How to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead of the Freight Downturn Using the Weather

ITS ConGlobal, North America’s largest provider of integrated intermodal services, has been a leader in the logistics industry for more than 50 years. But it’s not just their decades-long customer relationships or industry-leading technological capabilities that allow them to stand out.

They have a key (and often overlooked) competitive advantage: weather intelligence.

With open-air warehouse jobsites around the world, high winds are among the biggest risks to ITS ConGlobal’s container stacks, which can be placed in eight layers for greater efficiency. A blast could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per container, so leaving it to chance is not a risk the company can take.

Traditional weather forecasts do not provide the granularity or actionability needed to ensure these bins stay in place. That’s why ITS ConGlobal relies on Tomorrow.io’s advanced hyperlocal weather technology to decide whether to “prepare” the piles in a more wind-resistant way. Tomorrow.io, a weather intelligence company, provides pinpoint accuracy on wind intensity, duration and location, among many other weather data points, delivering more reliable and relevant information than any other forecast.

While it can be difficult to know if an accident was prevented, ITS ConGlobal actually has evidence that your team’s weather intelligence and response actions made a difference.

“We can affirmatively say that we are avoiding instances of overturned or damaged containers when we see that neighboring operations have blown up container stacks after a shared wind event,” said Brant Ring, CEO of ITS ConGlobal.

An advantage like this at scale could mean the difference between increasing profits or losing those margins. And as many logistics companies have experienced, the pandemic-induced spikes in the transportation industry have finally collapsed. During the second half of 2022, reduced demand, rising fuel prices, increased competition, and falling global trade created the perfect storm for a potential slowdown.

In fact, in a recent FreightWaves webinar survey, 84% of respondents said they had already felt the impact of the recession. Logistics companies are now trying to find a way to recover and move on.

“We have to find better ways to cut costs without making our businesses less secure and less effective. As usual, the bar is set high,” said industry expert Joe Lynch, host of “The Logistics of Logistics” podcast, during the webinar.

Emerging stronger through technology

In the midst of economic uncertainty, most companies must make some changes to their business to survive. However, driving change requires more than cutting unnecessary or unprofitable services. It involves investing in solutions that will deliver long-term impact in a short period of time.

“Throughout the supply chain, we’ve seen the benefits go to the people who have invested in the technology,” Lynch said. “Of course, the assets (owning trucks, owning warehouses) are great. But…companies are trying to make their dollars go further, and they’re typically doing that with technology these days.”

Over the past two decades, technology has rapidly become more affordable, powerful, and faster to implement with the rise of software-as-a-service offerings, making it one of the easiest things a business can do to have a actual impact.

Visibility tools, for example, once offered companies a huge competitive advantage. With unprecedented access to vehicle tracking, route optimization, and hours of service monitoring, they were suddenly able to rapidly improve operations and customer service.

But with visibility tools now common, they no longer offer the same competitive advantage. Now companies must continue to innovate or risk being left behind.

Lynch believes that the next big differentiator will be integrated technology solutions that companies can use to overcome the most pervasive challenge drivers face all day, every day on the road: weather.

Make weather intelligence your competitive advantage

Weather poses a constant threat to carriers and private fleets. But without an advanced solution, they are vulnerable to a variety of threats, from costly accidents and delayed deliveries to high driver turnover and decreased productivity.

“[Drivers] they constantly spend their days planning and replanning… that often has to do with the weather,” Lynch said.

Despite the threats, most companies still rely on manual and disjointed methods of monitoring the weather. And according to the webinar survey, nearly a third of companies have no process in place.

“When safety teams don’t have an advanced and scalable process in place, a lot of time is wasted that could be spent training drivers and identifying other areas of improvement for the team,” said Ayala Rudoy, ​​Tomorrow’s vice president and general. io. transportation manager.

Tomorrow.io’s weather intelligence technology provides a solution. With real-time monitoring, predictive information and automated alerts, it enables fleets to easily track critical and daily weather events along their routes. Fleets can set up notifications for drivers and create custom actionable steps to take in response to weather conditions.

Tomorrow.io’s weather intelligence platform offers real-time monitoring of all moving assets, allowing operators to automatically identify which trucks are facing hazardous conditions. (Image: Tomorrow.io)

Highly localized weather intelligence, in the context of the transportation and logistics industry, can help reduce downtime and wasted miles and improve safety and reliability. Ultimately, this will set one fleet or private carrier apart from others at the mercy of manual weather controls and inaccurate warnings.

Looking beyond short-term solutions

Like ITS ConGlobal, Nussbaum Transportation is also seeing the results of weather intelligence monitoring and plans to expand its partnership with Tomorrow.io.

Nussbaum, a Hudson, Illinois-based airline, first experienced the benefits of weather intelligence just a week after becoming a customer.

During the week of Christmas 2022, a historic winter storm swept across the U.S. Blizzard-like conditions put trucking companies at increased risk of accidents, delayed deliveries and reduced profits, all during their busiest time of the year.

“A colleague and I were on Tomorrow.io and saw a driver on Interstate 80 going 50 mph when all the other trucks were going 30 mph or less,” said Rick Schmidt, director of human resources and safety at Nussbaum. . “We were able to call him and talk about the setting, the wind, his load, etc. That was very positive for him.”

In doing so, Nussbaum did something that competitors couldn’t: take a proactive stance against the weather.

It likely prevented one accident, each costing at least $150,000, and kept the truck moving, bringing in $1,000 a day in revenue, according to Nussbaum.

This experience also offered an invaluable opportunity to train the driver.

“The goal with Tomorrow.io and the implementation process is to be able to give drivers confidence and give them tools so they can make those decisions for themselves,” Schmidt said.

In the long term, Nussbaum drivers and dispatchers will be using Tomorrow.io for more efficient trip planning based on weather. Schmidt expects the company to see even more benefits over time, such as avoiding accidents, reducing downtime, reducing driver turnover and improving customer satisfaction.

Reap benefits throughout the supply chain

It is more than the data-driven technical side of Tomorrow.io that benefits ITS ConGlobal.

Integrating security protocols into day-to-day procedures, rather than just pulling a three-ring binder off a desk when something goes wrong, has helped drive quality service.

Ring said.

By making climate preparedness an integral part of its operations, Tomorrow.io has helped ITS ConGlobal improve customer satisfaction through increased safety, better quality, and reliability.

Click here for an archived version of the Tomorrow.io and FreightWaves webinar “Staying Competitive in a Freight Downturn: Stories from the Road.”

Visit the Tomorrow.io website to learn more about their hyperlocal weather forecast monitoring platform.