Eden Prairie-based C.H. Robinson is using artificial intelligence to make booking freight both easier and quicker for clients.
As one of the world’s largest third-party logistics providers, C.H. Robinson also has one of the largest databases on shippers, haulers, facilities and freight routes. The industry-leading technology automates the process of booking appointments and uses AI to find optimal solutions for clients.
“Achieving touchless appointments is a big step forward for automating supply chains,” said Michael Castagnetto, C.H. Robinson’s president of North American surface transportation in a news release. “It’s far more efficient for technology to find an appointment slot that’s open that works for both the loading dock and the carrier and gets the freight where it needs to be on time.”
Booking freight is much more complicated than hailing a taxi or a ride-share. Pickup and drop-off times need coordination and there can be fines or chargebacks if loads arrive too late or too early. Even when shipments are made electronically, it often requires manual confirmation of crucial touchpoints along the way.
“Touchless appointments liberate shippers and their receivers from that work, and because we have the largest data set in the industry, our system is choosing a smarter appointment than our competitors can,” Castagnetto said.
C.H. Robinson said with the touchless process the company can make appointments in less than two minutes. The process gets the load to a network of carriers faster and helps the shipper secure better rates while getting loads on the road about 7.4 hours faster than appointments booked through traditional methods.
“The trucking industry has been hungry to digitize everything from load-matching to booking to real-time visibility while freight is in transit,” said Arun Rajan, chief operating officer at C.H. Robinson. “Giving people better digital tools to use is great progress; actually automating the complex processes of logistics is another frontier.”
C.H. Robinson reported fourth quarter earnings last week that did not meet analyst expectations. CEO Dave Bozeman said they didn’t meet his either.
In the quarter, C.H. Robinson net income fell 68% year-over-year to $31 million, or 26 cents a share, on revenue that declined 17% to $4.2 billion. Adjusted EPS declined 53% to 50 cents a share; analysts were expecting 81 cents.
The freight industry as a whole has been in an extended cyclical downturn, and Bozeman said he shared the sentiment of many in the industry in saying goodbye to 2023.
“Although 2024 still presents some of the same challenges and headwinds, I’m excited about the work we’re doing to reinvigorate Robinson’s winning culture and unlock the power of our portfolio,” Bozeman said in the release.
Business reporter Patrick Kennedy covers executive compensation and public companies. He has reported on the Minnesota business community for more than 20 years.
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