The transportation industry is becoming increasingly digitized, as companies across the sector move their digital transformation efforts forward.
Specifically, shipping companies of all sizes are now migrating away from spreadsheets and manual, paper-based management mechanisms in favor of cutting-edge software solutions and apps.
The only way to compete in today’s increasingly connected and automated shipping industry is to integrate transportation management software into day-to-day workflows. In light of this, companies that resist this change stand no chance of surviving in the changing industry.
This post provides an overview of transportation software, including what it has to offer, the benefits of using it, the top providers, and why your organization needs to seriously consider investing in this new technology.
What Is a Transportation Management System?
A transportation management system (sometimes called a TMS) is a digital platform that shipping companies use to manage all aspects of the shipping process.
The vast majority of transportation management systems live in the cloud. This allows for flexible and cost-effective deployments and maintenance-free usage. When using transportation management software, you shouldn’t have to use any IT resources other than mobile devices and computers.
This type of platform serves a wide range of purposes. For example, you can manage drivers and warehouse personnel. And you can also plan and optimize routes and track customer interactions.
In short, transportation management systems serve as one-stop shops that managers can use to oversee shipping operations, communicate with employees, and manage shipping data, to name just a few examples.
Top Benefits to Using Transportation Management Systems
To be sure, transportation management systems now play an integral supporting role in shipping operations. This is especially important for large enterprises with many employees, vehicles, and orders to look after.
Here are some of the top reasons shipping companies use transportation management systems today.
1. Enhancing Productivity
A shipping operation can be chaotic, with a lot of moving parts to look after.
Transportation management systems help managers track workflows and maintain efficient operations across all levels of the supply chain, from warehouse operations to on-road dispatches.
2. Improving Communication
Communication is critical in any busy shipping environment. In order to succeed, shipping and warehouse managers need to have open communication with drivers, loading crews, partners, and customers to provide updates and get information.
Another key point is that transportation management systems centralize communication, enabling SMS and email messaging as well as alerts, order changes, and shipping notifications.
3. Streamlining Deliveries
Shipping managers today are under enormous pressure to keep up with customer demands and surpass expectations. As such, orders need to arrive on time, with full accuracy.
As a matter of fact, transportation management systems help with everything from advanced route optimization to inventory and documentation management. This enables companies to improve shipping speed and accuracy.
Top Features of Transportation Management Systems
By now, you’re probably wondering what to look for in transportation management systems. Here are some of the top features you’ll see in today’s leading solutions.
Transport Order Processing
Manual data entry is time-consuming and error-prone. However, transportation management systems solve this problem by integrating with mobile apps and eliminating paper.
You can use the technology to collect full order details—including customer information, truck weight, and driver information.
Transportation management systems also make it fast and easy to view load space and plan shipping arrangements.
For example, programs often enable you to see an image of a truck onscreen and digitally move items around on the computer. This can save time when loading. And it can also prevent loading teams from having to figure out load configurations manually when they’re in a rush.
In shipping, personnel management is a big deal. Managers need to make sure they have a full crew of drivers on hand to move items to their destinations. This isn't always easy due to high turnover and scheduling conflicts.
By using transportation management systems, managers can gain instant access to who's on call and what routes they plan to drive.
This information can make it fast and easy to plan and prioritize routes and deploy drivers throughout the day.
Shipping items can be expensive. As such, managers need to have full visibility into transportation rates to ensure they make the best decisions.
Transportation management systems calculate and predict shipping rates using various rules and real-time data for updated and accurate quoting.
Nothing can hold up a shipping operation like a lack of inventory. Managers and warehouse teams need to be on the same page about what’s in stock to avoid delays.
Transportation management systems help by providing instant visibility into warehouse inventory. They can also trigger automatic alerts and even automate purchasing when certain parts run low.
Leading TMS Providers
Now that you've got a better idea of the main benefits and features in leading transportation management software solutions, let’s turn our attention to some of the leading providers on the market.
TMW has been an industry leader in transportation management software for decades. The company offers a variety of products, including Innovative TMS for order-to-cash management, TruckMate TMS for fleet operations management, and the comprehensive TMW.Suite solution.
McLeod is another industry leader, offering the LoadMaster integrated trucking and dispatch operations management solution. LoadMaster comes with services—including lane analysis, mapping, mobility, and planning and dispatch control. The company also offers a robust accounting software option specifically for transportation.
Tailwind offers Pro TMS, Enterprise TMS, and Unlimited TMS packages, providing flexible and cloud-based transportation management. What's more, their software is useful for managing customers, operations, dispatch, and back-end administrative tasks.
The 3Gtms transportation management platform offers multi-mode transportation management for mid to large third-party logistics providers (3PLs), brokers, shippers, and forwarders. It offers amenities like quote management, real-time order management, and load execution, among other services.
Vector’s Approach to Transportation Management
Vector has also emerged as a leading digital transformation enabler for the shipping and logistics industry. In fact, the company offers a full suite of driver workflow software capable of integrating directly with leading transportation management systems—including each of the above-mentioned organizations.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Vector’s offerings so you can learn more about how its software can transform your operations.
One feature Vector offers is a driver check-in service. This enables contactless pickup and dropoff. As a result, this feature speeds up deliveries while reducing risk for drivers and warehouse crews.
Mobile Scanning and Document Management
Vector’s customizable mobile service lets you store documents, including bills of lading. Drivers can quickly scan supporting documents and transmit them to stakeholders through an app for seamless and secure accessibility.
Vector also makes it possible to ingest invoices and supporting documents from a transportation management system for automatic invoicing based on your specific preferences.
With Vector, shipping and warehouse managers no longer need to wait hours or days for drivers to return documents. In fact, the technology automatically compiles and stores paperwork, images, and notes. After that, it sends the files to repositories for easy access across any device.
Get Started With Vector Today
If you’re thinking about moving forward with a transportation management system, you should definitely look into augmenting it with Vector’s powerful services. Altogether, the technology has the power to transform your organization, increasing efficiency and productivity along the way.
For more information on this leading-edge transportation management system, check this out. And when you’re ready for a test drive, take Vector for a spin.
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.