C.H. Robinson launches incubator to develop supply chain technology solutions (with video)

CH Robinson office

Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW) has remained one of the most technologically innovative
companies in the supply chain. That is continuing Thursday morning as C.H.
Robinson has formally introduced C.H. Robinson Labs. The innovation incubator
is designed to create, test and scale technology solutions for the global
logistics giant and its customers.

Informally known as Robinson Labs,
the incubator will be led by Tim Gagnon, vice president of analytics and data
science at C.H. Robinson. Dedicated data science teams will be based in Minneapolis,
Chicago, California’s Silicon Valley and Warsaw, Poland.

“Our customers and carriers tell us
that they are hungry for tech solutions to strengthen their competitive
position and increase their efficiencies,” Bob Biesterfeld, C.H. Robinson
president and CEO, said in a statement. “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.”

Robinson Labs is already working
with shipping customers and carriers. The incubator will complement C.H.
Robinson’s technology team of over 1,000 data scientists, engineers and
developers. Robinson Labs will be tasked with developing and testing solutions
before they are implemented across C.H. Robinson’s network of 124,000 customers
and 76,000 contract carriers.

“Through the spirit of innovation,
Robinson Labs will create the newest solutions to continue driving the
logistics industry forward,” Gagnon said. “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.”

C.H. Robinson has pledged $1
billion in technology investment across its enterprises, which is being
leveraged in part to create Robinson Labs. Its continued investment in
technology landed it the No. 9 spot on FreightWaves’ annual FreightTech 25 list of the most innovative technology companies in logistics.

Among its innovations are the
flagship Navisphere platform and the Navisphere Vision software-as-a-service
(SaaS) platform that allows clients to leverage C.H. Robinson’s technology
investments to gain improved visibility into their own supply chain operations,
optimize processes, and access data and reporting on one platform.

Last November, the company launched Freightquote by C.H. Robinson. The web portal offers capacity sourcing capabilities to small
and medium-size businesses for most modes of transportation. The platform
allows shippers to compare real-time rates from C.H. Robinson’s network of
approved carriers and book their shipment via credit card. Additionally, the
system provides the shipper with load tracking and shipment notifications.

Robinson Labs will build on these
types of innovations to create more advanced solutions, the company said.
Already, Robinson Labs is building transportation management capabilities and
making them accessible through leading transportation management systems (TMS)
and enterprise resource planning systems. Starting with Oracle’s ERP and
transportation management software, C.H. Robinson is making it even easier for
customers to connect with C.H. Robinson where and how they want to buy, the
company said. Connectivity includes functions such as allowing shippers to work
in their own daily systems to access real-time market rates, tender freight and
get real-time tracking.

“By digitally connecting C.H.
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.

Robinson Labs will also help
enhance Navisphere Insight, the company’s business intelligence software that
includes C.H. Robinson’s proprietary TMS. According to the company, the
enhancements will use millions of data points, predictive analytics and other
information to provide insights to customers 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.