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Industry Leaders Discuss Trimble Transportation Cloud’s Future Impact on Supply Chain

At our recent Insight Tech Conference + Expo, Rishi Mehra, sector vice president of Trimble’s Maps division, moderated a fireside chat about Trimble Transportation Cloud with leaders from two of the top fleet carriers in the space, Crete Carrier Corporation and Covenant Logistics.

Before delving into each carrier’s experience using Transportation Cloud, Mehra defined it as, “our vision of connecting all the different pieces – all the freight movement within the ecosystem through one common standard, flowing through a cloud, which is today hosted on the Microsoft ecosystem on Azure.”

“Trimble Transportation Cloud is connecting our TMS’s on one end for planning purposes, to freight procurement solutions, and then transferring that data out to the telematics units where drivers are able to benefit from it,” Mehra continued. “And the reverse transmission of information… the data coming back from the trucks is equally important to get visibility for the dispatchers, what’s happening out on the road, and how the delivery is being performed.”

During the conversation, Jeremie Kerkman, vice president of fleets and operations, Crete Carrier Corporation, and Matt Mullins, vice president of supply chain technology at Covenant Logistics, shared how their companies envision leveraging solutions through Trimble’s Transportation Cloud from an operations, IT and driver perspective.

What You Need, When You Need It

Crete has used Trimble’s Innovative TMS “forever,” Kerkman said, and recently added the PMobile telematics offering to its fleet. Kerkman said Crete’s journey to the cloud started with a need to be more nimble, desire for additional customization, interest in creating a more driver-centric workflow and a focus on responsiveness for its customers.

Transportation Cloud, he said, provides a single point of integration for the company, making it much easier to share specific information with vendors. Mullins agreed, sharing the sentiment that “customers need what they need, when they need it… which is super fast. It changes very quickly.”

Because of this, Covenant needs to adapt quickly – and a connected cloud is the perfect environment for it. Trimble Transportation Cloud enables organizations to integrate their various systems and solutions into one consistent environment. Covenant is already utilizing Microsoft Azure for several of its solutions and is looking forward to integrating other solutions through Trimble’s Transportation Cloud for more rapid deployments in the future.

Mehra added that Covenant has been pairing Trimble’s Connected Locations database of 4.7 million commercial locations and polygonal geofences with telemetry data from another provider, linking the two in the cloud to calculate dwell time metrics. These dwell time metrics enable Covenant to better plan their routes and provide more accurate ETAs, because they are able to incorporate the time their vehicles might be detained.

“That is very important information that did not require a lot of integration because we’re able to connect not only our own products but also within our partner ecosystem,” Mehra said. “This connection makes lives easier and allows our trucking customers to deliver goods in a timely manner.”

Timely Weather Alerts

Keeping trucks and drivers on the road is key to keeping the supply chain moving. Severe weather is one of many factors that can create challenges for carriers. Impassable roads, detours and unsafe driving conditions all result in time lost and late deliveries.

Enabled by Transportation Cloud’s ease of integration and connectivity, Trimble will soon be rolling out hyperlocal weather alerts through the CoPilot in-cab navigation solution. A driver’s route will be created as a digital twin in the cloud, and monitored for weather events, using data from weather service providers to identify the impact of inclement events like high winds, snow, fog advisories and more.

Crete’s Kerkman shared that weather is a major issue within the company, which puts driver safety at the top of its list of company principles. “We run in 48 states, so anything we can do to help them be safe on the road… we’ve tried to develop some type of weather monitoring for our drivers, but it’s very piecemeal and difficult to deliver.”

Kerkman said Transportation Cloud would make this integration relatively easy to implement in a matter of weeks.

“We’ve been struggling to come up with a good process for delivering weather data to provide safety guidance to our drivers, so this will be a really beneficial tool for us.”

Healing the Supply Chain with Maintenance

Connected Maintenance is another solution that is enabled through the Transportation Cloud. The cost of assets like tractors and trailers has skyrocketed in recent years, making proactive repairs and maintenance more critical than ever before.

Trimble’s Connected Maintenance solution pairs telematics data from on-board devices with back-office software and third-party service centers like TravelCenters of America or Navistar International360 for fast, easy service requests and estimates. Mehra stated that today, Transportation Cloud is running several thousand transactions.

Mullins shared that this more proactive and connected approach helps Covenant stay on top of inventory control, allowing them to right-size their parts inventory and get trucks back on the road faster.

“We’ve all seen the suffering of the supply chain in general,” Mullins said. “I believe it will help heal part of the supply chain, with inventory levels and getting drivers back in the seat of the truck where they want to be.”

IT and Cybersecurity

As an IT leader in his organization, Mullins shared that he is constantly looking for solutions that are better than what they’re currently using. “Part of that is easily being able to connect,” he said.

Referencing Rob Painter’s comments during the opening session that mentioned the massive amount of data the industry is creating, Mullins acknowledged that data gives Covenant the ability to make important analytical decisions, but to do it quickly, they need a connected solution like the Transportation Cloud.

“That’s the biggest piece coming out of this… the quickness,” said Mullins. “If there are prebuilt connectors that we can use to look at data coming in from Trimble and outside of Trimble… you need that ability to make changes on the fly and use the best of breed technology, whether it’s Trimble or someone else.”

Cybersecurity is also a top concern for both fleet IT professionals and Trimble. “We are very serious about how we store data,” Mehra said. Trimble has made significant investments into cybersecurity to ensure that customer data is not only secure, but also accessible when needed. Transportation Cloud also gives customers power over their data and who it’s shared with.

“Our customers don’t all pick the same provider when it comes to the data they want,” Kerkman said. “So [it’s great] to be able to do this through the Trust Center to set up what information goes where.”

More Connectivity to Come

Finally, one of the most important benefits of Transportation Cloud bringing together data from a multitude of sources is the simplification of driver workflows.

“Our drivers didn’t sign up to manage different third-party apps,” Kerkman explained. “With Transportation Cloud, they can just move on to the next step in the driver workflow.”

Trimble is also adding connectivity through Transportation Cloud via its Developer Portal, which allows developers to build their own applications.

Mehra added, “It doesn't matter which ecosystem you use or what version of our software you're on -- if you have the APIs available or you have the skills in your organization to write to those APIs, you can consume those today. We are using those same APIs to also connect our own products.”

We will continue sharing valuable insights and key takeaways from Insight 2023 over the coming weeks – keep your eyes on our blog for the latest updates! View all of our Insight 2023 coverage here.