Logistics plays a huge role, in the economy today. It is estimated that, the Nigerian Logistics industry, as of March 2019 is, worth N250 billion to the economy and comprises 3.5 %of the Nigerian GDP as of November 2019.
Logistics is not just a vital part of the distribution industry, but it has, swiftly, turned the distribution industry, to an efficient “machine”, companies no longer need to wait on end, for their deliveries to get to their doorsteps.
Reliance on logistics has kept significant number of businesses to remain strong.
Technology is making logistics, more effective. A significant part of the Nigerian economy is, reaping benefits, from deploying technology in logistics.
A good logistics company will integrate all supply chain functions, into a digital strategy.
Tracking orders and trucks, to improve their methods and have greater visibility.
We caught up with Bright Williams, CEO/Founder, Neohaul, a logistics start-up, who took us through his journey and the eventual design, of Haulr, A logistics app.
According to the Founder, who is a graduate of Transport Management Technology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Haulr was designed, to assist logistics companies in, automatically, tracking their field operations, with ease and keep up with how their trucks are used, in the field, to mitigate illegal haulage, cargo theft and drive higher efficiency.
“We started this company, with one thing in mind. Helping users to be more efficient and profitable. Coming from a logistics background, we know, exactly, how difficult it is, to keep cost down, how drivers gives users headache and how the back and forth, with the various stakeholders can be so tiring.
This is, why we are on this journey, a mission to help logistics teams to be more efficient, effective and profitable”, Bright stated.
The logistics start-up achieves this, through the constant measure of the weight and location of trucks, in real-time, through Haulr and then, by leveraging Artificial Intelligence, (AI), Neo Haul determines the status of jobs, on the field, ensuring its safety and allowing managers, to make better informed decisions.
Speaking on how the concept came about, Bright relayed his days in the University, where he had to pick up coding skills, in his third year. Alongside a friend, he formed a club, called AKTE (Acquiring Knowledge to effecT changE).
“In my first 2 years in the university, I lived a very triangular lifestyle, from class to the chess palace, (where we played chess), to the hostel.
By the third year, I had picked up coding, as interest and was really loving it, then, one of my friends, who had begun to notice that I was really thinking about what life after school was going to be, called me and asked that we form a club.
For over 3 months, we went on to research the root causes, of Nigeria’s economic problems and how we could solve them”, he explained.
According to Bright, the desire to build out businesses that would make positive impacts on the Nigerian economy, was born from the club’s creation.
In the process, going along to build several start-ups. Some have gone down the drain, while some others, are still around till now.
One of them, Square Places, was a company Bright started, while still in the university.
We offered data mining and analytics services, to SMEs, to help them build data pipelines and data analytics tools, to enable them to visualize and analyze their operations, on everyday Software, like Excel.
Bright, went along to work in the logistics industry for 4 years, as an Operations Analyst, in the process, getting to know that staff had to spend a lot of time, calling and interacting with drivers, who are in the field, just to obtain some information about the status of the job, etc., even, when they were driving, which was not only inconvenient but dangerous.
This meant that it could take a Tracking Officer, as much as 3 hours, to obtain information on 50 trucks.
Not only was this slow, but also, the accuracy and authenticity of the information obtained, from the drivers is, questionable, when an illegal operation is being carried out.
With this knowledge and understanding, the founder decided to change the narrative, by making the whole operations tracking experience easier, automated and more insightful, by focusing on obtaining data on jobs, directly, from the field, in a non-intrusive manner.
Having bootstrapped, for almost a year, running Neohaul has received grants, from Tony Elumelu Foundation, the Facebook Accelerator and Zenith Bank, by 2019.
Currently, Neohaul is carrying out private beta tests, with its partners and have a growing list of interested companies that have a combined total of over 700 trucks.
What Neohaul is doing differently
According to the Founder, Haulr does not, only, track the location of an asset, the technology can tell what that asset is being used for, at any instance, in time and also, track the status of whatever activity, or job that it is being used for, all in real-time.
This makes monitoring a fleet of 1,000 trucks, way more efficient and opens up various market opportunities and go on to, truly help these organizations, eliminate empty backhauls.
What Neo Haul offers
Real-time operations tracking
Neo Haul provides real-time insights, into the status of users’ trucks and field operations.
With this, users have real-time information, to enhance their operational efficiency.
It can be quite difficult, monitoring your drivers and trucks, where are your trucks? Have they loaded?
Is someone, trying to steal your cargo, or fuel? With Haulr, users get quick answers, to all these.
Without making phone calls, users get real-time updates, on the status of their jobs and this means increased transparency, across your entire operation.
It is, as easy as saying: “Truck-002 is now offloading, at the client’s premise”.
Reduce theft and illegal haulage
Haulr algorithms, provide users with immediate alerts, of all potential threats, or attacks, on their driver and cargo.
Users have, real-time insights, about their cargo, i.e., if it is being stolen, or when your driver decides to take on an illegal, or unknown job.
Haulr brings all users operations, into one place: facilitates collaborations and communications; sharing of documents; updates and status, of all their operations, between their team and partners.
Haulr deploys, both Internet of Things, (IoT) and AI. The devices give data, on the location and weight of the truck, however, the AI models take that information and make sense out of it.
Based on the information it receives, the AI can determine, whether a truck just offloaded, at a client’s premises, or whether it is taking on an illegal job.
The current state of operation
According to the Founder, COVID-19 has stalled the shipments, for Neohaul’s next batch of devices, which has not been able to come, in the country.
However, more emphasis of the logistics start-up has been on its software and it has, also, built its web app, to help logistics companies to collaborate, on on-field operations and having this information, readily available, to everyone in the team, to access in real-time.
“The more they use the platform, the more we are able, to analyze the ‘Truck Availability’ of their fleets and can share, in real-time, this truck availability, with various markets that would want to tap into our pool of available trucks, through an API, or on the platform. We will launch this, publicly, early next month”, Bright said.
Other members of the team include Toluwani Famokunwa, CTO and Temitope Owoeye, COO.
Neohaul was among the 16 start-ups that participated at the Innovation Showcase Week 2020 at CChub.
Featured Image: Bright Williams, CEO/Founder, Neo Haul
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