J.B. Hunt is one of the competitive companies that have formed the  Scheduling Standards...

J.B. Hunt is one of the competitive companies that have formed the  Scheduling Standards Consortium to create a formal set of appointment scheduling API standards.

Photo: J.B. Hunt

Convoy, J.B. Hunt, and Uber Freight have joined forces to address what they say is a lack of API standards across freight shipments, believing it will bring efficiencies and reduce frustrations for fleets, drivers, shippers, and receivers.

Trucking still relies largely on EDI (electronic data interchange) or even manual efforts to share data in order to schedule the movement of freight. While many areas have been automated, scheduling is the most elusive. There’s been a bigger push lately into using application programming interface. (APIs are mechanisms that enable two software components to communicate with each other using a set of definitions and protocols.)

But all of the players connected with a shipment (carrier, shipper, receiver, etc.) need access to the shipment’s data — and the ways in which those players exchange information is severely fragmented.

That’s why the three competitive and highly automated broker operations announced the new Scheduling Standards Consortium. The goal is to solve transportation scheduling challenges by establishing the freight industry’s first formal set of appointment scheduling API standards.

“Technology has ushered in a new era for transportation — new players, new apps, new platforms, new services. Yet, our industry remains extremely fragmented,” said Spencer Frazier, executive vice president of sales and marketing at J.B. Hunt, in a news release. “We want to change that, starting today with the three of us and hopefully many more providers in the coming months. We want to create an open exchange of data so that the numerous TMS and digital freight platforms can communicate at a level where we can help one another when needed.”

The SSC’s objectives are to define an API standard for sharing scheduling information, implement those standardized interfaces to enable integrations in existing systems, and advocate for the standard across the industry.

“One of the most complicated and consequential things about being efficient in freight is setting up pickup and drop-off appointments,” says Dan Lewis, Convoy CEO and co-founder. “Scheduling is a tech problem at the end of the day. When all the trucks are plugged into a digital network, the industry can better orchestrate freight needs with data-informed systems. A Standard API-based approach allows companies to access the latest data and make smart decisions.”

The group believes such a standard will bring more cohesion and resiliency to the movement of goods, making it easier to book and manage appointments; optimize processes for drivers, shippers and receivers; and drive operational efficiencies for the industry.

The SSC aims to sign on other brokers or third-party logistics service providers, transportation management system and warehouse management system vendors, and others.

Initial SSC standards and documentation, starting with full truckload freight, will be available as early as the first quarter of 2023, according to the announcement.

“Logistics is rapidly evolving to be more real time and intelligent at every point of execution,” said Bill Driegert, co-founder and head of operations at Uber Freight. “The implementation of APIs to simplify execution of manual tasks like scheduling is revolutionizing how shippers and carriers plan, manage, and execute shipments.”

About the API Consortium's Founding Members:

Convoy is a well-established digital freight network that moves thousands of truckloads around the country each day through an optimized, connected network of carriers. It uses technology and data to make freight movement more efficient and sustainable.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services uses an integrated, multimodal approach and applies technology-driven methods to create the best supply-chain solution for each customer.

Uber Freight is a logistics platform and partner that aims to reshape global logistics for shippers and carriers of all sizes. usimng a suite of logistics solutions and services grounded in innovative technology.

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