Stanford dropout launches smart loading dock solution

Smart loading dock tech automatically verifies freight as it enters the factory, warehouse or distribution center. 

In the summer of 2019 Sam Lurye, a young entrepreneur, dropped out of Stanford and embarked on a logistics tour across America, where he visited every warehouse, distribution center and factory that would grant him entry. His trip included stops at auto plants in Detroit, and an elevator factory in South Carolina.

“I always loved learning behind the scenes,” says the 22-year old Lurye, who started his first company, an online dating app, when he was in high school.

Logistics in particular presented “a really interesting optimization problem” for the former electrical engineering major. What became apparent during his cross-country expedition, he explained, “is the loading dock is a common denominator across all these companies, where they still have a lot of manual tasks, it’s still extremely unsafe and is really a bottleneck for the entire supply chain.”

Fresh from that experience, Lurye in December 2019 launched Kargo, a smart loading dock solution that automatically verifies freight as it enters the factory, warehouse or distribution center.  

Describing how the system works, Lurye said sensing modules equipped with cameras are installed on-site, where the autonomous system scans shipping tags and compares them with the advanced shipping notice (ASN), a document that provides detailed information about a pending delivery. 

If there are any discrepancies, Kargo will identify them, Lurye said.

“We provide verification.and peace of mind by telling you what actually came into the facility and how that compares to what was supposed to be.”

Especially with the disruption caused by COVID-19, companies are managing large amounts of inventory and rapidly changing demand. “So if you have a factory or warehouse, you have to automatically verify what’s come in or trust the supplier,” Lurye explains.

The system also can be used to track safety performance on the dock, where industrial accidents are common and concerns about COVID-19 protocols run high. Cognizant of privacy concerns, Lurye says Kargo only records “the things the company wants us to.” 

Asked how the system differs from modern TMS platforms that also track freight, Lurye points to data as the differentiator. While some of the new Internet of Things entrants do have their own freight-tracking hardware, many visibility platforms rely on “the same underlying TMS or ERP” system with “the same mediocre data manually inputted every time,” he asserted.

Drawing a contrast with those platforms, Lurye said Kargo “actually has hardware on the docks.”

If Kargo does have a symbiotic relationship with new visibility providers, Lurye said, it’s “because they are going to need better data,” and “that’s what we’re providing.”

Kargo has raised capital from several investors, including Hanover Technology Investment Management, and is focusing now on building out its team, aiming to double its 10- person headcount by the end of the year. The startup does have a fully commercialized product, and claims among its customers one of the original equipment manufacturers, helping manage close to 1,000 different trucks that unload material every day, according to Lurye.

Dropping out of college isn’t a comment on the value of higher education, Lurye added.

“I had a phenomenal three years at Stanford, but I have a deep conviction about the future of logistics. We’re going to be seeing massive shifts in the next 10 to 20 years, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

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