Technology Snapshot: FourKites, a real-time supply chain visibility platform, has announced a string of new collaborative features to facilitate and simplify communication across the end-to-end supply chain, while also reducing human contact to decrease the risk of virus transmission to front-line workers. The enhancements all but eliminate physical paperwork, unnecessary email traffic, phone calls and other extraneous communications that complicate supply chains, unnecessarily delay shipments and payments, and decrease the chance of COVID-19 infection.
The new features extend the benefits of real-time visibility data to various frontline workers—customer representatives, dispatchers, drivers, retail workers and warehouse managers—who previously lacked digital access to crucial information to facilitate their work. The new features also help ensure social distancing, minimizing human contact on the supply chain front line during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using technology to enable smarter social distancing is a critical component of today’s economy. According to Gartner1, “Social distancing is a challenge for all essential workers, including truck drivers and employees at pickup and delivery locations, such as warehouses, stores or medical facilities. Supply chain and logistics leaders must make it a priority to facilitate these interactions through technology as much as possible in order to prevent infections with COVID-19. The efficiency and time savings realized through these methods could be a benefit to the supply chain long after the impact of the pandemic.”
New features from FourKites include:
- PAPERLESS DOCUMENT PROCESSING: FourKites’ Advanced Mobile Package now includes electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) and electronic bill of lading (eBOL) documentation so that transportation workers can process all applicable paperwork on their smartphones from start to finish. Drivers will no longer have to manage physical paperwork, eliminating a major contributor to potential COVID-19 spread. In addition, electronic management of transportation documentation is more secure, sustainable and facilitates faster payment processing for carriers and drivers.
- NOTIFICATIONS: Real-time alerts enable everyone from shippers to warehouse workers and retailers to be notified and access FourKites data to track loads and collaborate on optimizing on-time deliveries and related workflows.
- MESSAGING: FourKites’ enhanced instant messaging feature centralizes communications that had previously been sent via third-party messaging, email and phone. Workers in track-and-trace and dispatch, drivers and warehouse personnel can view important information that affects shipments and deliveries in a single place. This democratizes information in ways other services cannot match, dramatically reducing oversight and error, and eliminating long and distracting communication chains. Users can share documents, photographs and notes for any given load, while forming online workgroups and controlling access as needed.
- DIRECT STORE DELIVERY: Direct Store Delivery tracking enables FourKites users to track last-mile shipments from local warehouses to retail outlets, giving retail workers immediate visibility into shipment ETA via their mobile devices.
- MERCHANDISER SOLUTION: With the new Merchandiser functionality in the FourKites Mobile App, merchandisers gain much-needed visibility into when their shipments are due to arrive across their territory. FourKites provides real-time tracking and notifications in one convenient mobile application so that merchandisers can optimize receiving and restocking shelves throughout their stores.
“With FourKites’ Direct Store Delivery and Merchandiser solutions, we now have visibility into the last mile of our supply chain - from our warehouses to our retailers—instead of relying on a printed route plan that does not update as delivery sequences change,” said Brett Frankenberg, SVP, Product Supply Planning & Bottle Sales at Coke Consolidated. “FourKites is creating visibility of the physical via digital, and facilitating better frontline decisions. This enables our merchandisers to service their stores with confidence, knowing the product in question has been delivered or is expected to be delivered based on real-time information. This reduces unproductive phone calls, texts and overall uncertainty.”
“We are very excited about FourKites’ new features, in particular the ability to manage documents electronically at the various pickup and dropoff points along our routes,” said George Henry, SVP of Logistics at USA Truck. “This will significantly improve long-standing documentation problems related to payment and proof of delivery, and it will also help to provide a much-needed safety buffer between drivers and warehouse staff.”
“COVID-19 presents a great many challenges to the supply chain and to frontline workers in particular,” said FourKites CEO and co-founder Mathew Elenjickal. “FourKites serves as the single source of truth for our customers’ end-to-end supply chain data. Our latest platform enhancements take information-sharing to the next level, enabling frontline logistics workers to collaborate more effectively and safely than ever before.”
¹ Gartner Press Release “Gartner Says Logistics Leaders Should Implement Four Technology Initiatives to Increase Driver and Employee Safety During the Coronavirus Pandemic,” 23 April 2020. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-23-gartner-says-logistics-leaders-should-implement-four-