IBM subsidiary rolls out Operations Dashboard for Ground Transportation

With summer rapidly approaching, keeping a watchful eye on the weather requires extra attention. A new offering from The Weather Company (TWC), a subsidiary of IBM, takes that much further, with this week’s introduction of its Operations Dashboard for Ground Transportation. TWC describes the dashboard as an offering geared towards optimizing workforce productivity and route selection for freight and logistics companies, and it is comprised of various weather-related data sources, including: precipitation, wind, fog, ice and pooling water, integrating real-time traffic flow and incident data, and flagging safety hazards.

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With summer rapidly approaching, keeping a watchful eye on the weather requires extra attention. A new offering from The Weather Company (TWC), a subsidiary of IBM, takes that much further, with this week’s introduction of its Operations Dashboard for Ground Transportation.

TWC describes the dashboard as an offering geared towards optimizing workforce productivity and route selection for freight and logistics companies, and it is comprised of various weather-related data sources, including: precipitation, wind, fog, ice and pooling water, integrating real-time traffic flow and incident data, and flagging safety hazards.

“By providing freight and logistics companies with a single view of critical weather and traffic information, we are providing them with the ability to make proactive decisions that can reduce inefficiencies and potentially keep their drivers out of harm's way,” said Mark Gildersleeve, vice president and head of business solutions, The Weather Company, in a statement. "We understand that weather can be disruptive, but with the right insight companies can be prepared to make proactive decisions.”

Prior to being acquired by IBM in January 2016, TWC had been very active in the aviation transportation marketplace, with significant experience supporting pilots and crew, flight planning and ground operations throughout its history.

And now that it is part of IBM, it is looking to grow and serve other markets, according to John Bosse, TWC Offering Manager for Ground Transportation.

“We looked at markets where IBM has deep connections and markets we have always wanted to go in but did not necessarily have the resources or the time to dedicate to it, and ground transportation was one of them,” he said. “It has such a strong analog to what we do in aviation, it just made complete sense. That is what drove us to the ground transportation market, given the tight implications of bad weather and bad traffic to ground transportation and what it does and the costs around accidents and what it does to costs around inefficiencies and weather-related delays.”

That sentiment carries even more weight when taking into account that weather-related delays cost the freight sector roughly $8.7 billion per year, according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The Operations Dashboard for Ground Transportation specifically targets three types of ground transportation trucking and fleet users:

  • Dispatchers will have access to a comprehensive dashboard of the network of vehicles and locations, with a view of relevant weather, traffic, and safety information on each route;
  • Distribution Center Executives will have access to a dashboard-level view of weather and traffic that impacts the safety of relevant personnel and facility operations; and
  • Drivers will receive live, location-based alerts for current locations and upcoming locations based on current trajectory. Drivers will also have the ability to check weather and traffic while planning the day's travel and during breaks

In rolling out the dashboard, Bosse explained that the best way to address a problem is to address it at the source and come up with a tool drivers can use, comparing drivers to pilots.

“Before pilots take off, they have a pre-flight weather briefing, and it’s mandated they do so,” he said. “We suspect that drivers take a look at the weather and then take a look at traffic, but not all of them probably have the same tools or know the best places to go to and get that information and in most cases had to go to multiple spots to get that information.”

TWC has a longstanding relationship with Seattle-based Inrix, a global SaaS and DaaS company, which provides real-time weather and traffic information in 50 countries. And by utilizing Inrix traffic data it has traffic flows and traffic incident data so it knows where there is construction activity or where an accident happened. That information is being updated every five minutes, with drivers and other users able to follow the lifecycle of an event, with weather information layered in with traffic information.

“These layers are relevant to truckers, with information on things like where roads are wet or foggy or windy or where there is ice or snow and major hazards that can impact a driver’s journey,” said Bosse. “They can access that information in a few seconds for weather, traffic and road conditions, and they can then make small adjustments that can lead to big savings and better safety.”

Drivers and distribution center staffers access dashboard information, which is designed as an IOS app, through tablets or cell phones to get needed information in a timely manner. And dispatchers have the ability to set up individualized alerts of approaching hazards delivered via API to an in-cab or mobile device, TWC said.

Looking ahead, Bosse said The Weather Company plans to target other ground transportation sectors for the dashboard, including rail and intermodal and parcel delivery.

“It has applicability in rail and delivery and last mile sectors just as much as it does for long-haul solutions,” he noted.

The Operations Dashboard for Ground Transportation is currently making a push to market after working with a number of carriers in beta form over the last few months. 


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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