May 27, 2002 (08:05 PM EDT)
Matchmaking For Shippers And Carriers

Read the Original Article at InformationWeek

Supply-chain management software vendor Manugistics Group Inc. is after a new line of business: the real-time matching of shippers with the carriers that haul their freight. The company said Tuesday it has acquired privately held Digital Freight Inc. in Lexington, Ky., an online logistics exchange that handles $1.9 billion in freight for 38 companies such as Kraft Foods. Terms of the deal were not released.

The exchange, founded in November 1999, is used by companies to manage their own logistics operations, rather than hiring a third-party logistics provider. It will offer Manugistics' logistics-management apps, including Networks Transport RFQ Optimization software, so companies can more easily submit requests for quotes and manage bids from freight carriers.

Networks Transport RFQ Optimization software helps shippers select carriers based on complex specifications that include equipment type, drivers, insurance, specific city-to-city routes they run, and the geographies they serve. Lori Mitchell-Keller, Manugistics' senior VP of strategy, says shippers will be able to use any of the 1,800 freight carriers that are already members of the exchange or invite additional carriers to use the service.

One of Digital Freight's largest customers, Frito Lay Inc., says the exchange's enhanced offerings will help streamline its shipping. Barry Mulkay, director of national network for Frito Lay, says the company uses the exchange to manage the supply chain between more than 400 manufacturing and distribution centers and its suppliers.

Mitchell-Keller says making the company's RFQ optimization software available on the exchange will let members leverage Manugistics' other logistics offerings, particularly its transportation planning and payment systems. Many shippers keep their carriers' rate tables on paper, but Digital Freight will digitize those tables for its users, she says, and that information can then be used in Manugistics' planning and payment systems.