Transportation Management System and its Uses
TMS is a transportation management system.
A TMS is a tool that’s used to:
- Manage the life-cycle of your shipment
- Manage the back-office of the shipment life-cycle process
- Help you and help your company guide a shipment from start to finish
Starting from rating a shipment, to where it is while in transit, and ending with the payment process.
So, the TMS is about freight management. It’s about managing that whole life-cycle from a workflow point of view. Although, this isn’t only limited to the spreadsheet type information. But, it’s helping it flow as it moves because that’s the point of a shipment. Our logistics space is that we need our shipments to move and hit milestones along the way and that’s what a TMS is all about.
A TMS is to streamline the shipping process and help guide you through those milestones. And, different types of shipments have different types of milestones.
In an LTL shipment, for example, we have a milestone of each terminal that it may show up in. As well as if it gets sent off to an interline carrier. Those are our different parts of the process that we need to focus on and keep track of.
But if it’s an air freight then we need to know that it’s at the airport and that it’s left the airport. An example would be handling shipment inbound into the United States or another country. In this situation, we need to know about clearing customs. And those become milestones that are relevant to that shipment type.
Whether its different modes of transportation like:
- Ocean freight
your TMS should be able to streamline the workflow.
Who Uses Transportation Management Systems?
So, the users of a TMS is anybody who’s managing the shipment life-cycle.
I’ve always focused on TMS as being about :
- Freight brokers or freight forwarders
- Freight and logistics experts
But, the people who need the TMS more are the shippers. If you’re managing a handful of shipments then a TMS can help ease that. Shippers are always working with various carriers. A TMS brings the information into one place. This way, you’re not working with all the different carriers on different systems. It helps avoid having to ask your staff or logistics professionals to log into the many systems in a TMS. We pull that into a unified system to help streamline the process. Which helps provide information to your users.
Transportation Management System in the Stone Age
Over time TMS has changed and evolved. We started with a sort of ledger and we’d keep track of a shipment.
Then we’d mark the shipments:
- Picked up
- In transit
- Confirmation of delivery
And we’d keep track of that on an Excel file or pen and paper or sometimes in traditional brokerages. We’ll see something like a quote sheet that gets passed around from one person’s desk to another. Then, that stays in their inbox while it’s an active shipment. After when completed, we set that on the accounting department’s desk.
But with Transportation Management Systems we’re able to automate a lot of that. With the TMS, we take those packets and put them into the system. This way we have a more cohesive package of information about that shipment. Then we can send it to the people who it’s relevant to.
So, as we first started using technology, we had some very primitive TMS. The TMS was a glorified database that would show the shipment. Then we’d be able to mark through where it’s going and what’s going on with it. But the problem with that was that’s it’s very manual. It was a digital record-keeping of that paper process that we had but again. But we added another evolution in Transportation Management Systems and now we have some very capable technologies.
We can leverage:
- Artificial intelligence
Transportation Management System Today
So now, TMS can automate and ease a shipping process as well as help reduce the amount of work that your staff’s doing. We can hold people accountable for their jobs. We do this by making sure if a shipment’s running late that the TMS is smart enough to know and tell you.
It can notify you when:
- A shipment is behind schedule
- Shipments haven’t had updates in two or three days,
- Something is going wrong and alert the users
- And where we need to be looking at this type of information
These are some of the benefits of having a Transportation Management System.
We want to simplify ratings. If you have four or five carriers that you’re working with, being able to rate each one is critical.
This will allow you to:
- Bring that information
- Rate it all together at once
- Manage your contracts all in one place
These are things that a modern Transportation Management System can do with no problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with three different brokers with different modes. Your Transportation Management System should be able to bring these together and ease that rating.
The next step is booking. After we’ve rated a shipment and we know we have a quote, then we want to notify the carrier that this freight is ready. Or notify when this freight will get picked up and send all that information to them. Your Transportation Management System should manage that booking process.
Visibility is key to the shipping life-cycle. As that shipment moves across the country or even 50 miles, we want to know:
- Where that shipment is
- When it’s going to be there
- What’s going on
Visibility of the shipment tracking process is critical to the Transportation Management System. It should bring all that information together for you.
We want to make sure that we’re paying the ones facilitating that freight movement. And, we want it done in a timely fashion. But if we’re a freight broker or a 3PL or logistics professional, we want to make sure we’re getting paid as well.
We want to manage our business, run analytics and see reporting.
We want to be able to show these and see:
- How we are doing
- How our logistics department’s operating
- Are we being as efficient as we can be
- Have we simplified our processes enough
- If we are saving enough time for our organization
And make sure that we have these things ready to go.
TMS Evolution with Automation
But as Transportation Management Systems have evolved, we have some advanced features that can take us to the next level. Not only with rating shipments and booking shipments but automating the entire process.
For LTL shipments in the US, we can automate the:
- Billing process
- Rating process
- Dispatching process
- Recovery of pro numbers
There are some powerful tools out there available to do this.
We can do this with cloud-based solutions and a cloud-based application. This way there is no big infrastructure that you have to install. No servers to install, no setup, or months of transitioning to a TMS.
Most of the Transportation Management Systems like the ones offered by Teknowlogi, allow you to have it turned on and ready to use in a matter of hours. If you have a bigger application with a bigger shipment history and carriers, it only takes a matter of days. It becomes a very simple process using the best technologies available to us.
What makes this special is that we’re leveraging a cloud-based Transportation Management System where we can use AI shipping. As well as AI throughout our TMS to take us to the next level. By doing so we leverage automation in ways that most people are only hoping to do. So, as the future moves, technology will only progress. And, Teknowlogi TAI TMS will continue to provide that solution.