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Dr. Michael Watson
Northwestern University

Supply Chain by Design

Dr. Michael Watson, one of the industry’s foremost experts on supply chain network design and advanced analytics, is a columnist and subject matter expert (SME) for Supply Chain Digest.

Dr. Watson, of Northwestern University, was the lead author of the just released book Supply Chain Network Design, co-authored with Sara Lewis, Peter Cacioppi, and Jay Jayaraman, all of IBM. (See Supply Chain Network Design – the Book.)

In addition to teaching at Northwestern, Watson is a founding partner at Opex Analytics. 

July 24, 2018

Putting AI in the Hands of Truckers

Getting AI Into the Hands of Those on the Frontlines can Have a big Impact

Watson Says...

Because of the tool’s embedded AI, the loads that are now returned will meet the needs of the BCOs much better.

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As companies build out their AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities, one of the exciting trends is to bring the algorithms close to the front lines and decision makers. 

One great example of this is from Landstar System Inc.  Landstar is a unique transportation firm.  They are asset-light and work with a network of independent truck drivers.  They call the drivers a BCO-- Business Capacity Owner.  The BCOs are completely independent businesses and decide for themselves what to haul, when to haul, and where to haul.

A recent press release discusses their new app for the BCOs that puts the power of AI into their hands. 

The app allows the BCOs to quickly find multi-leg, multi-week runs.  The app works by having the driver simply  enter their current origin, the final spot they want to end up, and how long they want to be hauling loads. 

The AI behind the scenes* (exclusive Landstar technology called Landstar Maximizer®), then taps into the load board and suggests the best possible multi-leg loads to the BCO. The best possible loads can include options that bring the most possible revenue to the BCOs or that bring the best combination of revenue along with desired destinations. 

Landstar has 9,600 BCOs on the road. The app, which rolled out just this year, has already seen  70% of  Landstar’s BCOs download and use it.

The press release notes that the BCOs now spend less time searching through the load boards for good loads -- this means more time for productive work.  Also, because of the tool’s embedded AI, the loads that are now returned will meet the needs of the BCOs much better. 

When organizations use AI to solve the right problems and put that AI into easy-to-use apps for those making decisions on the frontline, you can have a big impact.


* Full Disclosure:  My company, Opex Analytics, worked with Landstar on this technology.

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