J.B. Hunt was one of the founders of the Scheduling Standards Consortium. - Photo: J.B. Hunt

J.B. Hunt was one of the founders of the Scheduling Standards Consortium.

Photo: J.B. Hunt

Late last year, three highly automated brokers joined forces to address a lack of API standards in the industry — and now, the growing consortium has published technical standards.

Convoy, J.B. Hunt, and Uber Freight started the Scheduling Standards Consortium to establish the industry's first formal set of scheduling API standards.

The consortium said its new Technical Standard for developing scheduling APIs for transportation management systems (TMS) can make it easier to book and manage appointments, optimize processes for carriers, shippers and receivers, and drive operational efficiencies.

Scheduling system and interface fragmentation is a significant point of friction amongst carriers, brokers, and shippers. As the industry relies increasingly on an integrated network of providers and solutions to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of each shipment, it’s vital to define and share a consistent data architecture and API standard for the distribution of scheduling information, according to the consortium, which has since grown to more than a dozen members.

Now accessible on the open source community, GitHub, the Technical Standard will bring more cohesion and resiliency to the movement of goods, according to the consortium’s announcement.

The API Scheduling Challenge

One of the most complicated things affecting freight movement efficiency is setting up pickup and drop-off appointments. Every year the industry sets approximately 1.5 billion appointments, and scheduling inefficiencies slow everything down.

To solve the problem, all those connected with a shipment — carrier, shipper, receiver, etc. — need access to the shipment’s data, according to the consortium. But the ways those players exchange information is severely fragmented.

Trucking still relies largely on EDI (electronic data interchange) or even manual processes to share data when scheduling freight movement. Many believe a better way is through application programming interfaces, or APIs, which allow two software components to communicate with each other using a set of definitions and protocols.

A Standard API-based approach allows companies to access the latest data and make smart decisions to increase efficiency, reduce empty miles and waste, lower costs, and improve service outcomes.

TMS Leaders Invest In Adoption and Integration Efforts

The next step is for providers of transportation management systems to adopt these standards.

“We're committing to implementing and utilizing these standards to enable greater efficiency across the logistics landscape in 2024," said Greg Brady, founder and executive chairman of One Network Enterprises.

“It’s a strategic move that will empower shippers and carriers with streamlined operations and enhanced data sharing.

Oracle also is actively implementing these standards “and charting a course toward enhanced data sharing," said Srini Rajagopal, VP of logistics product strategy.

“We encourage shippers to engage with their software providers to urge progress on SSC Technical Standard integration. Together, we're spearheading an era of innovation that will benefit the entire logistics community.”

SSC Badging System

The consortium also introduced a badging system to recognize and differentiate industry participants that are contributing to the development and adoption of scheduling API standards.

Innovator Badge: This badge is awarded to companies that actively support or contribute to the creation of the scheduling API standards or the SSC itself.

Early Adopter Badge: TMS companies that verbally commit to integrating the SSC Standards into their products by mid 2024 are eligible for the Early Adopter badge.

The SSC's badging program will help businesses choose partners that are actively advancing scheduling standards, according to SSC. It will also promote collaboration and innovation among industry players.

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