Convoy, JB Hunt and Uber push for scheduling standards

  • December 12, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Convoy, JB Hunt Transport and Uber Freight have formed a consortium to establish the freight industry’s first formal set of appointment scheduling application programming interface (API) standards.

The Scheduling Standards Consortium (SSC) aims to solve transportation scheduling problems by standardising how information is exchanged around scheduling shipments.

Today, scheduling system and interface fragmentation is a point of friction among carriers, brokers and shippers. As the industry turns increasingly to an integrated network of providers to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of each shipment, it has become increasingly important to define and share a consistent data architecture and API standard for the distribution of scheduling information.

The SSC’s objectives are to define an API standard for sharing scheduling information, implement those standardised interfaces to enable integrations in existing systems, and advocate for the standard across the industry. The standard should bring more cohesion and resiliency to the movement of goods, making it easier to book and manage appointments, optimise processes for drivers, shippers and receivers, and drive operational efficiencies for the industry at large.

Adoption is critical for the effort to succeed. The SSC aims to sign on other brokers or third-party logistics service providers, transportation management system and warehouse management system vendors, and others to help shape the future of supply chain efficiency. Initial SSC standards and documentation, starting with full truckload freight, will be available early next year.

“One of the most complicated and consequential things about being efficient in freight is setting up pickup and drop-off appointments,” said Dan Lewis, Convoy’s CEO. “Every year the industry sets approximately 1.5 billion appointments, and scheduling inefficiencies slow everything down and create a lot of waste. Freight runs 24/7, and, for most situations, every hour counts. Scheduling is a tech problem at the end of the day. When all the trucks are plugged into a digital network, the industry can better orchestrate freight needs with data-informed systems.”

A standard API-based approach should allow companies to access the latest data and make smart decisions to increase efficiency, reduce empty kilometres and waste, lower costs, and improve service outcomes.

“Technology has ushered in a new era for transportation – new players, new apps, new platforms, new services,” said Spencer Frazier, executive vice president at JB Hunt. “Yet, our industry remains extremely fragmented. We want to change that, starting today with the three of us and hopefully many more providers in the coming months. We want to create an open exchange of data so the numerous TMS and digital freight platforms can communicate at a level where we can help one another when needed. The voice of our customers is clear – collaboration will drive progress. Our challenge is to make the systems they use daily work together to generate greater value and efficiency for their supply chains.”

Bill Driegert, head of operations at Uber Freight, added: “Logistics is rapidly evolving to be more real time and intelligent at every point of execution. The implementation of APIs to simplify the execution of manual tasks like scheduling is revolutionising how shippers and carriers plan, manage and execute shipments. We are at a critical inflection point of adoption, and if we don’t align on standards, we will create more work for everyone in the coming years. Everyone wins if we can align on common ways of interfacing. In doing so, we minimise operation friction and fragmentation and unlock a more fluid and optimised market for shippers and carriers to move goods.”