Jones Logistics moves over 150,000 open-deck loads a year, but the specialized nature of the work made it labor-intensive. Even with modern technologies that allowed for simple digital booking capabilities, Jones found each load still required the involvement of a sales representative.
The issue was its transportation management system (TMS). It's not that the system was bad, it just wasn't customized to the unique needs of Jones Logistics or its customers. So when Parade launched its Book Now feature in March 2019, Jones felt a solution was at hand.
"We saw that we could automate almost all of the booking process with Parade's Book Now, but we would still require one of our representatives to manually generate and send a rate confirmation to that carrier — we knew we could take the automation one step further," said Tim Blackwell, vice president of technology for Jones Logistics.
Working with Parade, an artificial intelligence-powered freight workflow platform, Jones came up with that solution through a custom integration. The result is that loads in key lanes in the Jones Logistics network can now be booked automatically, with all aspects of the loads handled through the Parade integration with Jones' existing TMS.
"After acknowledging the limitations of our TMS and exploring options, we eventually figured out that we already own a product that allows us to schedule workflow tasks and that could handle our rate confirmations. We just needed to modify it a little," Blackwell said. "It became a matter of identifying the key pieces of data, asking the right questions within the SQL server, and then connecting it all to the email server to send out."
Carriers can find matched loads and submit quotes on Book Now through Jones' Partner Page with Parade, then the load is automatically assigned into Jones' TMS via Parade. Carriers automatically receive trucking rate confirmations through Jones' custom workflow powered by Parade's secure automation.
"If a driver or carrier can book the load themselves, then our reps can spend more time talking to the customer, allowing us to focus our energies on meeting all of their needs and challenges," said Alex Maurer, director of operations for Jones Logistics.
Carriers and technology providers are jumping into the digital brokerage arena, seeing significant savings in both time and cost as a result. In 2018, venture capitalists poured nearly $3 billion into freight tech companies, many of them building digital brokerages. Consultancy Frost & Sullivan has predicted that digital freight brokerage will generate revenues of $54.2 billion by 2025.
For Jones Logistics, the answer was finding a partner that understood its unique needs.
"We'll have 300 loads get booked and then canceled or diverted immediately," Maurer said. "We talked to a lot of other tech providers who would try to assign the van model to Jones Logistics, and it just wasn't going to work.
"You have to find somebody who is innovative, who's willing to stick with you and work with you through the process," Maurer added. "We don't house our own TMS, we didn't build our TMS, so we have to work within what the TMS provides. The fact that we work with vendors who are creative and innovative allows us to be successful."
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