Issue 4 (46)/ April 2011

Scientists for truckers. Useful data from Manitoba

Manitoba Transport Institute and TransCore Link Logistics recently released preliminary findings from a joint research project looking at Canadian trucking and logistics trends using TransCore's LoadLink freight-matching data. DorogaRoad met with Claudia Milicevic, General Manager of TransCore Link Logistics to talk about the project.
Scientists for truckers

DorogaRoad: Who was behind the idea of cooperation between your company and Manitoba Transport Institute?

Claudia Milicevic: We have been working with them for quite a few years now. We've been providing the data, and they have been reviewing it to see which areas to target to find a better balance between loads and equipment. A few years ago they introduced a freight sustainability program, to reduce greenhouse gases. Their goal is to help make sure that the trucks that were on the road were loaded to capacity, and not running empty.

DorogaRoad: Is the government behind their research, or is it a private initiative?

Claudia Milicevic: It's through the University of Manitoba, so I am not sure where the Transport Institute fits in there. But they are proactive, they are really good there.

DorogaRoad: As soon as they conduct research based on your data, does it become open to public, and anyone can use this data?

Claudia Milicevic: Any data that they have released, that they have analysed, is public information.

DorogaRoad: There are some of preliminary findings of the Manitoba Transport Institute: postings originating in the US bound for Canada accounted to more than 61% of total freight volume and 39% of equipment volume; outbound postings from Canada to the US accounted for 13% of load volumes and 31% of equipment volumes; and domestic loads within Canada accounted for 21.8% of freight and 30% of equipment.

The top seven sources of freight were: Ontario; Quebec; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Illinois; California; and Alberta. The top seven destinations were: Ontario; Quebec; Alberta; B.C.; Manitoba; Saskatchewan; and New Brunswick.

The top five source cities for freight were: the GTA; Montreal; Calgary; Edmonton; and Chicago.

The top five destination cities were: the GTA; Montreal; Calgary; Edmonton; and Winnipeg.

Other findings included: year-to-year load postings have recovered from 2009 between 30-50%; year-over-year equipment postings are down between 12-18%; year-over-year recovery in loads from July-Sept 09 to July-Sept 2010 was greatest in the transborder market. The capacity reduction is greatest in the Canadian domestic market.

DorogaRoad: So this cooperation helps your company, too?

Claudia Milicevic: It does, although this is information we are not reviewing every single day. For example, for the month of January: where were the hot links, where was the capacity in different links. Whereas they are focussing on us, they have got a bunch of researchers, that's what they do - they analyse data of different kinds.

DorogaRoad: What else is there new in TransCore, since we met a few months ago?

Claudia Milicevic: We have released a lot of upgrades on different products and services. We have some releases on LoadLink; we have incorporated the Google maps. The Google Maps API Premier integrations in Loadlink.NET and Loadlink.WEB that map all postings and leads through the Google mapping interface. In addition to that, we've also completed an enhanced US Carrier search to provide Canadian companies with a larger pool of US based companies. We've also improved the postings with additional edit features, return trip postings, displaying an individual's specific postings, saving posting templates and increased posting speeds and processing. We've upgraded all customers to our new state of the art technology that incorporates the latest Microsoft features.

In regards to some of our other applications, we've completed the full ACI integration with both our dispatch software and online dispatch solutions and added other new features to both programs as per our customers' requests.

For other tracking systems, we've implemented Google street views to enable customers to view the buildings that the trucks & trailers are parked at. We've created additional 'landmarking' capabilities for dispatchers to setup for automatic notifications of equipment locations and integrated additional features & functionality with the TMW software. Another great feature that a lot of people are using is a customer login capability. They can provide customers access to tracking their specific shipment without having to call in to dispatch in order for them to track it. It provides their customers with self service at their convenience.

For our Driverlink program, we've simplified the driver signup. This has been incredibly beneficial, as we're signing up in excess of 100 jobseekers per week.

We have completely revamped it and it will be going live within the next couple of weeks.

We are working on incorporating more FMCSA data; we are working with insurance companies trying to get live data onto our system, to make it more up to date - whatever we can do to make it faster, easier for customers to access information.

DorogaRoad: How will customers, benefit from live data from insurance companies?

Claudia Milicevic: If you get listed as a certificate holder of insurance policy they notify you within 60 or 90 days of any changes - not a best effort basis, I think. I would like to get the update as nightly renewals from them, so we know of any changes right away. As well as some live FMCSA data and other updates on our system so they know who it is they are dealing with, they know that they are dealing with reputable companies. We are a lot more stringent even now with our acceptance, we check everybody out before we are dealing with them. We tell our customers that we have added features, so that they can just search for different customers, brokers or carriers; and when they are searching for carriers and brokers, they will know right way, if they are a valid customer, what is their contact information. So the customers feel safe and secure, because they know who they are dealing with.

DorogaRoad: I recently talked to a trucking company owner who is sometimes concerned whether some companies on the link try to hide behind someone else's names. What kind of confirmations do you require from companies who want to be on the Link? Do you need a proof of the business name?

Claudia Milicevic: We check everything - articles of incorporation, insurance, CVOR, and we verify it all. On the Link we have got all kinds of ads saying verify it with the member's listing. If everything looks good on the documents, you want to make sure if the phone number is matching, technologies enable people to do a lot of things. We tell our customers that information in our system is verified, we know that companies have authorities to run, and that it is an actual business that was set up. Phone numbers and that they are in fact at that location should be verified, too.

DorogaRoad: What is the future for TransCore, what's coming?

Claudia Milicevic: Continued advancements. We are working on implementing faster servers, because everyone wants their information as fast as they can get it, we are also looking at mapping postings, to give users more options in terms of how they are searching for information. We've got good relationship with Google, PC Miler, we've got options there as to what we are going to do. And I mentioned, direct links to some of the sites, to live insurance, as well as enhancing the chat so that people can talk to each other directly online.

DorogaRoad: Is the chat already available?

Claudia Milicevic: Yes, if they have questions they can contact our service directly, or they can just talk to one another or specific users at that company another way of communicating with each other. And we also do a lot of work with the CTA and the OTA, we are part of their cargo theft committee, and we have invested into a report that's going to be released in the fall. We are doing what we can do to enhance online security. On other program sides, we've got our dispatch applications; we are adding new features and functionality. And the other big thing lately is the trailer tracking, security, because thefts are up. I am sure you have seen just in the GTA and Montreal how many thefts there have been.

DorogaRoad: We had an interview with Peel Police officer, Commercial Auto Crime Bureau - huge amounts of freight are stolen every month.

Claudia Milicevic: In these areas, hopefully they will be able to put more resources on it to reduce these numbers.

DorogaRoad: Thank you, Claudia.

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