International freight forwarding has taken a step forward with the introduction of what is claimed to be the first automated online freight network. The network, a product of an Israeli company, Freightos, aspires to become the first Expedia type service for freight forwarders.

As the logistics of the $4 trillion dollar freight industry gains efficiency, consumers may benefit with cost reduction in the system. Since 80-90% of products including food, apparel, electronics and equipment arrive via international shipment, pricing includes cost of transportation.

Big data refers to the huge amount of available information being generated by multifaceted electronic systems. By taking advantage of the power of big data analysis, the Freightos platform aims to simplify global shipments and arrange efficient door to door delivery using all types of transport. As agents, shippers and carriers in the Israeli firm’s network enter their current data and rates into the cloud, the information becomes available to freight forwarders for quoting the appropriate transportation route.

In another application being used in the US, big data analytics is facilitating truck utilization in tight capacity situations. Using the metrics employed by federal regulators in the CSA program, First Advantage keeps carriers aware of drivers closing in on non-compliance. Data analysis can also identify underutilized trucks which could then be sold or transferred to a more productive area.

Leidos, another technology company, analyzed Port of Oakland data including engine age and trip schedules and determined that 32% of the drayage fleet would not meet the California Air Resource Board rules. As a result, container movement would decrease 38% and a drayage driver shortage would lessen competition and raise rates. The extra costs could potentially deter shippers’ use of the port.

Analyzing the data allowed visualization of the impact of government regulation on the port and the economy. Responding in advance can improve the outcome. For example, when CARB rules disallowed pre-2007 model trucks, the port offered incentives for the carriers to purchase new trucks or retrofit their existing vehicles.

Big Data provides better insight into problems, interactions and organization and allows members of the logistics industry to respond more efficiently.