An interview with our CEO, Freddie Talberg...
Who are PIE, how did you come into being and what is your core activity?
PIE was originally founded in 2004 as a publisher of offline maps to meet the needs of specific driving communities, initially motorbike riders.
The first map we produced was a motorbike parking map of central London which sold out the initial 10,000 print run in just a couple of months. From motorbikes, we cast our net wider and developed maps for disabled badge holders, vans and finally HGVs.
The emergence of online mapping coincided with the growth of the business and inevitably our focus shifted to online maps.
As technology and connectivity has developed at a blistering pace, so have the opportunities to do much more than simply display a digital version of a map, and we moved from maps to routing, and are now moving into delivery of these services via mobile. So now we focus on making it possible for all road users to make better routing decisions through our ever complex and evolving cities and roads.
What made you decide to get involved in the logistics sector?
Our experience in producing maps for the HGV industry showed how the sector lacked a really good source of information about what roads trucks should use for their own good and that of the general public and road owners.
That lack of information provided us with a niche opportunity to be the ‘go-to’ people for information/data about which roads trucks should use.
Describe the services you offer to freight operators.
The core of our business is in getting trucks to use the right road for the height, weight and width of their specific vehicle. We do this by combining data collection and processing, which, when overlaid onto an A-B routing engine will produce a journey that is perfect for that vehicle at that exact moment in time.
The routing engine is then made available in a variety of freight journey planning websites, somewhat like ‘Google Maps for trucks plus’. While some of these journey planning sites are specific to a local area, e.g. Transport for London operate a London version, some like the national freight journey planner are UK wide.
We also operate a HGV night-time delivery route planner and approval system to help hauliers overcome the London Lorry Control Scheme.
Why are these kinds of services important and valuable?
Until the advent of ‘drone delivery’ to and from every shop, farm, factory and home in the country, we will continue to be very reliant on trucks. Using data to control, limit and improve the flow of HGV traffic offers a very attainable means to reduce emissions, improve air quality and arguably boost the quality of life for local residents while at the same time ensuring we can continue to keep our shelves well stocked.
For the Operators it all about ‘Informed Logistics’. We make provide better data to enable Operator make better decisions which have an impact on margin protection on their costs and especially improvements in managing their penalty charges, and on managing their drivers costs/times. Plus meeting customer expectations with accurate ETA’s, delivery times. This is now the new norm and expectation, which will prove to be the important survival aspect for Operators. So times are changing for Operators to evolve to be smarter businesses and to adopt new technology.
Looking forward, what changes do you anticipate in the logistics sector by 2024?
Two things come to mind:
I think we will see increased regulation in the form of emission zones, congestion charging and the enforcement of vehicle movements at specific times of day (i.e. localised London Lorry Control Schemes).
Concurrent to that we will see a far greater reliance on data as a way for operators to extract margin and that will need manufacturers to invest in the concept of the ‘connected truck’ in the same way that mainstream car manufacturers are already doing.
And how will PIE support these changes?
Pie is very well placed to support these changes. In terms of regulation, we’d almost describe that as our bread and butter business – i.e. our systems can be configured using a myriad of data to tell operators/drivers which roads to use. And that is the basic premise of such regulations and we already offer exactly this type of service in London as a means of dealing with the London Lorry Control Scheme.
With regard to the reliance on data, again we feel we’re in a great position. We handle and process huge amounts of data to produce extremely accurate routes and we see that capability dovetailing very well with a host of other logistics software providers. That should enable some really powerful tools to be built that can help operators work more efficiently and squeeze every bit of margin wherever possible.