How TMS Benefits the Logistics Industry

TMS (Transportation Management System) are programs that have leveled up carriers and shippers to new heights as they continue to evolve and upgrade its users. These days it would seem almost impossible for a growing business to operate without one. The functionality and efficiency that is brought on from these programs is unparalleled if implemented properly and used appropriately.

A TMS is often a cloud-based solution that not only houses all logistical data regarding all physically moving goods through out the company but is a place that all parties can go to view dashboards and metrics. This may sound like an oversimplification, especially if you have worked in a TMS program yourself. TMS offer a wide range of tools and functions to assist companies stay on top of all their logistic operations including:

  • Plan and forecast network needs
  • Optimize routes
  • Manage carriers
  • Execute and track shipments
  • Automate processes (like load booking, matching and tendering)
  • Handle payment and settlement
  • Report on network KPIs
  • Calculate fuel, driver pay and more

If we take a trip back to the humble beginnings of TMS, it was meant for nothing more than a reference point for a company’s shipping data. Information was collected into separate silos and none of it worked together, collectively, and stayed somewhat static and dependent on users to enter data manually.

By having this information merely stored and not actively utilized to forecast, report, and automate, TMS was not particularly seen as versatile tool across the industry. In the mid-2000’s the internet expanded into a new era that introduced a new meaning to connectivity.

The demand for instant gratification and information exploded and with it, advances in technology arose to meet that demand. TMs systems became more complex and intuitive at a rapid rate thanks to the IoT (internet of things). With everything now working together and connected to one another, shippers and carriers can see freight from different vantage points that make smarter, quicker decisions to increase efficiency and timeliness.

The capabilities of TMS have grown in short periods of time. Being able to not just plan, track and report, these sophisticated systems are able to measure just how well a certain route, process and even fulfillment is doing and give insights on how it can be improved. Integrations are another benefit to look for in your TMS. Most systems integrate with all open API apps that help stretch your monitoring across every department. Many industries have come to embrace the power of TMS and have created a once chaotic, paper-ridden field of work into a streamlined, automated flow of tasks. Fleet management is one industry that benefits greatly from what TMS offers. With carriers able to keep their eyes on every moving part in the business, working with large teams and a massive amount of freight has been made easier.

Users should be cautioned though, that there a few important contingencies that will determine how effective your TMS will be in your company. Below are the items that need to be double, triple checked and given enough time to work out all the discrepancies:

  • Overall solution design
  • Competitiveness of the rates negotiated
  • Sophistication of the shipper's overall application landscape
  • And most importantly—data quality

That last one is one that can make or break the system you choose to implement. Data quality can mean anything from an email that is operable to mis formatting a phone number or name. This can cause breaks and nulled fields in the programming which can stop important automated flow, then resulting is extra time and effort being taken up to first find the problem then fix it.

Once all is in alignment with your organization, implementing the TMS system can be done typically with assistance from that specific TMS company or by them entirely. If you are going to do it right though it will take an effort from almost every department to build out and time to work out all the nuts and bolts of it.

As Meadow Lark has grown over the years we will now be implementing a new TMS system, LoadStop, that will be integrated with our other operating platforms. As we move into the next technical phase we are excited to be able to improve not just customer relations with this move but help our team prosper and work more efficiently. Questions about TMS systems? Learn more here!

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