We’re so excited to announce that Trimble Transportation’s Chris Orban was recently named one of Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s 2022 Pros to Know. This award recognizes outstanding executives whose accomplishments offer a roadmap for other leaders looking to leverage the supply chain for competitive advantage. Chris is vice president of data science at Trimble and leads the supply chain insights team.
Chris is leading the charge within the transportation and logistics industries to use data more strategically, more proactively and more intelligently. We sat down with him to celebrate this exciting award win and learn more about how logistics companies are leveraging data science to make the supply chain more efficient, more effective and safer.
What’s your background and what do you do at Trimble Transportation?
I have been a part of the Trimble team for four years. As the vice president of data science, I lead teams that are developing new, advanced products that use data, predictive modeling and machine learning to provide actionable insights to carriers, shippers and intermediaries about things like the value of freight to their networks, vehicle health, driver safety, load planning optimization, driver retention and more.
I've been in the transportation industry for about 15 years, serving in a variety of analytics roles. Prior to joining Trimble, I was the vice president of advanced analytics at Covenant Transportation Group (now Covenant Logistics), one of the larger carriers in the U.S. There, I was fortunate enough to get a first-hand look at what it takes to run a fleet, and also built up a data science and engineering team to develop powerful, insightful tools that improved productivity, fuel efficiency and effectiveness while keeping drivers safe.
What are the key challenges facing customers and their supply chains in the year ahead? How are you working to address those challenges?
I think a major challenge will be finding ways to help supply chain stakeholders predict and prevent shortages, because the past two years of a pandemic have highlighted just how vulnerable the global supply chain can be to unknown events. The supply chain currently depends on predictable and reliable conditions to run at peak capacity – which realistically does not happen often.
This year, my team is devoting significant time to addressing this unpredictability and building out solutions that can help supply chain stakeholders predict and adapt to circumstances like unexpected driver turnover, skyrocketing shipping costs, disrupted trade cycles due to part shortages and more. These adjustments could keep the supply chain moving more smoothly around the world.
Another ongoing challenge in the world of transportation – and one that should always be a top priority – is driver safety. At Trimble, we’re currently rolling out a new autonomous driver coaching solution that will allow fleets to provide daily, customized driver training remotely to each of their drivers. Human coaching is definitely still needed, but this new solution, using machine learning-driven algorithms, can analyze driver behaviors and send an individualized coaching plan to each driver in a fleet, every day. If even one driver can avoid an accident or injury as a result, it’s worth the investment in my eyes.
What milestones have you and your team reached to shape the supply chain recently?
We’re making huge strides toward connecting the supply chain – a goal that is also shared by the federal government, which recently announced plans to standardize data-sharing across supply chain stakeholders to alleviate current supply chain challenges.
There have traditionally been huge gaps and siloes between each member of the supply chain – shippers, carriers, intermediaries, brokers and more – that have prevented information and data from flowing between partners, but there’s great value in sharing data between stakeholders.
My team was involved in the development of the Trimble Transportation Cloud, a platform that allows users to securely share data with outside parties while maintaining control over what data is shared, for how long, and with whom. Doing this provides increased visibility into each party’s activities, providing more accurate ETAs, capacity information and more. This is a fundamental shift in an industry where stakeholders have traditionally been hesitant to share information for fear of being undercut competitively, or losing customers.
By bridging these gaps between stakeholders and encouraging the sharing of data, we’re creating efficiencies, bringing more visibility and ultimately benefiting the entire supply chain.
What other solutions have you led at Trimble and how are they making a difference on the road?
Trimble Dispatch Advisor is an optimized dispatch solution my team launched in 2020 that prescriptively suggests matches between loads, drivers and equipment, and it has already reduced deadhead miles for its users by 2%. It has also led to a 1% improvement of on-time service amongst its users.
Another solution that is having a great impact is Trimble’s Vehicle Health solution, which not only monitors fault codes that alert carriers to an existing issue with an asset, but is also built on algorithms that predict when parts are going to fail and allow maintenance teams to act proactively to avoid cost- and time-intensive roadside breakdowns.
Trimble’s Video Intelligence solution was also recently enhanced to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to both trigger event recordings as well as detect potentially risky driving behaviors and alert drivers to things like sudden slowdowns, lane departures and more.
This capability empowers drivers to make real-time decisions to improve their safety, but it also helps carriers, too. The rich amount of driver data empowers them to identify drivers that may need coaching as well as making it easier for fleets to identify and reward good driving habits.
How do you help companies align their supply chain strategy?
We always start by helping an organization understand what their data is telling them. Trimble’s supply chain insights team analyzes the company’s historical data, provides “data cleanliness” reports and more to help the company understand things like if they have enough “data density” to make predictive decisions about their business (such as opening new hubs, unprofitable customers or lanes, etc.).
Then, we apply Trimble’s algorithms and tools to that data to help the company understand how the historical events they’ve experienced can provide insights for the future – the areas of opportunity, where the company fits in from a benchmarking perspective and more.
These are the strategic steps in connecting companies more closely to the supply chain – unlocking efficiencies, optimizing operations and ultimately providing immense value.
What’s your favorite part of your work?
Hands down, the best part of my job is helping drivers. They have a very tough job, but it’s an amazing career. Using technology to make their jobs safer and more enjoyable – getting them home on time, improving safety on the road and helping them make the money they deserve – that’s really powerful to me.
I also take a lot of pride and joy in analyzing data to affect positive change throughout the supply chain. It’s exciting and important work, and I’m lucky to work with great customers and colleagues who share a passion for making the industry better.
Congrats on your award, Chris!
Interested in how you can empower data-driven decisions in your organization? Contact us today to find out more about Trimble’s powerful data science solutions and how they can make a positive impact on your business.