A rising force in freight movement

Sydney start-up Yojee has been developing technology solutions for specialised logistics organisations both at home and abroad. LMH speaks with Ed Clarke, co-founder and CEO.

The Australian start-up scene is lively and booming. Investment in start-ups is growing faster in Australia than in Europe or the US, growing 65 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

35 per cent of the nation’s start-ups begin their life in Sydney, bringing innovative ideas to the Australian economy and Yojee is one of them. Yojee’s aim is to bring logistics companies into the digital era by utilising blockchain technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning for fleet management.

Yojee recently announced it will collaborate on projects with logistics giants UPS and DB Schenker Logistics & Materials Handling caught up with Ed Clark, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, to understand the company’s offering and what he thinks artificial intelligence solutions can do for the logistics industry.

Ed Clarke is a technology entrepreneur and ex-Sydney Swans rookie player. He has extensive experience in taking innovative platforms to market in areas such as real-time communication, big data marketing and e-commerce. He was Vice-President of Sales at Temasys, a communications technology provider, and was part of a team that IBM recognised as one of the “Top-5 global start-ups to watch in 2014.”

As one of the first companies outside of the banking sector to provide a blockchain network, Yojee is seeking to enable the logistics industry to keep up with the boom in e-commerce.

“A number of years ago, as e-commerce started to develop, there were significant problems for the supply chain and logistics industry. Businesses were finding it difficult to move goods from the digital to the physical,” Ed says.

Yojee has been quickly developing a delivery network across the Asia-Pacific region. The concept behind the business is to bring to market a platform that manages deliveries on a mass scale. “We aim to transform the global logistics industry by providing state-of-the-art blockchain and artificial intelligence backed technology empowering shippers and carriers to work together across the entire supply chain,” Ed says.

Traceability and visibility

The company is primarily based in the Asia Pacific region and has been working with Lion Parcel, a delivery service in Indonesia to digitise its network. “In Vietnam, Asia, Indonesia there is a lot of sub-partners and multimodal networks, parcels are passed on jobs through partners but they often loose visibility,” Ed says.

Logistics providers often have four or five subcontractors and once a parcel reaches a new supplier the original provider losses visibility. According to Ed, the logistics industry in its current form is very fragmented.

“Even the big guys like DB Schenker and UPS still have the same problems, it’s all about traceability and visibility. Once you add different layers and suppliers with their own networks this gets increasingly hard,” he says.

 Adaptable model

Ed recognised that in order to improve traceability and visibility any technology offering should be accessible to all businesses regardless of their size. “We have established a deliver-based pricing model so that the bigger companies can work with the smaller ones,” he says.

Ed believes that with this model, nobody is priced out. He thinks this is important in a multimodal industry that often engages a number of different suppliers to make a single delivery.

“The consumer wants to know delivery windows – in this day and age they aren’t willing to be left waiting for a couple of hours. There is a lot more responsibility on the carrier to provide real-time information so data is very powerful.”

Last-mile delivery and labour costs

 When comparing the Asian market to Australia Ed believes it’s important to keep in mind the differences in labour costs, and the vehicles used in the logistics operation. “You have to consider the cost of labour when making a decision about how you will manage your operation and how the technology can help you. In Australia, the labour cost is very high, so it changes the type of vehicle you want to work with. If a driver is costing a lot per hour, then you want to make sure that there is enough deliveries in the vehicle. However, in Indonesia, for example, labour cost is lower and there is a huge traffic problem. As a result motorbikes are often used which make fewer deliveries per vehicle.”

Yojee is able to look at existing data and work with each individual business, regardless of their size or preferred transport mode. “We run the company’s existing historical data and then work on a simulated model to increase efficiency,” Ed says.

Most logistics companies, regardless of the mode of transport used, are looking to reduce wait time, he says. “It’s about maximising itinerary and minimising wait time. Time-slots are very important, waiting time is wasting time and this is particularly inefficient when labour costs are high.”

Tech in logistics

Ed says the logistics industry is an old industry and in many ways it is struggling to make sense of the technology that could help. “The market is so big. Everyone is struggling – people are looking for solutions and opportunities.

“Take blockchain, everyone knows it’s the future, everyone is trying to work out their own way of doing digital transformation. But, for a lot of people this is a struggle ­– and that’s where we can help,” he says.

For Ed, if the larger companies can use smaller subcontractors but they all use the same technology platform then all parties can benefit from transparency and visibility. “The bigger companies that are implementing these digital strategies still need to work with smaller contractors, but if they all share the same system then the data can be used effectively. We found that the companies using our software have asked their subcontractors to use the software because they rely on it.”

This is where Ed believes the Yojee offering will help transform logistics. “The Yojee platform incorporates state-of-the-art technology and APIs so powerful that small to medium businesses have the ability to pull parcel capacity off the Yojee grid to enable greater revenue and increased efficiencies. Even if you only have four trucks, the system is affordable.”