Precision and Predictability Provide Optimal Transport Planning: A Q&A with Trimble Maps’ David Quin
Both shippers and carriers are under pressure to deliver quickly and at a reasonable cost, meaning that optimizing and automating routes for increased efficiency is paramount.
In this Q&A, David Quin, director of strategic partnerships at Trimble Maps, gives us an overview of how Trimble is leading the industry when it comes to providing robust transportation planning solutions that optimize routes for improved collaboration between shippers and carriers.
Could you start by telling us about your career path? How did you end up at Trimble, and what do you and your team work on?
I joined Trimble Maps nearly 19 years ago when it was known as ALK. I was one of the first hires in the U.K., and originally started out selling CoPilot GPS technology for consumers. We were among the first to launch a mobile navigation app on iPhone and Android concurrently, and it became the highest grossing app globally on iTunes at the time (even more than Angry Birds during its height of popularity!)
As awareness of CoPilot grew, business fleets inquired about using the navigation technology on business handhelds. This was where our enterprise navigation business started. Fast forward a bit further, and ALK was acquired by Trimble, which brought more than 40 years of experience underpinning transportation, software planning, and optimization solutions for the entire industry.
Today, I’m the director of strategic partnerships, and my team and I are responsible for the Trimble Maps business in the European market, establishing partnerships and delivering growth.
What are some of the common challenges that shippers and carriers face?
It’s a balancing act between meeting the demands of customers, the obstacles in national and international logistics flows (shortage of drivers, difficulties in tracking shipments, rising fuel prices, etc.), and changing regulations.
Recipients’ expectations of service have increased – they expect delivery times to be extremely precise. That’s offset against the increasing costs of everything in transportation, including fuel and driver pay. There’s pressure to deliver efficiently as well. But those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, because the more accurate shippers can be with their advance planning and optimizing transportation routing, the more closely that matches reality.
At the end of the day, you need an optimized route. You need the best, most efficient route for whatever you’re trying to move. At the same time, the more realistic that becomes, the more realistic and easier you can share that critical information with recipients.
Digitalization of transport (digital transformation) are some of the buzzwords we’re hearing. What are some of the changes and opportunities you’ve seen for shippers?
Transportation Management Systems (TMS) are a great example of technology that is literally digitally transforming an entire industry. A TMS is becoming essential given the escalating costs of transportation. Anything you can do to optimize, automate and better plan your transportation is a good thing.
Maps, routing, and time and distance calculation are at the heart of it because ultimately, the system is only as good as the data that goes into it. To optimize as effectively as possible, you need the most detailed, most realistic distances and drive time information.
The digital transformation of supply chains also pays big dividends from an environmental perspective, in reducing fuel costs, reducing vehicle movements and reducing the number of vehicles required.
TMS has become mobile; it has evolved onto the smartphones of drivers, operators and supply chain managers, making it more accessible and easier to implement than ever before.
How do these capabilities benefit the shipper experience?
TMS solutions are the incredibly complex “brains” that power supply chains globally. Transportation planners are competing for the lowest cost or the lowest emissions or whatever attribute is most important to them when deciding the right route and costs to associate with that. We’ll break routes down into the individual legs so that a transport cost can be assigned to individual customers and individual loads, providing a great deal of transparency.
Another key thing is that we provide a final-mile level of precision for shipments of any distance. We can provide the same level of precision on a thousand-mile long-haul trip, including rest breaks and mandatory hours of service stops, etc. We can share that same level of accuracy if you’re delivering a package to a house in the middle of New York over two miles. We use traffic-based delivery times, providing much more accurate arrival times and drive times as well as costs.
Once you’re on the road, we can keep an eye on real-time conditions and update the ETA as you move along and again, transmit that to those who need to know.
Sustainability is also of increased importance globally, and we empower our customers to be more sustainable through technology. Our solution provides accurate greenhouse gas emissions for a given road segment or a particular vehicle movement based on the specific vehicle and size in advance. Using the Trimble Maps API, companies can also compare routes and costs versus whatever the emissions are predicted to be from either.
How do Trimble Maps’ solutions contribute to Trimble’s vision of a connected supply chain?
By using the Trimble Maps capabilities in the back office and in the vehicle, there’s a very tight connection across the supply chain - between what a shipper expected and what the recipient actually gets.
Ultimately, when the shipper and the carrier are both using the same Trimble Maps technology, there should be very little mismatch between what was expected and what was planned versus what actually happened, and presumably, what gets invoiced back to the shipper. There are fewer surprises and everything becomes much more predictable for both the shipper and the carrier. It provides consistent data to simplify, manage and measure complex transportation costs.
Anything else you’d like to add?
There are several variabilities that need to be managed between regions, and our solutions help solve some of that regional complexity. For example, in Europe, there are different languages and different rules. We can simplify that to some extent when it comes to things like toll cost with our pan-European toll cost API that taps into the different toll cost providers across Europe. So even though they often operate under different systems and payment providers, we can still provide an accurate number from each of those toll providers in one API.
Trimble Maps solutions can also help reduce some of the complexities of routing. Across Europe, cities are implementing environmental loads with increasingly stringent rules around when carriers can deliver, what can be delivered, what type of vehicles are allowed and when. For example, London has very tight regulations on commercial vehicle deliveries at particular times of day. We can handle all of that, and flag whether there could be an issue on the route. We’ll adapt the route based on the time of day to avoid adding significant miles. Accounting for the local rules and restrictions that apply to a delivery can make a major difference to the overall costs.
In the past, these variables wouldn’t have been as critical, but today when fuel prices are at an all-time high, it is quite expensive. If you can save even a couple percentage points on your total fuel spend, it could be worth several thousand dollars. Cost is the #1 overriding concern across the board and causing inflation in the wider economy. There’s never been a greater need for optimal transport planning.
For more information about Trimble Maps, visit maps.trimble.com.