TECHNOLOGY LEADS TO MEET MODERN CHALLENGES: PART III
For part three of our tech-focused feature, Global Trade identified industry players who confronted challenges with the help of technological partners. Our case studies are arranged by the categories Global Trade covers on the regular, including ocean carriers, ports, trucking, and warehousing. Read part one here and part two here.
Challenge: Enhancing operations and market share for refrigerated shipments
Problem Solver: Carrier Transicold of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Solution: PrimeLINE refrigeration units
In an attempt to gain new operational advantages and efficiencies for its refrigerated shipping operations, Atlantic Container Line (ACL) began acquiring 150 new containers equipped with Carrier Transicold PrimeLINE refrigeration units in May. The cube-shaped, 40-foot-high containers, which help preserve and protect food, medicine and vaccine supplies, have been put into service on trade routes between the U.S. and western Europe.
“With its energy-efficient performance, the PrimeLINE refrigeration unit is a perfect complement for our fleet, which includes some of the world’s largest, most fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible roll-on/roll-off containerships,” says Maurizio Di Paolo, Corporate Liner Equipment Department manager, with the Naples, Italy-based Grimaldi Group that includes ACL in its portfolio.
Carrier’s Lynx Fleet digital platform monitors the cold-chain containers, although Di Paolo says that “is only the beginning” when it comes to providing benefits to the shipping line. “We are especially looking forward to the advantages that come with refrigeration unit health analytics and the subsequent efficiencies for our maintenance and repair operations,” he said at the containers’ roll out.
Lynx Fleet includes integrated telematics and a cloud-based architecture to ensure information is always up to date; a data management platform that provides enhanced visibility on the health and status of a fleet’s refrigerated containers, reducing operational costs and maintenance & repair expenses related to conducting new off-line pre-trip inspections; as well as platform accessibility from anywhere via smartphone, tablet or computer, through an interactive user-friendly, digital dashboard. The ACL units will also utilize Carrier’s Micro-Link 5 controller, the first and only one in the industry with wireless communication capability, providing greater memory, processing power and connectivity compared to standard controllers.
“We are pleased to support ACL’s modern fleet with our latest container refrigeration technology, which is designed to improve fleet efficiencies and help control operating costs,” says Kay Henze, Carrier’s account manager.
The deal with ACL was sealed a month after Carrier announced that SeaCube Containers LLC of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, became the first intermodal equipment leasing company to incorporate Lynx Fleet into its fleet, with an initial deployment of 2,000 PrimeLINE units.
“This is an exciting step forward for SeaCube as we move toward realizing our vision of telematics as a standard within our reefer fleet,” SeaCube CEO Bob Sappio mentioned at the time. “We are confident that the Lynx Fleet offerings will help drive improvements in our own operating metrics and resonate with our customers to help them achieve optimal reefer performance and act on data-driven insights.”
Entity: Port of Los Angeles, California
Challenge: Advancing the port’s ambitious Clean Air Action Plan
Problem Solvers: Toyota Motor North America of Plano, Texas; Kenworth Truck Co. of Kirkland, Washington; Shell Oil Products US of Houston, Texas, and multiple stakeholders
Solution: Hydrogen fuel cell electric freight vehicles and stations
North America’s leading seaport by container volume and cargo value, the Port of Los Angeles facilitated $259 billion in trade during 2020 and remained open with all terminals operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The port currently has 18 projects under way aimed at achieving clear air, clean water and sustainability.
Under an $82.5 million Shore-to-Store project, the port has teamed up with Shell, Toyota, Kenworth Truck Co. and several other public and private-sector partners for a 12-month demonstration of zero-emissions Class 8 trucks. The project—which rolls into a larger-scale, multiyear demonstration that is designed to advance the port’s Clean Air Action Plan goals—is designed to assess the operational and technical feasibility of the vehicles in a heavy-duty setting.
Kenworth designed and built the trucks that rely on a fuel cell electric system designed and built by Toyota. Of course, these vehicles need places to refuel, so Shell designed, built and will operate two new high-capacity hydrogen fueling stations in Wilmington, which is 7 miles from the port, and Ontario, which is 60 miles inland. The vehicles’ duty cycles will consist of local pickup and delivery and drayage near the port and short regional haul applications in the Inland Empire.
“Transporting goods between our port and the Inland Empire is the first leg of this next journey toward a zero-emissions future,” said Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka during a demonstration in June. “This project is a model for developing and commercializing the next generation of clean trucks and cargo-handling equipment for the region and beyond. Just as the air we breathe extends beyond the port’s footprint, so should the clean air and economic benefits we believe this project will yield.”
Further expansion of the project will include five more hydrogen-fueled heavy-duty trucks, two battery-electric yard tractors and two battery-electric forklifts, whose feasibility under the rigorous demands of the Southern California market will be studied by the partnership. They will also measure the reduction of nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
“Shell believes hydrogen offers a promising solution to achieving net-zero emissions both in terms of immediate improvements of local air quality as well as meeting long-term climate goals, especially for heavy-duty vehicles and for long-distance travel,” says Paul Bogers, Shell’s vice president, Hydrogen. “That’s why we are working with truck manufacturers, fleets, governments and others to coordinate hydrogen infrastructure investments in high-traffic freight areas like the Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, the Los Angeles basin and the Inland Empire.”
Challenge: Accelerate their digital freight management initiative
Problem Solver: Trucker Tools of Reston, Virginia
Solution: Smart Capacity real-time load tracking technology
Paramount Transportation Logistics Services (PTLS), which is part of the R+L Global Logistics family of companies, provides comprehensive logistics and transportation management services, including warehousing, distribution, asset-based truckload and LTL services in North America as well as freight forwarding globally. Having embarked on a strategic technology initiative to enhance broker efficiency, improve carrier engagement and expand the provision of real-time shipment information for customers, Paramount performed a detailed examination of companies to consider as a platform partner. Trucker Tools won the pony.
“Trucker Tools checks three principal capability boxes for us,” explains Mark Funk, Paramount’s director of Capacity Procurement. “The first is automated, real-time, GPS-based location tracking, which gives us reliable shipment updates every 15 minutes. Second is predictive freight matching, which automates finding available trucks, and makes it easier for truckers to book with us. By digitizing this process, we also cut the time and cost to cover a load by over 50 percent, increasing the number of loads our team can secure.”
Trucker Tools’ multi-functional, multi-party mobile driver app and its wide adoption among the truckload community also factored into Paramount’s decision, Funk added. “Carriers are our customers, too,” he noted. “Importantly, we can leverage a common mobile app, familiar to thousands of independent truckload operators and small fleets, to access a much deeper pool of capacity and improve how we do business with them.”
The Trucker Tools mobile app, which is available for both Android- and Apple-powered smartphones, is provided free of charge to independent truckers and small fleets with 10 or fewer vehicles, which together account for 90 percent of truckload market carriers, according to the company.
“We are excited to welcome Paramount to our growing community of over 300 brokers and 3PLs adopting Trucker Tools as their strategic partner for digital freight management,” says Prasad Gollapalli, founder and chief executive of Trucker Tools. “We truly see ourselves as an integral partner in our customers’ continuous journey to leverage emerging technology, improve how they engage with carriers and provide ever more sophisticated and valuable services to their customers.”
Company: GEODIS of Levallois-Perret, France
Challenge: Improving job safety, comfort and the pool of potential warehouse workers
Problem Solver: Phantom Auto of Mountain View, California
Solution: Remotely operated forklift
It takes a lot of thinking to be a multi-dimensional supply chain operations with a direct presence in 67 countries, a global network spanning 120 countries and business rankings of No. 1 in France, No. 6 in Europe and No. 7 worldwide. And so, it was a thinker at GEODIS who came up the idea of operating warehouse forklifts remotely.
Think about it, the thinker, who is a GEODIS manager, thought: Such an operation would: (1) reduce injuries and increase overall safety in warehouses; (2) lower the number of people physically inside warehouses to enhance worker comfort; (3) create new future-proof remote operator jobs that can be carried out within an office environment; (4) allow the hiring of individuals who may have physical disabilities restricting their use of traditional forklifts, as well as individuals from other historically underrepresented demographics; and (5) allow for recruitment from regions outside of where warehouses are located, including areas of higher unemployment.
Call that a win-win—with a win-win-win on top!
To make this happen, the GEODIS thinker took his idea to a GEODIS think tank that concluded . . . We need help. La première étape (“step one;” finally, my seventh-grade French class pays off) was to find a worthy forklift maker. Deuxième étape (step two; oui-oui!) was to locate the technological know-how to make the contraption work remotely.
For the forklift, GEODIS did not have to look far. Germany’s Linde Material Handling GmbH, a KION Group company that manufactures forklift trucks and warehouse trucks globally, has a French subsidiary called Fenwick-Linde. But for the tech, GEODIS had to look west—waaaaaay west to the U.S. West Coast, where one finds Silicon Valley and Phantom Auto.
The Fenwick forklift combined with Phantom’s secure, network-agnostic and interoperable remote operation software now enables remote workers to “drive” the vehicle, unlocking efficiency and equipment utilization gains. For example, one remote worker can operate multiple forklifts at a number of warehouses at different times of the day, all from one secure, central location. Keep in mind that giant GEODIS has warehouses all over the world.
“Phantom Auto’s technology enables dynamic balancing of workforce allocation, safer warehouses, enhanced worker well-being, and employment opportunities to those who otherwise could not physically drive forklifts,” says Stéphanie Hervé, GEODIS’ chief operating officer, Western Europe, Middle East & Africa. “This innovation will be of benefit to the wider community and indicates the future of logistics operations. We believe that technology should serve people, and that is what this partnership with Phantom Auto illustrates.”
We began this story with market research, so let us conclude with StartUs Insights’ recent report that was based on an analysis of nearly 800 startup businesses and identified a number of Industry 4.0 technological trends. The top 10 are:
artificial intelligence, 16 percent; human augmentation and enhanced reality, 13 percent; edge, fog and cloud computing, 11 percent; network and connectivity, 11 percent; advanced robotics, 10 percent; Internet of Everything, 10 percent; big data and analytics, 9 percent; 3D printing, 8 percent; security, transparency and privacy, 7 percent; and digital twin, 5 percent.
Considering that report for The International Air Cargo Association, TIACA Director General Glyn Hughes noted that each trend StartUs Insights identified affects his members. While an email he recently sent to members is strictly tailored to his industry, his words actually apply to all the companies and problem-solvers cited in this article and beyond.
“We have all moved on and technology has been leading the way forward and will continue to do so,” Hughes writes. “Future success will be determined by those who identify, embrace and capitalize on new opportunities.
“In that regard, the air cargo industry will also need to embrace these new opportunities. Many of these are already heavily influencing air cargo operational efficiency and a number of new solutions and industry best practices have resulted. When it comes to innovation, digitalization and technological implementation . . . it is very true to say that standing still is actually moving backwards.”