Recognizing the limits of transportation management systems (TMSs) to adapt to unknown variables, TMS provider BluJay Solutions is incorporating modeling capability to enable logistics managers to directly pull “what if” scenarios into freight management processes.
The partnership with the supply chain modeling platform LLamasoft aims to address a constraint at the heart of both TMS and supply chain modeling software. That is, TMSs are generally bound by the rules set up by their users and not innately good at figuring out what needs to be changed about a transportation network.
On the other hand, transportation modeling software has the inverse problem. It is designed to let shippers play out an almost unlimited number of “what if” scenarios, but they lack the ability to execute on those scenarios.
“A TMS does a great job of adhering to a policy,” David Landau, chief product officer at BluJay, told JOC.com. “It’s great at taking an order from an [enterprise resource planning system], it’s great at planning and optimizing, sending those shipments to carriers and tracking them. But it doesn’t do a great job of deciding what those policies should be.”
The jointly developed Transportation Modeling product allows BluJay customers to build freight movement scenarios off of LLamasoft’s cloud, which is a unique approach to strategic partnerships between logistics software providers that have become more prevalent than ever.
“We’ve built a BluJay-specific model that uses the data from BluJay and resides on LLamasoft’s llama.ai platform,” Landau said.
Tip of the modeling iceberg
LLamasoft’s solutions cover a much wider scope than just freight transportation. The company’s various products allow shippers to model everything from where to locate factories and distribution centers, to how best to leverage trade agreements, to minimizing geopolitical risks, as well as factoring in the cost and availability of logistics and transportation capacity, among other variables. The BluJay product built off the LLamasoft platform, however, is focused on allowing shippers to optimize their freight networks.
LLamasoft CEO Razat Gaurav said in a statement that BluJay was able to “quickly leverage the llama.ai analytics and app building platform for their clients by creating this transportation application.” The application features five preconfigured scenarios around freight cost, weight, stops, space utilization, and distance metrics. Users can also create additional transportation modeling scenarios based on their own metrics and related data.
LLamasoft customers include Boeing, DHL, GM, Kimberly-Clark, IKEA, and Walmart. Among BluJay’s customers are Ace Hardware, Dannon, Heineken, Sabra, and Volvo.
Landau said the goal was to put the power of LLamasoft’s solution into the hands of shippers that have the complexity to benefit from it, but not necessarily the budget to invest in a discrete modeling software or resources to manage it.
LLamasoft, similar to most software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, charges a subscription to its users, so offering a portion of their product as an in-built part of BluJay’s own SaaS system provides it a channel into a customer segment it sometimes can’t reach.
“Most companies in our sweet spot don’t have the wherewithal to staff that type of process,” Landau said. “This is purpose-built around transportation and inventory and it’s tightly tied to the TMS.”
Landau said it solves the issue that BluJay is often asked around letting shippers figure out how their transportation network changes if they tweak half a dozen parameters.
“Some of our larger customers and prospects were asking for this capability,” Landau said. “We knew there were some opportunities, and when we looked at the space we played in, we felt no one in our space was offering this.”