In 2018, Transmetrics Blog was selecting logistics startups that represent a positive example of innovation in Logistics and Supply Chain and have the potential to alter the way the industry operates. Luckily for these companies, the sector offers a lot of room for disruption and such startups are taking up the whole range of challenges – from offering a new way to think about addresses to developing the innovative autonomous and electric vehicles.
Now, at the end of the year, we can surely say that the impact of these young companies on the industry is undeniable and it will be even more interesting to follow their progress in 2019.
In this article, we would like to highlight all the startups featured in the “Logistics Startup of the Month” Series in 2018 and once again demonstrate their importance for the logistics and supply chain.
In case you would like to stay updated about the topic of logistics innovations or receive updates about the logistics startups in the future:
what3words is the simplest way to communicate location. It has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares and assigned each square a unique address made from three dictionary words – a 3-word address. The exact 3m x 3m square at the front door of what3words’ London office, for example, can be found at ///index.home.raft.
3 word addresses convert reliably to GPS coordinates and back again, so can be easily integrated into existing platforms and systems. They provide a simple and human-friendly way for people to input accurate location information, by voice or text.
what3words is free for individuals to use via the what3words mobile app and online map. The technology is also available for free to qualifying not-for-profit and humanitarian entities. For business use, the company offers licenses for the products which include access to API, SDKs, and industry-specific plugins. In addition to that, they create dedicated solutions such as OCR sorting app for postal services and offer large-scale batch conversion of 3-word addresses to GPS coordinates or vice versa.
Recently, what3words’ solution has been adopted by DB Schenker to power their eSchenker platform. This integration will enable more than 110,000 DB Schenker clients, who make over 500,000 bookings a month, to optimize their supply chains by specifying pick-up and drop-off points using a 3-word address.
Einride is the next generation of disruptive road transport solution: safe, cost-efficient and emission-free. By rethinking the foundation of transportation, the T-pod is the first transport vehicle completely designed and developed for self-driving and electric propulsion. The T-pod has no cab or driver’s seat and is a part of a transport system that uses the benefits of self-driving and electric propulsion to create a cost-competitive and emission-free transport alternative. Einride’s mission is to be a major contributor to a sustainable society by lowering the carbon dioxide emissions of the transport industry.
With a small and agile T-pod, Einride’s Transport System enables a more flexible and optimized supply chain. By allowing for cost-efficient smaller shipments, the T-pod can reduce tied-up capital, delivery time and cost of transport. Einride´s transport system is a new way of thinking about road transport, creating new and innovative supply chain solutions.
In November 2018, DB Schenker and Einride launched the installation for the first commercial use of a T-pod at DB Schenker facility in Jönköping in central Sweden. The T-pod will travel continuously to and from a warehouse, paving the way for a sustainable transition of road freight transportation.
We4Sea helps shipowners to monitor, analyze, and optimize the fuel efficiency of their ships. Using the in-house developed Digital Twin concept, the startup has developed a radical new way of monitoring sea-going ships. We4Sea’s tools are not requiring new hardware onboard, therefore they can start monitoring any conventionally powered ship within 24 hours and without capital expenditures.
As founders have mentioned in the interview, they believe that shipping is one of the best modes of transport, which is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. However, it needs improvement to keep up with other modes of transport. Although the efficiency of ships is relatively high, the pollution they produce is still significant. There are many technical options available to improve this, but We4Sea has its own important stake in optimizing the maritime industry.
In August 2018, We4Sea signed a partnership agreement with Marlink, a maritime satellite communication provider, to offer innovative fuel efficiency solutions for the maritime industry. Marlink chose such startups as We4Sea and Transmetrics to be its partners to support the Smart Connectivity strategy which enables Marlink’s customers’ digitalization and business efficiency.
When Xeneta’s co-founders Patrik Berglund and Thomas Sørbø were working at Kuehne+Nagel, they realized that it was not possible for them to do the job effectively and to really know what it costs to send a container from A to B, what the market average rate was for various routes or how the rates they compiled for their customers stacked up against other shippers.
They were not able to answer such simple questions as: “Have we secured the best possible rates from my suppliers in the negotiation period? What are my peers paying?” The market was too volatile to keep up with. Accurate and real-time rate data was missing in the industry.
As a solution to that, Thomas and Patrik decided to start crowdsourcing ocean freight rates from shippers and developed a web platform to host them. According to them, now Xeneta has the largest neutral ocean freight rate database for benchmarking and market intelligence which is offered on
Recently, Xeneta has launched a monthly container shipping index, delivering insights on long-term ocean freight rate development.
DRONAMICS is building a next-generation cargo airplane – small, unmanned and extremely fuel efficient. It can transport 350 kg (770 lbs) at a distance of up to 2,500 km (1,550 miles) while being cheaper than any aircraft in existence, making it ideal for e-commerce in emerging markets.
The founders got the idea when they looked at small drones and realized that even though such drones are great for the last-mile deliveries in suburban America, the rest of the world needs more robust solutions. Thus they picked the payload to match what one can fit in a small cargo van – because small cargo vans are ubiquitous in the developing world as a last-mile vehicle.
According to DRONAMICS, they have favored a subtone aircraft because the smaller the airplane, the more flexible the landing space can be. Therefore, 350 kg is a good trade-off that fits well in the first markets the company wants to tackle – fast-growing economies in Asia, Africa as well as Latin America.
Fizyr is a deep tech company, based in RoboValley Delft. They are automating logistics globally and robustly putting robots to work. According to the startup’s CEO, Herbert ten Have, their deep learning algorithm adds a layer of understanding, bringing autonomous decision making to processes that involve identifying, quality control, counting, picking and manipulating goods. Fizyr develops world’s best-trained algorithms to enable robots handling any pile of various items or fully unknown parcels using machine vision.
To put it simply, the software is taking a 3D color image, then it defines RGB colors and depth for the algorithm and performs the following 4 steps: Segmentation, Classification, Quality Control and Finding 6 Degrees of Freedom.
The whole process is done for all the elements in the picture and it takes less than 0.2 seconds to perform all the 4 steps with the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) being responsible for the neural network processing.
In October 2018, Fizyr won the StartUp Innovation of the Year at PostalPitch’s annual competition which is featuring products and services designed to address some of the biggest challenges facing the post and parcel industry.
MOST has developed a superior monitoring solution for controlling the conditions of goods during transportation – all in real time. It is a service provider that instantly delivers valuable information to the whole Supply Chain. The customized software solution and the premium Internet of things (IoT) hardware reduce costs and increase control for monitoring from the farm and/or factory gates to the distribution centers.
Working on the 2G GSM network, MOST delivers the data about position, temperature, humidity, shock, and light to the custom-made online platform or to the clients own monitoring system via APIs. The device can handle different uploading frequencies from 5 to 60+ minutes and has a battery life of 100 days (uploading frequency of 60 min). MOST device is rechargeable via a standard USB-C cable giving the customer an opportunity to use the device over and over again. With less than 10 hours of charging you get 100 days of battery life again.
Founded in 2015, MOST have grown fast and the company is already selling their products all over the world – in South America, North America, Europe, South Africa, and Asia.
Open Motors’ main mission is to accelerate the transition to advanced technology in mobility, by enabling companies to develop seamless modules that are easy to integrate into an open and versatile fleet vehicle in white label. How are they doing this? By bringing Open Data, Open Innovation, Open Source, and Open API to the automotive industry.
For the past 100 years, entering the automotive industry has been impossible due to the high barriers. Companies wishing to enter the market with a new vehicle have to invest millions of dollars in production facilities, hire thousands of employees, spend around five years of R&D and deploy huge resources into marketing and sales. Open Motors’ open, modular electric vehicle ready-to-use solutions allow new and existing car manufacturers to develop their own models bypassing these entry barriers. The company started shipping their open and modular hardware platform for EVs, TABBY EVO, to its clients in 2015. Currently, the company is focused on developing EDIT, the first self-driving vehicle designed & engineered specifically for Mobility-as-a-Service. Fleets of such vehicles can last 10X more thanks to an easy repairability & hardware/software upgrade options.
ClearMetal is a predictive supply chain visibility company that helps retailers and manufacturers transform their supply chains using data science. Supply chain teams typically receive poor information and visibility from their service providers, which results in excess inventory, unnecessary transportation cost, and a challenge to meet customer demands. ClearMetal solves this problem through a cloud-based software-as-a-service application, which leverages proprietary machine learning and AI technology to first clean and
This technology was custom-built by ClearMetal’s data science and software engineering teams over several years of research and development. As a result, supply chains can reduce inventory on hand, reduce transportation spend, optimize inventory position for logistics & distribution, and increase personal productivity and customer service. Moreover, through clean supply chain data and predictive intelligence, companies will be able to drive competitive advantage and increased profitability from its supply chain.
XChange connects users and suppliers of one-way containers or shipper’s own containers (SOC’s) on a neutral online platform.
The startup builds up the whole process from searching for containers to use/supply, online negotiation, tracking and offer value-added-services like insurance and payment handling. Through a continuous vetting process, a multiparty interchange agreement and customer service team in Hamburg, Germany, and Surabaya, Indonesia the startup makes sure that only trustworthy partners become a member of xChange.
Currently, xChange provides its users with the following service offerings:
- Browse the market: Using xChange smart search or their newsfeed you easily gain market transparency and find containers to supply/ use in more than 2500 locations worldwide.
- Reduce your effort: xChange implemented tracking and tracking alerts as well as an easy online negotiation process and API/EDI integrations to save you long hours in the back-office.
- Be safe and secure: Through a continuous vetting process, company profiles and a standardized contractual framework xChange created a community based on trust.
FreightBro aims to revolutionize the logistics industry with its best-in-class digital platform specifically designed for freight forwarders – a “Shopify” for freight forwarding sector which is able to transform every offline forwarder to an independent digital forwarder. The platform is also supported with plugins from the partner ecosystem for various solutions and data exchanges which can add real value to the forwarders and can help them to increase their level of efficiency.
Forwarders can offer complete 360-degree digital experience to their clients: from online shipment booking and management to live tracking and business analytics. FreightBro provides both web and mobile applications (Android and iOS) to forwarders in order to help scale their business globally.
In 2019, we will continue to explore the innovative logistics and supply chain startups in our “Logistics Startup of the Month” series. Meanwhile, let us know in the comments, which promising logistics startups should be featured in 2019!