An industry group from the less than truckload (LTL) freight sector says that it has established a new standard for Electronic Bills of Lading (eBOLs), and is asking its member companies to adopt the standard by July 2023.
The standard is part of the Digital LTL Council's efforts to advance digitization of the industry in order to improve supply chain efficiency, said the group, which is a part of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). The council was originally founded in 2019 by supply chain transportation visibility vendor Project44, and adopted NMFTA as its lead sponsor in 2022 to bring industry expertise, dedicated resources, marketing, and legal support.
Through work with its member companies, the Digital LTL Council is working to digitize manual processes by creating standards in three areas: electronic bill of lading (EBOL), shipment visibility and tracking, and freight exception handling. According to the group, those standards could help ease business stress in a time when the trucking sector is in a cycle of tight capacity, rising fuel costs, and scarce labor.
Leaders at the Digital LTL Council acknowledged that they are not the first to attempt this approach. The group says that while other eBOL standards have been developed for the industry, its new standard is distinct in its ability to reduce costs and errors, improve service and communication across the supply chain via better visibility, improve overall supply chain efficiency, and secure the industry through contactless/paperless transactions.
"Everyone understands the importance of cybersecurity and other best practices in the digital space," Debbie Sparks, executive director of NMFTA, said in a release. "The standard we have developed here helps member organizations implement these practices structurally into their organizations in a cohesive and actionable way. This is consistent with the vision of the organization, to facilitate such progress for the entire industry."
Additional digital standards for improved data sharing in logistics and transportation have sprouted up worldwide in recent years, including the “Open Logistics Foundation” in Germany, the South Atlantic Chassis Pool (SACP) along the U.S. east coast, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW).
Yet another comparable effort is the Open Visibility Network (OVN)—founded in 2021 by Project44, Tive, and FourKites—which is a consortium of supply chain, transportation, and logistics technology providers working to optimize global supply chain efficiency via open visibility and collaboration. That group today added Trucker Tools, a carrier relationship and capacity management platform, to its network, joining firms like Everstream Analytics, TransVoyant, MarineTraffic, ParkourSC, WeatherOptics, FarEye, BlueBox Systems, TextLocate, TruckerCloud, Resilinc, and nuVizz.
Just Announced: The Digital LTL Council of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (#NMFTA) has announced the establishment of a new standard for Electronic Bills of Lading (#eBOL): https://t.co/949AfVTVs1. #trucking #transportation #lessthantruckload (1/2)— National Motor Freight Traffic Association (@NMFTA) October 24, 2022