Technical innovation is pivotal in every industry as we make our way through the 4th industrial revolution. Sunburst Truck Lines is at the forefront of this innovation, embracing advancing API systems that help create more efficiencies in the intermodal trucking industry. As a leader in innovation, the president of Sunburst, Shaun Leone, has made it his personal goal to help improve the industry as a whole through technology.
“The reason I chose to work on this API program with the Port of Houston was not to keep it to ourselves, but to help improve our industry as a whole and encourage other trucking companies to adopt this technology.” – Shaun Leone
A recent opportunity to give back to the industry came from the Port of Houston, inviting Leone to aid them in the development of their new intermodal trucking software which will help to create greater efficiencies at the ports with hopes that it will provide some relief to the already overburdened supply chain. During this collaboration, Leone beta-tested various features, supplying the Port of Houston with valuable feedback that helped ready the program for release in 2020.
How It Works
The integration process for this program is relatively simple, taking about a week on average. Thanks to the program’s compatibility with numerous software programs, most intermodal trucking companies can adopt this technology without making significant internal changes to their current systems.
As an API system, this program is entirely hands-off, communicating with the Port of Houston to gather the specified information operations requested the system to fetch. Every 15 minutes, the system requests and retrieves live shipping data from the Port of Houston on orders that companies have marked with an active status, collecting information on items such as First Receiving Date, Import Container Release Date, additional tracking information, Receiving, Cutoff, and more. This information can be pulled for specific booking numbers, ensuring that they receive the most up-to-date information on the cargo their drivers are set to handle, eliminating the need to sort through unrelated data.
The system provides a host of benefits to its users and the ports, such as helping to prevent dry runs by blocking a company from dispatching cargo if the receiving date for that shipment has been pushed to a later date. This helps create more efficiencies within the individual company and prevents driver frustration from waiting in long lines at the ports to be turned away due to the changing receiving dates.
The global and national supply chain is in disarray due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other global events. By eliminating dry runs, companies can ensure that their teams aren’t contributing to the unnecessary traffic and longer lines at the port, aiding in the process of creating a smoother supply chain. This can also help create greener operations within the company by reducing fuel use and emissions from unnecessary time on the road.
Thanks to its hands-off nature, employees can focus on other tasks instead of calling or visiting the port’s website to keep track of changing statuses at the port – saving time for employees in the office and their drivers. Drivers also experience the time-saving benefit of this technology through the prevention of dry runs and automating processes that would usually take a minimum of 20 minutes per run.
When a driver returns to the port to drop off an empty or loaded container, they usually have to go through several steps and input information before they’re able to drop the container. With this technology, drivers have all of the container information preloaded into their tablet as well as the actions they wish to take, such as dropping the container and/or chassis and send it directly to the port for a quick drop-off process. This then triggers the release of a pre-release number to the driver, allowing the driver to bypass stage one of the process and type in the pre-release number that will provide the port with the container information needed for return.
If this technology can make such a positive impact, why aren’t more ports and intermodal companies using it?
“I feel like it’s because of a few reasons. Many trucking companies haven’t heard about this technology. Some may not know that the onboarding process averages about a week and is compatible with many existing technologies. They may not have available personnel to dedicate a week for the onboarding process.” said Leone.
Although his future goal is to advance this API program to create an almost hands-off, error-free experience for companies and drivers through integrating API with interchange points, warehouses, and customers, Leone’s current goal is to increase awareness of the technology as well as its adoption.