Since 1990, truckload giant J.B. Hunt of Lowell, Ark., has striven to route all drivers home for the holidays in a program called "Operation North Pole." The program relies on two software applications from Logistics.com of Burlington, Mass., one called MicroMap and the other called Drop & Swap.
MicroMap looks at a truckload carrier’s big picture, optimizing driver assignments based on system-wide analysis of all available raw data. MicroMap helps reduce empty miles and increase the productivity of load planners.
Drop & Swap is a more specific application that identifies potential problems and opportunities in real-time. Among other things, the program allows drivers to swap loads and reverse direction, making it possible for them to deliver more loads on time and return home more often.
According to J.B. Hunt, "Operation North Pole" is an extension of the company's "Guaranteed Get Home Program" that promises drivers will never be away from home for more than 14 days at a time unless they choose to be.
Hunt’s use of Logistics.com technology underlines the curious overlap of competitive and cooperative relationships in the evolving digital economy. While Logistics.com provides sophisticated routing software to customers like Hunt, it also runs what it calls the Digital Transportation Marketplace, where major shippers meet carriers large and small on the Internet.
J.B. Hunt is a partner in Transplace.com, which was formed by merging the logistics arms of six leading truckload carriers. Transplace’s business leadership and much of its technology emerged from Hunt’s technology endeavors.
Even though Logistics.com considers J.B. Hunt and even Transplace as customers, all are competing for the same shipments.