it takes for them to turn those insights into actions. By actions we mean operational efficiencies, cost reductions, and shipping performance improvements to deliver exceptional, “Amazon-like” experiences to their customers.

For example, project44 enables our customers to shorten detention times, waiting times and/or fines, improving warehouse and yard resource utilization. The system allows its users to remain agile with proactive updates, predictive ETAs, and delivery exceptions. In addition, customers can check on shipment status without customer service engagement.

Other benefits include the ability to optimize inventory by reducing “safety” stock via greater trust reliable deliveries, as well as to create backhauls through improved alignment of load timing. Finally, the system offers electronic document transfer, which shortens billing cycles.

project44 started back in 2014 and has grown considerably ever since. Some of the CEOs we’ve spoken to who’ve overseen significant expansion have described their time as being a wild ride. How have the last six years been for you?

Jett: The last six years of project44 have been extremely exciting. We feel very fortunate. And I think a lot of that’s been driven by the amazing team that we have.

Now we’re really at the intersection of this digitalization that’s happening in the supply chain, so it’s quite an exciting period. I can tell you the first couple of years weren’t nearly as fun as they are now, it was a lot more work and much less reward, and less wins.

So, in blunt terms, it was a case of no pain, no gain?

Well, you had to; you really had to look a couple years ahead to justify the pain for sure.

Obviously, you’ve worked in the logistics industry for a long time. And you have run companies in the sector. Therefore, someone might look at all that experience and think that building a company like project44 would be, dare I say it – straightforward. However, in practice it doesn’t often turn out that way does it? There’s always challenges when you’re starting up a new company.

Jett: That’s right. Success in one company does not guarantee success at another company. And this is definitely the most innovative company that I’ve had the opportunity to be an executive in, as well as the most forward thinking.

And I think that was probably one of the biggest challenges with project44; was the market ready for the solution? There’s a graveyard of amazing companies and ideas that have been sunsetted or put to the grave due to their timing not being proper.

So it was always quite clear, I think, to myself and the early investors and team members, that this solution was needed. But the timing is really important. And it can be like pushing on a string when the markets are not ready. But, when the markets are ready, if you have the network and you have the product and you have the team, you really are able to take advantage of that.

Of course, one of the challenges I’ve seen when you are overseeing that rapid growth is holding onto the talented team you have. It can be tough to keep the positive vibes from when the company was smaller, and as the company expands, some of that talent will start to get nostalgic about the company’s startup phase. If they get disenfranchised, they may move to pastures new and then you lose that talent. What can be done to avoid this issue?

Jett: Yes, I think that’s always a challenge. I’m fortunate that most of my career has been with hyper growth companies. And there’s certain patterns that come in, it just tends to come down to some basics.

I think, as a CEO, you have to make a decision as to what type of culture you want to have. Myself, I believe in having a performance-based culture. And by having a performance-based culture, I think that allows us to attract the best team – the strongest team members that want the biggest challenges. That allows us to track the best customers – the most innovative customers with the highest margin that have the toughest problems to solve. And so that becomes a flywheel.

Where I think companies make mistakes is that they start letting B players in. It’s really easy with a B player to say, “well, so and so has a relationship over here”, or maybe they’re just about to close a deal, or maybe they know XYZ trucking company. And so those B players stick around. But having a culture that doesn’t allow that, or having a culture where you’re constantly looking for the big players, and upgrading them to A players is, really, really critical. And that’s not always really popular to do, though it can be.

A lot of times those B players are friendly folks, and they can be charismatic and they have relationships. But what I’ve noticed is when you have the B players, it chases away the A players, and then you attract C players. And that starts a really tough cycle. And then those customers that were attracted to you, because you had the A players, you’re no longer able to perform and execute.

So, as a result, you start to bloat your salary and payroll even more to try to service those customers. And that creates more middle management, more waste. It’s a large organization, so it’s tougher to communicate across. And so you have a flywheel, it’s having air, but unfortunately it’s a negative flywheel for success.

So I think, in building this company and making those decisions, my goal isn’t to be the most liked CEO. The goal is to be respected, and to make the hard decisions, and to make sure we can deliver on our customers’ promises, and then make sure I can deliver the promises that I made to the team members, which is why we have tough challenges. This is not going to be an easy company. But this will be a very rewarding company, if you like working with talented people and solving difficult problems.

And what about the last 12 months in particular? For many people across the globe, it has obviously been a very challenging year. However, we’ve also seen so much acceleration in the development of numerous areas of the logistics industry in 2020 – how has that affected the business?

Jett: Naturally, I want to be respectful of the folks that have had a hard time from COVID, whether it be health or financial challenges, personal or business issues.

But I do feel that we are in a really fortunate position at project44. And it’s been a tailwind for us, it’s been an accelerator. I’m proud that we’ve been in a great position to be able to help our customers with their goals, and help them deliver critical products that were needed.

They were necessities for individuals and businesses to get through these difficult times. It hasn’t been without hardship at project44 either. In March, when we started to see COVID really have an impact in Europe and North America, which is where our primary operations are, we were providing visibility in over 140 countries.

There was a lot of maneuvering, adjusting budgets, and trying to understand what would happen in the market. But I would say, as we sit here on December 11th 2020, the company’s the strongest it’s ever been. And there’s a couple of things that could support that view; our revenue growth is really amazing, while our customer satisfaction scores are the highest they’ve ever been.

Our logo churn, so how often are we losing customers, is extremely low still. And our team came out much stronger too. The adversity that was created brought about the collaboration that had to happen. It’s teamwork that you really need to have to deal with that adversity – especially with project44 only being a six-year-old business. We’ve been in a bull market the entire time. And you know, there’s a saying; never waste a crisis. There was a crisis that allowed our team to rally and build a better business.

Do you think one of the reasons why a company like project44 may be well-placed at the moment is that a lot of businesses in the logistics industry are realizing the value of digitalization to their operations? Some of the doubters appear to have changed their tune due to the way things are developing so quickly.

Jett: Yes, absolutely. So as I mentioned, during the early years of project44, it was difficult to sell the product. The biggest thing we could point to was the Amazon effect, so it was really hard to give the manufacturer a compelling event as to why their company should take action.

Also, I think a lot of the transportation experts realized that they needed to invest in digitalization with these large companies at a board level, and weren’t willing to justify the investments that were needed.

Then, when COVID happened, at a board level and C-suite level, these large businesses wanted to make changes to their supply chain to understand the impacts of COVID and manufacturing shutdowns in the regions of the world.

The supply chain experts really struggled to give answers though. It wasn’t really much of a fault of their own, just that they weren’t able to get the investment required years ahead of time. And so now I think, as supply chains have been making the front page of international publications, and been highlighted on many shows, it’s become much more common. This just wasn’t what you’d talk about at the dining room table as families. So that extra awareness has certainly helped us a lot.

What are the most common questions and concerns carriers have about project44?

Anjuli: How their data is being used. Carriers want to make sure their data is only shared with their customers and they want to know when their data is being collected. With project44, data sharing only takes place right before the shipment departs until it arrives at its destination.

Many also want to know what it will cost them both in time and money. Carriers are pulling in many different directions and asking to adopt many new apps, tools, and services, so it’s fair that they want to know exactly what will be required from them to support visibility. Because carriers are at the center of visibility, it’s free for carriers to join the project44 network. While it can require some collaboration to get the best connection set up, we try to make it easy to onboard with our Network Management Center and several connection options, including a mobile app, to meet the needs of each carrier.

Carriers are also concerned that they will not be able to understand the integration process due to the language gap. Therefore, we always ensure that they are supported in their native language.

What are the differences between the expectations of carriers you serve?

Anjuli: project44 works with 3PLs and carriers of all sizes and their expectations depend on service level commitments they have made to their customers. However, providing real-time visibility is a common expectation from every carrier we serve.

In addition, thousands of carriers benefit from getting access to our database of shippers and LSPs and increase their business opportunities, as they become visible for all project44 customers.

How tough is it to convince carriers to cooperate? Has the pandemic perhaps made things a little easier here given the acceleration towards digital solutions?

Anjuli: As visibility has become a standard for many shippers, many carriers have been happy to join a visibility network. Some carriers are hesitant about sharing their location information; however, this is usually related to misconceptions about how tracking data is used.

When carriers learn that their data is only shared with customers during active loads, it eases their concerns. Additionally, we’ve heard from many customers that visibility is becoming essential for their business because it has become an expectation of their customers. We think these additional tools, such as the carrier Visibility Operations Center, will provide even more insight to help carriers enhance their customer experience.

The pandemic has certainly accelerated the shift toward digitalization and uncovered pain points in the supply chain that require improved visibility. The pandemic is changing the way businesses need to work. You need to tell your customer what to expect, you need to anticipate different problems, and at the end of the day, it’s really disrupting supply chains. And we have seen the market realize that visibility is not a nice to have, but a must have because many have struggled to continue business as normal as possible. The impact is very, very different from one industry to another, but it revealed for all of them that visibility is necessary. When you increase volume with fewer people, you need to be more and more automated. project44 helps provide this efficiency. Having this technology during Covid has made a big difference for them.

Having access to visibility data is one thing. Being able to use it effectively is another. What are you doing as a company to ensure carriers make the most out of the information at their disposal?

Anjuli: We have worked closely with carriers of all sizes to tailor our product to their needs. When you sign up with project44 as a carrier, you have various choices: fully integrate visibility data into your TMS system or use our user interface called the Visibility Operations Center (VOC).

We do a lot to ensure carriers can make the most of project44’s solution and data. Firstly, the product is highly configurable; it can be set up to meet the specific needs of each stakeholder. Also, because they have access to the same real-time visibility data as their customers, carriers can easily and quickly help resolve tracking issues to provide a better experience for their customers. Moreover, carriers can access performance analytics and reports for on-time pickup, delivery, and trackability. This can then be used to identify areas for improvement and to continuously monitor performance.

Can you give us some examples of how your visibility systems have resulted in a noticeable difference to your client’s overall performance?

Anjuli: Well, Eddie Stobart Europe, is a good example. The company provides transport and logistics services across Europe.

Not only did Eddie Stobart realize communication with customers needed to be improved and automated to get them the information they needed in real-time, but their customers started to expect and require more real-time visibility into shipments.

Eddie Stobart’s top 10 customers in Europe have all made visibility a mandatory service item. After selecting project44, they were able to reduce manual processes by as much as 50%, improve communication with customers with more real-time and automated shipment updates, and better manage subcontractors with insight into performance.

Another example is Gebrüder Weiss, a specialist for high-end logistics solutions, who looked for visibility when they noticed a growing risk of thefts when handling transport of high-value goods. project44 allows them to track and monitor any vehicle defined in their secure corridors. If a vehicle leaves the secure corridor or makes an unscheduled stop at a non-secure parking location, Gebrüder Weiss is notified and can take appropriate action. In addition to providing their customers real-time insight into shipments, they’re also able to keep an eye on high-value goods in transit at all times.

One of your partners and clients is Girteka Logistics, who are of course one of the big players in Europe. Could you explain what specific benefits you’ve been able to provide them with?

Anjuli: I spend quite a lot of time with Girteka Logistics as they are one of our customers of course. We provide asset tracking to them, we manage their subcontractor base, and we work very closely with them to be able to provide visibility for their subcontractors.

Marek has actually just been providing lots of onboarding materials in both Lithuanian and Russian. That’s one of our goals as well being able to drive out the trackability as much as possible.

We work with the Girteka Logistics IT department very closely to make sure that the integration quality is high, and that they’re able to ingest all of our data and use it through their normal systems too.

So they are fully integrated with us from that perspective. Amazon is one of Girteka Logistics’s biggest customers, and Amazon requires very high trackability rates. So this has really allowed them to be able to, I guess, be the cornerstone carrier for Europe. Their ability to be able to track their loads early and be able to have such a high quality of subcontracting. I think this has given them a real competitive edge.

And what about for carriers in general?

Jett: I worked at a carrier for many, many years. The seed from which project44 came from is information asymmetry, which is what causes the majority of the problems in logistics and transportation.

The problem is not that no one has the information. It’s just that the information is siloed, within a company, or within a vendor and a person transmitting the data. And when that happens, you have so many incredibly talented folks working at the carriers, and in the LSPs, to have a lot of moxie and grit. What they want to do is get to the answer.

They’re in a service business, they want to find a way to help their customers. And so they do what they can, and they send emails, they make phone calls. They build relationships internally on who can unlock this information.

But you know, it’s 2020. And there’s things like APIs now and machine-to-machine connections. And every time that the phone rings, every time an email is sent, it’s costing at least $5. And that $5 charge, that’s really the cost of the labor with overhead. It’s tough to really measure some of those soft costs.

Transportation is a very time-specific, time-critical type environment. So not having that information, sometimes for hours, or even trying to track it down, can impact operational planning, driver planning, driver happiness and asset optimization – all these types of things.

So further downstream, it could be a little tougher to quantify. But all those costs are real there. And there’s other soft costs too, like employee happiness. When that’s not managed correctly, or if someone doesn’t jump in to figure things out, people tend to get yelled at, and nobody wants to go to work and get yelled at all day.

Anjuli: I can talk about my experience here as well. I had a manual tracking team of 10 people whose entire job was literally to make phone calls from Krakow to carriers to find out where the trucks were.

This added a huge cost to the operation. At project44, we’re able to be able to take that data and directly integrate whole systems. That effectively meant that we were able to replace that team and use them for customer service and other activities for example.

You are set to open an office in Krakow, Poland. What are your plans and ambitions for the Polish market?

Krakow - Downtwon from balloon - 2

Anjuli: Well, first of all, Poland is of course one of the most important carrier markets in Europe, and Polish carriers account for a large portion of project44’s carrier base (39%). We also think that Krakow, with its abundance of both logistics and IT talent, is an excellent choice for our first office in Eastern Europe.

project44 is looking to make real-time visibility more accessible to smaller carriers and 3PLs, so we are establishing tracking packages with lower volume commitments and self-service support options to better cater to the needs of this segment. We want to make sure that all carriers have access to the technology that allows them to effectively manage their own assets as well as their subcontractor bases.

This is why we are also launching our free carrier Visibility Operations Center in January, which allows carriers working for any of our customers to get access to the same data that their customers are getting, including analytics for the loads moved by them or their subcontractors. We believe that creating transparency and removing data asymmetry will allow all players in the supply chain to better optimize their operations.

The other thing we want to do is be able to provide products and services more closely aligned with those markets. So we’re looking at various partnerships in Poland with companies that operate in those areas.

Moving on to a pretty big question now. Jett, in the current market conditions, is it possible to achieve 100% visibility across the supply chain?

Jett: I would say as a broad statement, the answer’s no.

If you had a supply chain that was domestic. For example, it could be Germany, or the USA, or France or a few other countries. If you’re sourcing a product directly and you’re delivering product to customers directly, then the answer would be yes.

However, if you were offshoring manufacturing, and you were doing so in Vietnam or China, or even Latin America, and you were delivering into Europe or North America, then you could get visibility to a high degree, somewhere in the mid 90s, the high 90s.

But it would struggle, and there would be some gaps. There are probably few main lanes whereby a high amount of effort could get you to 100%. But what we find with our customers is that there isn’t much value if they have less than 80% compliance for visibility across their supply chain.

And then, anything over 90% adds an incredible amount of value. And it does get exponentially more difficult above 90% for each percentage point that they want to get.

That’s just because there are so many dependencies. It’s not that there’s a lack of technology that project44 delivers. Often our platform is only as good as the data that it’s connected to. And when you have over a million capacity providers, whether it’s rail, truck, ocean or air, naturally those million plus capacity providers are all going to be at different places on their digitalization journey. They may or may not have had the investments that allow us to provide synchronous, high quality data back and forth to their customer base.

I think what we’ve seen is that companies now, and this didn’t really happen much in 2019 and the years prior to that, is that they now realize. They’re able to quantify that if one of their capacity providers does not, or is not able or willing to pass information to them through project44 in a digital way, then that capacity provider creates an operational exception. With operational exception, there’s hard and soft costs that we could talk about.

They [the companies] also have a lower tolerance. Moreover, they also are reasonable with their capacity providers and respect the relationships I’ve had for many years, and sometimes decades.

They’re giving some grace period, but they’re definitely giving notice to capacity providers and all modes, that if they can’t fulfill some of the basic requirements, they won’t be able to participate in the future.

And so I think that answer will be different. You know, hopefully, you and I are able to chat a few times across the next couple of years, and I’ll be able to give you an update on that answer. And look, maybe we’ll have a little celebration when I say yes, of course, it’s possible!

Marek, given your role here in Europe, what have you seen change here over the last 12 months?

Marek: Well, I think the market in Europe is obviously more fragmented when it comes to subcontractors and carriers. We can see a large level of subcontracting in Europe as opposed to the USA.

We can also see a shift when it comes to the leverage that our shippers and our customers have towards carriers. Because carriers are obviously impacted by COVID to a large extent, and they are grateful for any opportunities that come their way.

Even before COVID, there was a shortage of carriers in Europe and a shortage of drivers as well. Nowadays, every shipment is very valuable. Every customer is very valuable for every carrier, meaning that somehow the leverage has shifted. Now our shippers and customers have more power in terms of demanding visibility, and demanding certain standards and services from carriers.

How is it possible to compare the European and American markets? A number of observers are saying that the US are a little further down the road when it comes to sharing and optimising data. Is this true from your perspective?

Anjuli: The ELD mandate (2017) pushed for a very fast ramp of telematics adaptation in US, but before that Europe already had much more widespread use of telematics devices to allow for location updates and collection of sensor data. The telematics landscape in Europe has always been much more fragmented and regional, giving a huge challenge connecting carriers and subcontractors in a reliable network.

We actually see companies in Europe and the US transforming the way supply chains think about visibility. And the leading industry analyst Gartner even groups North America and Europe as leading in adoption, followed by Asia / Pacific. However, there are differences in North America and Europe in terms of visibility complexities and intricacies that can impact adoption timelines. For example, Europe relies more heavily on subcontractor networks. This makes it more challenging to gain visibility across an entire network, but also makes visibility that much more important.

Europe is also more fragmented because of the various borders carriers need to cross. The need for one shipment to cross several borders into countries with varying regulations creates more complexity than the US. When it comes to data sharing, the US is behind Europe in terms of data privacy regulations, which can cause issues if companies don’t have the necessary practices in place. project44 has globally aligned with GDPR practices to ensure our entire company, not just in Europe, follow these guidelines.

And what trends do you envisage coming to the fore 2021?

Marc: I think the influences or the trends for 2021 are already starting now. What you see right now is that the market has been changed from a nice-to-have market where real time visibility was more of a nice-to-have. It’s turned 180 degrees to a full must-have, so the pressure is not only on our company, but on the market itself, is tremendously high.

From my perspective, a trend for 2021 will be that the companies that didn’t invest in real time visibility this year will have to provide all the data to their supply chains and customer cycles. Therefore, they will be experiencing pressure to a significant extent.

Going back to point Jett just made on different modes and how we are supported by carriers and how we connect everything and provide that visibility, I have to say that multimodal will be one of the main trends for next year.

It has been accepted that it too will move from being a nice-to-have to a must-have. We will mostly go to a multimodal connection to the fullest so as to provide overall real time visibility to providers.

Anjuli: There are a few trends I can add to that list.

One of those is certainly ocean freight, which is heating up in Q4 2020. Traditionally there is peak season for all consumer goods and 2020 shows very strong increases. This impacts ocean freight dynamics. Volume is up more than 30%, capacity is tight and major ports have started to clog up. Vessels need to anchor at sea for days and delays to discharge reach more than a week. Furthermore, availability of empty containers in Asia impacts ocean freight going to Europe and Americas. This is driving an increased need for visibility.

Another trend we see emerging is the establishment of multichannel for inbound – companies need to be multithreaded from an inbound perspective. The best way to be agile is to be able to put inventory on the shelf, so focusing on where and how you get your inventory, making it easy to receive and store it, and having multiple options, is a priority.

Using more diverse forms of transport and the ability to shift with COVID and global regulations, as well as unexpected shipping challenges, is something that’s becoming more common too. The best way to navigate these situations is seamlessly shifting from one transportation mode when it runs into a problem to another which can go around it.

Finally, the need for real-time decisions is another key trend. When it comes down to it, the only way to be truly agile is to have the ability to make real-time decisions. If you have a truck that is delayed, you have to see it and act on it immediately, you have to communicate it to customers immediately. Ensuring you have visibility into your supply chain, and a decision-making model in place for urgent scenarios, will equip companies to navigate any challenge.

Marc, Intermodal does seem to be growing according to one or two reports that have been published recently. That said, it’s not been making the headlines all that often. Do you think the shift to this form of transport is going under the radar?

Brooklyn Intermodal Rail Yard, Portland, Oregon (2019) - 6

Marc: I can see it quite heavily right now in Europe to be frankly honest. Normally, it was purely to focus on what we can do on the single transport mode or ocean or road or air for example.

But when the Amazons and others, I always call them the Fang companies; Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, started influencing our private lives with the click of a button, you could order a package and literally track your order from Amazon’s warehouse to your doorstep. Then you get spoiled as a person. That feeling is now being transferred into business life. And now my last mile is getting much more important than it was one year ago.

For example, rail connected to road was never an intermodal transport. It was never a heavily spoken subject. But for next year, we are already feeling the pressure of the rail companies that are now connecting with the big road forwarders.

However, they have no clue how to synergize the data, they are still really fragmented, and we get all those requests right now for help. How can we get the data from the containers on the train towards the truck and then towards the customer?

Because we order stuff on Amazon, we are used to it [visibility] now. We need to get that value in our businesses, and so rail, mostly in Europe, will become much bigger. Most of the big logistic service providers have also invested a lot of money in rail over the last two years. So they want to have that positive outcome. Also, because the investment has been done, it has been implemented. Now it needs to be executed, and we will be first in line to help them out.

The world is of course awaiting the mass distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. In what way can the visibility provided by the likes of project 44 facilitate this process?

Anjuli: Normally, a new vaccine would have ‘trials’ for distribution, where the manufacturer tests moving the drug throughout the world, to develop more accurate time, temperature and other parameters. With little time for that, the vaccine logistics operations are planning to push massive volumes out to hospitals and clinics as soon as possible, putting intense pressure on logistics networks in both capacity and complexity.

For most shippers, this will be an unprecedented volume increase. Even for the biggest pharmaceutical distributors, we are talking in some cases as much as 5 to 10 times more than they generally ship. So you’ve got capacity issues in three key categories.

The first is storing temperature-sensitive drugs, while the second is tracking, which ensures the right product is where it’s supposed to be and parameters have been maintained in shipping which requires software infrastructure and smart devices. The third and final category is transport, in the form of containers, trucks, trains and other modes that we have available to transport goods. We can’t forget this is peak shipping season and with so many still stuck at home there is limited capacity among carriers already, especially in refrigerated or reefer transport.

You also have complexity issues across all three of these categories – with the complexity of a new vaccine being distributed globally without extensive supply chain trials. You have myriad local, regional and national regulations. And, while it’s a new drug that needs to be kept at -70°C±10°C for up to 10 days, it is not the most difficult thing anyone has ever shipped.

Pharma companies and the carriers they work with have well defined supply chain procedures and protocols, but it sure isn’t uncomplicated to ship, especially at scale. It’s also possible that Pfizer’s new vaccine might still be effective even if it spends a certain amount at warmer temps, but we can’t know that without extensive shipping trials, so if the drug exceeds the current parameters during shipment, that batch or load will not be usable. It will be a waste.

To be more price conscious, the visibility on our platform can help in a number of ways.

One is temperature monitoring, which we recently launched. It tracks the temperature and alerts if it moves outside of the allowed range, which is critical for highly sensitive vaccine ingredients.

We also provide visibility across all modes and geographies, including support for Parcel, Final-Mile, Less-than-Truckload, Volume Less-than-Truckload, Truckload, Rail, Air, Intermodal and Ocean shipping. So, should shippers and distributors are able to track across modes and geographies, and have more insight into when it might make sense to switch modes due to a capacity crunch in transport or storage.

Additionally, we deliver accurate, predictive and dynamically updated shipment tracking – including shipment transit times, location, status and ETAs reflecting weather and traffic patterns, provided via configurable, rules-based, email, SMS or push shipment notifications. This will be crucial when every degree and minute counts with vaccines.

Beyond tracking, we can provide end-to-end visibility and automation of key transportation processes, like initiating shipment and post-delivery optimization, to speed these processes at each end for more time savings.

The last quarter of the year has seen huge problems with container shortages at a number of key ports. Is there any way that the systems used by project44 can help in this regard?

Line3174 - Shipping Containers at the terminal at Port Elizabeth, New Jersey - NOAA

Jett: Well, we have invested heavily in ocean this year and we shall invest significantly more in it in 2021.

One of the challenges that you have with ocean is that there’s just so many parties involved, not necessarily just from a steamship line. But when you get into all the terminals around the world, they use different operating systems that are primarily on premise, so it’s not cloud based. So it’s very difficult to extract the data from them. And that’s where a lot of the chaos is happening. It’s not on one of the vessels. They don’t get stuck in traffic, the vessels, but once they hit the ports, there’s a real lack of visibility.

Unfortunately, as we’re here, we can add value, but we can’t solve this massive problem of Q4 2020. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again. But if it does happen next peak season, I think we would be best prepared to really help out the market.

Finally, Jett – what are your visions for project44 as we enter the new year?

Jett: Well, what we want to do is, number one, keep making our customers happy and keep earning their trust.

And I think if we’re able to do that, then we’ll be able to continue to innovate. Visibility is typically a first step for customers on their digitalization journey. Automation and collaboration tend to be the holy grail, what they’re searching for.

And we have that experience in some geographies in the world, and we’re hoping to bring that to every corner of the globe in all modes of transportation for all industries. So we really appreciate folks like yourselves, that give us the opportunity to talk about our business and I appreciate you taking the time.

Thanks to you all for talking to us and providing your insights; everyone at Trans.INFO appreciates your time too.

Photo credit: project44

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