J.B. Hunt has been growing the capabilities of its J.B. Hunt 360 digital platform since it first unveiled it in 2014.  -  Photo: J.B. Hunt

J.B. Hunt has been growing the capabilities of its J.B. Hunt 360 digital platform since it first unveiled it in 2014.

Photo: J.B. Hunt

J.B. Hunt Transport Services is teaming up with Google to use artificial intelligence and cloud technology to better connect shipments and available capacity.

In a multi-year strategic alliance, J.B. Hunt will use Google Cloud’s cloud technologies to expand its J.B. Hunt 360 platform. Using Google’s advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, it will be able to make the platform more efficient and enhance supply chain visibility, J.B. Hunt officials said in a press release.

As it explained in a press release, real-time data is a cornerstone in the $1 trillion logistics industry, as customers have increased expectations for faster services and more transparency on their shipments.

However, today’s carriers rely on a patchwork of IT systems across supply chain, capacity utilization, pricing, and transportation execution .J.B. Hunt’s 360 platform aims to centralize data from across these different systems, helping reduce waste, friction and inefficiencies.

By leveraging Google’s Data Cloud, J.B. Hunt 360 will better predict outcomes and help users make informed decisions.

The Arkansas-based company, which has transformed from a truckload carrier to a multi-modal logistics giant, first launched its J.B. Hunt 360 in 2014 as a self-service freight transportation management tool for customers.

By 2017, it had transformed the platform into an online marketplace to connect shippers and carriers using real-time data and artificial intelligence to match freight with capacity, creating optimal pairings of loads and carriers to improve efficiency and cost savings.  

It has developed its platform amidst a competitive field of new entrants aiming to transform the way shippers, brokers, and carriers connect, including Uber launching its Uber Freight load-matching platform the same year.

“It’s an arms race,” Evan Armstrong, president of supply-chain market research and consulting firm Armstrong & Associates, said of the freight-matching market in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The market has been seriously disrupted, he said, and companies that don’t continue to invest in technology risk falling behind.

Engineers and business leaders from both companies will focus on three transformational areas:

  • Open cloud capabilities to create a sophisticated operating model and provide a consistent development and operations experience across cloud environments. Google Cloud’s AI and ML tools combined with J.B. Hunt’s transportation expertise, will create enhanced levels of visibility into the supply chain, according to the announcement.
  • Data science to drive efficiency: J.B. Hunt will leverage Google Cloud’s Data Cloud, including data analytics and AI and ML capabilities, to build reliable, repeatable, and extensible workflows. The company will be able to optimize solutions in real-time and offer predictive analytics for shippers, carriers and other service providers.
  • Co-innovation to drive future solutions: Google and J.B. Hunt are creating “an innovation framework and roadmap” that brings together each company’s engineering talents to create entirely new solutions that will be rolled out over time, including real-time visibility and predictive modeling.

John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt, called the alliance “groundbreaking in our industry.”

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