MatchBack Systems: Optimizing and automating street-turns

Supply Chain


Shipping containers are the building blocks of international trade. However, empty container repositioning is an age-old challenge that costs the supply chain industry $20 billion annually and emits 19 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. In the U.S. alone, 45% of all exports have significant empty miles and almost 1 in 2 of the containers you see on the road is empty.

Launched in 2015, Green Bay, WI-based MatchBack Systems wants to change that. MatchBack Systems is a Software as a Service company (SaaS) transforming the maritime shipping industry with an innovative approach to street-turn (matchback) intermodal containers. Essentially, a street-turn occurs when an import container is matched with an export booking inland to eliminate the transport of empty containers to/from the port. It lowers costs, improves efficiencies and reduces harmful emissions.

“It’s exciting to play a part in moving a traditional industry forward with our technology. We’re tackling a problem that has plagued the industry for decades and making a real difference.”

“Companies have been unable to effectively execute street-turns on a large scale due to a lack of transparency in the industry, combined with the costs and time required to turn mountains of unstructured data into usable information. Street-turns were executed ad-hoc and manually, if at all, and usually within their own operations. The technology to manage the complex process of street-turns in a systematic and scalable way has not existed,” shares Todd Ericksrud, President and CEO of MatchBack Systems.

MatchBack Systems transformed this approach. Their technology has digitized and automated these slow, suboptimal processes, making street-turns real and attainable for its customers. The company’s services apply to all supply chain participants including freight importers and exporters, ocean carriers, freight forwarders, 3rd party logistics (3PL) providers and trucking companies. They also extend existing transportation management applications to complete the container lifecycle.

Todd Ericksrud, President & CEO, MatchBack Systems.

MatchBack Systems’ unique optimization technology leverages cloud computing, advanced algorithms, and automation to help customers identify, plan and execute street-turns. Customers can use the technology to match containers within their own ecosystem or with other parties collaborating on the MatchBack Systems’ portal. By simply processing their records in the system, customers see matches within minutes. To maximize results, the system applies advanced algorithms to identify the optimal matches based on each customer’s business rules. “We flex our muscle when we optimize data to predict high-value street-turns that can be systematically paired. The system uses machine learning to look for patterns and trends that provide useful intelligence for customers,” says Ericksrud. “Our goal is to reduce supply chain cost and improve efficiency all the while having a positive impact on the environment.”

The company’s flagship services include:

  • MatchProcurement – Support customers with strategic procurement to establish street-turn rates to ensure savings.

  • MatchAdvisor – Designed for large customers who want to match containers within their company’s ecosystem.

  • MatchMarketplace – Enables companies to match their containers and bookings with those of other customers participating on the neutral, collaborative platform.

MatchProcurement was recently launched to increase customers’ savings with a systematic approach to transportation bids. The optimal time to lock in street-turn savings is during a procurement event. Coupled with their other services, MatchBack Systems is now a comprehensive solution to procure, execute, and capture analytics for street-turns. MatchProcurement includes solutions to identify optimal matches, bid preparation, and analysis.

Companies that use MatchBack Systems services experience street-turn benefits that can increase trucker loaded ratio from 50% full to 80%, reduce emissions by 30% (as less exhaust is released into the atmosphere), increase driver productivity, reduce road use with fewer miles driven, minimize port congestion and delays, improve container efficiency by 20% and reduce total supply chain costs by 30%.

Customers regularly recognize MatchBack Systems for providing transformative solutions to the street-turn challenge:

“MatchBack Systems automated our street-turn process. They quickly provide guidance for our planners every day that drops to our bottom line.” – Kuehne + Nagel

 “MatchBack Systems software works. Twenty minutes after our training we found street-turns we never would have seen without them.”- Container Port Group

Furthermore, MatchBack Systems services lower overall supply chain costs, improve efficiency and reduce emissions. “Each street-turn saves $150-$400 in direct transportation costs and a further $200 in indirect costs while eliminating 440 pounds of CO2 emissions,” says Ericksrud. In 2019 MatchBack Systems evaluated millions of potential pairs and presented optimal matches that save customers over 10 million empty miles and 1.7 million gallons of fuel. At roughly $2/mile, that’s more than $20 million in savings.

As expected, MatchBack Systems became the first mover by solving a real industry problem. The company was recognized by the Boston Consulting Group for “rapidly reshaping shipping” with its sharing economy and industry transparency. The company has received several awards for innovation and sustainability, with its services recognized by The Journal of Commerce, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, CIO Magazine, Wisconsin Inno 50 On Fire, Wisconsin Innovation Award and Insight Publications.

Of course, these achievements are not a coincidence; Ericksrud attributes this success to the talented team and the culture at MatchBack Systems. “We are a nimble company, founded on a principle of continuous innovation. Everybody at MatchBack Systems finds reward in solving a customer’s problem that improves the efficiency of their operations. We all enjoy applying technology to the street-turn puzzle,” says Ericksrud. “It’s exciting to play a part in moving a traditional industry forward with our technology. We’re tackling a problem that has plagued the industry for decades and making a real difference.”

As MatchBack Systems looks to the future, it ultimately aims to bring a paradigm shift to the supply chain and create a sustainable process. “The MatchBack Systems team is committed to make street-turns mainstream and champion environmental sustainability in the industry,” says Ericksrud.

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