Once the load has been booked, collaborative execution allows an alliance partner to monitor that load as it travels to its destination. So, through the Nistevo site, a shipper or carrier can track the progress of the delivery. An alliance partner can determine whether a shipment has been loaded, if the driver is on the road and whether any driver detention or stop charges are involved, according to Niess. "At the end of the load or service, it bundles all of those charges together and feeds it back into the contract system," he says. The Nistevo system is designed to automate the entire process as much as possible. If a problem occurs along the route, the system alerts the shipper and/or carrier. Schoen compares the system to a chat room with live dialogue between multiple trading partners -- the carrier, the original shipper, the receiving location and possibly another manufacturer looking for capacity. There's no doubt about it -- the concept is unique, allowing multiple companies to manage contracts, collaborate their logistics and selectively share capacity all through a single Web site. In addition, the integration costs and risk factors are minimal, because no capital investment is required for either hardware or software. The system is based on an annual subscription fee that can be renewed from year to year. "Unlike a lot of other applications that have been sold throughout the years, we had to install the software, spend the time and hire the people. You just configure it on the Internet and then you're off and running," says Niess.
Bottom Line Impact
"There are huge inefficiencies in the transportation field. With Nistevo, we can eliminate the inefficiency and all share in that productivity," says Dick Hanson, vice president of distribution and logistics at General Mills. General Mills spends approximately $300 million a year on truckload transportation. The company projects a minimum savings of at least 5 percent as a result of using the Nistevo tool.
Sound too good to be true? "The biggest challenge for Nistevo is that they're a new company. They are going to have to continually innovate and come up with new product ideas beyond this existing tool," says Schoen. As a company that has expanded from 11 employees to 80 in under a year, growth certainly seems to be on Nistevo's mind. And Niess predicts that by the end of 2000, several hundred organizations could be online with the system. Nistevo seems eager to meet the challenge not only to grow, but to remain a leader in logistics technology.
Jill Miller is a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Arizona.