Warehouse (Source FourKites, image credit unknown but widely used with no credit)FourKites has updated its universal Slot Manager solution. This solution is an extension of the FourKites Appointment Manager. It enables shippers and carriers to collaborate in real-time. For carriers to self-book their preferred time slot based on real-time transit conditions. FourKites has now further enhanced the solution with more automation and communication features. These will improve the efficiency of supply chain deliveries. The announcement follows on from the improvements to the Appointment manager it unveiled in July and the natural language interface, Fin AI, it announced at Visibility 2023.

Priya Rajagopalan, Chief Products Officer, FourKites
Priya Rajagopalan, Chief Products Officer, FourKites

FourKites Chief Products Officer Priya Rajagopalan commented, “Slot Manager breaks down the silos between systems and teams to significantly reduce slot bottlenecks. Now, shippers, hauliers and drivers can all collaborate and communicate within one, integrated, AI-powered slot system that enables greater productivity, agility and efficiency — and, ultimately, better decision-making in real time when exceptions arise.”

What is in the update?

The update includes several new features that enhance the existing solution.

Automated Rescheduling

FourKites has taken its AI-powered Dynamic ETAs capabilities a step further. Dynamic ETAs are one of the most accurate on the market, using predictive analytics and billions of data points to give accurate arrival times. However, where before, the ETA meant that a transport missed its time slot, it was up to a scheduler to fix. Now, Slot Manager can automatically reschedule to earlier or later slots. This eliminates the stressful and time-consuming admin tasks that frontline workers have had to do previously.

The automation automatically updates calendars for shippers, hauliers and drivers, reducing the communication attempts between them. It also eliminates the requirement for hauliers to constantly check the status of freight. While calendars are updated automatically, FourKites has not revealed whether there is any proactive communication about changes.

Communication Hub

A new communication hub is now included within Slot Manager. It allows Hauliers to send a unique URL to drivers, relating to a slot that allows drivers to quickly update information around the specific slot. Adding their notes without having to search for the right location or send emails to the front office. This feature improves the efficiency of all parties and ensures the information related to the slot is updated accurately in a single location.

Improved Haulier Access

FourKites has also added deeper integration to each Haulier’s Transport Management System (TMS) with this release. Earlier this year, FourKites announced a partnership with Prompt Global aimed at improving integrations with TMS solutions. This update is presumably one of the areas that is benefiting. Hauliers now have access to detailed reporting, such as reschedule recommendations, haulier slot compliance, facility metrics and more. It means the self-service capabilities within FourKites are enhanced, and they no longer need to switch applications so often. This transparency between shippers and hauliers allows shared metrics and will, if acted on, deliver continuous improvement.

Why does this matter

One of the biggest pain points in logistics is the number of slots that need rescheduling every year, an estimated 20%. Rescheduling costs time, stress and sometimes money. With automated rescheduling, there is the potential to reduce all of these. Other metrics are also improved: on-time performance is improved, detention fees are reduced, and it can also cut dwell times for drivers. Where scheduled slots are beyond delivery timescales, but a truck is able to arrive earlier, it might alleviate late delivery fees. All of these can improve the relationship between all parties.

Teva, which recently implemented the FourKites’ global carrier visibility solution, NIC-Place, is excited by the improvements to Slot Management. Florian Schoenle, Team Leader of Transport Management at Teva, commented, “Slot Manager significantly decreases the amount of effort it takes to manage site schedules. With these new capabilities focusing on easy communication and increased automation, this solution will drive significant efficiencies and grow top-line revenue.”

Dirk Huetter, Chief Project Officer at Huetter Spedition, commented, “The chain of communication about time slots between site, driver and hauliers is critical for our business. But it’s often error-prone and slows down processes. FourKites’ Slot Manager offers so much value because it brings these critical stakeholders together in an automated and transparent way. As a result, it creates an efficient, accurate and reliable way to do business while using existing data.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

FourKites continues to innovate. It has deep integrations with the major TMS and ERP systems and continues to strengthen these, as noted above. Hundreds of brands use its solutions, and it continues to grow its customer base. In the last 12 months, it has increased the number of facilities managed and seen 247% growth in the number of slots managed in the platform.

With this announcement, FourKites has moved its solution from the predictive analytics of Dynamic ETAs to prescriptive analytics capabilities like automated rescheduling. As it starts to integrate the capabilities of Fin AI (FourKites Intelligence Network) into these enhancements, the focus can be on building relationships and innovation rather than mundane administration. Once adopted, FourKites customers should be able to enjoy greater efficiency in their operations and enhance profitability.

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