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December 10 2018

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44 The Journal of Commerce | December 10 2018 Surface Transportation terminal gates and scheduled times for landings and takeoffs, forwarders can re- serve guaranteed slot times and designated warehouse dock doors with ground handlers so their truckers can quickly discharge loads or collect shipments. A just-completed, year-long pilot program built around a computerized slot booking application known as BRUcloud lets freight forwarders, ground handlers, and truckers work together harmoniously and avoid divisive bickering and logjams that previously had drivers idling for hours burning up fuel and running up costs and blood pressure. But the BRUcloud slot app, which works on desktop and laptop computers and not yet on smartphones, has yet to be rolled out air- port-wide. It took more than a year and a half to get preliminary results from the pilot program, which, participants claim, are positive. The first step was acknowledging the seriousness of the problem, said Steve Polmans, Brussels Airport's head of cargo and logistics, who added that its leadership BRUSSELS AIRPORT APPEARS to have found a solution to the frustrating and costly pickup and delivery delays, wait-time surcharges, and storage expenses plaguing air freight shippers in truck-congested US and Europe- an airports. Borrowing an idea from the passenger side where jetliners are assigned specific could no longer tolerate the chaos and complaints. "Every airport today has cargo congestion, and if you have congestion, you don't have an efficient airport." To mobilize and unify the estimated 100-plus air freight stakeholders to tackle the problem head on, the airport formed a "neu- tral umbrella community" called Air Cargo Belgium, according to project coordinator Davide Scatorchia. It was completed in 2016. "By bringing all parties together — freight forwarders, ground handlers, and truckers — and getting them exchanging information and working together toward a common goal — saving time and money — we realized it wasn't just a congestion problem. The issue was getting everyone involved to talk to each other," Scatorchia told The Journal of Commerce. The answer, he said, was digitization — create a data-sharing application modeled after the slot assignment procedure utilized by airports for decades in controlling passenger plane takeoffs and landings. But getting the airport's entire cargo community involved TWO SOFTWARE COMPANIES' plans show how machine learning — often relegated to pie-in-the-sky logistics discussions — has immedi- ate applications allowing US truck brokers to tap into latent sources of already-tight capacity. Machine learning tools are often touted as mechanisms to drive next-level benefits in freight move- ment, but current use cases are more feet-on-the-ground than head-in-the- cloud applications. The two software companies — Trucker Tools and Parade — recently have released new tools based on an offshoot of machine learning and ar- tificial intelligence (AI) called natural language processing (NLP). These tools essentially take infor- mation locked away in bulk emails and conversations and structure the information so it can be utilized more effectively by brokers to provide capacity to shippers. For instance, Trucker Tools earlier this autumn began performing such activities for its broker customers. The company set out to tap into ca- pacity locked away in email blasts sent daily from carriers to brokers showing what capacity is available by location at the start of the day. It's a well-worn way for carriers to try to find loads for available capacity, but Trucker Tools, in its experience shadowing broker customers, found that the emails were hardly being used for a couple reasons. First, it's a time-intensive and laborious process to match the available capacity in a static email to loads available in the broker's system. And second, even if there is a match, there is often too much latency between the time the email with available capacity is sent out and when the broker finds a The right place at the right time Machine learning technology offers brokers means to locate available truck capacity By Eric Johnson Cleared for delivery Truck-congested Brussels Airport plugs computerized slot booking system for freight By Chris Barnett Trucking | Rail | Intermodal | Air & Expedited | Distribution

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