Supply Chain Solutions
Churchill once said that true genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous and conflicting information. And, indeed, the true genius at the core of a company based in San Mateo, California, comes from its capacity to deliver solutions that empower customers to more rapidly and more effectively evaluate information across the spectrum of their supply chain operations. For increased efficiency, insight and agility in the management of logistics, the solutions are sourced from Agistix.
Imagine how much you could accomplish if you knew everything. Almost ten years ago, principals of a company known as Agistix resolved to provide transportation professionals with new tools which would enable them to glean better information than what conventional transportation management systems (TMS) offered. While such systems had technically evolved over time, they were typically relegated to outbound shipments and often constrained within the four walls of the organization – they didn’t deliver true visibility. For instance, any shipment booked by a supplier via another system, or directly with a carrier, wouldn’t be visible in the company’s ERP or TMS, let alone estimated charges and real-time tracking information. As shipments pass through a supply chain, a fog of data rolls across disparate supplier, compliance and carrier systems. Agistix astutely reasoned that if the data could be captured and analyzed, it would provide operators with a new means to make informed decisions resulting in greater efficiency and cost-savings in supply chain functions. After gathering a team comprised by supply chain, logistics and technology experts, Agistix not only went on to build a better platform, but also created the first solution that provides true visibility into every shipment booked on company’s account number or inbound to a given facility across all carriers, , modes, international & domestic, inbound, outbound and 3rd party. As President Trevor Read explains, Agistix delivers a flexible, scalable supply chain infrastructure that empowers companies to efficiently manage supply chain diversity without disrupting day to day operations. Agistix believes moving data is critical to monitoring and proactively managing global supply chain activity.
Read believes that simply consolidating, normalizing, and automating supply chain data isn’t enough. Agistix dashboards and rich visualization tools help clients digest massive amounts of real-time data, to keep their finger on the pulse of their supply chain. Moreover, supply chain data is available on demand thereby empowering companies to more accurately forecast freight spend, measure supplier fulfillment, supplier routing guide compliance, carrier on-time performance, and much more.
For his part, Trevor Read has been a problem-solver by trade. For much of the 18 years since he emerged from the University of Virginia with a degree in civil engineering, Read has sought ways to break down the barriers – real or perceived – that keep companies from achieving maximum efficiency. Early in his career, he founded a firm that built an App enabling contractors to submit coherent sets of licensing and permitting documents to their individual local municipalities, each of whom had a unique set of codes and exceptions to navigate. It was a natural, albeit sometimes chaotic proving ground for his current role at Agistix, and the exception oriented nature of global supply chain.
As Agistix is nearing the 10-year anniversary of its founding, Read affirms the enthusiasm that led to the company’s beginnings in 2004 shows no signs of wavering, nor the company’s confidence. “Our goal is to capture data and turn that data into usable information that helps save time and save money by operating more efficiently,” says Read. “It’s fun and it’s exciting and we’re pretty passionate about what we do and how we do it. I think the industry is still catching up to what we’re doing in visibility. This is sort of a new frontier and there’s a new appreciation for being able to capture all this data.”
Agistix’s main objective of enabling “true visibility” in its clients’ supply chains is largely the product of the rapid growth of the Internet and its business potential over the past several years.
“I believe that there’s kind of a changing of the guard in supply chain. Technology has changed a lot in the past decade, and it’s been fun to be a part of. Exhausting, but fun,” says Read. “It’s nice to see supply chain solutions have become increasingly important to industry. Our objective is to not only save clients money, but to help them keep their finger on the pulse of their supply chain and make sure it’s operating as they designed.”
A decade ago, Read says, companies were far more reticent to rely on solutions housed outside their own four-walled infrastructure. But with the dawn of the internet and evolving awareness of capabilities the technology empowers, Fortune 1000 companies have been more open to embrace the potential from varying technical platforms, which include cloud-based solutions. As a case study, Read points out the possibilities Agistix has provided to an Indiana-based enterprise that employs more than 46,000 employees and serve customers in 190 countries through a complex network of company-owned and independent distributors among 6,500 dealer locations.
Read says the company had 1,500 FedEx account numbers and another 1,000 UPS account numbers being used by 3,000-plus shippers around the world. Because of the far-flung nature of the distribution and the vast array of directions in which the myriad vendors were pulling, the company had no real idea what it was spending on freight distribution and in what areas those costs could be reeled-in.
Until now, that is.
“They were forecasting not based on what’s actually happening, but based on the same theory as last year, or an average of the last three months,” says Read. “We don’t think that’s acceptable. We want to arm our clients with real-time visibility for everything that’s happening on their account numbers. Not just to be able to forecast what their freight spend is, but so they know what they don’t know.”
Also privy to the increased logistical efficiencies are those companies who have relationships with the clients that Agistix serves – for example, consider the case involving a Fortune 500 company based in Omaha, Neb. with annual net sales of $18 billion.
Through working with Agistix, the company was able to impart a greater quality of service to its customers (which, in this case, included a variety of restaurant franchises) – the status of an order number could now be accurately tracked without having any previous knowledge of its original warehouse, its carrier, or the tracking number with that carrier.
Agistix pulled that data together and provided the company with a “Track My Shipment” link it can host at its website, so the manager at the restaurant can enter the sales order number and get the carrier tracking number and transit status all within a few clicks.
“It makes all of that data self-serve without that shipment actually ever being booked on our platform, without any real business process change,” Read says. “But it takes a tremendous amount of burden off organization.”
Agistix claims a 15- to 20-percent return on investment for its clients in terms of transportation management, where it enables cost comparison between carriers. In terms of efficiency, Read says the company worked with MIT Masters in Supply Chain Management to create a formula to determine specific improvements.
“Imagine as if any item on a shipment’s life cycle takes five minutes of your time,” he said. “Maybe it takes five minutes to look up the tracking status. Maybe it takes five minutes to file a claim. Maybe it takes five minutes to see how much the shipment costs. Maybe it took five minutes to see how much it should have cost. Maybe it takes five minutes to pull all of your shipment data together because you want to send out an RFP to get new carrier rates. The reality is some of those shipments take you five milliseconds and some shipments take you five days to go to the warehouse, look up what the order was, find who the carrier was and figure out how to log in to the carrier’s website to find a tracking information and then be able to give that information to your customer that was looking for it.”
He says five minutes per shipment is kind of a conservative number based on all of the departments and systems that a shipment crosses … procurement, logistics, transportation, supply chain, compliance, finance, etc. The point here is that Agistix provides the means to save time and money. “So what we really do is facilitate communication, data capture and data exchange across those departments within an organization,” says Read, acknowledging that for some clients, it’s an immediate eye-opener.
“It’s really interesting for clients where there are relationships across those businesses on a corporate level … they may have never seen all of their shipment data all in one place. It’s uncharted territory. It kind of gives them greater economies of scale that they haven’t really seen in the past relative to their supply chain environment,” says Read.
While some supply chain partners typically move freight, Agistix aims to be the technology partner in the supply chain whose expertise involves moving data. As Read affirms that demand for supply chain enhancements will continue to drive development of “the next great thing,” he says, “Quite honestly, we think we have the next great thing right now.”
For more information, please visit their website at Agistix