Disrupting and Innovating the Supply Chain by Expediting the Freight Processes, Not Just the Freight
Through Machine Learning, Robotic Process Application and Artificial Intelligence Automation, Direct Expedite is the first company of its kind to Expedite the Expediting process
While all transportation modes feel pressure to find capacity, book shipments, and track freight movement, these processes are particularly intense for expedited freight. Beyond just getting cargo from point A to point B, expedited freight service providers know that these shipments require speed, and streamlining the supportive tasks surrounding the process, such as rate quoting, booking, and tracking is crucial.
“For a shipment to be truly expedited, the entire process must also be expedited and done so with precision,” said Dale Prax, president and CEO of Direct Expedite. “I like to compare our Ground Expedite services to those of the “expedited” services performed by a First Responder and an ambulance. If I had a broken arm, I might take an Uber, I might take a bus, or ask a friend for a ride to the doctor’s office. But if I have a brain aneurysm, I don’t want some Uber or Lyft guy to pick me up, I don’t want to ride with a bunch of other people in a bus. I don’t want to rent a car and drive myself. If I have a serious medical condition, I need to be sure that the entire process is expedited and with precision. I need to know that I have a solid, experienced and passionate team looking after me every moment from the first call for help to the arrival at the hospital. I need to be assured that every precaution is taken so that I arrive quickly and that I get the best treatment enroute - I want an experienced first responder and I want to be in an ambulance! We try to keep this analogy and its sense of urgency in mind for every one of our customer’s shipments. We take traditional expedited services a step further by providing photos of Driver and Vehicle at time of booking, verification of driver’s license validity, photo of the freight secured on board prior to departing shipper’s dock, and a hard copy POD to the customer prior to the driver leaving the consignee dock. We do this not just upon request, but for Every Expedited Shipment.”
Since opening its doors in October 2019, Direct Expedite set its sights on revolutionizing ground expedited freight transportation processes through disruption and innovation. “ We wanted two things out of the gate,” said Prax. ``We wanted to be the first in the market to offer an instant online rate quote platform offering multiple options with guaranteed capacity. We also wanted to be the first in the Ground Expedite market to provide the customer with the ability to book a load without the customer or a human on our staff having to go through the data entry process manually. The anticipated outcome was to provide best-in-class deliveries for time-sensitive, just-in-time and deferred freight through state of the art technology and value added services like no one else does.
To make this strategy come to fruition, Direct Expedite started looking for reliable and cost-effective solutions. It found what it was looking for in intelligent automation technology. The challenge then became how to apply this so-called “disruptive” technology to the business and fulfill its goals. “We knew that purchased transportation costs would remain constant and fuel prices would continue to rise, so our goal was to lower overhead while not reducing our employee count, and at the same time scale the company. To make matters more challenging, we started this initiative at the onset of COVID-19 — Because of the uncertainty of those times, we knew that RPA, AI and machine learning were the answer,” said Prax.
The company started by building a proprietary patent pending quoting system, developed an RPA for quoting, booking and tracking and it automated it’s carrier vetting (to include their drivers) and onboarding processes. Direct Expedite continues to develop technology solutions for many rote tasks internally with robotic process automation (RPA), Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). For more complex initiatives such as automating its entire accounting process, Direct Expedite looks to its partner Hubtek.
Direct Expedite takes what is normally handled over the phone through a voice interaction, or via text or email, and converts all that into a digital format so that the human doesn’t have to interact at that level. It doesn’t eliminate human interaction, but it fundamentally changes what a human does.
Direct Expedite’s digital worker, DEXi, enters it’s TMS system as a user, scans documents, forms and emails for data, and transfers the data to the TMS. By automating many of the mundane quoting, booking, tracking and accounting processes associated with each shipment, Direct Expedite has been able to provide much faster service while maintaining competitive and accurate pricing. As a result Direct Expedite is always the first quote back to the customer.
“With our Patent Pending Multi-Option Quoting system, we can now provide an instant expedited freight rate quote with guaranteed capacity (pick up within four hours to any major metro area and six hours to any nonmajor metro area),” said Prax. “We only need a Zip code of where it’s picking up, and the Zip code of the consignee and any required assessorials. DEXi reads the email and sends back an email in as little as 15 seconds with all the parameters for the types of vehicles that are available, current capacity for that lane, the Solo and Team cost break-down for all size trucks (sprinter through large straight), transit times, and a link for the customer to book the freight immediately. While some customers are waiting for other providers to respond to a spot rate request, we’ve already got the shipment booked in our system and a driver assigned.”
Since the introduction of our quoting system (available via our App on App Store and Google Play, our Website or via Email) and Automation of Booking, Load Posting Tracking, Carrier and Driver Vetting processes, Direct Expedite has seen a 400% increase in business without having to add any personnel. Additionally, this technology has resulted in an 80% faster response time with 100% accuracy, which is huge for customer satisfaction and retention.
But it’s not only customers that automation helps a company to retain. Because the mundane tasks are handled through automation, it allows employees to pursue more meaningful aspects of their jobs. In the 6-8 minutes that it used to take to provide a rate quote, employees can do things like obtain a photo of the 17 straps and blankets needed on the truck. Or to get a picture of the driver and truck to send to the customer so it can see who is coming in and the vehicle they are driving to limit potential fraud or theft of property. Employees might repurpose their time to obtain a video of the LIftgate in operation to ensure there are no issues at the shipper. These are all value added processes that Direct Expedite provides everyday with the reallocation of man hours saved with automation.
“Ground Expedite is a very reactive industry. Customers expect and deserve information ‘right now’ so they can make decisions immediately. What we do can be very demanding, but we have to be able to maintain control of that. I have said from our very first day as the leader of this company, that to be successful in these trying times, we will not rest with simply anticipating or reacting to changes within the market, but rather we will be the Ground Expedite technology pioneers that offer innovation and disruption that stays ahead of the changes or in some cases, causes the changes the market. We will challenge the status quo and define innovative ways to gain market share, improve efficiency and optimize profits.” Said Prax
Direct Expedite hopes to offer to our customers innovative rate quoting systems and other automation technology solutions. These offerings will be very similar to the systems that lead to our continued success and growth. Innovation and Training modules are scheduled to be available to the Air Forwarder community in the 2nd Quarter of 2022 via Direct Expedite’s newly formulated Tech Startup Company EFTIG, LLC (the Expedited Freight Training & Innovation Group).