“We’re creating the largest real-time visibility network in the world”

September 01, 2020

Transporeon and Sixfold are teaming up, strengthening their partnership so that Sixfold becomes integral to the Transporeon platform. Together the two companies are committed to creating a real-time visibility network that connects more than 100,000 carriers and 1,200 shippers globally and, for a whole year , no one will incur any usage costs. “All customers will receive access to real-time transport visibility,” says Stephan Sieber, Managing Director of Transporeon, in an interview with DVZ.

Now it’s not as if Transporeon wants to give something away or has failed to sell its visibility solution in the past. On the contrary, in the first half of this year alone sales grew by more than 300% compared with the same period in 2019. In addition, the company has well-known customers such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola, DS Smith and Saint-Gobain. So why this change? The reason, says Sieber, is the realization that the effectiveness of real-time visibility data depends largely on scale. “The more comprehensive the data we collect, the more effective are the insights we can draw from it and share with our customers. So we now want to maximize the number of visibility-enabled transports on our platform and, in this way, create the largest real-time visibility network in the world”.

The company anticipates more than 90% of Transporeon customers should be able to use the service from September onwards, seeing estimated time of arrival (ETA) data for each transport in real time as well as time slot data. For some customers, it may be necessary to make a few manual adjustments. But by the end of October all customers will be in a position to use real-time visibility. Sieber: “We are talking about end-to-end visibility; each shipment will be assigned to a truck, and the system will know which item of cargo is being transported at what time and with which vehicle licence plate”. The aim is to maximise network coverage by September 2021, from which point onwards Transporeon will collaborate with customers to develop new solutions, for example the capability to dynamically reschedule time slots and use big data analytics to assign transport orders.

Because the essence of real-time visibility is not generating data but rather incorporating and using it, Transporeon has been working together with its partner Sixfold and customers to find ways to better manage truck time slots. Instead of presenting a static booking process, a visibility-enabled system can become dynamic, responding in real time to inevitable scheduling changes. “In the long term, our intention is to offer this capability to all Transporeon customers,” says Wolfgang Wörner, Managing Director at Sixfold. He explains: “We no longer want real-time visibility as an end in itself but as a driver for our customers’ operational processes. Right now, we are scaling up the network at a much faster rate than if we had to individually enable each customer with real-time visibility.”

In any case, Transporeon and Sixfold consider this as a second step in the overall development process. By using visibility data, the system can send action recommendations to customers. As a next step, customers could allow the system to take actions automatically. For example, if information comes in that two different time slots could be swapped because, say, a later truck will arrive before an earlier truck, an on-site transport specialist is currently responsible for deciding whether to allow that switch. “But we already see now that sometimes the system could make better decisions, especially in very complex situations. So we are striving to automate these and other processes through artificial intelligence and will therefore be able to offer added value,” explains Wörner.

This is certainly an investment in the future, one that can cost Transporeon a lot. The company states that 30 new employees were hired specifically for this project, which brings the total headcount dedicated to real-time visibility to more than 150 people. This comes from a conviction that the market winner will be the player that succeeds in introducing the most participants to real-time transport operations. “We see our role in ensuring transparency in the market. This may meet with resistance from some participants, but we can certainly claim to be growing visibility enablement faster than anyone else. That’s how we’ll take market share from competitors,” insists Sieber.

The Transporeon boss expects customer numbers to significantly increase. A package has been prepared for this purpose, with pricing far below current market levels. Sieber: “This should be a clear signal to participate in our network. We are growing in the region of 15% every year and we intend to maintain this solid growth.”

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