Polaris Transportation Group provides cross-border and domestic LTL and truckload transportation; intermodal; short- and long-term warehousing and distribution; and ocean and air freight forwarding services.
When it comes to transportation, technology and visibility can help logistics providers better manage the assets within their networks. Technology implementations lead to data accessibility, and “that can help reduce empty miles, ensure driver hours of service are properly utilized, and create cost reduction opportunities,” Shute says. The proliferation of shipping options, modes, and estimated delivery windows has highlighted the importance of transportation management systems. These solutions can offer logistics providers the insight they need to identify the best option for each order, Sloand says. RECIPE FOR FUTURE SUCCESS As logistics providers strive to maintain more customer-centric approaches while also broadening their services, network design complexity will increase, Beckett says. The logistics sector will need to use technology to become more resilient, agile, and transparent. Technology also can offer logistics providers a competitive edge, as shippers who decide not to implement technology on their own, perhaps due to resource or cost constraints, will seek providers who can offer technology as a service, Shute says. While low-cost service logistics provider models will remain, “service-driven models have earned the focus of logistics teams across the globe,” he adds. In particular, supply chain visibility will be a priority. “Shippers see the value of a truly integrated logistics partner now more than ever before,” Beckett says. “3PLs need to continue to evolve and transform IN 2019, THE POLARIS TRANSPORTATION GROUP LAUNCHED NORTHSTAR DIGITAL SOLUTIONS, A DIGITAL LAB IN WHICH POLARIS LEVERAGES MULTIPLE TECHNOLOGIES, INCLUDING ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING, AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS.
As the company grew, Cox notes, it was moving more than 300,000 orders across the Canada-U.S. border annually, each of which could include anywhere from five to 50 pieces of paperwork per shipment. “I had great people, but they were buried in keyboards,” he says. In an effort to shift manual processes to digital and “unlock employees’ creative sides,” Cox and his management team invested in robotics and artificial intelligence, among other solutions. Today, few employees need to manually handle cross-border paperwork, he says. Instead, they monitor transactions, stepping in only when it’s necessary to resolve an issue. “We’re moving cargo across the border faster, cleaner, and cheaper,” Cox adds. The technology also allows Polaris to efficiently scale up or down without exponentially expanding headcount. BLENDING IN TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS In 2019, the company launched NorthStar Digital Solutions, a state- of-the-art digital lab in which Polaris leverages multiple technologies, including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Polaris uses these technologies to identify efficiencies and boost customer service in processes like online ordering, real-time shipment tracking, inventory management, predictive analytics, and fulfillment. Other areas of technology focus include connecting to customers by API and EDI, as well as the use of GPS tracking. “These moving parts allow us to paint a picture showing where our clients’ goods are at all times,” Cox says.
from operational and people-centered organizations to technology-centered organizations that retain a people- driven culture.” “Business keeps getting faster,” says Todd Morrison, chief operating officer with Taylored Services, a logistics provider. “Customers expect faster, cheaper, better, and logistics providers have to continue to be creative and adapt to the market.”
POLARIS TRANSPORTATION GROUP: SCALING THROUGH INNOVATION
Through both organic growth and acquisitions, Polaris Transportation Group has become the largest privately held cross-border Canadian carrier, Cox says. Polaris works with shippers from across many industries, including auto parts, scientific companies, and small manufacturers. Since 1994, Polaris Transportation Group has been known for its scheduled less-than-truckload (LTL) service between Canada and the United States. Among its other services are cross- border and domestic over-the-road LTL and truckload transportation services; intermodal service; short- and long-term warehousing and distribution services; and air and ocean freight forwarding. Behind Polaris’s success is their dedication to recognizing what is important to clients and providing it. “Right now, what’s important is visibility,” Cox says. “People need cleaner, quicker, faster information.” To that end, Polaris has long invested in technology enhancements that enable them to efficiently provide the data their clients need.
92 Inbound Logistics • April 2022
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