By Zhang Yuanke, Di Lingyue
On December 10, the winners of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 China Awards (EOY 2021) were unveiled. Eleven Chinese entrepreneurs have won the EOY 2021 Awards, for their concerted efforts to establish new development paradigm, according to EY. Shan Dandan, founder and CEO of FOR-U Smart Freight, is the only female entrepreneur among the winners.
Since the 1980s, road transport in China has been one of the country’s essential means of land transportation and a fundamental industry for economic development. The industry has suffered, however, from problems such as lengthy and inefficient transaction process, Opaque pricing mechanism, and lack of service standards for shippers, while carriers are faced with issues such as widespread phony orders, frequently empty trips, and delayed payment. To solve the above problems, Shan Dandan founded FOR-U Smart Freight in 2015, and quickly became one of the few outstanding female entrepreneurs in the logistics industry.
Through an asset-lite, operations-driven model, FOR-U Smart Freight connects shippers and carriers nationwide. It uses a standardized operational system and has created its own one-of-a-kind "super cloud convoy". According to an industry report, FOR-U Smart Freight has become the largest technology-driven road freight platform in China by revenue in 2020.
"What we want to do is not build a simple intermediary platform but to use digital technology to build trust between unknown shippers and carriers, to achieve safe and efficient long-distance freight transport, while providing peace of mind to carriers, helping optimize their operations and earning more," Shan Dandan said.
As the industry's first platform to commercialize AI technology, FOR-U Smart Freight has built an intelligent logistics system with big data and AI technology to provide contract performance-related services covering the entire transport process, from inquiry and shipping to delivery and settlement.
The company has independently developed its ForU Brain intelligent platform, which has three major application systems: Smart Pricing, Smart Dispatching, and the Smart Service System. Through a massive amount of high quality data and algorithmic capabilities, it helps shippers and carriers reduce the cost of information and improve transaction efficiency, while decreased deadhead miles and boosting vehicle operational efficiency through its smart dispatching. In addition, the system's real-time road information further optimizes the transport service experience and improves freight safety.
In Shan Dandan’s view, the development of the long-distance freight industry can be divided into three stages: Stage 1.0 is about helping stakeholders in a transaction-address information mismatch via the Internet; 2.0 is about optimizing the supply chain through technology and algorithms; and 3.0 is about the evolution of productivity tools, such as using autonomous driving and new energy vehicles.
FOR-U Smart Freight is well-prepared for Stage 3.0. This year, its first pilot order of autonomous-driving trucks completed testing and were trialed on the Beijing-Shanghai route in May 2021. In July, FOR-U Smart Freight and its business partners were awarded the first commercial autonomous-driving road test licenses for the smart vehicle policy pilot zone in Beijing. Since then, For-U Smart Freight has embarked on an eager exploration of autonomous-driving in open road conditions and real-life road scenarios.
“FOR-U insists on doing the difficult-yet-correct thing. We hope to use technology to create value in the road transport industry, delivering a better transport experience for carriers and shippers and making road freight smarter and simpler,” Shan Dandan said.