"How can we do better?" With all the issues facing the global supply chain these days, a lot of people are asking that important question.
So today we're providing a round-up of the best features to look for in a transportation management system (TMS) software platform. We'll provide a brief overview of what a TMS is. Then we'll dive into the key features that will help all of us reach our key performance indicators (KPIs).
Here are fourteen TMS features any company needs:
- Optimized load planning and routing
- Electronic load tendering
- Dispatch and tracking
- Driver management, IFTA, and ELD integrations
- Integrated equipment management and maintenance schedules
- Cloud-hosted services
- Centralized interface for all freight modes
- Predictive analytics
- Warehouse management software (WMS) integration
- Cold chain management
- Blockchain integrations
- Downloadable datasets
- Visibility tools
- Digitized document administration tools
Defining Transportation Management Systems (TMS)
A transportation management system (TMS) is a piece of software used in the supply chain industry. People use the data a TMS provides in a number of ways: Evaluating orders. Tracking shipments. Selecting ideal transportation solutions. In short, a TMS helps match freight with the best carrier.
Beyond that, TMS platforms are also designed to integrate and aggregate data from other software systems. This includes data from procurement, shipping, warehousing, and document digitization software. In that sense, a TMS is the backbone of any supply chain company's tech stack.
But what else can a TMS do? Let's investigate!
1. Optimized Load Planning and Routing
Every TMS needs great load planning and route optimization tools. These are the types of features that put TMS platforms on the map to begin with. Make sure yours has all the bells and whistles you need. Then make sure your people find the interface clean and easy to use.
2. Electronic Load Tendering
One primary function of a TMS is to provide electronic load tendering tools. This tool matches and communicates about shipments of freight with potential carriers. A TMS user can evaluate the best method and compare carrier options. In essence, this tool helps you determine what will give you the most bang for your buck.
3. Dispatch and Tracking
4. Driver Management, IFTA, and ELD Integrations
Most drivers just like to drive. They tend to be creatures of habit. There are a few parts of the job description I know a lot of drivers find to be burdensome. Interstate fuel tax agreement (IFTA) reporting is one of them. Another is electronic logging device (ELD) reporting. TMS platforms that integrate with a driver's vehicle to automatically collect this data streamline the day-to-day grind. Everyone can appreciate that.
This data can be transmitted through an Internet of Things (IoT) bolt-on device. That said, more original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are including the connectivity devices in their new trucks.
It's possible to monitor driving habits too. The eye in the sky don't lie! That may irk some old-school drivers. But it works both ways. Truck tracking and driver management can also protect a driver from liability in the event of an accident. TMS features that track a driver and their habits can help guide that individual toward optimized driving behavior.
5. Integrated Equipment Management and Maintenance Schedules
6. Cloud-Hosted Services
7. Centralized Interface for All Freight Modes
8. Predictive Analytics
Sas.com defines predictive analytics as "the use of data, statistical algorithms, and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data." Predictive analytics seeks to move beyond the assumption that the past will repeat itself.
To do that, predictive analytics uses big data to make better assessments of what will happen in the future. This data comes from IoT devices, your internal systems, and external sources. The result? Improved, more informed operations.
9. Warehouse Management Software (WMS) Integration
10. Cold Chain Management
11. Blockchain Integration
12. Downloadable Datasets (to Present on Those KPIs)
13. Visibility Tools
14. Digitized Document Administration Tools
This post was written by Brian Deines. Brian believes that every day is a referendum on a brand’s relevance, and he’s excited to bring that kind of thinking to the world of modern manufacturing and logistics. He deploys a full-stack of business development, sales, and marketing tools built through years of work in the logistics, packaging, and tier-1 part supply industries serving a customer base comprised of Fortune 1000 OEMs.