A view from the top on sup­ply chain process

FourKites real-time data to track when your truck will reach the des­ti­na­tion


When a start-up is based out of Chen­nai and Chicago, you won­der what the con­nec­tion is. When its plat­form con­nects over four mil­lion as­sets in North Amer­ica, you take no­tice. And even if you did not pay at­ten­tion to the com­pany rais­ing $13 mil­lion from Bain Cap­i­tal, you would want to know their story when they are named the ‘En­trepreneurial Com­pany of the Year’ by Frost & Sullivan.

The story of FourKites, the start-up founded in 2014, dates back to 1999 when Mathew Elen­jickal and Arun Chan­drasekaran joined Col­lege of En­gi­neer­ing, Guindy, Chen­nai, to study me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing. The friends left to pur­sue their in­di­vid­ual ca­reers — Arun worked at Cog­nizant, Mi­crosoft and at Groupon; Mathew com­pleted an MS in In­dus­trial En­gi­neer­ing and Man­age­ment Science from North­west­ern Univer­sity and an MBA from Kel­logg School of Man­age­ment and worked at Or­a­cle and i2 Tech­nolo­gies/JDA.

Mathew is based in Chicago and Arun in Chen­nai. They got to­gether in 2014 to start FourKites. The pain-point they hoped to solve was an­swer­ing the sim­ple ques­tion – ‘when ex­actly will a truck ar­rive’? An ev­ery­day prob­lem in com­mer­cial truck­ing, with no ac­cu­rate an­swer.

Track­ing trucks

from Ry­der Nav­iShare.

Timely tackle

While data help, a lot of in­tel­li­gence is needed to en­sure users do not drown in data by iden­ti­fy­ing ex­cep­tions. “There is lots of data from GPS, weather and other sources. The prob­lem is that, it is daunt­ing to find out which ones are ab­nor­mal and af­fect de­liv­ery,” says Arun. The sys­tem uses data analytics to un­der­stand which are rel­e­vant is­sues and pro­vides alerts. This helps fo­cus on right prob­lems so they can be fixed im­me­di­ately or man­aged suit­ably. For ex­am­ple, the sys­tem takes in data such as bad weather or meet­ing the con­straints of the driver’s shift hours to es­ti­mate ar­rival time. Real-time data on traf­fic and his­tor­i­cal data pat­terns are used to re­fine the es­ti­mate and pro­vide alerts. Shar­ing rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion with in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal stake­hold­ers in the sup­ply chain cuts time and money that is wasted due to de­layed up­dates.

“Our cus­tomers have seen on-time per­for­mance im­prove from the low 90 per cent range to 97-98 per cent,” says Mathew, who has im­ple­mented lo­gis­tics strate­gies and sys­tems at P&G, Nes­tle, Kraft, An­heuser-Busch In­bev, Tyco, Ar­gos and Nokia glob­ally. “This im­plies less wait time at ware­houses, lower stock-outs, faster in­ven­tory turns,” he says. For ex­am­ple, its cus­tomer Smith­field Foods, a lead­ing global pro­ducer of pork prod­ucts, re­ported that on­time de­liv­ery rate im­proved to 94 per cent, from 87 per cent, by us­ing FourKites soft­ware.

Be­sides lo­ca­tion, FourKites helps track tem­per­a­ture in real-time – a re­quire­ment for many en­ter­prise ship­pers to com­ply with the Food Safety Mod­erni­sa­tion Act. The rule re­quires that ship­pers must en­sure that tem­per­a­ture of cer­tain foods must be within spec­i­fied safe ranges dur­ing

tran­sit. Mathew Elen­jickal, Co-founder, FourKites FourKites pro­vides real-time track­ing and sup­ply chain vis­i­bil­ity so­lu­tions through its Freight Vis­i­bil­ity & Orches­tra­tion Plat­form. The data source is on-board GPS or Elec­tronic Log­ging De­vices (ELD) sys­tems used by fleets or owner-op­er­ated phones. The ad­van­tage is that ship­pers and third­party lo­gis­tics providers share re­al­time data — on lo­ca­tion and sta­tus.

The so­lu­tion cov­ers var­i­ous trans­porta­tion modes – road, rail or ship – Arun Chan­drasekaran, and mul­ti­ple dig­i­tal Co-founder plat­forms. It in­te­grates with track­ing soft­ware from other providers.

For ex­am­ple, it is na­tively in­te­grated with Ry­der Sys­tem, a lead­ing provider of com­mer­cial fleet man­age­ment and sup­ply chain so­lu­tions. The com­bined so­lu­tion of­fers re­al­time ship­ment vis­i­bil­ity and ex­cep­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tions through FourKites; busi­ness in­tel­li­gence, analytics, and en­gi­neer­ing

Ter­rific trac­tion

The com­pany’s dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is fill­ing the blind spots in freight vis­i­bil­ity and pro­vid­ing orches­tra­tion tools. FourKites is win­ning against com­pe­ti­tion and has built good trac­tion. So far, it has tracked over 40 mil­lion loads and over two mil­lion lo­ca­tion pings are pro­cessed daily. It is also sign­ing up a lot of mar­quee cus­tomers in North Amer­ica.

Re­cently, it also signed up Vitti Lo­gis­tics, a 3PL provider in Mex­ico and the US. Other re­cent cus­tomer wins in­clude Sch­nei­der, a trans­porta­tion and lo­gis­tics ser­vices provider.

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