CH Robinson opens incubator to generate ideas
January 28, 2020
Logistics firm CH Robinson has opened an innovation incubator to generate and test ideas in logistics and supply chain operations. It will work with dedicated data science teams in Minneapolis, Chicago, Silicon Valley and Warsaw.
Tim Gagnon, vice president of analytics and data science at CH Robinson, has been tapped to lead the incubator, informally known as Robinson Labs.
Through the incubator, CH Robinson’s logistics experts, innovation teams and data scientists can collaborate with customers and carriers to create personalised solutions to shippers’ problems with technology built by and for supply chain experts.
Robinson Labs works hand in hand with the company’s technology team of more than 1000 data scientists, engineers and developers. Once technology is proven, the teams work collaboratively to scale them across CH Robinson, benefiting its 124,000 customers and 76,000 contract carriers.
“Our customers and carriers tell us that they are hungry for tech to strengthen their competitive position and increase their efficiencies,” said CH Robinson president and CEO Bob Biesterfeld. “That’s why we have always been laser-focused on working together to solve our customers’ toughest logistics challenges. Under Tim’s leadership, Robinson Labs further demonstrates our commitment by identifying even more ways we can bring together our technology and the most comprehensive data sets in the industry to deliver solutions that cut shipping costs, simplify processes and drive greater reliability and visibility.”
Gagnon added: “Through the spirit of innovation, Robinson Labs will create the newest solutions to continue driving the logistics industry forward. My team and I are actively collaborating with customers to solve their supply chain challenges, and then applying those learnings to benefit all of our customers and carriers.”
Robinson Labs leverages the company’s $1bn tech investment. It is already delivering on CH Robinson’s customer-first promise through digital connectivity and analytics that improve shipping performance for customers and carriers alike.
Robinson Labs is building transportation management capabilities and making them accessible through TMS and ERP systems. Starting with Oracle’s ERP and transportation management software, CH Robinson is making it easier for customers to connect with the company where and how they want to buy. Connectivity includes functions such as allowing shippers to work in their own daily systems to get access to real-time market rates, tender freight and get real-time tracking. CH Robinson seamlessly connects the capabilities of Navisphere, its global, multimodal transportation management system, to customers in their preferred system.
“By digitally connecting CH Robinson’s Navisphere capabilities into leading technologies such as Oracle Netsuite and transportation management, we help our customers increase productivity and drive cost savings,” Gagnon said.
Through Robinson Labs, the company is enhancing its online business intelligence software, Navisphere Insight, which is part of CH Robinson’s transportation management system, Navisphere. Without the need for a separate log in, customers will be able to access Navisphere Insight where they will be served up the most important, actionable insights to improve their shipping performance.
Using millions of data points, predictive analytics and the company’s information advantage, Robinson Labs provides insights on how to improve savings, reliability and visibility. For example, with the Robinson Labs benchmark tool, shippers can reduce costs by altering lead times and volumes, as well as improve dwell times and on-time performance.
To bring these predictive analytics to the market, CH Robinson uses an agile approach and will continue to roll out features to Navisphere Insight. Additional global forwarding functionality and insights on how to reduce carbon footprint are among the planned new features.
Companies such as L’Oréal and Target have been part of the pilot phase of Navisphere Insight, providing feedback to ensure customer needs are being addressed.
“Our work with the CH Robinson team has helped us address some of our toughest supply chain challenges,” said Adam Hall, vice president of transportation at L’Oréal. “The Insight Analytics platform and data science have delivered actionable intelligence and supported initiatives that are driving significant savings for L’Oréal. In an environment of increasing supply chain complexity, having a partner like CH Robinson gives us peace of mind in knowing that our products reach our customers in a timely and efficient manner.”