A trio of household names in freight transportation and logistics that established a partnership focused on standardization through the establishment of what they said is the first set of freight-focused appointment scheduling application programming interface (API) standards said this week it is expanding, with the addition of seven new collaborating members.
Established in December 2022, the partnership—named the Scheduling Standards Consortium (SSC)—was comprised of its three flagship members, San Francisco-based Uber Freight, a subsidiary of the ubiquitous, ride-sharing service Uber, whose proprietary app matches trucking companies with loads to haul; Seattle-based digital freight network Convoy; and Lowell, Ark.-based trucking and intermodal services bellwether J.B. Hunt. And with today’s announcement, the SSC now stands at 10 members, with the additions of the following companies, including:
SSC that the development of its initial documentation and System Interaction Model are underway and expected to be publicly shared during the second quarter, and it added that its technical standard and API design are expected to be completed and implemented in at least one TMS by the end of this year.
J.B. Hunt Chief Information Officer and EVP Stuart Scott told LM that things are moving at a fast clip, for the SSC, since its establishment late last year.
“It's going very well and is going exactly how we had planned, in terms of the meetings,” he said. “Five hundred organizations [carriers, 3PLs, freight brokers, and technology services providers] have already registered with the SSC, and things are on track and we are meeting regularly across multiple tracks. We are broadening the group with the addition of these seven new companies and just continuing to march down the plan that we've had in place. It's a lot of work, right. There's a lot of people involved in it and a lot of things to do, but we're very pleased with the progress we're making, and I’d say we're we are on track with what we had envisioned when we kicked this off last year.”
And Convoy CEO and Co-Founder Dan Lewis said in the same interview with LM that this type of initiative requires a lot of energy to get off the ground, noting that SSC has the right companies in place to take those initial steps.
“They have both credibility and a lot of experience in pushing new things into the market,” said Lewis. “Each of us have done that. And I think this quarter we're probably going to be announcing the specific standards, with a lot of work being done on getting those things finalized. Adding more than just transportation services providers is key, and now we have TMS providers involved that provide that kind of software communication layer for us, which is a really important step. It is a really important step and is required for this, as it gets more broadly adopted.”
With the addition of these seven new collaborating members, Scott observed that the impetus for it was to broaden the scope of the SSC, in the form of bringing different types of companies in, with the caveat that SSC is taking what he called a systematic approach.
“If you get too many people in the early stages, you have chaos, so we're being very systematic,” he said. “And we've learned from other kind of open-source efforts in different industries [about] different ways of how to do this. “With brokers, carriers, TMS providers and others, we're going to just continue to run the diversity of the players. We're going to stick to ones that we think are the most able to achieve the success of industry adoption. And that's the criteria that we really use. And we and we have kind of a in almost an interview process, if you will, because we want to make sure that people that that become part of this really believe in it and are not there for self-interest. They are there for the interest of the whole industry. And, so, we're methodical about it.”
Lewis said that a key point, for the SSC, is to ultimately make the whole industry inclusive in a very systematic and successful way.
“You look at the goal of having these is not to give members an advantage,” he said. “The goal is to have a group that understands the industry that represents different parts of the industry, and they can set up the right standards and approach this in a thoughtful way. I think that's an important distinction. It's not like we want to create one separate group that gets some sort of different experience. This is just about how do we get the momentum going and the standards in place, so that everybody in the entire industry can benefit from it. There is not a goal of creating advantages for the companies that are on kicking it off. We are focused more on how do we reduce waste for the whole industry. That was kind of the genesis.”
What’s more, Lewis pointed out that the SSC is taking a head-on approach to solving one of the most real and consequential problems in the freight industry through its standard—the ability to set efficient appointments.
He said each company will use the standard differently, while also providing stakeholders with the ability to use data to inform decision making processes around appointments and to make adjustments to appointment schedules more quickly and more easily.
“So, not only will you save a lot of money and energy that goes into doing all this today in a very manual process—because the systems can't talk to each other—you'll actually be able to reduce a lot of waste in the system, because, having the right appointment time is a prerequisite to having the right truck and having the right schedule to optimizing things,” he said. “I think there's so much interest [in SSC], because most companies in this industry recognize the scheduling and appointments is lynchpin to efficiency.”