Emerging Entrepreneurs

A view from the top on supply chain process

Meera Siva | Updated on January 09, 2018

Arun Chandrasekaran, Co-founder & Mathew Elenjickal, Co-founder, FourKites

FourKites real-time data to track when your truck will reach the destination

When a start-up is based out of Chennai and Chicago, you wonder what the connection is. When its platform connects over four million assets in North America, you take notice. And even if you did not pay attention to the company raising $13 million from Bain Capital, you would want to know their story when they are named the ‘Entrepreneurial Company of the Year’ by Frost & Sullivan.

The story of FourKites, the start-up founded in 2014, dates back to 1999 when Mathew Elenjickal and Arun Chandrasekaran joined College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai, to study mechanical engineering. The friends left to pursue their individual careers — Arun worked at Cognizant, Microsoft and at Groupon; Mathew completed an MS in Industrial Engineering and Management Science from Northwestern University and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and worked at Oracle and i2 Technologies/JDA.

Mathew is based in Chicago and Arun in Chennai. They got together in 2014 to start FourKites. The pain-point they hoped to solve was answering the simple question – ‘when exactly will a truck arrive’? An everyday problem in commercial trucking, with no accurate answer.

Tracking trucks

FourKites provides real-time tracking and supply chain visibility solutions through its Freight Visibility & Orchestration Platform. The data source is on-board GPS or Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) systems used by fleets or owner-operated phones. The advantage is that shippers and third-party logistics providers share real-time data — on location and status.

The solution covers various transportation modes – road, rail or ship – and multiple digital platforms. It integrates with tracking software from other providers.

For example, it is natively integrated with Ryder System, a leading provider of commercial fleet management and supply chain solutions. The combined solution offers real-time shipment visibility and exception notifications through FourKites; business intelligence, analytics, and engineering from Ryder NaviShare.

FourKites’ solution is integrated with over 60 ELDs and over 40 Transported Management Systems.

Timely tackle

While data help, a lot of intelligence is needed to ensure users do not drown in data by identifying exceptions. “There is lots of data from GPS, weather and other sources. The problem is that, it is daunting to find out which ones are abnormal and affect delivery,” says Arun. The system uses data analytics to understand which are relevant issues and provides alerts. This helps focus on right problems so they can be fixed immediately or managed suitably. For example, the system takes in data such as bad weather or meeting the constraints of the driver’s shift hours to estimate arrival time. Real-time data on traffic and historical data patterns are used to refine the estimate and provide alerts. Sharing relevant information with internal and external stakeholders in the supply chain cuts time and money that is wasted due to delayed updates.

“Our customers have seen on-time performance improve from the low 90 per cent range to 97-98 per cent,” says Mathew, who has implemented logistics strategies and systems at P&G, Nestle, Kraft, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Tyco, Argos and Nokia globally. “This implies less wait time at warehouses, lower stock-outs, faster inventory turns,” he says. For example, its customer Smithfield Foods, a leading global producer of pork products, reported that on-time delivery rate improved to 94 per cent, from 87 per cent, by using FourKites software.

Besides location, FourKites helps track temperature in real-time – a requirement for many enterprise shippers to comply with the Food Safety Modernisation Act. The rule requires that shippers must ensure that temperature of certain foods must be within specified safe ranges during transit. “Shippers can work with clients to identify potentially non-compliant loads earlier in the shipping process, much before it reaches the destination,” says Mathew. Smithfield is among its customers for Temperature Tracking.

Terrific traction

The company’s differentiation is filling the blind spots in freight visibility and providing orchestration tools. FourKites is winning against competition and has built good traction. So far, it has tracked over 40 million loads and over two million location pings are processed daily. It is also signing up a lot of marquee customers in North America. Clients include three of the top 10 food manufacturers in the US, two of the top five food distributors, one of the largest specialty apparel retailers, one of the largest office supply chain stores, and three of the top 10 logistics service providers.

Recently, it also signed up Vitti Logistics, a 3PL provider in Mexico and the US. Other recent customer wins include Schneider, a transportation and logistics services provider.

FourKites raised $3.5 million in two seed rounds led by Chicago-based Hyde Park Venture Partners. Last October, it raised a $13-million Series A round led by Bain Capital Ventures. It has over 70 employees in Chicago. The Chennai team has 45 employees, mainly focused on product development.

Published on October 30, 2017

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor